Good afternoon everyone! I'm hunkered down riding out a storm which looks like is coming through my backyard. So I thought I'd use the time to take on another semi complex subject and try to explain what it is and why you should understand it.
As always, if you can push through a couple paragraphs of "Geek Stuff", I'll make sense of it further on.
API means Application Programming Interface. Here's one official description;
"An application-programming interface (API) is a set of programming instructions and standards for accessing Web-based software applications. A software company releases its API to the public so that other software developers can design products that are powered by or "integrate" with its services."
If you're using a program like BuilderAll and/or Mailing Boss you're already using an API, they've just made it seamless for you. You'll note though that if you want to use some other email service provider like MailChimp, you have to set up the API connector so that BA and MailChimp can "talk" to one another.
When someone fills out a BuilderAll form, the API transmits that data to an entirely different software system that has a well developed API.
Why is this important? Because proper use of API's can give you some SERIOUS automation fire power. Here's what I mean...
My brother owns a retail automotive business that relies heavily on inbound phone calls throughout his service area. We have about 20 unique phone numbers that we use to track all sorts of important metrics such as where our customers are coming from, which of our websites or social media accounts they're calling from, which ads they're responding to, all with the goal of measuring which of our advertising efforts are generating a positive ROI.
If the user comes to us from Yelp, Kudzu, Google or any of our other online marketing initiatives, those users also get a unique phone number associated with the appropriate campaign.
So now we KNOW exactly how many calls, appointments and ultimately, sales revenue is generated by or originated from each of our marketing campaigns, I.e "The $1K we spent on Google generated X Revenue while our Facebook ad spend of $1k generated Y in revenue". Make sense?
Our phone tracking software also has an API which talks to our Google Docs Account. Once the inbound phone call is complete, all the call data including name, number, time stamp, location and campaign type is then transmitted via the API to our Google Docs call sheet where we schedule the appointments, record price quotes, score the leads (for those who don't schedule immediately), and so on.
After the appointment is scheduled and the sale is concluded, our Point Of Sale system collects address and email info, purchase info, sales amount and so on. Then, via another API, the customers email info is then transmitted to our email list and they are automatically added to our loyalty and referral program which is yet another entirely different software system and API.
Pretty neat huh?
So by understanding and utilizing API's you can see how you get any number of different software systems to talk with one another and to share information according to business rules you establish. This used to be only the domain of the big guys, with massive million-dollar ERP programs and huge I.T. Departments. Now you can do it to.
I'm big on visualization to understand complex subjects. In my minds eye I see each of my - and my client's businesses as a solar system, The center "Planet" is my - or my clients - money machine (Website, Blog, Sales Page), but there are also all these satellites that perform various functions; Analytics, Tracking Pixels, Payment Systems, Point of Sale, CRM, Email Marketing, Automated Rewards Software, Phone Tracking, Calendars, etc.
The mighty API makes it possible to wire all these disparate systems together and to zip data back and forth at will.
BuilderAll goes a long way toward becoming the central hub but at the end of the day it's just a super intelligent, super intuitive Website/Blog builder that integrates with a smart email system.
So as you think about your own solar system, think about how you can leverage other software systems to further automate your businesses. When evaluating these systems, ALWAYS try and find one that has a well written API. Even if you're not ready for it now, when the time comes to add another planet you'll be prepared!
P.S. I'd highly suggest you check out Zapier.com. (Non Aff Link). These guys do nothing but API's and they already have hundreds of Integrations or "Zaps" written for most common programs so THIS software can talk to THAT software.
And no, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to use it!
Note! Originally written for a demonstration of BuilderALL web development software. This information is still relevant but may not be 100% current.