What are product integrations? Plus how to implement them

Product integrations offer a wealth of benefits, from improving customer retention to helping you close new business

As a result, the question isn’t if you should build product integrations—it’s how you go about building them.

We’ll help you pinpoint different ways of building product integrations so that you can determine which makes the most sense for your organization. But to start, let’s align on our definition of product integrations and go deeper on why they’re important.

Related: How product managers can build integrations

Definition of product integrations

Product integrations are any integrations your platform provides with 3rd-party systems. They typically use application programming interfaces (APIs) to ensure the integrated data moves quickly and reliably, but they can also be powered by webhooks for real-time syncs. 

Note: Product integrations and customer-facing integrations mean the same thing. We'll stick with the former term in this article.

Why are product integrations important?

Here are some of the top benefits of product integrations:

Enables you to acquire more customers

Your prospects may have several criteria when evaluating your software alongside alternatives. That said, integrations likely top their list of wants. Case in point: a study by Gartner found that more than 4 in 5 buyers rate a vendor’s ability to provide “seamless integrations” as very important. 

Helps you expand into new markets

As you look to move upmarket, sell into additional regions, or enter more industries, you’ll likely face new integration demands. If you can meet them and go above and beyond what the market incumbents offer, you have a chance to not only gain traction but also become a market leader.

Related: Benefits of API aggregation

Facilitates more customer expansions

Given their value, product integrations are easy to monetize. 

You can sell the integrations as add-ons, as part of higher-end packages, or even include a specific set of integrations in one package while adding additional ones in another. We’ve seen our clients adopt any one of these approaches successfully. For instance, TeamOhana, a headcount management platform, includes integrations in their Enterprise package.

How TeamOhana uses integrations in their pricing plans

On the other hand, Causal, a modern business planning software, offers a Google Sheets integration in their Free plan, standard data integrations in their Launch plan, and premium integrations in their Growth plan.

How Causal uses integrations across different price points

Allows you to retain clients at a higher rate

Perhaps unsurprisingly, integration issues are the leading cause of customer churn. Put differently, providing reliable and comprehensive product integrations can help prevent client dissatisfaction that leads to lost business.

Related: The impact of universal APIs

Approaches to implementing product integrations

Now that you know why product integrations are important, the next question you’re likely asking is how, exactly, you can go about implementing them. 

We’ll present a few options to help guide your evaluation.

In-house development

This involves tasking your in-house developers with building to 3rd-party APIs and maintaining the connections. 

A visual representation of native integrations

There are certainly some benefits to this approach. For instance, it allows you to avoid working with 3rd-parties. In addition, it can prove manageable if you only need to build one integration or the integrations you need to build are relatively shallow in scope. 

However, in reality, you’ll likely need to implement and maintain an ever-growing set of robust integrations. Tasking your developers with this would take up most of (if not all of) their time, forcing them to forgo other critical work, such as addressing product bugs or developing key features for your product.

Embedded integration platform as a service (iPaaS)

An embedded iPaaS is a 3rd-party solution that allows you to embed a provider’s iPaaS into your platform.

The platform typically provides multiple deployment options. For instance, you can either build the integrations on behalf of clients or allow them to do so within your platform. 

A visual representation of an embedded iPaaS

And while embedded iPaaS solutions are a step in the right direction, they don’t fully address the issues presented in in-house development.

They still require a fair amount of technical expertise to use—ultimately forcing your engineers (or your clients’) to build and manage the integrations. In addition, you’ll only be able to build one integration at a time, making the prospect of launching a high-volume of integrations quickly all but impossible.

Related: How to decide between an Embedded iPaaS and a unified API

Unified API solution

A unified API platform is a 3rd-party solution that offers a suite of aggregated APIs; each aggregated—or unified—API allows you to connect to multiple 3rd-party solutions in a given software category, such as a CRM.

A visual representation of a unified API platform

This type of platform neatly addresses the drawbacks presented in the other options: namely, you can integrate at scale with minimal effort. For instance, Merge lets you connect to more than 40 ATS vendors by simply connecting to its ATS Unified API

But Merge goes beyond other unified API platforms in a number of other ways. 

We offer 7 unified APIs (and growing) to ensure you’re able to scale any type of integration; we provide comprehensive common models across our unified APIs, in addition to features that allow you to access custom fields and objects; we have out-of-the-box integrations management capabilities to help your team assess clients’ integration activities and health as well as assist end-users on resolving their integration issues. 

To learn more about Merge, you can schedule a demo with one of our integration experts.