B2B Marketing Agency for Technology Companies

The Third-party Applications and Services of High Performance Websites

High performance websites rely heavily on third-party applications and services to broaden its functionality, tie together critical data, and boost a company’s bottom line.

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by Eric Sharp

Culinary chefs rely on a variety of kitchen tools to prepare meals rich in taste and presentation.

Without sharp knives, clean cutting boards, and accurate thermometers, their creations are limited, kitchen efficiency slows down, and the food is likely to be served cold (and tasting funky).

Similarly, high performance websites rely on tools like third-party applications and services to output timely, and richer, user experiences. When integrated properly, they help broaden the overall functionality of a website, tie together critical data to improve sales and marketing efficiency, and ultimately generate results that can boost a company’s bottom line.

There are numerous third-party website applications/services available today, but the handful below are fundamental to high performance websites.

Let’s dig in.

CMS (Content Management System)

A website’s content management system allows users to create and manage website content through a back-end login (e.g. www.website.com/admin). A CMS can also handle more complicated functionality such as storing information that is collected on the website (e.g. contact form), facilitating e-commerce features, and managing its SEO.

High performance websites understand that their CMS should be flexible, stable, fast, and have an easy-to-use interface. It should also equip major stakeholders with the necessary permissions, but prevent them from accidentally blowing things up (aka taking their website offline).

Some popular content management systems of today are Wordpress, Drupal, and ProtoFuse’s own CMS of choice, Contao. Most systems utilize the L.A.M.P. stack (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) and come open-source.

API (Application Programming Interface)

In layman's terms, an API lets a website either RECEIVE information from a third-party service or SEND information to a third-party service. They come in all sizes and shapes — since they’re all unique — and require some web development expertise.

Since APIs are the “connectors” to other software products or services, they can, with proper integration, expand a website’s range of capabilities.

A few example API integrations:

  1. Data submitted in a “Request Quote” form is sent to a CRM (more on CRM below) so sales can be notified and track it

  2. Display a customized Google Map (like we did on Cove Communities Resort Map)

  3. Show a real-time number of Facebook “Likes” or Twitter “Followers”

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

image credit: SalesForce.com

A CRM is a system for managing a company’s interactions around current and future customers such as contact information, leads, and sales opportunities.

High performance websites integrate with CRMs like Salesforce, SugarCRM and Zoho because they serve as the central brains to managing connections that’ll grow a business.

When it comes to these critical business functions, a CRM differs from a CMS by providing an interface to manage this data, collaborate and run reporting/analysis — even on mobile devices. This comprehensive functionality is not in the wheelhouse of a content management system (CMS).

Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation is the new kid on the block for small to midsize businesses. Though platforms have been around for about a decade, the adoption of marketing automation technology continues to grow (though, based upon Google Trends, started to slow down considerably since 2017.)

What exactly is marketing automation? Well, the simplest definition I've heard came from Mark O’Brien at NewFangled:

The right message to the right prospect at the right time.

High-performing websites have high-performing marketing systems in place, and marketing automation is one of those systems. It will utilize a website’s quality content and calls-to-action to nurture prospects and move them down the funnel.

Act-On, Marketo and Hubspot are some of the popular marketing automation platforms available today.

Email Marketing

Utilizing an email marketing platform such as MailChimp, Constant Contact or Campaign Monitor is likely the most common third-party integration on this list.

But isn’t email marketing dead? Not at all. In fact, email is more powerful than ever which makes integrating these services to a website a non-brainer. It’s cost-effective and still a very personable marketing channel to interact with current and prospective customers.

If you’re currently integrating an opt-in form on your website, and experiencing a low conversion rate, this might help: Conversion Basics for your Mailing List Form

Note: A marketing automation platform can replace an email marketing platform. There’s overlap in those two systems.

Analytics

It is nearly impossible to determine whether a website is high-performing without measurement. And proper measurement needs — no, requires — analytics.

Integrating a free third-party service, like Google Analytics, takes 15 minutes to setup. A quick embedding of some javascript code and data starts collecting immediately. Having analytics provides a behind-the-scenes look at a website's audience, traffic, content and conversions.

image credit: Google Analytics

Payment Gateway

Integrating a payment gateway is necessary when a website is selling something and a secure transaction is required.

A payment gateway facilitates the transfer of information between a payment portal (website) and the bank.

Wikipedia

Choosing the best payment gateway can be somewhat intimidating — there are hundreds of options available today. My best advice would be to choose one that’s first compatible with your merchant account (the temporary holding bank), comes with a high reputation, and its transaction fees are comparable to other top payment gateways.

At ProtoFuse, we’ve had many successful integrations with Authorize.net, PayPal and FirstData.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)

An ERP is a business process management software that allows a company to control many back office functions related to technology, services, inventory, sales and human resources.

Most ERPs are typically very expensive, but extremely powerful. Companies that run an ERP treat it like their “digital brain”.

It takes a very specific skillset to integrate a website with an ERP system. If you’re seeking a company with this expertise, we recommend the good folks at Caxiam.

A high performance website doesn’t do it alone

There’s a reason why all these third-party applications and services exist. They handle very specific components of a business extremely well.

A high performance website doesn’t, and really can’t, do it alone. They need these third-party integrations to run like a well-oiled machine. Though there’s a bit of heavy-lifting for initial setup, the organization — and the user of the website — can reap rich benefits otherwise unobtainable.

Further reading around high performance websites

We believe a conversion-focused website — paired with the proper traffic, content, automation, and end-to-end ROI measurement — equips B2B technology companies with a real asset to scale their business.

18

Years in business

50%

Minimum growth in quality leads our clients see after an engagement

300+

Websites we've created, supported, or consulted over the last decade

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The jargon we speak (we'll approach conversation like a layperson)