Marketing and Launching Your API

How to market and officially launch your API.


I’ve added my API to Rakuten RapidAPI! … Now what?

So, you’ve added your API to Rakuten RapidAPI. Congratulations! Now, it’s time to start promoting your API so that developers can find, test and subscribe to it. Here’s a checklist on exactly how to increase the your API’s adoption.

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1. Optimize your website for conversion

Developers want to spend their time coding, not digging through websites. As a provider, your goal is to make the process from discovering to using your API as fast and frictionless as possible. Another way to put it, you want to minimize the time it takes for a developer to call your API and get a 200. Here are some website optimization tips to streamline the process for developers.

Reduce Duplicate Key Generation

If a developer already has a Rakuten RapidAPI account, making him or her generate another API key on your website adds friction to the process. It could be enough to turn them off your API entirely – developers don’t like to jump through too many hoops, and are wary of sharing personal details! Avoid having additional key generation on your website.

If you do already have an authentication process in place, consider using hidden headers so that developers already on Rakuten RapidAPI don’t have to generate an additional key or leave the page to start testing. Rakuten RapidAPI has over 400,000 developers - help them use your API with as little friction as possible.

Make Pricing Clear

When developers starts a project, they don’t want to start coding later. They want to start now. Language like “request a quote” or “request a key” is an instant turn-off.

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Keep pricing clear and transparent from the beginning to avoid real or perceived delays. We recommend linking straight to your Pricing page on Rakuten RapidAPI, as it features plan prices and overage fees clearly and explicitly.

You can always offer a private plan or email link for special use cases (ex. student or large enterprise). If you have questions on how to price your plan, we recommend reading our ultimate API pricing guide.

While some APIs (ex. financial services) may require additional vetting in advance, most don’t. Similarly, while it’s tempting to want to demo directly to a new developer, most developers would much rather read documentation and learn your API themselves. We highly recommend avoiding any delays between discovering and testing the API.

Link to Rakuten RapidAPI

To reduce on-boarding time, use your existing website to link to your API’s functions page on Rakuten RapidAPI.

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This interface means that developers don’t have to generate a key and can jump straight to the coding process. You can customize a button with your branding or use one [that we provide](docs/Rakuten RapidAPI-button). Check out how some of our providers have done it.

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Here are the places we recommend linking to Rakuten RapidAPI specifically:

  • Any “test now” or “generate key” call to action can link to your Functions page
  • Features pages can link to specific endpoints on the Functions page
  • The pricing page or a “subscribe” call to action can link to your API’s Pricing page

These links will streamline the subscription process for developers.

2. Pick and own your niche

What is your API’s niche? What does your API actually help developers achieve? Are you a sentiment analysis or IP geolocation API? Or is your value proposition a bit more broad?

Before you start promoting your API more heavily, you’ll need to hone in on exactly what problem your API is solving. If you are struggling to pin it down, try an experiment we call the Twitter test. Can you define your value proposition in 160 characters or less? If you are struggling to articulate your API’s key values or competitive differentiators, here are some articles that can help you pin it down (Forbes, HubSpot). While this value proposition doesn’t have to be developer-facing, it will drive your marketing efforts moving forward.

After nailing your value proposition, you can start owning your specific niche with these steps.

Research your keywords

Say you have a visual recognition API that focuses on reading emotions from facial expressions. What words do most developers using to search for that functionality: facial recognition, face recognition, visual recognition, or emotion APIs? Enter keyword research!

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Finding the most popular (and specific!) phrase that matches your functionality will help search engines direct developers to your website.Use keyword research tools, like Google Keyword Planner, to clearly define the phrase that you would like your API to rank for.

Advertise your niche on AdWords

Now that you have determine the keywords that you want associated with your API, you can expand your efforts into both paid and organic marketing. For immediate efforts, start a Google AdWords campaign to showcase your API in targeted search results. Don’t know where to start? Read this Kissmetrics guide on how to start an AdWords campaign from scratch.

Answer Quora and StackOverflow Questions

Good news - there are countless developers out there who need your API to solve a problem. Time to make yourself available! Answer questions relative your API’s niche on Quora and StackOverflow to demonstrate value to people asking for help. Check out how one recipe API provider embraces this strategy below.

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Focus on being authentically helpful first, promoting your API second. We recommend also including the fact that you are associated with the API or company in question in your answer.

You can track traffic from these answers by using Google tracking links and checking your Google analytics. Not familiar with these tools? Check out this tutorial on Google Analytics to learn more.

Publish content on your website and other publications

When developers search your keywords, you want to make sure they find your API! Start publishing blog posts on your website. Not sure where to get started? Think of the top five questions your existing users ask about your API. Bam! You have your first article (Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about My API). Use your keyword research to guide your content strategy – ideally you want those words in most of your blog post titles and content. Other content ideas include…

  • Highlighting developer projects and common use cases
  • Aggregating tools or publications that your audience will find helpful
  • Creating tutorials
  • Covering industry news
  • Analyzing or testing your API’s benefits compared to competitors
  • Interviewing industry influencers
  • Addressing misconceptions about your space
  • Updating your audience on product news

Guest posting can also boost your API’s association with your selected keywords. Rakuten RapidAPI offers content partnership opportunities, such as newsletter features and blog posts. Contact support-rakuten-rapidapi@mail.rakuten.com to talk more about these opportunities.

3. Officially launch your API

Announce your API to your existing audience

Does your API have an email newsletter? Social accounts? An existing list of developers that use your API? Use this opportunity to let them know that you are now on Rakuten RapidAPI! One API provider announced their listing on Rakuten RapidAPI and saw a increase in traffic and block runs.

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Announce your API on ProductHunt and Hacker News

Developers often use forums such as ProductHunt and Hacker News to find the latest tools and APIs. List your API on these sites with a short message to increase your developer audience.

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To maximize the effectiveness of these announcements, prepare to ask your existing audience for upvotes. Launches where a provider simply lists the API on ProductHunt or Hacker News tend to fall flat. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your existing users, as well as your professional and personal community, to gain the most momentum possible. These websites rely on upvotes and speed, so prioritize getting as many votes as quickly as possible. To avoid spamming however, be sure to emphasize your value proposition succinctly as soon as possible. You can read more on how to launch on ProductHunt and best practices for announcements. Successful tactics for maximizing these announcement posts include promptly engaging with anyone who comments with your post or creating an exclusive offer for this audience.

Conclusion

Creators of great products often full-heartedly believe the mantra: “build it, and they will come.” Unfortunately, with the number of APIs and other products competing for attention, extra work is needed to make your API stand out from the crowd. While this guide is a start, we’re happy to talk more about how to promote your API specifically. Drop us a line at support-rakuten-rapidapi@mail.rakuten.com. We’re here to help.