We spoke with Tyler Mills, Product Manager at Zaius, to get the scoop on his company's approach to integrations. We asked Tyler what role integrations have played during their journey.
What does Zaius do?
Zaius is a B2C CRM that collects and connects all customer, product, and web data to create a personal profile of each customer enabling hyper-personalized cross-channel marketing campaigns.
Zaius stitches together customer data using a proprietary user resolution process and generates a comprehensive profile view of each customer's attributes and behavior. The platform then automatically generates actionable insights driven by state-of-the-art data science.
The majority of Zaius clients are ecommerce companies selling products to consumers (B2C). As a result, they see immense value in a solution that connects to their existing ecommerce platform (e.g. Shopify, Magento), support platform (e.g. Zendesk), customer-focused add-ons (e.g. Loyalty Programs, Lead Capture Forms), and ad channels (e.g. Google, Facebook) so they can create highly targeted marketing based on the consolidated data set within Zaius.
What is the business value of integrations in your product?
Zaius integrations make it easier to close deals, reduce the time required to onboard, increase the stickiness of the product, and improve core functionality by enabling new use cases for marketers.
When we launched our first integrations, we saw an immediate increase in the rate of closed deals. Prospects saw value in frictionless integrations with their existing workflows while existing clients saw value in having all their data in a single location.
Because many of our integrations are "one-click" and require limited setup, they reduce the amount of onboarding effort required by our Customer Success team. For clients with custom or proprietary implementations, integrations still provide immense value in reducing onboarding cost at the edge by integrating with their secondary solutions (e.g. surveys, support tickets). Additionally, even when clients span sectors (e.g. travel vs. clothing), and as a result have very unique data sets, Zaius' integrations enable extensibility of the data model for each brand ensuring any use case can be addressed.
What purpose do integrations serve in your product?
Many of our integrations allow clients to import customer activity like orders, opening a ticket, visiting a website, opening a mobile app, as well as company data like Products or subscriptions.
This data provides the basis for powerful, targeted segments based on both behavior and attributes of customers. For example, you can create a segment sending a push message to all men, 25-34 years old, that abandoned their shopping cart during their session on web, as well as generating actionable insights backed by one-of-a-kind data science.
We believe it should be as simple to get data out of Zaius as it is to get data into Zaius, and providing a consistent channel interface enables our development partners and client brands to do that quickly and easily. To this end, a future goal is to enable channels as integrations, enabling the addition of channels like SMS, Facebook Messenger, Direct Mail and Ad Networks with a nearly identical integration interface to that of data apps.
Leveraging data import apps that unify unique data allows every additional channel app to be extremely powerful as marketers do not have to rely on a siloed data set for segmentation and can orchestrate campaigns across a multitude of services.
Closing the loop of data in and data out integrations produces millions of data points that allow frequent and consistent improvement of our machine learning model. That allows Zaius users to be better at their job due to the fact that the data and channels are not siloed to a single team within their company or to a single set of services that they utilize outside of Zaius.
What is your approach to implementing integrations?
As of today, the majority of integrations are built by Zaius and Zaius contractors, but the goal is to open up the creation of these integrations to external developers as we build out the proper tooling for our partners.
Zaius integrations support a standard RESTful "push" interface using public APIs but also -- uniquely in the space -- hosted code execution of integration logic. This allows developers to create highly complex apps without worrying about the scalability of infrastructure or uptime by having Zaius host the app code and infrastructure.
Zaius will automatically scale to manage short-running tasks like webhooks and long-running tasks like historical import jobs without any additional development effort required by a developer to create webhook URLs or manage job state.
To ensure that marketers are provided a consistent user experience across apps, Zaius will auto-generate the setup forms for each app provided a simple form definition, ensuring that marketers can simply configure app settings in the Zaius UI without requiring an integration developer having to manage a complete front-end configuration form.
What challenges remain in your integration story today?
A big priority for us is ensuring that all integration experiences are consistent and do not require training.
It's much simpler to let all integrations simply "dump" data into Zaius as-is, but this limits the ability to leverage data for data science and prevents a consistent user experience across apps of the same category. For example, if every Loyalty integration used a different schema, it'd be impossible to ensure that integrations resulted in a simpler user experience. However, we have invested in, and continue to invest in a "Recipe" featureset that adds marketing campaigns automatically to accounts when an app is installed. This ensures that when an app is installed, all the common use-case campaigns are available without the marketer having to understand the data mapping from another system. Additionally, if a developer wants to leverage these campaigns, Zaius requires no additional effort — they'll be available automatically when their app is installed. These recipes ensure that the setup and use of apps are simple for both developers and the end-user.
Another challenge is driving demand for developers to invest in integrations built on top of the Zaius platform. However, we strongly believe that investing in a developer-first mentality and providing a strong developer-centric featureset will provide confidence in enterprise businesses to invest in the Zaius platform, which will also drive partner demand to simplify the integration experience for mutual clients.
How do you see the role of integrations evolve going forward given the SaaS ecosystem trends?
The companies that invest in extensibility as a core aspect of their product are the most likely to be set up for long-term success. It's often simpler to defer to an integration's functionality than to build the functionality natively with your internal engineering resources.
Building an integration-first platform allows your product team to focus on the core product philosophy and defer to partners and the ecosystem as needed.
In the marketing industry there are nearly 10,000 martech solutions. Any product without extensibility that tries to build to the common use cases of a marketer risk becoming a "checklist" product of features without any depth to functionality as they become more and more limited by the constraints of their engineering team.
Any words of wisdom for a SaaS vendor implementing their integration story today?
Extensibility is becoming a requirement to success. Don't hesitate to make integrations and extensibility a priority. From small businesses to large enterprises, integrating with an existing ecosystem of tools provides new pipeline, strengthens retention, and reduces the risk of product teams on spreading themselves too thin trying to build to every single use case.