Building a functional website is a little bit like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. There are so many third-party platforms out there that virtually any business problem that you have can be solved if you find the right tool. At the same time, the sheer number of options available can be daunting. From measuring customer satisfaction, to acquiring new leads, to leveraging video content, to creating email-based automations, to integrating live chat modules… The horizon is literally endless.
So first, you need to spend time figuring out what it is that you need to make your digital presence stand out and meet your business objectives.
Today, let’s focus on 10 integrations that we think can be useful to most businesses.
But first, what is an integration? According to Hubspot, “integrations connect your software to third-party applications so they can share information with each other. They share data from one system to the next which provides you with more features and options while using your software.”
In other words, integrations allow you to supercharge your website without having to create all the pieces of the puzzle yourself. You can rely on experienced organisations that will provide you with reliable technical solutions that have already been shown to work in the real world.
There are literally thousands of available third-party integrations out there. So today, we’ll focus on 10 of them. We are big fans of these integrations here at Thirst and we’d be happy to assist you with them - so please contact us if you’d like to know more.
1. Payment and eCommerce
Need to take payments on your site? Whether it’s for products, services or subscriptions, Stripe is the ‘king’ of payment gateways. They handle all the complex tasks for you (transactions, customer details, invoices) so you only have to worry about the frontend. At Thirst we love working with Stripe. We have recently completed a member system for the Australian Cricketers’ Association which utilised Stripe for one-off and recurring membership payments.
Shopify started as a simple eShop builder. Today, it’s much more than that - you should read this article to understand its full power. However it still works really well for any eCommerce needs, simple or complex, including the ability to create a simple store and take payments. The beauty of it is that you can integrate it very easily with any CMS (Content Management System), so for example if you are using a WordPress website you can literally ‘plug and play’ a Shopify store. This is what we did for our client Mountain Goat Beer.
2. Analytics & user data
This is probably the most common integration. Pasting a small piece of code on every page of your website allows you to have access to a wealth of information about your users’ behaviour, demographics, source and much, much more. What’s more, it is absolutely free. It is a must have and we implement it by default on all our website builds.
Segment takes customer data to the next level. It collects user events from your website and provides a complete data toolkit you and your team. It allows you to significantly improve your products, services, marketing and sales capabilities by analysing the data that really matters to your business. It integrates fairly easily with your website, and you can start using it for free, up to 1000 visitors a month.
3. Customer relationship management
The most well-known, but also most expensive CRM tool out there, Hubspot is also the most comprehensive. Marketing automation, sales pipeline management, full Content Management System capabilities - Hubspot is truly a swiss army knife of a software and integrates with pretty much anything.
A direct competitor of Hubspot, ActiveCampaign’s strength lies in the ease of creating marketing automation. No technical knowledge is required and you can start creating workflows in a matter of seconds.
4. Lead generation
They have been around for a while. Originally a simple eDM platform, MailChimp have now evolved into a much more thorough and comprehensive digital marketing suite. They allow you and your business to utilise the full power of inbound marketing and lead scoring, while making it easier and easier to integrate with your website. This is the tool of choice we recommend to most of our clients.
SharpSpring is a thorough CRM suite that allows you to do pretty much anything, from lead generation to customer service to sales pipeline management. At Thirst we are actually partnering SharpSpring and have developed deep expertise in using and implementing it. We use it for ourselves of course, and have also helped many of our clients leverage its full potential.
The Chat Plugin allows you to integrate the FB Messenger experience directly into your website. The familiar interface will help put your customers at ease. There is also an ability to pre-program responses to ensure a seamless experience. Again, this is very easy to integrate and will allow you to reduce the time your customers, and potential customers, need to reach you.
Intercom is Live Chat on steroids. It does everything your average Live Chat plugin will do, and much more than that. Messenger, Customer Management, Customer Data… And what’s even better - it also integrates with endless other applications thanks to its robust API.
So, as you can see, making your websites an ultra-performant beast is now easier than it’s ever been. However, the tools available are not the only thing you need… A sound strategy and expert technical hands will actually help you extract the most value.