Article
Written by Alice Payne
Posted on 10/02/2015

How the rise of APIs is creating a new genre of marketing

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As APIs become an increasingly important part of business, the industry is responding with a tailored marketing approach, called B2D – or business to developers.

What is an API?

APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, are the connection between two pieces of software, enabling them to talk to each other – and they’re fast becoming an essential part of the online world. For example, when you purchase a product through the internet, it’s an API that makes this happen – connecting the product seller’s webpage with your bank’s network, so you can input your bank details and make your purchase – all on the same website. Similarly, when you visit a restaurant or shop’s webpage and want to find out where they’re located – that miniature google map embedded on their ‘how to find us’ page is also displayed through an API. In fact, three of the most commonly in-demand APIs sought by developers are for payment, mapping and weather.

API strategy

As companies recognise the ability of APIs to grow their business exponentially, having an effective API strategy is increasingly important. And as the API market becomes more competitive, API producers are focussing on how best to market their APIs to developers, ahead of the competition. After all, the more a company’s API is used, the more they expand their ecosystem and gain access to a wider audience.

Business to Developers

This is where business to developer marketing, or B2D, comes in. Traditionally, marketing fell into two categories; business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C). But as technology continues to evolve the commercial landscape, B2D is growing in prominence.

B2D strategy

Like all marketing, strategy should be tailored both to the product and the target audience. And some companies are finding that employing an indirect approach in marketing their business to developers is helping them reach a wider audience – in particular through providing educational or informative resources.

Devin Rader from Twilio, a cloud-based communications company whose applications are used by more than 400,000 developers, found blog content to be an effective strategy to market products to developers: “Our blog content is some of the most trafficked content on our website, especially blog posts that show you how to build new products and cool things with Twilio. We tend to find new developers to the Twilio platform arrive at our blog content first.”

Similarly, JustGiving, whose API is primarily adopted by charities or independent fundraisers, found providing tutorials to be an effective way of gaining traction, particularly as users may often come from a non-developer background and need help integrating JustGiving’s APIs.

Alternative approaches

Other API producers, however, are adopting a more specified approach, identifying the top 100 partnerships that offer the most potential and focussing their resources on these relationships first, instead of targeting a broader market.

Key rules

But whatever strategy you adopt, Carlo Longino, VP of developer programme services at the Wireless Industry Partnership, advocates seven steps for successful developer uptake in marketing an API. His key rules are:

  • First impression: Make it easy for the right developer to get your message and take action.
  • Product messaging: What’s in it for me?
  • Examples and case studies: Show who uses your technology, what they do and how they benefit.
  • Registration: Keep the requirements light and the process quick.
  • Getting started: Get developers up and running quickly. Minimise your ‘time to first hello world’.
  • Docs and support: Good documentation is essential – and it’s part of the decision-making process.
  • Libraries and SDKs: Light the path by creating add-ons and tools that are right for your developers. ”

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