You may have seen it already—the soon-to-be ubiquitous “Like” button from Facebook that can be easily integrated into corporate websites or online catalogs and e-commerce systems. Companies like Levi Strauss are using free application programming interface (API) software to let you tell the world that you like a certain pair of jeans simply by clicking beneath them. Now anyone in your social network will know what kind of pants you like, and Facebook can let you know who’s into them, too.
Why does this matter to you? Let’s go back to those Levi’s. Think of your company as a pair of jeans. APIs can help you “break in” your brand. As a way to pull together pieces of existing software and data, APIs are the foundation of creating new ways to engage your customers—and they’re free!
Today, much of marketing centers on getting consumers to go online to actively engage in brands. For example, online applications that let car buyers virtually “build” their own cars expose consumers to many more features and benefits than can be shown in a TV commercial. But most importantly, these online applications let consumers explore brands at their own pace, in their own way, and at any time of day or night.
It can take a while to break in a good pair of jeans. Your customers may be the same—needing more opportunities to engage with your brand before they feel comfortable enough to fully embrace it.
APIs are everywhere, and enable many of today’s most exciting online applications. For example:
- Photo and video-sharing: Multimedia content can be shared from sites like Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Photobucket, and others to social network sites like Facebook, Ning, Friendster, and others.
- Content feeds: disparate content from remote sites can be embedded in other sites, e.g. embedding a presentation from SlideShare on a LinkedIn profile.
- Ecommerce: Google Checkout, PayPal, Amazon stores, and many others.
Since most Internet APIs are free to use, you’re limited only by your own imagination in creating new applications using API-based services from leading providers such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce.com, and many, many others.
APIs provide unlimited opportunities for your business to reach and engage customers, empower new marketing models, and grow new revenue opportunities.
How should marketers explore these opportunities? Start here:
- Encourage your technical and creative teams to collaborate on applying APIs to power online “mashups” for your brands.
- Consider creating APIs for your corporate and product content so that distributors and resellers can build their own applications with your product data and related content.
Looking for more ideas on how to innovate with API? Contact EMA’s Partner, Director of PUMP Services, Andres Echenique. We can’t guarantee an API that will fit better than your favorite jeans, but we can help get customers comfortably close to your brand.