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Why marketing agencies need an API strategy

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Key takeaways

  • APIs connect different applications, sharing data and information to streamline your operations
  • There are four main types of APIs: public, private, partner, and composite
  • Marketers leverage APIs to integrate ecommerce, CRM, email automation, and social platforms

These days, it seems as though there’s a separate app for everything—which can quickly become overwhelming. However, when you integrate multiple platforms, it solves common problems and creates efficiencies that can transform both your business operations and the customer experience.

Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow platforms to work together to share information, thereby creating a superior, streamlined product experience.

Marketing or advertising agencies can use API connectivity to boost sales, provide stronger customer service, and break down silos between departments. Discover how agencies can implement an effective API strategy to streamline operations and create a better user experience for clients.

What is an API?

An application programming interface serves as a software intermediary, meaning it allows two, completely different platforms to talk to one another. Essentially, an API serves as a bridge, sharing data between internal and external software.

There are four main types of APIs:

  • Private APIs: Private APIs are typically used within a single company. They’re often used by engineering teams to remove silos between internal operations.
  • Public APIs: An open API is available to virtually anyone on the internet. Developers use open APIs to link their data to pre-existing tools.
  • Partner APIs: These APIs are only available to authorized third-party developers (typically to aid in a business partnership).
  • Composite APIs: A composite API is a combination of two or more APIs, used to solve a complex problem.

Even if you’re just getting started with API management, you likely already use APIs in your everyday life. Some common use cases of APIs include:

  • Logging into new applications: When you’re prompted to sign in to a new app or service with your Facebook or Google accounts, an API is at work to authenticate your login.
  • Paying with another app: When you pay with PayPal, Venmo, or Apple Pay through a platform that isn’t one of those services, you’re doing so through an API.
  • Booking travel: Popular travel sites scour thousands of flight, rental car, and hotel platforms in order to come up with the best rates—all done through APIs.

Why should agencies implement an API strategy?

Taking an API-first approach at your agency requires time, money, and internal resources. You’ll need to set goals, understand compliance issues, and integrate your approach with your overall business strategy. Agencies often choose to implement an enterprise API strategy for monetization, customer support, and operational purposes. Some benefits of APIs include:

  • Boost company revenue: According to the 2023 State of the API Report by Postman, a comprehensive survey reporting on more than 40,000 developers, two-thirds of respondents stated their APIs generated revenue. What’s more, 43% said APIs are responsible for 25% or more of company revenue.
  • Align stakeholders: An API strategy breaks down walls between departments, including engineering, sales, marketing, customer service, and IT. Together, all stakeholders can design an API architecture that aligns with their overall business goals.
  • Build a better customer experience: By integrating with other platforms, companies can collect deeper data on their target audience, satisfying the needs and wants of consumers.

How agencies can leverage APIs to enhance service offerings


Marketing agency professionals examining a CRM system displayed on a laptop

As API consumers, marketers can integrate CRM systems, email automation platforms, ecommerce sites, and other tools to create a top-tier client experience.

API usage should be a cornerstone of your overall digital transformation strategy—in other words, your approach for leveraging digital solutions to boost business value. Dive into the top four ways APIs can transform your agency for the better.

1. APIs can integrate third-party tools and platforms

At its core, API development is meant to connect various applications. An API integration allows shared data between two distinct platforms. To best serve its clients, an agency might use an API to:

  • Connect their CRM system and email automation platform to streamline marketing/sales email campaigns
  • Launch an SMS campaign targeting those who submitted their information via a webform
  • Post deadlines on internal calendars based on timelines within their project management system
  • Boost sales for a product line by integrating online stores with social media ads

2. APIs can automate tasks to streamline operations

API gateways can automate certain items on your to-do list, allowing your agency to preserve time, money, and resources. With the right API providers, you can develop more efficient and effective workflows for both your agency and your clients.

Every day, marketers use APIs to:

  • Receive Slack notifications triggered by an update in Salesforce or other CRM platform
  • Schedule new client meetings with Calendly, which automatically blocks off time on Google calendars
  • Create automated email campaigns in Mailchimp, targeting those who fill out a Squarespace form
  • Upload client proposals from Dropbox, emailing them to new business prospects

3. KPIs can improve data analytics

With the right API design, agencies can collect and share data for their clients. Marketers take advantage of APIs to gather data on user behavior, past purchases, or demographics. For example, marketers often use:

  • APIs from Google Analytics to dive deeper into website traffic and buyer behavior
  • The Yelp Knowledge API to better understand business reviews, social metrics, and other data points around consumer behavior
  • APIs from payment processing platforms (like Square) to optimize the customer lifecycle in real time
  • The LinkedIn API to collect information on new markets, potential prospects, or business opportunities

4. APIs can create custom solutions for clients

Developing an effective API strategy isn’t strictly about leveraging integrations that already exist. Instead, you can create your own API program, integrating your clients’ backend with other applications.

To launch a new API, you’ll need to go through the three phases of the API lifecycle—create, control, and consume. In other words:

  • Create your full API and build out its documentation. Doing so will require you to build an API roadmap, detailing which features should be included and what the integration will accomplish.
  • Control your API security. This phase requires your team to understand API governance and compliance implications.
  • Allow others to consume your API. This phase is where you’ll officially launch your API, marketing and monetizing it within the developer community.

Getting started with Yelp APIs


Marketing professionals gathered around a laptop in office

If you’re looking to add Yelp to your API strategy, the Yelp Developer Portal is a great place to start, and Yelp Advertising Partner agencies can work directly with their account team to explore the implementation process. Yelp offers extensive API documentation so you can seamlessly incorporate it into your digital ecosystem.

Yelp APIs are split into two sets: Yelp Fusion and Yelp Partner APIs. Yelp Fusion is a public API, but in order to access Yelp Partner APIs, you’ll need to be an official Yelp Advertising Partner agency that meets certain qualifications (varies by API; check links below for details). The APIs available to Yelp Partners include:

  • Leads API: The Yelp Leads API allows agencies to get alerted to, read, and respond to their clients’ leads from Yelp users—helping agencies improve lead response times for their clients. This API can be used to import Yelp lead data into your own CRM, along with leads generated by other platforms.
  • Ads API: Create, edit, pause, and make budget adjustments for multiple clients’ business pages and search campaigns at once with the Yelp Ads API. This API is  integrated with Yelp’s marketing technology partner MatchCraft.
  • Reporting API: Yelp Partner agencies can retrieve daily or monthly client metrics on Yelp such as page views, leads, calls, and messages using the Reporting API from Yelp. This API is integrated with these third-party reporting platforms: AgencyAnalytics, Domo, Funnel, TapClicks.

APIs for agencies can help boost your customer experience

APIs serve as a bridge between two platforms, sharing data across the internet. With the right API strategy, marketing agencies can launch new campaigns, automate day-to-day tasks, collect better consumer data, and get more concrete web traffic analytics.

Every day, marketing and advertising agencies leverage Yelp APIs to streamline operations and better serve their clients. With Yelp APIs, marketers can develop tailored advertising campaigns, efficiently manage customer leads, and better understand client metrics.

Learn how to incorporate Yelp into your successful API strategy, reach out to your account team, or join the Yelp Advertising Partner Program to get started.

Ready to become a Yelp Advertising Partner?

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Joining the Yelp Advertising Partner Program unlocks exclusive resources that will help you drive results for your SMB clients, plus qualifies your agency to earn commission on their Yelp spend.