Marketing Automation platforms can be thought of as hubs of multiple technologies that were previously siloed. At SharpSpring, we are constantly working to expand the scope of our built-in functionality so that you can ultimately reduce your martech stack. That being said, there will still be occasions where an integration will be necessary to allow SharpSpring to communicate with external applications, and you can use integrations to get the most out of SharpSpring’s full functionality. For example, I use a SharpSpring form to capture requests for assistance in planning integrations, but I also want to track these requests in my Project Management software. To accomplish this I created a simple Zapier integration that creates a new Project card for me to track in Monday.com.
Whether it’s a proprietary software or perhaps you just need an outside-the-box workflow, integrations are a great way to make SharpSpring’s functionality even more powerful by allowing it to communicate with external resources.
The purpose of this blog is to outline how you can use integrations to create custom workflows between SharpSpring and any 3rd party software.
The integration toolkit – terms and definitions
Before getting into specifics, it is important to understand the different types of solutions that can be utilized for an integration:
API – API stands for Application Programming Interface and is the engine that virtually all integrations run on. An API is essentially the method that allows two separate applications to communicate with each other. However, an API integration does require an intermediate layer to facilitate the exchange of data. Think of the API as a series of rules and terminology that a developer can use to program an integration.
Native Integrations – Native Integrations are generally going to be the most convenient way to connect two applications because we have done all the development work for you! Native integrations are integrations that are built into SharpSpring, and usually require little more than entering your username and password. Examples of some of our native integrations include Salesforce, GoToWebinar and Facebook Lead Ads.
3rd party Integrations – 3rd Party Integrations are integrations that are developed and maintained by an independent web service and presented in a powerful, user friendly interface. These services will usually provide app-specific functionalities that can be set up as triggers or actions to allow communication between applications. The most commonly used tool for this would be Zapier, which I like to think of similar to Visual Workflows between applications. Using a tool such as Zapier is usually going to be the best blend of functionality and usability for someone looking to manage their own integrations. Best of all, they require no programming knowledge to get started!
Zapier Webhooks and SharpSpring PostBacks; A perfect pairing!
Did you know that you can also use the SharpSpring workflows to trigger an integration? One of the most powerful actions in our automation engine is Post Back Lead Info, which allows you to push Lead information to an external resource when the trigger is met. When you select this option, you will be asked to provide a URL to which the information will be posted to.
Enter Zapier Webhooks! A neat Zapier utility that provides you with unique URLs that you can use to catch the SharpSpring Postback. Simply add the Zapier provided URL and you’re all set! Now every time a lead triggers the SharpSpring automation their lead record will be sent to Zapier to be used for any integration.
For example, say you want to send an SMS message via Twilio to a lead record. In this case you would configure a postback automation to Zapier and then use the Zapier action to send an SMS message to the number associated with the posted Lead record. You can even use information such as First and Last name as dynamic variables in your SMS message for extra personalization!
In addition to Automations, you can also use Postbacks to push out submission data from SharpSpring forms. Let’s say you have a Contact Us form setup in SharpSpring, and you want to alert your team via Slack when a submission is received. By adding a Form Postback URL to the form’s settings, you can use Zapier webhooks to post the submission data to the appropriate Slack channel.
Or maybe you host Zoom webinars and want to use SharpSpring forms to register and track attendees. With a quick Zapier integration you can automatically create Zoom Webinar registrations directly from a SharpSpring form. Meanwhile SharpSpring will take care of sending email reminders and managing the continuing relationships with your attendees.
When to go custom?
There may come a time where you need additional customization in your integrations, or perhaps Zapier doesn’t have the necessary triggers/actions for the application you are trying to connect. In this case you may benefit in working with a developer to create a custom integration.
While custom integrations may cost a little more up front, they generally offer more flexibility than a SaaS solution such as Zapier. They also do not require a subscription and can actually be more cost effective in the long run. For example, say that you are closing hundreds of Opportunities per day in SharpSpring, and want the information shared with QuickBooks for accounting purposes. Since you are dealing with sensitive information and a large volume of data you might consider creating a custom integration that pulls all Opportunity information at the end of each day and submits invoice data into QuickBooks. Fortunately SharpSpring provides open access to our API, along with all the instructions required to create the perfect integration for your needs.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, integrations can expand SharpSpring’s functionality to almost limitless proportions! They can be simple integrations that can be set up in a few minutes, or more custom integrations that conform and scale with your business needs. Got more questions on integrations? Feel free to reach out anytime!