The Importance Of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
An application programming interface (API) sounds like a very technical term that only a computer programmer would find relevant. However involved the name might indicate, API’s are very important and applicable to businesses of all sizes.
An appropriate analogy for an API is that they are a method of communication between computers. These API’s are similar to human speech in that the communications contained in API’s serve multiple purposes. An API utilizes what is known as a “call and response” method of communication. For example, a call is sent out: “Please open the door”. The receiving API processes the request, and if all of the parameters are met, completes the request and you gain access.
A good example of an API in action that we use every day are the social media sharing icons on a blog page. When you click the Facebook icon, you are given an update that has already been populated with a link to the blog so that you can share it with your network. This is made possible by an API integration between the blog page and Facebook.com. It becomes quickly obvious how ubiquitous and necessary APIs are!
With that being said, APIs aren’t just for big businesses — small and medium-sized organizations will need to be aware of the advantages and upside that API’s offer. The future is one that is sure to feature an ever-increasing degree of connectivity. In order to compete (and grow to become large businesses), here are three important reasons that all businesses need APIs:
By using APIs, your company can automate processes that will tremendously increase the efficiency of your operation by eliminating the untold hours of manual work that are currently necessary.
One of the easiest to use and powerful tools that is available to allow small and medium-sized firms to employ APIs is Zapier. This service puts a user-friendly interface at your disposal which sets up automation points between two separate services or applications.
Zapier is extremely simple. “Zaps” are set up that conduct automated actions based on pre-determined “triggers” and “actions.” Triggers are events such as an email received or a new calendar invite; an action is the event that is performed in response to the trigger. An example of this would be if you were to input an event into your Google calendar and then it is posted on a particular channel in your Slack account.
The odds are great that any marketing team that you speak to can immediately tick off a laundry list of cloud services that they use: from CRM tools such as Infusionsoft to web analytic solutions like Google Analytics. All of these wonderful tools are fantastic, except the task of managing all of them and getting them to integrate in a seamless manner is often a daunting challenge.
A typical digital marketing campaign will yield results that operate on a multiple number of platforms simultaneously. Take an online ad campaign for lead generation, for example. In order to effectively track this campaign and how productive (hopefully) it is, an understanding of the advertising platform is necessary. In addition, the performance of the website and landing page (Google Analytics, for example) is needed. Finally, a platform for lead generation and sales follow-up is needed.
APIs give you the ability to create integrations between multiple services to connect the platforms. The beauty of these integrations is that all of the work happens behind the scenes. This in turn produces a user-friendly interface that is essentially point and click. A great example of these types of integrations in action is the Infusionsoft Marketplace.
REPORTING AND YOUR DASHBOARD
The process of manually compiling spreadsheets, then using these spreadsheets to produce a PowerPoint in order to report data is cumbersome, time-consuming, and inefficient. APIs are the answer to the manual-reporting blues.
Reporting APIs are invaluable in the following two ways: The first is that the data that you are already gathering from services like Google Analytics or Quickbooks can create the very same reports and dashboards that you utilize on a regular basis. The second is the ability of APIs to automatically update data to those reports and dashboards. The result? A report can be set up one time, and the most current and real-time data will be displayed in the future. There will still be the need for a small amount of manual reporting, but the more that can be automated, the better. As an added benefit, the specter of human error is eliminated from the equation.
With the growing connectivity of all businesses — large, small, and medium-sized — the competitive advantage of utilizing APIs cannot be understated. Set aside some time today to research and begin using these incredibly handy automation tools.