API Marketing Strategy Fundamentals
Who will use your API? Is it best suited to specific industries, locations or use cases?
Before jumping into technical explanations about your API, you need to understand who you are talking to. Gather feedback on what they understand, what they don’t, and explore how to tailor your message. The community isn’t limited to software developers. Target your messaging to both technical developers and non-technical stakeholders:
Technical developers might not be making the decision to buy your API, but they will be the ones using it. They’ll also be the ones advocating for your API to respond to a business need.
Non-technical stakeholders could include product owners, CTOs, CPOs, etc. These stakeholders often drive strategies and identify needs. They need to understand how your API solves problems.
After defining the audience, you must find and match companies to create a list of potential partners, end users and paying customers you will want to market to. Research lists include contact details as well as detailed developer profiles.
Understand your competitors and where you may have advantages over them for your users. The research must include a review of their value proposition, marketing positioning, onboarding experience, technical specs and the community buzz around each offering.
Why will developers want to use your API? What makes it special, useful or interesting to your target developer and business personas? Distill these benefits into a coherent and actionable value proposition that amplifies your product vision.
Content Editorial Process
Having a content calendar and a robust editorial process are crucial foundational blocks for API marketing.
Create relevant, informative and engaging content pieces. Your products need to speak to developers, creators and makers in order to help them understand what’s possible to build with your API. Build your content plan around your target audience and focus on what your API does, not only how it works. Developers have the technical expertise to understand API mechanics. Stakeholders need to know what they can achieve with your API. The approach is show, don’t tell. Create success stories, product updates, and more to inspire your future users.
Marketing Channel Audit
The distribution of content is as important as creating it. Understanding the channels you use for marketing is essential to reaching the maximum number of potential users. Audit your current channel and marketing mix and create an optimized bespoke channel plan for your API.
Channel may include:
- Your developer portal. The point-of-contact between you and your users.
- Social networks. Connect with influencers. Build relationships.
- Forums: GitHub and StackOverflow. Hang out and offer advice. Be active in the community.
- Developer events and meetings. Hackathons. Conferences. Meet developers where they are.
- Guest blogs. Have a voice on other platforms. Showcase industry knowledge.
It’s essential the journey to use your API and developer experience is as frictionless as possible. Review the current experience and prioritize a set of recommendations and improvements to delight developers across every touchpoint. To be successful, your API should be easy to implement, have strong documentation, and feedback loop.
Build a developer experience that best services the target audience. Developer heavy content should live within a developer portal, not on the homepage of your site, to keep the messaging friendly to all audiences. By linking your developer portal from your homepage, developers can find the technical material they need without getting lost in your marketing landing pages.
Seek to understand the way developers and other users search for tools and APIs. Review your current SEO and compile a list of suggestions on how to improve the discoverability of your content.
Community Engagement Playbook
Creating an API means creating a community. And your users drive marketing. The best way to promote the use of your API is to engage the community. Creating a thriving and engaged community of users is seen as the pinnacle of success for some API and developer program managers. Create a bespoke Community Engagement playbook packed full of actionable steps to bring your community to life.