For marketing automation, marketing tools need to be integrated into different parts of the business: on the website, mailings, in offline systems. Sometimes data transfers fail due to various reasons such as software updates, a developer mistake on a new website or increasing server load. This leads to a significant loss of revenue and customer dissatisfaction.

Examples of Integration errors harmful for business

The CDP system (in our case, Mindbox) may stop receiving data from one of the subscription forms on a site. This may happen as a result of updating a site or altering code for a button, making it impossible to press. If there is no reliable monitoring system, this error can stay unnoticed for months. Imagine that the daily page traffic with a broken form is 1000 people and the conversion rate of the form is 1%. This accumulates and leads to lo a loss of 300 customers in just a month. Let’s say, an average client brings about three thousand rubles. A company could lose almost one million rubles because of a form. And what if there are a few issues like this?

Another example. Once upon a time in a company, that we cannot name, we noticed that the unsubscribe button on their subscription page broke. Users would press the unsub button, but the service did not receive the updated information. Letters would go out, people complained. It was only after a whole month that the company realized that all of its regular emails with promos, offers, and unique content made their way straight to spam folders. Instead of expected revenue growth, the company had to deal with an influx of subscriber negativity.

Integrations diagnostic is a complex and time-consuming process. It is necessary not only to notice any failures as soon as possible but also to pinpoint what exactly happened, trace the logs, and assign responsibility. Managers don't like tasks like this as coders are typically always confident in their code and highly likely to reflect blame. In Mindbox, there is a dedicated “Integration Dashboard” panel for integration monitoring and diagnosing. The dashboard significantly reduces integration times at the start of a project as well as error discovery and diagnostics. Before the dashboard entered the game you had to:
  • Check the logs and search for errors manually.
  • Ask your coders to upload download logs (which may not exist) upon believing that there is an issue.
  • Forward logs to another coder.
  • Argue on the correctness of diagnostics.
The dashboard allows to:
  • Check the integration status in real-time. An example would be checking if the integration started with a new mobile application.
  • Receive email notifications about errors found by the dashboard.
  • Access the logs via a generated link that a coder can share with their colleagues. The logs are saved automatically and are immutable.
The Dashboard
The Dashboard shows the integration status as a report for each integration point of a project in real-time. This is what a healthy integration dashboard looks like.
Moving into more detail about what an integration dashboard is and how it works.

The Dashboard allows to instantly detect integration errors

The integration dashboards is an information panel that shows how many times information was transferred today and how many errors occurred during the transfer, in real-time..
Integration states
There are four integration states: everything is ok, some problems, a lot of problems and no calls that the system assigns automatically based on an internal algorithm.
If a business does not have the ability to track an integration status, you can still discover errors in several ways. For example:
  • A client calls to say that he ordered an e-book to his email as a gift on February 23, via an online form, but never got it.
  • Run a scheduled check of all forms on the site and find out that the subscription form on the blog has not been working properly for 11 months.
  • Accidentally find out that all your emails have been making it to the spam folder for half a year because people cant unsubscribe from them and start reporting for spam.
The integration dashboard lets you know about problems instantly, and without negative feedback from customers or lost profits. When the integration status of an operation changes to erroneous, everyone subscribed to the integration status report receives notification letters. For example, letters can be sent to Mindbox managers, marketers and client developers that are engaged with the integration.
The letter
The letter indicates what problem appeared and where. By going to the operation logs you can find out, for example, that an email address in the lower right corner of the form is not transferred properly, or customers on the subscription page enter their name in French or Arabic or the cashier cannot sell a cherry-flavored yogurt at a discount because the cash desk does not reflect its real price. The Dashboard informs you if one of your website forms stops sending your data or sends it not as planned, as well as which specific form it is and where. For example, John J Adams wants to sign up onsite and subscribe to emails. But he makes a mistake when entering his email address. At the same time, the form itself does not check if the data input is valid. Instead, it just uses the email entered.
Registration form
After registering, the site sends an inquiry to Mindbox and states that John J Adam registered and wishes to receive a newsletter. Mindbox accepts information from the site and checks whether John J Adams data complies with the standard internal requirements for email addresses or not.
Data checking
The system discovers the discrepancy between what is expected and the data. Therefore, there is no email address and no data to save.
No email address and no data to save
Being a very responsible system, Mindbox can't just let that go without notice. This is why the Dashboard shows that when pulling up the “Registration” operation, something went wrong and you will receive a “Some problems” notification.
Some problems
To prevent this from happening again, email address validation should take place during the form submissions page. This was an example of a simple error, but they can be tricky. Let’s imagine a situation where a coder puts out a new website version, but an error snuck into the integration. Leading the system to transfer phone numbers instead of email addresses, and thus Mindbox sees every sign up on the site as erroneous. Throughout the day, this may lead to tens or hundreds of calls for which the system will apply an appropriate error status. Heres another example. At the start of the article, we wrote about the company whose emails went directly to spam because subscribers could not unsubscribe for a really long time even if they left a request. After several unsuccessful unsub attempts, clients simply marked the letters as spam. Because of this, the sender's reputation suffered. This type of situation could have been prevented with the integration dashboard. If the system has recorded that information about the unsubscribe request used to be communicated daily and then suddenly ceased it will send out notifications, for example: “On February 11, 2019, the operation did not have a single call. Please check if the integration is working properly”.
The notification

The dashboard saves time spent on fixing integrations

Frequently companies between which an integration is being made are located in different places and communicate via email. Everybody checks their email when personally convenient. Information about integration failures doesn’t reach interested parties immediately. They don’t respond immediately either. There can be numerous errors and they can take a long time to be solved. This makes it difficult to comprehend the global scale of the problem. At the same time, without the Integration Dashboard, only the coder responsible for the technical implementation of the integration has access to logs. The recovery process in the event of a breakdown is very slow. In Mindbox, everyone involved or interested in the process has access to logs that contained detailed information for all operational calls that have an error. Therefore any manager who received a notification can go to the operation logs and see:
  • When errors occurred and on whose side.
  • Why the system decided that an operation is being carried out with an error.
The operation log
This is the operation log that sends an authorization code for a mobile application. It indicates that the customer has entered an invalid number. Therefore, the authorization code failed to be sent.
A manager can see the log and independently assess how critical the error is, whether it is global and whether it requires immediate communication to developers. For example, if we ran out of promo codes for a promotion, no developer intervention is required as a manager or marketer can generate additional promotional codes themselves. If the log shows that errors occurred due to the incorrect format of an operation call, you need to contact code writers to fix it in order to resume the data transfer. The system automatically generates a link to the log of any operation with an error so that a manager does not have to write a detailed letter and stand by for an answer in order to get developers involved. Instead, they can share the error notification as well as a link to the operation log. Therefore, developers will have enough information to study the problem. All of this is especially important for cooperations between big companies.

The Dashboard simplifies integration:

  • Monitors the process: immediately fixes where and which issue took place, notifies everyone who is subscribed to notifications.
  • Provides information about how exactly the issue occurred thanks to operation logs so that managers can immediately assess how critical the error is and developers can fix it quickly.

Author team:

Nikolai Andreychuk
Nikolai AndreychukArchitect, responsible for integrations
Alexander Gornik
Alexander GornikCEO
Lana Shakirova
Lana Shakirovacontributing editor
The following case study is from Mindbox, the original brand behind Maestra’s technology