6 Effective Ways to Build an Effective API Program

Cropped shot of a young computer programmer looking through data

An API-led strategy can power your digital business initiatives, allowing you to save money, create differentiation, and enable digital transformation. Today APIs are central to almost every major IT initiative, and their utility will only continue to grow as market trends shift and consumers demand access to their personal data on all their connected devices.

You can use this success guide to transform your company’s API program into an effective platform that supports, manages, and enables employees and partners, delights developers, and grows business.

Part 1: Understanding the Three Developer Audiences

The first part of creating a successful API program is understanding the three developer audiences and their needs, internal, strategic partner, and open ecosystem — and create a coherent strategy that serves each group’s needs while meeting business goals.

  • Internal developers: within your own organization
  • Strategic partners: formed when a specific customer need or market opportunity is uncovered
  • Open ecosystem developers: use publicly available APIs to integrate into apps or platforms they’re developing

Part 2: Lowering IT Costs & Monetizing Your APIs

A successful API program helps meet business goals. Whether your primary goal is generating more revenue, reducing costs, or saving time, it’s important to set measurements for your goals.

Your API strategy will determine how you measure success. You can use this simple model that breaks program measurement into five areas:

  1. Improving operational efficiency
  2. Leveraging and enabling strategic partnerships
  3. Driving revenue generating activities
  4. Adding value for upselling
  5. Directly monetizing by charging for access

Part 3: Creating an Optimal Developer Experience

Above all else, developers value their time and effort. Optimize every aspect of your API and overall developer experience for those two values by providing:

  • A developer portal
  • Clear documentation
  • Self-service registration
  • Access to support

Part 4: Designing and Managing APIs

A well-designed, well-managed API attracts developers and garners support from product managers. The design of your API — how calls are made, how data is formatted, how resources are linked together — has a tremendous influence on whether developers will use it. Good API management ensures that the right people are accessing the right data at the right time.

Part 5: Going to Market with Your APIs

Whether targeting open developers, strategic partners, or even your own engineers, the right messaging and a solid rollout strategy can help you reach success faster.

With your first set of APIs designed and managed and your portal in place, your go-to-market plan should cover the following:

  • Developer Outreach
  • Developer Onboarding
  • Developer Feedback
  • API Marketplaces

Part 6: Evangelizing and Advocating Your API Program

While support staff can help address most developers’ needs, API programs can often benefit from the hiring of one or more developer advocates or evangelists. Developer evangelism is largely focused on marketing activities, while developer advocacy is focused on representing the developer audience within an organization and representing their unique needs.

Smarter applications require smarter APIs. Download “The Definitive Success Guide for the API Product Manager” to learn how to build a successful API program that will delight developers and help grow your business.