Ideas on paper

Thoughts by José Luis Agell

Why is it so important to have an API as a marketing strategy?

After the post I wrote some time ago, I wanted to point out the value of having an API. If we think about the leaders in the Internet /Software field- Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce, Facebook,…- they all have APIs (Application Programming Interface) that are used by many other companies to build businesses and products on top of them.

The value to third-party developers is to avoid recreating the functionality in the base product and as a result, simply focus on creating value-added functionality.

My colleague Martin Tantow mentions some of the advantages of having an API on his post “API Marketing” but I would also take some of the reasons exposed by Steve Johnson on pragmatic marketing:

  • Scalability

    An API allows groups of developers anywhere in the world to enhance the product with minimal coordination. The advantages go beyond better architecture of the program’s source code because API users are actually completely shielded from the program’s internal source code. This in turn provides the opportunity to add value to your product outside of your regular development cycle. Interestingly, users who develop or purchase products that work on the API-based application are more reluctant to try alternatives because of the investment users have made in the product.

  • Convert  Competitors Into Partners

    It is clear that partnerships can make companies stronger by developing synergies between products and cross-selling to each other’s existing clientele. The API can help turn your competitors into partners by allowing them to build solutions on top of your product’s functionality. This concept lets partners leverage the existing capabilities of your program and enhance it by using their expertise and know-how to create new and innovative solutions. This approach sure beats duplicating the functionality of your base product first. In return, they can get access to your user base or open up new markets for you with less investment in software development from either side.

  • Market Reach

    An API opens up the opportunity for ways to tap into markets and geographies you would not otherwise have the resources or expertise to get into. The ability to have your product “countrified” with not just translation but also with features and content relevant to that market can be a very compelling offering in a new market. An API offers the possibility of creating or modifying features to suit specific markets and it can also help automate the creation of content relevant to your market.

  • Empower your users

    Simply put, an API empowers end-users by making their product do things the original developers did not build into the product. It also lets users customize the product to better fit their needs and workflow. The real secret is to create features and APIs that are not dead ends, but rather extensible solutions used to solve more specific or specialized problems with just a little bit of effort.

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