September 8, 2021
7 min read

APIs and Marketing Relationships You Should Know About

Two women in front of a computer displaying an e-commerce website.

Marketing and API are note the combination that would first come to mind. APIs are often thought to be only for technical people. But the rise of API products, with specific and clear use-cases, has changed that. Repetitive, boring tasks can now be done by simply connecting an API. Or can bring valuable data to help you growth. Here's a guide to explore the marketing side of APIs.

APIs (Application Program Interfaces) have changed the game of marketing in more than one way. 

If you’ve heard about APIs' role in marketing, you’ve probably heard of what they can do as a new piece of technology. Things like: 

  • automation, 
  • dynamic display of content for different customers, 
  • audience segmentation, 
  • optimized ad management, 
  • and detailed customer insights through data visualization. 

If this sounds familiar it’s because these are use cases from Facebook ad’s API. Facebook advertising contributed 84.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, compared to 497 million U.S. dollars from all other revenue streams. No wonder people are talking about APIs and marketing. 

Here at Blobr, however, we’re interested in 2 API marketing relationships that we think you should know about. 

To understand these relationships we’ll start with some marketing fundamentals and show how to use them for success with your API. Next, we’ll use the same fundamentals to show how APIs themselves can be used as a marketing asset.

Marketing fundamentals for APIs

Marketing is an art, not a science. There are layers of strategies that lead to successful marketing. While the online world has brought new innovations to marketing with data and social media platforms, the fundamentals of marketing haven’t changed. If you’re creating an API with the goal to generate income, you will need to market it. To highlight the unexpected relationships between marketing and APIs, let’s focus on 4 basic fundamentals and how to use them for your API.

Who is your market? 

The term customer obsession has been made famous by Amazon’s success. But marketing has always been about customer obsession. You have to deeply know and understand your market. From the size, demographics, psychographics, to what and how your product solves a problem for your customers. 

When you know your market, you’ll know where to find them and how to speak to them. To successfully market your API you need to be crystal clear who your customers are. Especially if you need to market to both developers and business roles. 

Make sure to tell the story of your API: what problem does it solve and what are the benefits of using it? Don’t focus on the technical features. Marketing is all about the ‘why’, not the ‘how’. 

Having clear use cases for your API will help, with all the technical details outlined in the documentation. The Blobr developer portal auto generates use case documentation. This takes out all the guesswork for you and your customers. 

What are your marketing goals? 

Marketing is the movement of potential customers through a funnel: 

  • From awareness and discovery (top of the funnel)
  • To interest and consideration (middle of the funnel)
  • And finally decision and purchase (bottom of the funnel)

Marketing goals align with these stages. To understand the value of your marketing strategy, you need clarity in your goals. 

  • Are you creating awareness for customers who know nothing about your product? 
  • Or are you speaking to knowledgeable customers who want to make a final purchase? 

To successfully market your API, you need to understand your marketing goals. This will help you select the best strategy for each stage of the funnel. 

Premium vs Freemium model?

While there are many business models, let’s look at either end of the spectrum: premium and freemium. A premium model relies on a higher cost and lower sales. It requires a strong brand and reputation.  Freemium is an offer of basic or limited features at no cost. Or giving away complimentary products and services. This model is good to connect with a large set of customers. It’s been very popular for software and internet-based businesses to build trust in entirely new offerings.  

Your marketing model depends on the size of your market. For a large customer base, it can work to offer a low or no-cost option of your API. A smaller audience is better suited to a premium price, but there are lots of options in between. The Blobr developer portal allows you to customize the price and access of your API to match the model you choose.

What experience are you creating? 

No matter the size of your market, your goals, or your model, you will always need an excellent customer experience. Customer Experience (CX) has always been important. Now in the online world User Experience (UX) proactively removes issues for your customers. With the growing number of products for Developers, there is a new focus on Developer Experience (DX). DX is especially important for APIs. 

An API portal like Blobr covers both the UX for your business customers and DX for your developer customers. It supports your customers every step of the way, from onboarding new API customers all the way to retaining them.

How APIs can be used for marketing 

Let’s connect the dots between our marketing fundamentals to see how they relate to APIs as marketing assets. Sharing an API is a way to connect more applications and customers to your ecosystem. This works even if an API is not your core product. APIs can attract new clients from partner applications. It is particularly useful where there is a large market. Especially for products that benefit from a network effect. This means the value of your product grows exponentially the more customers use it. 

Uber offers a ride request API. This API is used by partners like Starbucks and TripAdvisor. These partners benefit by offering additional services to their customers. And Uber benefits from increased business and accelerated growth.  

For this strategy to work, you need to create an excellent API experience. Focus on DX by providing all the tools developers need to integrate your API. Clear documentation and an easy-to-use developer portal will be critical to the use of your API. At Blobr our platform can be accessed in minutes and provides insightful usage data. Best of all, our developer platform autogenerates easy-to-follow documentation structured by use case. Use cases both help developers understand why they should use your API and reduces the need for customer support which is hard to provide at scale. 

You’ll know this strategy is working through the data on how your API is used. You can clearly measure how many clients you’re acquiring through your partnerships. 

How to get started with your API marketing strategy 

Start with the marketing fundamentals. When you know your market and have clear goals, choosing the right marketing model and strategy is much easier. 

Find adjacent products to support you. You don’t have to do everything from scratch. Leverage partner companies to connect with new customers and find products that already solve your CX, UX, and DX challenges. 

If you want to learn more about how Blobr developer portal creates a first-rate experience to share your APIs, from uploading them to auto-generated documentation and easy-to-use developer experience, speak to one of our experts.