6 Tips on How to Market Your API

API-based products are all the rage. And these API business models are also turning out to be profitable.

Nearly two-thirds of organizations generate revenue with APIs, and for 43%, APIs account for over a quarter of overall company revenue, according to the 2023 State of the API Report. But, in a crowded tech market, how can you make sure your API gets used — let alone noticed at all? This is where API marketing comes in.

Below, we'll look at how to market an API as a product. We'll describe how to make your API discoverable, like optimizing your content, using standard specs, and listing it in directories. We'll also consider ways to enhance the developer experience to attract people to your service naturally.

1. Optimize developer portals for SEO#

Have you ever heard of Google? Optimizing for search engines is a basic marketing 101 tactic, but it's still the best friend of any online marketer—including API product managers.

You may not realize it, but the copy on your developer portals and landing pages matters a ton. To optimize these pages for SEO, perform keyword research and competitive analysis to ensure your website is discoverable. SEO experts recommend tools like SEMrush.

For example, consider an API that computes the time it takes to travel between two distances. Developers may use search terms like "route duration API," "travel time API," or "distance calculator." So, use a mixture of targeted terms in your content to cast a wide net.

2. Describe your API with standard definitions#

Going beyond human-readable text, make sure your APIs are machine-readable, too. For this, use industry-standard specifications, like OpenAPI Specification (formerly Swagger) for REST APIs or AsyncAPI Specification for event-driven architectures.

API definitions are super helpful because they act as a source of truth for your documentation, SDKs, playgrounds, and client and server stubs — all resources that greatly aid your marketing efforts. Not to mention, since LLMs are actively scraping your public docs, describing your API with standard definitions could inform AI consumers as well.

3. Add it to API directories and marketplaces#

Another way to market your API is to add it to the many directories and marketplaces that catalog APIs. Some simply list and categorize APIs, like APIs.guru, Any-API, API list, APIs.io, the Public APIs Github Repo, and SDKs.io for SDKs. These act as a phone book for finding APIs.

Other API marketplaces are more advanced, allowing you to monetize your API. A couple of examples include APIlayer and RapidAPI. However, keep in mind that these marketplaces typically charge a share of your revenue. To avoid this, consider working with API hubs like Zyla that don't require rev-share.

4. Become part of a unified API#

There are more industry-specific API marketplaces, which could be interesting to attract users within your domain or industry. For instance, BuiltAPI is a marketplace for property tech APIs, and API3 is one for blockchain APIs. But taking that idea a step further, another option is to add your API to an existing unified API.

A unified API is an API that consolidates various APIs in the same software category. This is great for developer usability since they make integrating multiple sources from the same endpoint seamless. And, they could open you up to new users in the process.

One example is Merge, a unified API for all sorts of integrations, including ticketing, payroll, CRM, and other interfaces. But plenty of other unified APIs exist for areas like banking, air travel, AI, and more.

5. Craft an excellent developer experience#

There's nothing like an awesome API with great developer experience. A sleek, easy-to-use design is a marketing tool on its own since it can increase word of mouth around your API — a tried and true marketing tactic for any product.

With that said, consider developer experience best practices that take your API marketing efforts to the next level:

  • Have quality API documentation
  • Generate code snippets in top programming languages
  • Make authentication and authorization painless
  • Make error handling easy to comprehend
  • Add a Postman Collection to the Postman API Network.

Another way to enhance the developer experience (and your marketing) is to foster the community around your API. For example, some API providers have a Slack hub where users can connect and share painpoints. API developer advocates are often active on forums, helping users. Last but not least, consider open-sourcing helpful tools, like SDKs, on GitHub, and contribute to related open-source projects.

6. Final thought: Traditional product marketing techniques still apply#

Here you have it—a short but sweet list of tips for marketing your API. These are all proven ways to get your API in front of more developers and integrated into more applications.

But we'd be remiss not to recognize one glaringly obvious fact: APIs are products. Therefore, traditional product marketing techniques are still valid! For example:

  • Perform customer segment research: In the case of APIs, create target developer personas and mold your resources to these groups.
  • Engage with followers on social media: X, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other networks can all be helpful platforms to connect with users.
  • Participate in events: Consider participating in tradeshows, conferences, webinars, or podcasts or hosting your own events.
  • Product Hunt announcement: Product Hunt is a helpful platform for promoting the release of new SaaS products.
  • Generate key performance indicators (KPIs) and optimize them: Understand your metrics, like time to first call, monthly calls, or developer churn, and try to refine them over time.

As a guiding light, treat your API as a product and give it the marketing forethought it deserves. As Jason Harmon, former Head of API Design at PayPal and Stoplight CTO, says, the key is to think of your API as just another product. Thinking like this should not only help your marketing efforts but also help generate a killer product overall.

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