When Speed Matters: Why Investment into Faster Integrations Pays Off in the Long Run
There are many digital products that offer APIs to customers, promising to improve their lives and make their products better. These APIs vary in quality from bad to great, and they are one of the important aspects that help customers make the decision to use your particular product.
It's not just about the quality of the API itself, however. It is just as essential to keep in mind what resources you provide to make it possible for your potential customers to integrate your product with theirs. The speed at which they can do so can be the difference between success and failure for a business. By leveraging the power of technology, companies can quickly integrate customers and rapidly increase their revenue.
This technology can also help businesses scale up their operations, making it easier to handle increased demand and expand their customer base.
The speed of integration defines costs and drives revenue growth
In order to make the integration a success, both you and your customer need to be involved in the process. That means there are certain roles each side has to play.
The roles you need to fill for successful customer acquisition are:
- a Sales Engineer to build a relationship with the client and explain the benefits of your product,
- and a Support Engineer to answer all their questions and help their team solve any issues they encounter.
On the other hand, the customer needs to have and involve:
- a Senior Software Engineer to evaluate the technical aspects of your product and estimate how much time and effort the integration will take,
- and Software Engineers to do the implementation itself.
Let’s imagine there are two clients that meet the same criteria. In one case, integration is finished in a month, while in the other, it takes six months to complete.
|1-month integration||6-month integration|
|time in man-days||cost||time in man-days||cost|
|Senior Software Engineer||1||$634||6||$3803|
Note: All calculations are for demo purposes only and may vary based on different rates. Salary information was taken from https://www.glassdoor.com/, and all time estimates are approximate, based on possible role involvement for a given duration of integration.
As you can see, the cost required per integration is significantly higher the longer you go because it takes more time to engage all the roles on both sides.
The compounding effect of delivered integrations gets greater over time while maintaining the same cost of operation of your company ($214,987 of revenue compared to $16,537). Not only will your company generate more revenue faster, the more onboarded clients you have also means the word will spread at a greater scale.
So not only are you paying more money for a longer integration, but you are also significantly missing out on potential revenue growth spread out over time.
Differences between business and technical decision makers
Businesspeople usually choose a product that meets their needs and budget constraints. A product website is great for introducing them to the benefits of your product and explaining what they will get. Videos or demo sessions are also a wonderful way to show that your product is right for them. In some types of companies, executives also make decisions based on political considerations. It is always easier to opt for a product that is already present in the company than to bring in a new one and go through the approval process.
Technical experts are there hand-in-hand with the businesspeople to review all the technical aspects of the product they want to integrate, to see how fast the implementation will be, and to gauge how much time and money needs to be allocated. They are usually not interested in product benefits or marketing ploys. They cut to the chase and focus on what they need in order to get a quick estimate and gain enough insight. An excellent way to enable them to do that is to present all the technical aspects on a separate page.
“34% of sales opportunities lost as the direct result of developer influence.”
Luke Kilpatrick, DevRelCon San Francisco
What slows down the integration of your customers
Documentation that is insufficient or not publicly available
Unfortunately, documentation is nowadays often not publicly available. This can be a major headache for customers looking to use your product. Without documentation, it may be difficult to evaluate the full value of a product and determine whether or not it fits their needs. To make matters worse, if documentation is hard to find or vague once located, customers are even less likely to invest in something they're unsure about. As an established business, it's important that you make documentation readily available to help ensure that developers can quickly find all the information they need and make an informed decision about your product.
It is impossible to give the API a quick try
Understanding how the API works can be difficult, especially when time is of the essence. The best way to understand what it does is to spend some time in the documentation and read through example responses or code snippets—or to actually explore how the real API behaves in an API sandbox. This also makes it easier for developers to perform a technical review.
APIs that do not follow best practice
APIs that do not adhere to best practices can be a nuisance for developers. The confusion and frustration caused by mixed letter casing, nested data, and custom abbreviations can be a huge roadblock when trying to learn the ins and outs of an API. Subpar documentation can further compound the issue, requiring more time and effort on the developer's part to fully utilize the API.
It's paramount that APIs follow the accepted standards in order to provide a pleasant experience.
Custom implementation of all API calls
Implementing API calls can be a time- and cost-intensive endeavor, with the amount of time and money spent depending on the complexity of the integration. The main factor influencing this cost is whether or not you have all the necessary tools required for implementation—if you don't provide these, it can take much longer than expected. By investing in these resources upfront, companies can save money while streamlining the process and ensuring better outcomes.
How to remove stumbling blocks and speed up integrations
Provide guides that describe the implementation
To help your customers quickly learn how to use your APIs, provide them with a Quick Start Guide to show them what they need before implementing the APIs, how to navigate your documentation, and how to get everything running. Afterwards, you can refer them to other guides that describe how to implement advanced features, all the while presenting use cases that show real-world scenarios of comprehensive functionality that delivers high value to your clients.
Describe your API in the OpenAPI standard to leverage its potential
Technically speaking, certain APIs are described in the OpenAPI Specification (OAS), which is recognized as the most popular open-source framework for specifying and developing APIs.
It is a powerful language that enables developers to efficiently describe the structure and operations of their APIs. With the OAS, they can create interactive API documentation with accurate descriptions of each endpoint.
The OAS can be easily imported into API testing tools such as Postman and Insomnia. This can be used to test the API endpoints and check if they are working properly.
Follow API best practices
Adhering to the best practices in working with APIs removes confusion and frustration for your customers, and standardization makes API implementation simple and fast.
This makes it easier for your customers to get started with your product and not waste time figuring out how things work.
In addition to that, using consistent naming conventions for endpoints and operations, documenting error responses, and providing examples is recommended as well. Consistency is the key to a seamless user experience.
Provide a sandbox and tools to facilitate implementation
A sandbox environment allows customers to try out your API and get familiar with it before committing to it. It also speeds up the development process by allowing for faster experimentation and bug fixing.
You can also provide tools such as SDKs, libraries, frameworks, and code snippets that allow customers to write custom code faster while ensuring consistency across implementations. This makes working with your API a smoother and more efficient experience.
Create a dedicated section with all the resources for the technical audience
It is essential to have a separate place for the technical community where you provide them with all the resources they need for successful API integration.
Your website or developer portal should include everything from tutorials to guides on getting started, sample code snippets, troubleshooting tips, FAQs, and other documentation related to using your API. Not only does this make it easier for developers to find and use the resources they need, but it also shows that you're committed to providing a high-quality API service.
API integration can be easier and more cost-effective if you prepare the necessary resources, provide guides and documentation, use the OAS, follow API best practices, provide a sandbox environment and tools to help with development, and create a dedicated section on your website with all the resources you need. All of these steps will help speed up the integration process and make it easier for customers to implement your API.
However, even the most comprehensive documentation won't always solve all the problems that can arise during implementation. For this reason, it is important to provide customer support to ensure a successful integration, replete with helpful resources as well as quick and reliable answers to any questions or issues your customers may have. By taking these steps to streamline API integrations and provide excellent customer service, you can unlock the full potential of your API.
Additionally, leveraging word-of-mouth marketing will help spread awareness of your product and increase its reach to more users. This type of marketing has proven to be much more effective than paid advertising, and it can be an excellent way to get more customers. Combining these strategies, you can ensure that your API integrations are successful and cost-effective for you and your customers.
You might also be interested in:
- Improve API adoption with Open API specification
- API-First Development
- API Potential Infographic
- API Handbook for executives
Let us help you simplify your API integration. Contact us today and get started on unlocking the potential of your product. We look forward to hearing from you!
With more than 12 years in software engineering, I use my expertise to link business and technology for our clients.