If you’re a data-driven marketer in today’s day and age, you need to have the ability to leverage the power of APIs. Now, APIs – Application Programming Interfaces – aren’t exactly simple. As a matter of fact, most inexperienced developers have trouble implementing them properly.
However, they aren’t impossible to master either. And you have to be aware that by learning how to utilize the power of APIs you can actually see a ton of success. Just look at the famous Airbnb growth hack, which utilized the Craigslist API. Go ahead, check it out, we’ll wait.
How do APIs Work and How Can You Use Them?
APIs are nothing but an ordinary series of rules that regulate how apps communicate with each other. An API allows for an app to extract data from another program and in turn, use that data to empower its own functions. In simplest terms, an API allows your app to “talk” to another app.
This, of course, requires one company to share information with numerous others. But why are so many large companies willing to share information with others? Why are they willingly helping their competitors like that?
You see, as companies like Facebook, Twitter, and the aforementioned Craigslist grow, and they quickly realize that they have more ideas than they have resources and time. By creating APIs, these companies allow 3rd-party organizations to create apps that will only boost the adaptation of their platform.
And by doing this, they are allowing companies to build while ecosystems that are dependent on the data they own. This dynamic often leads to more business opportunities and more revenue down the line. That sounds completely logical, right?
Looking at APIs from a Marketer’s Point of View
In the inbound marketing world, businesses usually develop apps in order to retain as many customers as possible and to improve their overall experience. One way to go, as we mentioned above, is to develop an API, let other companies use some of your data, and boost the adaptation of your software.
But that’s not all, you can also use certain APIs to gain more insight into your target audience. Demographic APIs, for example, can dig up a ton of useful information about your audience, such as their average age, income, and education level, just to name a few.
Here are a couple of basic things you need to understand about APIs before you can start leveraging for your marketing and branding efforts:
If you want to know whether the API will be useful for your marketing endeavors, you need to know what information is available through it. One way to find this out is to ask the developer directly. But a far more useful way is to go through the documentation and find out for yourself.
And since most modern developers use a RESTful API documentation tool to make sure their documentation is in order, you probably won’t have any problems going through it. People in charge of the documentation usually have the average user in mind when creating it.
Looking at Terms of Service
While people tend to skip reading terms of service, however, when it comes using APIs, you need to go through the TOS carefully. The thing is, every API has certain limitations. You need to understand those limitations in order to know to implement it in your business operation.
You need to learn how to work around these shortcomings and see which areas you need to invest more time and resources. For instance, most APIs have limited calls – a number of times you can request information from the web service – so you have to know how much usage you’ll be able to get out of it.
Gathering Data with APIs
And this should be the most interesting area for marketing professionals. Moreover, this is the simplest reason why you should use APIs – they could get you more information about your current and future customers. Some APIs have the ability to extract data that wouldn’t be possible with any other tool.
For instance, an API can identify what exact type of data you want to retrieve from your service and collect it in a matter of milliseconds. You just need to think of your API as a filing cabinet of sorts and its method as a curator that is there to pick the specific data you’re looking for.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, there a more than a few ways to use APIs for marketing purposes. You can use them to gather more data on your clients and create more personalized user experiences. On the other hand, you can create an API of your own, allow others to use it, and let them build complete ecosystems dependent on your data.
If you have the resources needed for the job, you should definitely allow your users to develop their own apps using your data. And this approach doesn’t only apply to web-based businesses. If your business has any web-based components, you should look into API development further.
We hope you enjoyed our article. As always, if you have any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.