Should You Build an Open API? 3 Benefits for Your Customers (Part 2)

by Jonathan Tarud
Blog Post

Having an open application program interface (API) for your software products can be a valuable tool for businesses. We discussed this at length in part one of our two-part series discussing the benefits of an open API.

In this post, we’ll be highlighting a few benefits that your customers may receive if you allow third-party developers the opportunity to integrate their software with yours. If you haven’t checked out the first part, or need a detailed explanation as to what an API (or open API) may be we encourage you to check it out here.

The thought of opening up your digital doors creates anxiety among some product creators but keeping all of development in-house could be holding you back from the kind of user growth your company is capable of achieving.

User satisfaction and growth can be greatly enhanced with an open API (if done correctly). Let’s go over a few of the key benefits that this concept will have on your customer base.

Benefits for your customers

Number One: Open APIs Increase User Engagement

How often do your users interact with your products?

One of the most valuable tactics for improving your engagement is to make your product more valuable over time. Achieving more use comes from making your customers more reliant on your product (typically due to the information that is compiled and arranged to make their lives/businesses more functional).

Open APIs are a two-way street that can increase the value of your product, creating this reliance.

Example: Spotify uses APIs to not only acquire new customers but also for building out an ecosystem that delivers value.

At first, Spotify used their API to make third-party widgets available (inside their desktop app), which resulted in an app marketplace.

They’re also encouraging the creation of stand-alone apps that make use of their API.

Increasing Your Engagement

Engagement is a huge factor of success for any application or software, but it doesn’t have to be time-consuming. An open API (once adopted by third parties) will help your product evolve based on the market itself.

Instead of trying to time or read what your customers will want next, developers will create integrations that will foster a higher sense of value (over time). However, there is a big “to-do” that can help propel this benefit forward.

Listen.

Keep an open conversation with both your customers and third-party developers. By putting your finger in the wind (so to speak), you may be able to pick up on potential integrations that will increase engagement over time.

Once you recognize one of these opportunities, you can begin to reach out with similar products that would create value for your users (and the other products).

Key Stat: Data.gov offers over 10,000 open APIs to help you utilize the open data available to developers.

Number Two: Open API’s Decrease User Headaches

You may not remember how difficult it was to create a highly functional website back in the early 2000’s, but partnerships were a problem with only a couple (literally two) open APIs. While developing anything online was relatively new territory, it was kind of a headache because of limitations.

This “struggle” is in no doubt part of the developing renaissance that we are seeing come about in the current internet age. One of the most significant benefits that users gain from the open movement is a growing simplicity when trying to create.

Example: WordPress is to internet frustration like Tylenol is to an actual headache. Well, they are more valuable than that and actually power at least 25% of the websites online. While offering a software that makes creating a website super easy, they’ve also nearly mastered the two-way street of letting others develop.

Over 40,000 plugins and countless themes are available to users, so there is a simple solution to every problem you have when creating a site. This company is a super example of an open interface with third parties not only integrating their own products but creating new ones and integrating one product to another (e.g. payment processors, email marketing).

Decrease Your User Headaches

Your product may have been created to solve a problem (most businesses are), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t create a few questions or issues that should be addressed. While you should be keenly aware of these issues, your solution may be to open up. Here are a couple of reasons why:

Open Up: Allow other product creators and developers the ability to integrate with an open API (if they readily solve or improve issues with your current products). Not only will you to take advantage of the other benefits listed in this two-part post, but you’ll also increase the overall satisfaction of your users.

Pay Attention: We discussed in part one the ability to keep an eye on third-party developers who create using your API. The creations that benefit your users can be a potential extension (or entirely new product) for your business down the road.

Key Stat: The largest Open API Directory boasts a list of nearly 15,000 interfaces.

Number Three: Open API’s Increase Product Functionality

No matter how good your product is when it’s launched, there will be ways to improve it over time. However, someone else may have the best ideas to increase functionality. So many apps, extensions, and integrations have been birthed from developers attempting to make a great product (like yours) a little better for a certain market or industry.

Sometimes creating an entirely new category altogether.

Example: By now, you’ve probably heard of Slack. It’s an application that allows teams to communicate in one intuitive environment. It’s safe to say that this is another product that wouldn’t exist without the larger number of open APIs available today.

Their model is based on being able to combine all of the tools a team currently uses into one messenger app. Convergely, Google Hangouts, Twitter, Trello and literally hundreds of other integrations are available in Slack’s directory. This openness has made the tools that teams use every day more functional and has been part of their ridiculous growth.

Attracting Others to Your Product

Getting the eye of other product developers in a related market is increasingly difficult. Having an open API may not be the only step to gaining traction with third parties. There are some tips in part one, but here is another to help you get started.

Integrate Yourself (With Others)

Increasing functionality is never a bad move. In fact, it’s become an integral part of attracting and satisfying customers. You can lead by example and integrate with another useful service. A related product that can add value to your current offerings will make both products better, while potentially attracting the attention of other developers to join in on the fun.

If you’re looking for a service that will help you increase user engagement, decrease user headaches and increase your app’s functionality, look no further.

Our new product, Saasler, is a turnkey integration solution for your app, helping you integrate with other third-party apps, with virtually no coding required on your part.

You will reap the benefits of increased value to your users without getting distracted from your core product. To find out how to make your product more powerful with intelligent integrations, click here.

Have any questions? Contact us if you want to discuss integration opportunities for your app.

by Jonathan Tarud
Blog Post