Skip to content

What are Third-Party Integrations and How Do They Work?

Dec 20, 2021 | 6 minutes

There is a moment when the topic of integrations starts to become relevant for businesses.

Usually, this moment takes place after a business experiences problems related to processes involving apps and data, which in turn calls for cost-effective solutions that can be rolled out fast.

Take lead response times, for example. It’s widely known that providing timely answers to leads has a positive impact on the bottom line, and integrations can help reduce lead response times to nearly zero.

This is just one example, but there are countless processes that integrations can improve by connecting a few apps together.

However, there is an essential question that must be answered before addressing solutions to particular problems: Will you rely on native integrations or third-party integrations to accomplish your goals? 

As a company that lives and breathes third-party integrations, we realized that many people don’t necessarily know the difference between both and that learning about it can help make the right decision from the very beginning.

In this article, we’ll explain third-party integrations, how they fare against native integrations, and what are the key indicators you need to look at before deciding on one or the other.

What are third-party integrations?

A third-party integration is a connection between two or more apps that is built on an external platform. 

This is the single most important distinction between native integrations (which are built or deployed in native app environments) and third-party integrations.

Simply put, third-party integrations require the user of any given app to rely on an independent platform to build integrations between apps.

These platforms are specifically designed to create integrations between apps and tend to offer unique features that make them convenient for building integrations at scale.

It’s important to note that native and third-party integrations aren’t mutually exclusive.

In most cases, an integration that is offered natively by an app can also be built using third-party platforms as well.

What’s the difference between third-party integrations and native integrations?

There are multiple differences between native and third-party integrations.

First of all, let’s remark the obvious: Native integrations are offered by the original app developers, and third-party integrations are built on external platforms. 

For example, HubSpot CRM offers a native integration between their product and LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms.

This allows HubSpot users to funnel LinkedIn form data into the CRM natively - that is, without leaving the HubSpot environment.

The second difference is perhaps the most important one: Most native integrations are rigid and configured to accomplish a predefined goal (for example, sending data from app A to app B).

This means that you can’t expand that integration to connect other apps into the workflow, or play with the parameters that define what the integration does, how, and when.

It’s a steep price for a little convenience if you ask us.

Third-party integrations, on the other hand, cover two bases: You can build and adjust them to suit your specific needs, or else rely on pre-packed integrations.

Here at Make, we call these pre-packed integrations “templates”.

The third key difference between native and third-party integrations can be defined in terms of scope.

App developers offering native integrations often focus on the most pressing use cases and roll out pre-packed solutions to address them.

This approach often leaves aside more specific needs thousands of users may have and represents a key limitation when deciding on an integration strategy.

Which tools can help you build third-party integrations?

There are plenty of tools that allow you to build third-party integrations, and we believe Make is the most powerful, flexible, and user-friendly one you can get.

Other than Make, the tools that serve the app integrations market include Tray, Automate, MuleSoft, Dell Boomi, Zapier, Microsoft Power Automate, Workato, and IFTTT among others.

Examples of third-party integrations

There are virtually countless examples of third-party integrations, as the possibilities to connect apps together are exponential.

Think about Make.

Our platform features 1,000+ apps and 6,000+ endpoints you can connect together, offering you the possibility to create thousands of third-party integrations out of the blue.

The template below is a basic example of a Make-powered integration between two google services. It allows you to automatically store emails from a certain sender into Google Sheets.

As long as you connect two API endpoints together using a third-party platform, you’ll be facing a third-party app integration. 

Benefits of third-party integrations

There are multiple benefits to choosing third-party integrations over native ones.

What’s most, there are several benefits of third-party integrations that can’t be left out of consideration by those who are evaluating the best integration strategy for their business.

Let’s take a look at them.

1. Standardization

Building integrations on third-party platforms allows you to keep a consistent approach to app integrations across the board.

Native integrations, on the other hand, lack a standard. In other words, if you rely on native integrations all the time, you will notice that the methods, requirements, and scope of native integrations are incredibly different among apps.

This goes against a healthy integration strategy, as having to deal with multiple different integration methods at once is a nuisance.

Third-party integrations, on the other hand, offer a better approach to integrations, allowing a company to strategize and scale its integrations with a single method that is market-proven and expedient.

2. Options

Imagine that you are using an email marketing tool, and start building integrations with their native capabilities. Then, all of the sudden, you (or your company) decide to switch to another email marketing platform.

In such cases, your beloved integrations are gone with the tool.

By using a third-party platform to build integrations you’d save yourself this lingering problem.

Why? Because integration platforms are comprehensive, and offer integrations for the leading tools in each field. So, if your company switches from one email marketing platform to another, all you have to do is change a few details here and there, and your integrations will keep running without much interruption.

3. Unique features

Third-party platforms offer features that you won’t find in native integrations. The possibility to connect thousands of apps together is perhaps the most important, but not the only one.

Features like routes, error handling, or custom API calls are nowhere to be found on native integrations and are readily available on third-party platforms.

4. Pricing

Native integrations aren’t always free. In some cases, access to integrations will require you to upgrade your current plan, while other companies make you pay per integration.

Needless to say, things can get expensive pretty quickly.

Third-party platforms, on the other hand, can be incredibly affordable, and free plans are a staple of the industry.

5. Scope

Companies that offer native integrations develop a few dozen connectors at best, while third-party platforms often have hundreds, if not thousands of connectors available.

In other words, third-party platforms fill the gaps that native integrations fail to address, allowing you to build on your own terms, and almost without limits.

6. User experience

Platforms for building third-party integrations often are more user-friendly than most native integrations.

Make, for example, offers a simple interface, ample documentation, and an intuitive integration builder that operates on drag-and-drop and point-and-click principles.

Native integrations, on the other hand, can be difficult to work with and require multiple text inputs.

Moreover, they very rarely offer the chance to actually see the connections between apps, and the data that is involved in the integration.

7. Flexibility

As pre-packed solutions, native integrations give little wiggle room for creating new things, adding more steps to a workflow, and whatnot.

With third-party platforms is a different story. The user is in charge of imagining and deploying integrations at will.

What’s most, some give room for even more. Make, for example, allows you to upload your own custom and private apps, and integrate them with other apps as you like.

That’s not something you’ll find in native integration solutions; not for now, at the very least.

Final thoughts

It’s not rare for companies and users of apps to start with native integrations. There’s nothing wrong with this, although it may not be the best solution in the mid and long term.

The key to deciding whether native or third-party integrations are what you need is to develop an integration strategy.

If the goal is to rely more on integrations to increase productivity and get more out of your team, then it might be wise to rely on the scalable, standardized approach that third-party platforms offer. 

On the contrary, if you need an integration to solve a punctual, granular problem, a native solution might be what you are looking for. 


Martin Etchegaray

Content Manager and Senior Editor at Make. I enjoy writing and reading about history, science, and tech.

Like the article? Spread the word.

Get monthly automation inspiration

Join 75,000+ Makers and get the freshest content delivered straight to your inbox.