This month we are all things FutureM! Read this post from Will Yapp, Vice President of Business Development at Constant Contact (a fantastic FutureM sponsor). Will dives into what the future looks like for software developers in this two part post.
Will brings more than 20 years of sales and business development experience to Constant Contact. In his role, he is responsible for managing the team focused on growing the company’s technology and strategic partnerships. Follow us @CTCT_API. Prior to joining Constant Contact, Will was the SVP of Sales at Aepona (recently acquired by Intel), a Belfast-based software company in the mobile cloud services industry. Will has a vast knowledge of the telecommunications space across all aspects of the mobile ecosystem ranging from applications and services to infrastructure and devices where he has opened new markets, established new business models and provided solid revenue growth in each of these segments.
It’s common knowledge that in building software, your number one challenge is going to be user acquisition. Let’s face it: no users, no success. The good news? You aren’t alone in trying to find and engage users. By integrating with an existing platform that supports third-party integrations, you can open up your software to a large pool of prospects.
With hundreds of platforms that support third-party integrations, finding the right integration partner can be difficult, especially for those marketing a brand new product. It also takes time and resources to learn a product’s integration capabilities and to stay up-to-date with new releases, so it’s critical to choose a platform that maximizes the time-invested-to-reward-achieved ratio.
What should you look for when deciding which platform and API will best support your business goals? Let’s take a look!
Finding and Reaching the Right Audience
So you know that user acquisition is key and an integration could help you accomplish your user acquisition goals. Now it’s time to identify your target audience.
Seems straightforward, but we all know how easy it is to come up with viable use cases for a variety of audiences. And casting a wide net may seem like a much better plan (more people = more potential users, right?), but I’m probably preaching to the choir when I say that targeting the right people is truly critical. At the end of the day, choosing the right audience all comes down to value. What is the value I’m providing my target audience? And what value would I get in return by targeting this audience? Once those questions are answered then you are well on your way to choosing the right audience for your business.
With your target audience identified it’s now time to reach that audience. Yes, this can be a daunting task. Look at the small business audience (that’s who we work with here at Constant Contact). They are a hard group to reach, and we’ve heard from many trying to reach them that it requires a huge sales team, expensive direct marketing campaigns, and hard-to-secure channel partnerships. We have seen examples of this in the past with OpenTable (they had to hire a local sales team in every city they launched in), it was true a decade later when Groupon started and built a 5,400-person sales team in the following four years, and even in 2012, the difficulty of reaching a large number of small businesses was a common refrain among savvy seed-stage investors. Of course, small businesses are just one example, and reaching any audience can bring challenges to the table – which is why integrating with an established product can be a fantastic solution.
Now We’re Getting Somewhere
The first generation of marketplaces and partner directories were a huge step in the right direction. They offered mostly open APIs and exposure to a large number of users, but were missing something… a quality experience!
We’ve all seen successful platforms evolve – look at Apple when the iTunes Music Store launched in 2003 or Facebook when it opened up its platform in 2007. What these companies have in common is their commitment to growing a robust, vibrant ecosystem that provides an open, standards-based API that empowers developers to craft great experiences.
Now you might be asking yourself, how do I figure out if an integration partner has this type of an ecosystem? Here are some common questions to ask that could give you the answer you seek: What is the size of the potential audience using or needing this product? Will this functionality add significant value to my product? How open is the platform and how quickly can I get up to speed? How committed is the software provider to promoting and providing a marketplace or app store for their customers to find the solution? And perhaps most importantly, does the API provide me with the flexibility I need while also being easy to use?
Identifying the answers to these questions makes the difference between an integration that lets your app thrive in the integration partner’s ecosystem versus an integration that is a waste of time and resources.
In the second part of this blog series, we’ll take a look at the importance of open APIs for developers, the commitment of companies growing successful marketplaces, and the need for organizations to choose their integration partner(s) wisely!
Stay tuned! And be sure to check out our Constant Contact booth at FutureM to learn more about the benefits of integrating with companies like Constant Contact.
Join us at FutureM to hear more from Constant Contact!