Application Programming Interface (API)

What is an API?

An Application Programming Interface (API) is a software interface that allows a given application to communicate, exchange data, and share functionality with other software applications over the Internet. 

Software companies write APIs for their most popular applications, allowing third-party developers to build applications that “hook in” and leverage their data and capabilities for a variety of use cases. Some examples include:

  • Google Maps Embed API – Google provides several different APIs that allow web developers to embed Maps functionality into their web services. The Maps Embed API lets you place an interactive map directly on a web page using an HTTP request.
  • Facebook API – A well-known use case for the Facebook API is when you visit a website that asks you to login using Facebook. In this case, the Facebook API serves two purposes:
    • Streamlines the registration process by connecting the user’s existing social account, and
    • Allows the website to capture data from the connected Facebook account with the user’s permission.
  • Slack API – Slack provides an API that developers can use to program external applications to send notifications to users via the popular messaging app. A common use case for the Slack API is security event management, where cybersecurity alerts or notifications are pushed from a SIEM tool to members of the SecOps teams on Slack.

Digital marketers can leverage APIs from many different applications to streamline and automate marketing functions that depend on timely and efficient information sharing to execute a predefined process. 


How Do APIs Work?

A software API is a set of definitions and communication protocols that allow third-party programs to interface with a given application.

You might think of a communication protocol as an agreement between two software systems to exchange requests and responses in a predictable structure: if the client app sends a request with the correct structure and format, the API will respond in a predictable way.

When a software developer writes an API for an application, they define the communication protocol that allows external software programs to communicate with the app using API calls.

API calls are initiated by the client application to retrieve information or access the services of the application. API calls typically include headers, a request verb, and sometimes a request body. 

Once a valid API call has been received, the API connects to the web server to retrieve the data. The web server sends the API a response with the requested information, which is then transferred to the client application where the request originated.


How Do Digital Marketers Use APIs?

The modern technology stack for B2B SaaS marketers is becoming increasingly complex, and APIs are playing an important role in connecting those technologies and streamlining or automating processes that touch multiple applications and data sources.

Here’s a quick look at some of the ways marketers are leveraging APIs today:


APIs for SEO

Some of the best SEO tools provide APIs that give digital marketers programmatic access to their capabilities. Others allow marketers to access their SEO data from an external application, including keyword lists, backlink profiles, online reviews, organic search rankings, local citations, business listings, technical SEO data and more. 

With SEO APIs, marketers can automate a number of SEO tasks, including routine technical audits, keyword research, and backlink monitoring. Marketers can also automate their reporting on SEO outcomes by pulling SEO data into a reporting/visualization tool with an SEO API.


APIs for Paid Media

APIs for paid media give marketers the ability to manage advertising campaigns across multiple networks from a single platform. 

Marketers use Ad Management tools like HubSpot, AdRoll, and Adstream to manage their advertising dollars from a single centralized location via APIs. Digital marketers can gain programmatic access to their preferred advertising platform(s) by connecting via the Facebook Marketing API, Google AdWords API, or the Twitter Ads API. 


APIs for SaaS

For B2B SaaS companies, APIs play an important role in tracking and reporting on SaaS Marketing Metrics

To receive timely and accurate updates on key metrics like free trial conversion rates, customer satisfaction, and LTV:CAC, SaaS companies rely on APIs to aggregate data from CRM, Google Analytics, NPS surveys, advertising platforms, marketing software, internal financial and payroll systems, and other applications into a centralized reporting platform.


Optimize Your SaaS Marketing Stack with APIs

Revenue Optimization for your B2B SaaS company depends on implementing the right strategies, technologies, workflows, and automation to support your marketing, sales, and customer success teams across the entire customer journey. 

And it’s not just about choosing the right software solutions – it’s about those underlying, API-driven processes that unlock the true power of those solutions for your business.

As part of Directive’s Customer Generation methodology, we help our B2B SaaS clients understand the role of APIs in the modern SaaS marketing stack and implement the right tools and tech to maximize their revenue potential.

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