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4 Keys To A Successful API Strategy

May 25, 2021 No Comments

Featured article by George Green, API specialist

 4 Keys To A Successful API Strategy

Application Programming Interface (API) plays a fundamental role as an aid to any business strategy. It contributes to the revenue of today’s rapidly evolving market, where businesses need to generate and provide value in a service ecosystem that’s becoming increasingly connected.

An API-led strategy also allows businesses to save money, create differentiation, and enable digital transformation as it can power digital business initiatives. In almost every major IT initiative nowadays, APIs have become the central components of their businesses. As consumers demand personal data access on all their connected devices, the market trends shift and the use of API will only continue to grow. 

API can help you, whether you want to analyze data, enable integrations, market products, or connect to customers. Custom API integration supports specific business needs like credit reports and credit score pulling. You can click here to learn more about it.   

Transform your organization’s API strategy into an efficient platform using this success guide. That way, you can have a program that supports, manages, and enables partners and employees. Following the tips here will also allow you to implement an API plan that delights developers and grows business. Read on to learn about the keys to a successful strategy and the characteristics of successful API programs.

Understand The Need Of Developer Audiences

Considering the wide breadth of specializations amongst developers is now more important than ever, with more and more of them entering the API space. These factors take the form of: 

* Different industry backgrounds 
* Varying technical understanding 
* Protocol preferences 
* Programming language preferences 
* Online activity 
* API use cases 
* Geographical location 

In reality, developers have innumerable forms, and each of them has its own set of requirements and constraints. That’s why it’s important to develop a set of realistic developer personas as a way of understanding the needs of your developer audiences and meeting them. 

It’s crucial to have an intimate understanding of your target audience as it’ll influence the following:

- Market Fit – There are unmet needs in the market that your API could potentially satisfy. You’ll discover them by knowing your developer audiences. 

- Functionality – Designing API functions around a need becomes possible by understanding the use of cases. 

- Segmentation – Knowing your user can decrease customer acquisition cost because it allows you to segment your marketing efforts more effectively.

- Creative Marketing – Understanding the interests of your audience will help tailor your marketing strategies. It’ll also influence your style, design, appearance, tone, and message to attract your target audience.

It’s easy to find APIs that are either challenging to use or have limited uses. Successful API strategies always put the consumer in mind, ensuring that each feature they have provide an immediate value to users which aren’t limited or challenging to use.

Relevant Documentation

Documentation helps customers derive value from the API. That’s why it has to be comprehensive and contains more than just the technical information around how the API works. It’s also important to ensure its relevance and digestibility since it may be accessed not only by developers but also by the project managers and chief technology officers.  

Successful API strategies are embedded from the real-world cases into API documentation, increasing the API’s usability and simplifying its adoption. 

The best API strategies also embed documentation into the onboarding experience of the users. They even carry out a comprehensive review process every time there’s an API change. Questions can be asked and mistakes can be pointed out by users as well through established channels. More importantly, users can vet and test the API documentation’s quality before purchasing through sandbox environments.

Measure API Effectiveness

Tracking API metrics is another way of ensuring your API strategy’s success. It makes sense because you’ll be unable to optimize your API program without a holistic appreciation of how successful it is.

There should be an evaluation of the following metrics to measure API effectiveness:

- Developer metrics include documentation engagement and community engagement

- Error, uptime, and other operational metrics

- Revenue metrics such as CLV (customer lifetime value), return on investment, and direct and indirect revenue

Successful API strategies differ from unsuccessful ones as they define a combination of business success metrics and measure them.

 4 Keys To A Successful API Strategy

Build A Developer Community That Is Both Robust And Engaging

The most effective API strategies empower developers and help them thrive using their programs. That’s why ensuring a good developer experience is vital to an effective API strategy. By fueling the business to developer (B2D) model, it drives the creation of a developer community that is both robust and engaging. 

Major items to include on your checklist are: 

- Granting access to key users 
- Collecting and sharing essential data 
- Maintaining strict standards (e.g., only exposing interfaces as needed) 

Note that the community should involve many channels. One of the effective ways of disseminating news is through a monthly newsletter. You can also establish a chat portal where developers can chat and engage with each other. Spreading of best-in-class implementation strategies, coding suggestions, detailed release information, case studies, and educational content can be done through a developer blog. For quick responses, issues, and API status updates, Twitter can be handy. 

Besides online channels, a thriving developer community also requires a personal touch, which can be achieved through hackathons and conference booths. Face-to-face channels drive a stronger pulse point into users. 

A good user experience will convince developers to pay for the API, boosting the monetization aspect of the API strategy.

Characteristics Of Successful API Programs 

It’s no longer about whether organizations need APIs in their platforms but rather what they can do to maximize the benefits that APIs bring. They need to know what characteristics of API they should possess to succeed. 

Here’s a summary of the characteristics of a successful API program:

- Focusing On Data-Rich Industries – APIs are most successful in information technology, media, and other data-rich industries. Their secret? They’re driving up to 90% more traffic than the average adopter by building a digital ecosystem right on top of APIs. 
-
Unification Through APIs – Consumers have to purchase plane tickets, rent cars, and book hotels when going on a vacation. It requires them to visit three separate websites for three different purchase experiences in the traditional buying process. However, companies that implement successful API programs know that today’s buying decisions are multi-step processes that need unification. Transaction completion time accelerates with APIs unifying the process. Organizations can also address customer needs better because it offers additional data back to them.

Final Thoughts 

Several organizations have started to productize APIs after realizing the tremendous value that they bring. The problem is that most of them do it without careful thought. They’ve jumped onto the bandwagon, approaching their API strategies on a piecemeal basis. A successful API strategy, however, requires more than that.

Any API strategy should bake the keys mentioned and discussed above into its development. It will help build a thriving and engaged developer community. 

APIs are like products; they would only be successful if you invest time and resources into them wholeheartedly.

About the Author

George Green is an API specialist. He conducts webinars about API applications in various industries. Also, he shares his knowledge and skills through guest blogging in various tech online publications. During his free time, George plays tennis and explores outdoors.

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