From promoting your company’s offerings to illustrating its internal culture, your website is your most powerful marketing tool. Consequently, marketing managers are consumed by the need to ensure it always delivers the best experience possible.
Given the demands of today’s digital business, this qualifies as multiple full-time jobs. As you extend your website into new areas of your business, that work grows much more complex. Multiple vendors offer opportunities to incorporate content from different sources, which can include video, maps, and other valuable content. However, these potentially game-changing opportunities are difficult to secure without the proper resources.
Drawing information from outside databases through manual entry is time-consuming and introduces the possibility of errors. IFrames allow you to embed apps and web objects into your pages, but the resulting user experience is often uneven at best.
However, you can leverage outside data in a way that suits your needs by integrating APIs into your website. Short for Application Programming Interface, APIs allow developers access to a software program to add new features to your website. When properly deployed, APIs extend your digital resources in a way that’s valuable to outside users and your internal stakeholders. From a marketing standpoint, they extend your reach on three crucial fronts.
APIs Deliver Automation and Efficiency
Given that APIs require some technical expertise, many marketers haven’t considered their use to enhance their website’s user experience. Instead, your teams spend hours or even days performing spreadsheet work that’s tedious, duplicative, and ultimately risky. If the data you’re incorporating is inaccurate or malfunctions, your prospects will lose trust in your website – and, consequently, your business.
API integrations automate these tasks while ensuring the data you need is reliable and readily available. Plus, by delivering information faster than any individual could provide, APIs free your team to focus on higher level tasks.
For example, a health care provider was experiencing a bottleneck in their hiring process during a period of rapid growth. As new positions became available, the HR team would send documents to the marketing team to manually post job listings to the company website.
But the marketing team was managing its own heavy workload, which meant the employment postings were added to their queue. Not only did this drain the marketing team’s resources, it resulted in frustrating delays.
Using an API from the HR app Workday, we reduced the marketing team’s burden and empowered the HR department. Rather than waiting for marketing to format and publish a new job listing, HR could create what it needed and enter listings into Workday. Once a few database safeguards were applied by COLAB to ensure each post was standardized and met brand style guidelines, HR could push out their job listings independently.
Plus, as a large organization with locations in different markets, the company’s job listings once had to be published to multiple websites with varying design nuances, depending on the location. API integration solved this challenge, resulting in a faster and more streamlined process.
APIs Incorporate Outside Data for Improved User Experience
Using an outside vendor to streamline hiring efforts for HR has become commonplace. But as easy as it is to incorporate listings from a site like Indeed onto your site via IFrame, you’ve effectively placed the user experience in their hands. And it’s rare that the outside job posting provides a seamless experience with your website.
Similarly, as a marketer, if you’re utilizing external lead-gen platforms or tools, the interface customization is often limited and may not align well with your brand’s digital experience. When a user transitions from your ad or website to a 3rd party service, a sales lead can lose confidence in your service or product if that external experience seems poor or disconnected.
With an API, you have more control over how your content appears and represents your organization. Not only is this appealing from the perspective of better reflecting your company culture in recruitment, it’s more appealing to customers.
For example, the website for Virginia Credit Union used third-party map software to provide branch location services. Users could find an ATM using the map, but its design was limited and didn’t perform on mobile devices. On one hand, the map was somewhat effective; but on the other it was a poor reflection of the brand and ultimately discouraged engagement. As one of the most high-traffic pages on the bank’s site, “somewhat effective” wasn’t good enough.
By integrating the Google Maps API for the map’s interactive capability with the branch-specific location data, the bank could deliver a more positive result for its users. Instead of only showing locations more generally, the map could now draw a distinction between ATM and branch locations. And, as users clicked on a branch, they received a more brand-specific experience with additional amenities such as hours and appointment capabilities.
If you’re unable to zip together your CMS data with an API, you may be able to provide the raw information your users need. But you don’t have the control that allows for delivering a curated, customized experience.
APIs Solve Problems for Internal Stakeholders Too
With the new connections at your fingertips from API integrations, your organization is freed to find innovative ways to better serve every audience. For marketers, this ability to apply new approaches to solve user problems can apply to your most important internal stakeholders as well.
In our health care provider example, the company’s growth introduced challenges across the organization. As a family-owned business, the CEO was accustomed to regular, personalized communication with the firm’s leadership via face-to-face meetings and regular phone calls. But as the company expanded, this quickly became impossible. With only so many hours in the day, how could he retain a close connection with a large, distributed team?
Through an API from the messaging service Twilo, COLAB satisfied the CEO’s communications needs through texting the team’s corporate phones. By integrating the API from Workday, the manager gained direct access to his company’s contact information. Much like an email program, the Twilio API allowed the CEO’s messages to be personalized and targeted to specific segments. API integration filled the company’s internal communication gap and maintained a sense of connectedness by approximating interactive, virtual conversations.
A sometimes overlooked benefit of increasing internal utilization of your website through API integrations is that it can help unlock additional funds to invest in site improvements and expansion. Often, marketing budgets alone are expected to fund website updates. However, through the implementation of APIs to further automate and empower internal teams, additional updates can easily be justified (and funded) by departments outside of marketing.
Your website is already the most powerful marketing tool at your disposal. With effective API integration, there’s no limit to how much further it can reach, both outside and within your organization.