We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to make it as easy as possible for our customers to use their form data as a tool that impacts their organization. What good is data if you can’t use it to make decisions? By partnering with other organizations who help small businesses and nonprofits be successful, we can create integrated business solutions that help our customers focus their time and energy on making smart, data-driven decisions rather than being in the weeds managing their data.
Over the last few years Formstack has teamed up with so many great companies to provide easy-to-use third party integrations for our users. As we grow, we continue to develop new partnerships that will bring value to our users. But we can’t forget to focus on how to be a better partner to the ones we have and how to take our existing integrations to the next level.
Partner Spotlight: Constant Contact
We kicked off our partnership with Constant Contact, a trusted marketing advisor to more than half a million small organizations worldwide, in April 2011. Our first integration allowed Formstack users to automatically add or update subscribers in their Constant contact email marketing lists through one of our forms. This was a good win for us, and we saw quick adoption from users. We measured usage and collected user feedback and quickly realized this partnership was valuable. We wanted to do more.
Our team put our heads together and came up with a great use case to create an in-product integration, allowing Constant Contact users to sign up for Formstack, create forms in minutes, and insert those form links into their email campaigns – all without leaving their Constant Contact email editor. This new integration launched in early February, and in less than a month, over 1,000 Constant Contact users were using it. Huge win for both partners! Formstack saw a significant spike in sign-ups, and Constant Contact took another step toward making the lives of their customers that much easier.
Here are some lessons learned along the way to help you grow your integration partnerships:
1) Do Your Research, Pick a Partner, & Just Get Started!
We knew we wanted to work with a company like Constant Contact. And we had proven the use case for email marketing integrations with other partners in the past. We could have spent months dreaming up and planning for the best possible integration we could build…but we didn’t. We just got started and built the most obvious integration we knew we needed. It takes time to develop a good partner relationship, but you have to start somewhere.
2) Measure Adoption & Get User Feedback
If you launch an integration and not many customers use it, it’s probably time to start asking some questions. Did we market this well? Does the use case we envisioned really apply to our users? Is everything working like it should? Hopefully, your research was spot-on, and your users need and love this awesome new integration. Now that customers are using it, get their feedback. What do they like about it? What are their ideas to make it better? Listen to your users. (Need a feedback form? We might know a company that could help…*wink wink.)
3) Improve It or Do Something New
You see people are using the integration. You’ve collected feedback. Now it’s time to think about what you can do to make it better. What improvements can you make to what you’ve got? If things are already working great, what else can you work on with your partner to provide value to your respective users? At this stage you should be considering re-marketing the integration, looking at new ideas for co-promotion, tweaking the existing integration, and developing new functionality with a 2.0 integration. Don’t be satisfied with what’s working today.
4) Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
Each partnership is unique. It’s great to learn from what’s worked in the past, but don’t pigeon-hole a new partner into the parameters you used with another. Is it best to develop new pricing for the integration? Should it be marketed in a new and different way? Would it be smart to release a beta version to your power users for additional testing and feedback before a marketing launch? Think outside the box here, be honest with your partner, and develop a partnership that fits best for both parties.
5) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
When you work closely with a partner to develop an integration, communication is key! This is especially true if both partners are doing development work. We attribute a good portion of our success with Constant Contact to great communication on both ends. Both partners had team leads in development and marketing and a project owner/manager who made sure things were moving forward and on schedule. SaaS companies move fast and things can get lost in the process if you don’t have someone stepping up and directing communication.
6) Tell Your Users
If you build it, they will come…if you tell them about it! Marketing your integration seems obvious, but it’s such an important part of the process that it needs to be mentioned. Work with your partner pre-launch to develop a marketing plan and assign tasks and deadlines. What parts of the plan will be handled by which partner? What contacts do you and your partner have to pitch to for PR? What content can both partners create and share? Work as a team, and consider website copy, blog posts or series, email newsletter content, social, video, ads, events…you get the idea.
7) Pay Attention to Analytics & Keep Tweaking
Measure, measure, measure. What marketing efforts had the biggest effect on adoption? If you’re offering a free plan or a special trial to integration users, what has the biggest effect on conversion to paid accounts? When you tweaked the interface design, did you see a spike in traffic? Pay attention to the analytics that you’re tracking and let the numbers help you make decisions to improve the integration and the users’ experience.
8) Don’t Forget to Celebrate!
In our case with Constant Contact, both partners worked diligently to release something great, and we wanted to celebrate! If you know Formstack, then you know we like to have fun. (If you don’t know us, check us our About Page!) Four of us hopped on a plane, flew to Boston, and surprised Constant Contact at their office by making pancakes for their employees one morning. (We’d always wanted to hold a “Have a Stack on the Stack” event. Get it? You know, FormSTACK, STACK of pancakes…anyway.) This was an opportunity to show our appreciation and grow our relationship with a great partner. But you don’t have to celebrate in person…there are a ton of ways to show your partner some love from a distance. Send a cake, throw a launch party at your office and Skype in your partner, even do something as simple as sending a handwritten note. A little goes a long way.