An Application Programming Interface (API) is like a bridge that facilitates the transfer of data between your website and an existing third-party tool. APIs help you maximize your team’s efficiency, mitigate risk and scale more rapidly by leveraging existing technology.
Here are five ways APIs can make your team more productive.
Streamline your outbound marketing
Third-party software (e.g. MailChimp), can drastically improve outbound email efficiency by setting emails to be sent at regular, timed intervals. This is especially helpful for emailing blog/newsletter subscribers.
For example, if your business publishes a few blog posts per month, an API can automatically pull the blog title, photo, and link of all new posts from the past month and send them out to your subscriber list. So really, all you have to do is post on your blog and let MailChimp do the rest.
Book your demo in 30 seconds or less
Booking a demo is a painless process when you take advantage of third-party technologies.
Consider a SaaS company that offers free software demos. One option for booking the demo is to have an automatic, “Thank you, we’ll be in touch soon” email sent to the prospect after they submit the form. This requires manual communication via phone or email.
Alternatively, the experience could be streamlined for both parties by booking the demo using a third-party tool like Calendly. Calendly lets the prospect select their ideal date and time and book the demo themselves. Once the prospect selects their time, Calendly drops the appointment directly into their calendar, as well as yours. All in 30 seconds or less.
No emails back and forth, no telephone tag. Done, just like that.
Track your leads with accuracy and efficiency
Integrating your web forms with your CRM means you never miss a lead. When a prospect submits a request for, let’s say, a team training software demo, an API can be used to automatically pull the lead into your pipeline.
Furthermore, if the ‘book demo’ form asks the prospect to select their desired training option (e.g. Sales Team or Customer Service Team), the lead can be automatically directed to the appropriate pipeline in the CRM, saving your team from sorting and delegating new leads.
Integrating a productivity tool like Slack with your CRM can also improve efficiency through instant notifications. New leads trigger a notification in your Slack channel, letting your sales team know that a new opportunity has surfaced and is ready for handling.
Handle payments and automate your back office
APIs are commonly used in e-commerce and software as a service (SaaS) products. Let’s take a look at an example that illustrates how integrating third-party tools improves efficiency, especially in the back office.
PayPal’s API facilitates an online purchase and stores the credit card details in PayPal. The customer data obtained from the sale is pulled into a Customer Relationship Management tool (CRM), like Salesforce. To take it one step further, APIs can also be used to integrate sales with your back office by automatically recording the sale in Quickbooks as revenue.
In this example, three APIs were used in a single sale, and their combined effort eliminated manual tracking and data entry.
It’s also important to note that using a trusted third-party payment gateway instead of a custom solution mitigates the risk of financial data breach. PayPal, Stripe, and other leading payment gateways all have PCI Service Provider Level 1 certification, the most stringent of certifications available in the payments industry. This means your customer’s financial information is safe and sound.
Centralize your metrics to see the big picture
Successful businesses thrive on analyzing trends. An immense volume of data is collected from sales, marketing, finance and other areas of the business. Dashboard software centralizes all these metrics in one place.
Klipfolio is a dashboard that translates your data into visual performance reports to help you assess your progress at a glance. Klipfolio integrates with your Google AdWord account, sales pipelines, productivity tools, and pulls all of the data into your dashboard.
When your metrics are all in one place you can see the big picture – where you’re excelling, and where you need to focus your attention.
Your business, digitally transformed
The old adage of “work smarter, not harder”, has never been more true. APIs increase your team’s efficiency across all departments by transforming analog processes to digital. The five points listed above are just a few of the ways APIs can help you streamline and optimize your business activities.
A simple way to identify where third-party tool APIs can transform your business is to answer the following questions:
What is consuming your team’s time?
When is your team repeating tasks or duplicating efforts?
Are there bottlenecks in your team’s processes?
Does your team have the data they need to make smart decisions?
Even the most streamlined processes can be improved. And as companies are forced to become more efficient to remain competitive, the use of third-party technologies and APIs will only continue to grow.