Learn more about the most popular application programming interfaces (APIs), find out how they work, and check out API examples that can help your business!
APIs have rapidly grown in importance over the last decade. In the first 6 months of 2019 alone, 1,320 APIs were added. For context, this was a 30% increase in the monthly rate of APIs added and compares to only ~2,000 APIs existing in 2010.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are interfaces that allow for the transfer of data between applications. These tools have become crucial for many of the functionality increases that web-based applications have seen over the past decade. Without APIs, you wouldn’t be able to connect any of the apps that you use on a daily basis. For example, think about using a communication application, like Slack or Microsoft Teams, in conjunction with a payments platform like Stripe. Maybe you want Slack to notify you when a payment from a customer is processed through Stripe; an API can make this possible. Besides business uses, we also frequently use APIs in our daily lives. Think about when you use your Facebook to log into another application, such as Spotify. Odds are multiple APIs are at work to make this happen.
APIs are everywhere, and we wanted to build a guide that talks about a few of the APIs that we like the most. These APIs skew mainly towards salespeople, marketers and product managers that want to increase their productivity and make the most of their budgets.If you want to learn more about the inner-workings of an API, check out Zapier’s introduction to APIs, or you can also visit our API tutorial here.
In this article, we’ll examine some of the most popular APIs on the internet. Each section includes a few of the APIs that the product offers, along with examples of API functionality across different apps the product can integrate with.
Google Analytics is a free analytics tool that helps websites perform detailed analysis on their website visitors. Google Analytics can collect a wide array of data, including pageviews, sessions, conversions, click rates, and many more. Metrics can also be segmented by different channels, such as referral, organic or paid search traffic. The data is optimized for use in Google Sheets or any other spreadsheet software. Google Analytics is crucial for optimizing the performance of your website and APIs can help you achieve this.
The Google Analytics API is primarily used to create, access and manage your accounts, properties, views, and many other aspects of your Google Analytics account.
One example of this API in action is through the Google Analytics Reporting API. This API gives you the ability to build custom dashboards to display Google Analytics data, automate tasks, and integrate your Google Analytics data with some of the other applications you use. To learn more about this specific API, check out Google’s overview on the Google Analytics Reporting API v4.
Another example is the Google Analytics Management API, which is described in-depth in this overview written by Google. This API is specifically built for managing accounts on Google Analytics and is especially useful for larger organizations that have to juggle many different Google Analytics users. Specific features include listing user information, managing links between Google Analytics and Ads, managing user permissions, and determining goals. You can connect it with hundreds of different apps including HubSpot, Google Sheets and Stripe. For example, with a connection to HubSpot you can enable HubSpot to automatically update when new contacts, goals, engagements, etc. occur in Google Analytics.
There are many different APIs you can build and the Google Analytics website lists all of the ones that we didn’t cover here. Zapier’s Google Analytics page is also a great resource.
Google Ads is Google’s advertising platform for businesses. Users can utilize Google Ads to purchase ads that will appear on Google Search results pages andother Google properties, such as Youtube. In Google Ads, users make bids on certain keywords. The bid amount, as well as a variety of other factors that measure the quality of the advertisement, determine the paid ads that you see on Google Search. Google Ads is widely used and is a straightforward way to drive traffic to your website and/or increase customer volume.
The Google Ads API is primarily used for allowing external applications to interact with Google Ads. For example, you can automate the management of your Ads account, customize the data you’d like to flow into the application, and manage bidding strategies. Google Sheets, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Slack are a few of many apps you can integrate with. For example, with Google Sheets you can automatically generate new rows of data from Google Ads whenever you launch a new campaign. With Facebook and LinkedIn, you can automatically post content when new Google Ads campaigns begin. Check out Zapier’s Google Ads Integrations page to find more integrations that we haven’t covered or you can also check out Google’s overview of the Ads API.
We all know what Facebook is (I hope!), but what many people don’t recognize is Facebook’s limitless potential for driving marketing/sales performance, as well as the tools to reach this potential.
The two primary APIs that Facebook offers are the Graph API and Marketing API. The graph API is primarily used for apps that need to exchange data with Facebook. For example, you can pull user information such as birthdays, pictures, comments, etc. You can also programmatically upload photos, manage ads, post new stories, as well as a variety of other tasks. The Marketing API is essentially an extension of the Graph API and it’s best-used for automating all things marketing or advertising related.
There are a variety of apps that work well alongside Facebook including Slack, Salesforce and MailChimp. For a business with a Facebook page, Slack can direct message users when posts are made, notify channel members of new posts and many other things. Specifically for leads generated through Facebook, an API can automatically update Salesforce and/or Mailchimp on the lead information your Facebook account has generated.
Shopify is an eCommerce platform that lets its users start, grow, and manage their business. The platform starts at only $29/month and handles order processing, generates store data, manages product listings, and much more. Shopify’s POS system also works for both online and brick and mortar operations.
Shopify offers a host of different APIs and we’ll go through the ones that can be most impactful to your business. The most basic Shopify API is the Admin API. This API reads and writes data about merchant stores, products, etc., and can be used to build apps that add features to the merchant store management interface. Next, you can use the Storefront API to build the storefront into environments outside of Shopify POS or your online store. These environments include other mobile, gaming and web locations that need more custom storefronts. Finally, the Analytics API, which can only be accessed with an Advanced Shopify plan, allows you to generate more detailed metrics on a merchant’s store. You can find the entire list of APIs that Shopify offers on their API page.
Shopify can be integrated with a variety of different apps including QuickBooks Online, Trello and many more. With QuickBooks Online, new invoices, bills, payments, as well as many more events within your Shopify account can be automatically addressed. If Shopify is integrated with Trello, you can get notified in Trello for abandoned shopping carts, cancelled orders, new orders, etc.
Stripe is a payment processing platform that is optimized for internet businesses. Stripe has grown explosively over the last few years, mainly because the platform is extremely easy to use.
In order to even use Stripe, an API is necessary. The Stripe API connects to your website which allows you to process payments through the platform. There are also a few more specialized APIs that Stripe offers and we’ll go through some of the important ones here. The Payment Intents API can track payments from creation through the check-out process and ensure that payments are properly authenticated throughout the process. The Setup Intents API is used for saving payment credentials for future purchases, while the Payment Methods API adds support for different types of payments.
Stripe can also integrate with many different apps to automate the information flow from the platform. It can be integrated with Slack to automatically generate messages in a Slack channel after a payment is successfully made. You can also connect Stripe to database software, such as Airtable, to automatically add Stripe sales to your database or create a database of all of your Stripe customers.
Similar to Facebook, Instagram is also quite useful for sales and marketing and can be especially valuable for generating the organic excitement about a product that Facebook can’t necessarily do
Instagram offers two main APIs. The first is the Basic Display API, which provides read-only access to data from the users of your app, which includes profile information, photos and videos. The Graph API is a step-up from the Basic Display API and is built to allow businesses and creators to manage and reply to comments, identify @mentions from other users, and get basic metadata and metrics about other creators and businesses.
There are also a few different integrations that are really useful for Instagram. Slack can share newly posted Instagram photos in chats automatically. You can also use Instagram in tandem with other social media apps, like sharing Instagram photos you post to Twitter automatically. With an API, you can drastically increase the efficiency of your social media operations.
Zendesk is a CRM designed to be an all-in-one help desk. Zendesk brings all customer communications and tracks them in one platform, making it easy to monitor support requests and customer service effectiveness.
Zendesk is the most prolific API developer in this article, with over one hundred different APIs for you to choose from. Zendesk also offers Zendesk Sunshine, which is an open CRM platform that allows you to store, manage, and connect your customer data in order to build applications. An example of one of the APIs that Zendesk offers is Zendesk Chat, which is a live chat solution that helps automate customer support. Another example is the Help Center API, which helps automate your help center.
The most impactful integrations that you can use with Zendesk are integrations with project management apps like Trello and Asana. When events occur in Zendesk, like new help desk tickets or when users/organizations are added, these changes can automatically flow to Trello. On the flipside, you can also integrate with survey software, like Google Forms or Wufoo, to automatically create service tickets when surveys are submitted.
Salesforce is the most widely used CRM software, and it continues to dominate the market because it can be customized to fit most businesses, while also being extremely scalable. Using a good CRM is essential for any business that needs to optimize their client management practices and Salesforce is a great place to start.
Salesforce prioritizes APIs when building out its platform and offers a wide variety of APIs for building integrations. The most important collection of APIs that Salesforce offers are the Data APIs. These tools are used to manipulate subsets of the data that your Salesforce CRM contains. Other types of APIs enable you to customize page layouts and/or development tools, such as the User Interface API.
At the top of the funnel, you can use an integration with Shopify to automatically generate data in Salesforce. One of the simpler integrations is between Salesforce and Gmail, where you can receive an alert on Gmail when new leads, opportunities, notes, etc. are created on Salesforce. To analyze your Salesforce data, you can also use an integration with Google Sheets to automatically generate spreadsheet data when actions in Salesforce occur.
By now, you’ve learned about a few apps that are commonly used in conjunction with APIs to exponentially increase the effectiveness of the app. You’ve learned that APIs are extremely common and that the many API use cases can help you save time and increase your work quality. In order to build many of the APIs I listed, you’d need programming knowledge or, you can also use RapidAPI or Zapier to help you jumpstart your integrations and/or start building apps.