APIs can provide a competitive advantage. They enable businesses to provide new solutions by making it easy for developers a way to incorporate your software’s capabilities into theirs.
As the marketplace for API publishers continues to expand, with vast libraries of tools available to would-be developers from all over the world, developing a comprehensive marketing strategy is core to standing out.
While having the best API offering possible and striving for product excellence is important, it isn’t enough to win in the marketplace. Discoverability is key, along with a clear plan to build associations and differentiations with your competition every step of the way.
The most straightforward way to make sure that your product is visible to customers is to make sure it’s on store shelves. Online API directories are a ubiquitous part of the marketplace for developers, and usually include search functionality that helps people narrow down the best API for their needs.
Listing capabilities vary by directory, but all of them include keyword functionality – it’s important that you provide as much information about your API as possible in the space provided to maximize results.
Some of the most popular directories include:
No matter what your product is, your clients are looking for a business with a clear expertise, and clear ideas for just how best to use what you’ve built.
Knowledge articles and blogs offer a natural entry point for customers to discover your product through search engines, providing answers that naturally point the way towards your API as the best solution for their business problems.
You can also tailor your content to the niche audience that best fits your product through participation in Q&A sites like Stack Exchange, Quora, and Stack Overflow.
Whatever your strategy, it’s important to remember that tailored content is marketing, but it’s not an advertising pitch – references to the product should be restrained, only brought up where appropriate, with the general focus centered on providing information. Nothing undermines your credibility as an expert like coming across too much like a commercial.
Above all, engagement is key in this space; making voices available to answer questions that arise is the most solid way to engage the developer community and build trust with your customers.
Business. You’re proud of the work you’ve done, and it’s tempting to fill your product marketing with technical information about how you built your API and how it works – but this kind of data can come across like a foreign language to the business people who make the purchasing decisions around your product.
As a primary strategy, that complexity should be made compelling to a lay audience – broken down into simpler terms with a clear focus on the capabilities and solutions your API can bring to a business, not the jargon. It’s a simple concept, but easy to lose sight of: focus on what your API does, not how it works.
Know your API’s unique selling position: what makes it distinct from the competition, and addressing potential objections before your customers can even mention them.
Developers. Software developers are unlikely to be the audience that makes the purchasing decision for a particular API – but they are the ones who are going to be using it. Focusing some of your marketing content for them, with the kind of technical information they need, is vital to give them reasons to advocate for your solution above others.
Your API needs to be as simple for developers to utilize as possible if it’s going to stand out in the marketplace. Comprehensive documentation, traditionally through collaborative spaces like Confluence or various wiki software, is key to driving adoption.
Publishing and promoting new API documentation can even be a great way to push awareness of a new offering in the space.
Standards should be focused on following OpenAPI specifications – documentation that’s both human- and machine-readable. From there, it’s just a matter of covering the relevant territory; from authentication, to error handling, and any other situations that developers using your product are likely to run into.
To see how Canright has helped clients with API marketing materials, see Getting Started with the Envestnet | Yodlee Platform API – for Non-Coders. For a basic introduction to APIs, what they do and how they work, see Bridging the Gap.
Canright Communications aligns technology and business with corporate purpose, mission, and goals. Our technical communications solutions help clients market and sell their ideas, innovations, products, and services.