API KPIs Should Be Optimized for Developer Success

When it comes to measuring the success of an API, we often experience a lack meaningful metrics, with many companies only tracking the number of new developers and quantity of API calls. Going beyond these basic API metrics and identifying true performance indicators (KPI), will be essential if you want to find success with your API.

To speak in a more traditional marketing sense, a pretty standard sales funnel can be used to set the stage, defining the intake of developers as the top of your funnel, paid accounts and production applications the bottom of your APIs funnel--giving you a common framework for hanging KPIs on.  

However, when using a sales funnel to frame your API marketing efforts, be careful of being blinded that success will all be all about moving developers from the top, to the bottom of your funnel. While this is definitely a large part of your efforts, there are plenty of good things that can happen within the funnel that will further drive users into the funnel as well as build trust and evangelism efforts that can be essential to the growth of your API ecosystem.

When planning your API sales funnel, the top is all about bringing in new registrations and the bottom should reflect the business objectives of your API. But your funnel flow shouldn't always consist of direct flow to the bottom--think about what other beneficial activities can happen within the funnel:

  • Talent Acquisition - Finding new developers who understand your API and market
  • Social Media Marketing - Tweets and other social media exhaust for users
  • Story Building - New stories you can tell about the value your API delivers
  • Idea Generation - Creative ideas around how to use your API
  • Feedback - Quality feedback from developers about how to make your API better
  • Evangelists - Develop the next generation of developer evangelists and advocates
  • Brand - Awareness of your brand and the value it represents
  • Trust - The trust of developers who will use your API to solve problems in the future

Some of these activities can boost the strength of your operations, others can feed the bottom line and meet your funnel objectives, but all of them will work to bring more developers into the top of the funnel--helping you scale.

To properly define your API funnel, you need to begin by profiling developers, as they come in the door, and try to figure out where they fit. Don’t assume all developers will be there to build production ready app and drive revenue for your company. Developers come in all shapes and sizes. Get to know your developers, who they are and understand where they fit into the equation. Don’t scare off developers who can benefit the ecosystem with an aggressive sales approach..

When establishing and evolving the key performance indicators for your API, make sure be developer centric in your measurements and decisions--don’t make them just about monetization and the bottom line. If you optimize for developer success, when it comes to web APis you’ll often find success in all other areas of your API operations.