You don’t need to be a programmer to have heard of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). They are a growing part of our digital world, and offer nearly endless potential for enhancing the capabilities of many popular applications. However, if you’re not a programmer, mastering APIs may have been a challenge for you thus far.
In this article, we’ll explain what APIs are and what they do. We’ll also discuss why they matter to digital marketing, and explore how you can leverage their power in your work. Let’s interface!
What APIs Do and Why it Matters to Digital Marketing
Before we delve into WordPress APIs specifically, let’s look at what an API is in a more general sense. At a very basic level, APIs are user interfaces for software applications. Much like an app is a user interface for humans, an API enables two software applications to communicate with each other.
An API receives requests that are made by a web browser when someone interacts with your website. The server API receives the request and acts as a translator, sending the correct data back to the browser to be viewed.
The WordPress API has some elements specific to the system that are worth understanding as well. Specifically, WordPress uses a Representational State Transfer (REST) API. The REST part of an API is essentially a set of guiding rules that you need to follow, in order to interact with the API and access the program’s functions.
In this case, the WordPress team has worked for a number of years on its REST API, with the goal of making it compatible with just about any other program, application or website. This is a very valuable thing for marketing because it enables the transfer of useful data between applications. This can help inform digital strategies, and also aid companies in integrating more services into their offerings.
How You Can Leverage APIs to Enhance Your Digital Marketing Efforts
WordPress APIs can be particularly helpful when it comes to digital marketing. You can use them to bring together valuable information from third-party applications and push your content to other platforms.
Later, we’ll cover some APIs in depth that can help with your marketing efforts. However, before we do that, it’s important to understand four simple Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) requests. You can use these HTTP requests to interact with the WordPress REST API:
- GET: Using this request will retrieve information from a designated server.
- POST: Alternatively, this will add or send data to a designated server.
- PUT: This is a request that enables you to edit or change information that already exists on a server.
- DELETE: As the name indicates, this enables you to remove information from a server.
There are plenty of ways you can use the REST API to develop an entirely new administrative experience in WordPress, or to enhance your themes. For example, APIs are what enable you to build a connection between a form on your website and a third-party Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) application. This can help you turn subscriber information into valuable data points in your marketing strategy.
3 WordPress APIs You Should Be Using in Your Marketing Efforts
WordPress plugins typically employ APIs. This means you can use them to build your own application or plugin as well. This approach ensures that you’ll get exactly what you need for your marketing plans.
The Google Analytics Reporting API is the best way to access reports from Google Analytics. With this API, you can make direct calls to the platform in order to create reports, automate tasks, and integrate your analytics data into other applications, such as WordPress.
One example of this API in action is the MonsterInsights plugin. This plugin uses both the Google Analytics Reporting API and the WordPress API to create a dashboard of analytics information right in your dashboard.
These APIs can help you monitor your site traffic and user behavior in real time, right within the CMS. Making data-driven content and marketing decisions doesn’t require bouncing between applications when you use Google and WordPress APIs to integrate these applications.
Another valuable set of APIs to put in your toolbox are Facebook Marketing APIs. Facebook has two main API options, but the marketing set enables you to manage your Facebook ad campaigns, Custom Audiences, and reports.
All API use with Facebook starts with creating a new Facebook App.
While this kind of API use requires a deeper knowledge of programming than the average user has, it’s worth investigating or hiring someone to build an app. For example, the Facebook Graph API can be used to create a Facebook login app for your website, making it easier for visitors to sign in and engage with your content on a deeper level.
3. HubSpot API
If you’re not familiar with HubSpot, it’s a company that develops software products for inbound marketing and sales. It offers a full suite of CRM tools as well. Fortunately, a plugin is available for WordPress that integrates all of the HubSpot tools.
With that being said, the HubSpot API has a lot to offer for anyone looking to build a custom integration for their website. One thing to note about the HubSpot API is that rate limits apply. Not all APIs use rate limits, but it’s important to understand them as they can impact your site’s performance.
HubSpot offers different rate limits for each of its pricing tiers, so you do know exactly what to expect. The HubSpot API is also built around REST. This should make it easy to work with if you’re already using the WordPress REST API for development.
When it comes to the valuable data that makes up the core of digital marketing, APIs offer extremely powerful connections. Whether you want to incorporate social media functionalities on your website, offer payment options through an Amazon account, or feed user stats to your CRM for later use, APIs have you covered.
What APIs do you think might be most useful in your next digital marketing campaign? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
Image credit: Aleksandar Cvetanovic.