Application programming interfaces (APIs) are an essential aspect of everyday operations for a huge range of enterprises around the world.
One area of business that’s particularly well-suited to using APIs is marketing. If your team isn't currently seeing big benefits from this technology, it's time to rethink your approach.
What is an API?
In simple terms, an application programming interface (API) is a set of rules and protocols that make it possible for separate applications and pieces of software to interact with one another.
Unique encryption keys allow users to verify their identity in order to access and extract information from external systems, which they can then utilize within their own application.
Essentially, an API is a 'middleman' that facilitates the flow of data between discrete systems and digital services. Once the parties on either side of the transaction have been verified, the transfer of information can take place.
These tools are essential to many valuable business processes, including:
- Accessing the various products and tools available from Google and other major tech providers
- Incorporating social media features into company websites
- Delivering location-specific customer experiences
- Gaining centralized access to the different tools you use to run your organization
- Enabling transactions by connecting your checkout system to external payment technology providers or receiving networks
So what about marketing? How can APIs make a positive difference to this aspect of your business?
1. Enabling automation
Automation is having a transformative impact on marketing. Research by Ascend2 has shown that nearly two-thirds (65%) of businesses are using automation in their email marketing, while just under half (47%) have incorporated it into their social media management.
However, it would be extremely difficult - if not impossible - for marketers to realize the full benefits of automation without APIs. They're essential to achieving the connectivity required to automate vital processes such as sending timely messages to customers and publishing social media content.
These technologies should be functioning in close harmony with one another for you to maximize their benefits and drive efficiency in your everyday operations.
2. Realizing the full power of email marketing
Email may be one of the oldest digital marketing channels available to businesses, but it's also one of the most powerful. The statistics show:
- Four billion people use email every day
- Nearly four in ten brands (37%) are increasing their email marketing budget
- More than three-quarters (77%) of marketers have seen email engagement increase in the past year
- Email is the preferred channel for smartphone users to receive brand communications
APIs open up a huge range of possibilities for what you can do with email to deliver regular, relevant communications to your customers and maintain engagement.
By establishing a connection between your customer relationship management (CRM) software and your email marketing system, for example, APIs enable you to send out mailings that relate directly to recent interactions and events stored in your CRM.
3. System integration
There are many other examples of how integrating systems with APIs can benefit your marketing efforts.
An interface between your CRM and your content management system (CMS), for instance, makes it infinitely easier to incorporate data and learnings stored in your CRM into the content you produce for your website, social media and other key channels.
This also facilitates the sharing of information and intelligence between other teams and the marketing department. When sales reps have interactions with customers, the resulting insights can be stored in the CRM and consequently the CMS, making it easier for you to keep your messaging contextual and relevant at all times.
Software providers such as HubSpot rely heavily on APIs to integrate websites with a range of essential services, systems and workflows.
4. Enhanced data collection and analytics
To demonstrate the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, you must be able to collect and present data that shows a return on investment. Furthermore, data analytics is crucial to market research and the forecasting of trends that could have a big impact on your business.
As technology evolves and the range of marketing and communication channels available to you increases, so does the scale of the data management challenge.
APIs can make this process easier by providing interfaces between your various marketing campaigns and data sources, and a single, centralized dashboard. When all of your data is stored in a single location, you can eliminate inefficiencies such as having to log into multiple reporting tools and make your analytics much more effective.
Learn more: How to Bring Your Digital Marketing Analytics to Life with 6 Visual Dashboards
5. Social media campaign management
Social media marketing offers enormous potential for brands, but it can also be demanding and difficult to manage, particularly when you have multiple campaigns running at the same time.
Through diligent use of APIs, however, you can make life easier for your team and take advantage of the vast power of social media.
The Twitter API enables marketers to access the most valuable components of the platform, from tweets and direct messages to user profiles and data. Facebook also provides a Marketing API for advertisers that can generate benefits including better targeting, reduced cost per action and easier measurement of results.
If you want to take advantage of all the opportunities social media marketing has to offer, make sure you're engaged with APIs and everything they can do for you.