This article is part of a series on how to scale and optimize your app integration on the QuickBooks platform. Be sure to read Part 2: “Measuring the success of your app integration.”
It all started with repeat messages from your head of sales: “Hey, we lost a sale because our software does not integrate with <insert name of popular app> . All my customers are asking for it. Can you do something about it?”
After consideration, you slot the integration into your backlog. All goes as planned and you release it within a month. You tell your head of sales the great news, pat yourself on the back, and move on to the next big thing.
Four weeks go by … and you remember to check the performance of the integration since launch and only a handful of users enabled it. Strange; this was the most requested feature from your user base. You start investigating and probe for more data – and that’s when it hits you: You have no idea where or why customers are dropping because you aren’t tracking anything except the number of users enabling the integration.
This is a familiar story. Most companies have great instrumentation for their core product, yet when it comes to third-party integrations, they don’t apply the same principle, even though they power essential experiences for their customers! There is a misconception that platform integrations are mainly a technical concern, rather than a key driver of growth that should be closely looked after by the business.
“You can’t improve what you can’t measure”
If you invest efforts in integrating an API platform such as QuickBooks, you should always go the extra mile and instrument it.
While you can obtain high-level metrics from the platform’s developer dashboard (see your monthly user growth and churn on developer.intuit.com), you’re better off implementing your own metrics to understand user behavior more granularly.
To help you in your journey to scale through the QuickBooks platform, here are some best tips from several successful QuickBooks app partners.
Tips from successful QuickBooks partners
Nigel Fellowes-Freeman, founder & CEO, Expense Check – Expense Check provides automated tailored business insurance powered by QuickBooks.
Keep it simple! The two things we make our decisions around include:
1. How many connected customers we have.
2. How many use it (how many insurance policies we’re writing).
Everything we do aims to increase either or both of these metrics. We could track a huge amount of other metrics, but in order to have a company focus on critical activities, we focus on those two.
Keep your key partners to a minimum. The more third parties you work with the harder it gets, because the less control you have over the experience. We try to keep this as low as we can and get deep like we did with QuickBooks.
Strive to convert every user. Why couldn’t we have 100 percent of the customers who come to our app from QuickBooks convert? There should be no reason for someone to drop on our forms if all their data is pre-filled.
Measure every action on your signup forms. We measure every click using Google Tag Manager and Inspectlet. This allows us to identify any anomalies. For example, users were dropping off on a single field to collect their business type after connecting the app from QuickBooks. We had to make it very easy for users to enter their info, by using prefilled options or predictive typing. Doing this increased our conversion by 40 percent.
Reg Ouellette, vice president of engineering, Chata.ai – Chata.ai provides conversational business intelligence for QuickBooks
Focus on the value you your bring to the ecosystem. As a measure of success, we track how many people are connecting and using our application with QuickBooks. Ultimately it’s about bringing value to the end user. When we look at ecosystems like QuickBooks we consider two dimensions:
1. Are we able to provide new value and capability beyond what QuickBooks can do?
2. What is the cost of customer acquisition.?
Identify your gaps and opportunities on the marketplace. Look at how many apps are running in your space and how easy it is to work with these vendors compared to your solution.
Get direct feedback from accountants. We work very closely with a group of accountants and QuickBooks ProAdvisors. We’re connected to Facebook groups all over the place so we can hear what’s going on. We have a slack channel with our near advisors and they can ask us questions anytime. We ask them about features they’d like to see in our product.
Keep on improving your retention. Being a data intelligence app, we’re tracking the number of queries people are running per day as well as the failures. With natural language processing the main challenge is ambiguity, or what does the customer mean in this context? We’re continuously improving our model, and retrain our model if a query fails. When we started we had around 80% success rate, now it’s between 95 and 99 percent.
Be wary of seasonality when tracking success. Accounting can be quite cyclical. Just because a user is not interacting with a feature for 20 days of the month does not mean the feature is not important. Typically, bookkeepers and accountants are very active towards the end of the month.
Kristin Kanaar, business development manager at Greenback – Greenback provides itemized transaction feeds, helping businesses by automatically fetching sales and expense transactions into QuickBooks.
Conversion is the key. We use a number of data points to track the health of our partnership: number of businesses referred from the QuickBooks marketplace, number of businesses that connect QuickBooks, monthly and quarterly activity (e.g., are they using our product to sync data with QuickBooks) and the number of conversions to paid subscriptions. QuickBooks is one of the few platforms that offers single sign-on (e.g., Get App Now) and we also track that as its own metric. Ultimately, the number of paid conversions is the most important metric for us.
Start with market validation. When we started we set ourselves around 18 months to evaluate the partnership and see if it would take off. We started on the QuickBooks marketplace as a free service to get market validation and valuable feedback. Once we solidified our user base, we segmented our customers between casual and heavy users. We identified the surges in their use of the Greenback app to determine the limits and price point to introduce a paid plan.
Connect in person.Talk to the Intuit Developer team and other app partners in the ecosystem to understand the recipe to success on the marketplace. Go to QuickBooks events to meet in person and build relationships. We were not aware of how much importance is given to positive customer reviews to be surfaced in the search.
Your app card is your shop front window. Small improvements on your app card can go a long way to attract customers. For example, change your app title to clearly say what you do. Not just “Greenback” but “Greenback: Itemized Receipt Fetching.”