There are thousands of software programs available to help today’s small businesses. Whether you are managing your finances, digital marketing, contacts or sales, there is software to help you manage and run each. However, to be highly effective, efficient, and productive, each area of your business must work together. Sales must talk to marketing. Marketing must talk to operations. Operations must talk to accounting. This is where software integration comes in to play to help you build a more cohesive and powerful business foundation.
How to Save Time and Work Smarter by Using Software Integration
Here is a brief look into what software integration is and how it works. We also share some tips and ideas for building your own integrations within your small business.
What is Software Integration?
Every action in your business typically triggers another action.
Here is an example. When a customer purchases a product and the payment has processed, an action to deliver the product is triggered. Additionally, you may also want to trigger an action that adds the customer to a specific list in your email marketing program or trigger an action that creates an entry in your accounting program. If you are using different software programs to process each of these actions, then you need a way for them to ‘talk’ to each other. Otherwise, you are stuck handling each of these tasks manually… and that is a WASTE OF TIME!
This is where software integration comes into play – the process of bringing data or function from one program together with that of another.
How Software Integration Works
Many of the software programs you use allow you to integrate with other tools so that information is shared and actions are automated. Using the example above, let’s say that you use PayPal as your payment processor and AWeber or MailChimp as your email marketing tool. By integrating the Paypal with your email tool through their app integration process, you can automate the process of adding customers to your email list when a purchase is completed in PayPal. You’ve now eliminated the need to have someone manually add the new customer to your list.
By integrating as many apps as possible, you can quickly automate processes in your business.
Building Your Own Integrations
If you can’t find an integration between the software tools that you are using, all is not lost. Tools like Zapier and IFTTT allow you to create your own customized integrations between thousands of software programs. The best part is of these tools is that no coding experience is required.
Using the example above, you can use Zapier to create a quick “Zap” that connects PayPal to Quickbooks Online and tells it to automatically create or update a customer and create a sales receipt when an order is processed. So now, you’ve eliminated two or three manual steps, all of which can fall victim to human error, and replaced it with smart automation that will handle the actions automatically and immediately. WOW!
Sofware Integrations Ideas
We work with dozens of small businesses, and I cannot think of one that we have not used some sort of software integration to help improve a business process to make it more efficient and help them save time. In our own business, we probably use over a dozen!
Here are some different areas of your business where you can look to use integrations to help save both time and money.
- Integrate your payment processing software or shopping cart with your CRM or email marketing platform to instantly add new customers to your database and start autoresponder campaigns.
- Integrate your survey software or google forms with your CRM or email marketing platform to instantly add respondents names and answers to your database.
- Integrate your blog site with your social media platforms to instantly post and promote new blog posts when they publish.
- Integrate your payment processing software or shopping cart with your online accounting software (Quickbooks Online) to automatically enter sales receipts or other transactions.
Technology offers many advantages to small businesses operating on slim budgets and the opportunities to integrate your processes are endless thanks to software companies understanding the necessity to work with other common tools and adding those abilities to their programs. All you need to do to take advantage is recognize where the opportunities exist and then put them into action.
By taking your tech a step further and developing smart app integrations, you can automate simple business actions to save a ton of time and money. We promise!