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‘So what is an API?’ we hear you cry.

We’re glad you asked. An application program interface (API) can be viewed as the bridge or link that allows two or more programs to interact. Even if you’d never heard the term before it’s likely that you’ve used an API. If you’ve booked a cab through Uber, viewed a Google Map on the ‘Find us’ section of a third party website or bought a cinema ticket online, APIs have been hard at work behind the scenes, linking the underlying apps and the User Interface (UI) you’re on.

Many developers now provide open APIs, essentially allowing outside developers to link to their programs and systems in different ways. International e-commerce giant Amazon was the first major player to start releasing its APIs to outside developers. Initially this allowed third party websites to access data such as product information and to use features such as the ability to post links to live Amazon listings with current, updated prices and a ‘buy now’ option.

Marketers can use third party APIs such as those released by Amazon to increase the functionality of their websites. It’s worth noting that APIs do not have to open a bridge between apps from different organisations or developers. They can also be used to link internal systems and this ability to mix and match can be of great value to marketers, especially when it comes to joining up campaigns and collating data such as customer and engagement metrics.

SEO and PPC

There are a number of APIs that allow marketers to access and manage organic search data, such as link profiling and keyword research. The Bing Search API, for example, enables developers to embed search results in their own applications or websites. The Majestic SEO API, meanwhile, can provide access to a wide range of link metrics, such as back-link lists, discovery dates for links, anchor text and redirection information. This can allow marketers to improve their SEO efforts both home and abroad. Paid search marketing (pay-per-click or PPC) can also provide you a quick entryway into international markets, creating a base from which to build your brand. APIs like the Google AdWords API and SEMRush API can be used to manage campaigns and analyse paid search data.

Social media APIs

Social media APIs are also increasingly being accessed by canny marketers. Facebook’s Graph API, for example, allows outside developers to access objects in Facebook’s database, including users, photos, videos, statuses, places and all these objects’ interlinked relationships with each other. This can allow marketers to create more personalised and targeted campaigns. The Google+ API might not have the scale or reach of Facebook but it can also be used to tap into similarly useful metrics as well as integrating features such as cross-device sign-on into your site or app.

Twitter and YouTube, meanwhile, have their own open APIs that can often be used in a marketing campaign. Embedded Tweets allow you to take any Tweet and embed them live and interactive into the content of your article or website. The YouTube Data API allows you to easily upload videos, manage playlists and subscriptions, search for relevant video content using parameters such as search terms, topics, locations and publication dates.

Translation APIs

Another area where APIs have come into play is that of translation. Machine translation (MT) is becoming ever more sophisticated with advances such as statistical techniques being used to search for entire phrases and find their equivalents in the target language, rather than translating the whole text word for word. A basic, free platform like Google Translate might still be a little too rough and ready for business translations, especially those that should be of publishable quality, but tapping into a professional translation services provider’s API can give any business access to fast and far more reliable translations.

This could include accessing bespoke glossaries and translation memories to help streamline the service and ensure consistency. By quickly and painlessly translating content you can more easily reach foreign markets with your international marketing campaigns.

APIs are far from standardised and getting the best use of them does require some developer skills on one or both sides of the data exchange. They can be extremely useful for international marketers however, allowing you to access and manage valuable data and create tailored content for your campaigns.

*Photo credits: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com