What does it mean to integrate with an API, and what does it enable for a brand looking to enable mobile marketing?
Integrating with an API (which stands for Application Programming Interface) means connecting software or an application with another service, platform, or system using a defined set of rules and protocols. APIs allow different software components to communicate and interact with each other, providing access to data related to customer profiles and user behaviors, as well as access to functionalities of another service or platform.
Many types of software today have API capabilities, such as advertising platforms, marketing tools, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. When brands integrate with APIs for mobile marketing purposes, it enables a wide variety of benefits such as:
- Automation. Integrating with APIs allows for the automation of various marketing tasks. For example, companies can automate the process of sending SMS/MMS messages or push notifications based on specific instances (e.g. notifying participants in a contest if they won) or user actions (e.g. a thank you response when a user signs up for an SMS marketing program).
- Personalization. Stored data about individual users and their interactions can be used to create tailored marketing content, such as product recommendations or unique offers, enhancing the user experience and increasing engagement.
- Multichannel marketing. By integrating with APIs, companies can extend their marketing efforts across multiple channels. For instance, a brand can integrate with social media APIs to post content or ads directly from their app, or they can integrate with various messaging platforms to send certain types of messages in a specific channel (e.g. integrating with SMS and email platforms).
- Real-time data updates. This allows brands to react quickly to changing user behavior, trends, or market conditions so they can more efficiently adjust their marketing strategies.
- Analytics & reporting. APIs can help brands gather and analyze data more effectively. They give brands the ability to pull data into existing analytics tools to enrich the reporting on performance of all marketing efforts, allowing for continuous improvement and marketing campaign optimization.
- Scalability. As a company's mobile marketing efforts grow, API integrations can scale to meet the needs that come from that growth, whether it's integrating more APIs, expanding the functionality of existing integrations to accommodate a larger user base, or more complex marketing strategies.
In summary, integrating with APIs for mobile marketing empowers brands to access, analyze, and utilize their customer data, automate their marketing efforts, personalize the customer experience, and expand their marketing reach across various channels. This leads to more effective and efficient marketing campaigns that help brands achieve, if not exceed, their marketing goals.
Which teams do you typically work with at a company when it comes to the use cases and setup of Vibes’ API suite, and how well-versed in API integrations do these teams need to already be to easily use them?
Generally, use cases are identified by the digital marketing team members who work closely with our Customer Success team. Once a project is signed-off on and discovery is completed, my team and I begin to work with the customer's more technical teams to work on building out some level of automation with their internal systems.
When it comes to skill level for working with APIs, I've seen it vary from beginner to expert - most of the time, as long as you've had some experience in working with APIs it should be pretty turnkey when you've got a suite of existing APIs to choose from. It's when you start getting into highly customized automation builds that more technical expertise is required in order to get a projected completed in a timely fashion.
Are there different types of APIs that Vibes offers to the brands that use its mobile engagement platform? What are some examples?
At Vibes we offer a robust suite of APIs to our customers, including:
- Acquisition APIs - an acquisition campaign is what customers set up in our platform to add new subscribers to their SMS programs, and our acquisition APIs are built to retrieve information about every participant's subscription status - in real-time. This API is what makes it possible for our customers to seamlessly and accurately manage the opt-in / opt-out status of every subscriber joining and leaving their SMS program.
- Event APIs - the event API is built to send real-time messages to SMS subscribers based on certain criteria that warrants a message to be automatically sent, such as order status updates.
- SMS Marketing Message APIs - this API enables our customers with extremely large SMS databases (i.e. millions of SMS subscribers) to automate the segmentation and targeting process for all of their messages.
- Mobile Wallet APIs - with this API, our customers can continually update the content displayed on their customers' saved mobile wallet passes (e.g. digital offers, loyalty cards, etc.) in real-time, unique to that individual user. For example, the mobile wallet API makes it possible for every member of a brand's loyalty program to see their current points balance, available rewards, and other account details.
- Integration APIs - these APIs allow our customers to connect with other marketing tools and systems, such as CRM platforms, marketing automation software, or BI/analytics tools.
- Person (Customer) Data APIs - the person data API enables our customers to access and manage their SMS subscriber data, including profiles, preferences, and behavior-based information as a means of personalizing their SMS message content, such as including the subscriber's first name in their message.
Are there alternative solutions other than an API for triggering automated messages?
There certainly are. Three of the most common alternative solutions our customers use are:
- Date-triggered messages. A date-triggered message campaign can be set up to send out an SMS, MMS, or push notification either on a date unique to each customer, or a specified amount of time before or after a certain date. Vibes customers use this functionality most often to send birthday messages, appointment reminders, or promotion/offer expiration details.
- File-triggered messages. Many of our customers rely on this functionality for sending messages to their customer segments based on data they don't store in the Vibes platform. File-triggered message campaigns make it possible for our customers to easily send a specific message to specified mobile numbers listed in a flat file (i.e. a .CSV file). The message is automatically sent out in response to that file being uploaded into our platform. Vibes customers typically use this functionality to send a specific message to different customer segments they've identified (e.g. loyalty members who just reached a new membership tier).
- Ecommerce tag-triggered messages. The tracking tags brands can embed in their website to track customer activity can also be utilized to automatically send cart recovery reminders that direct the shopper back to their abandoned online shopping cart.
How much monitoring and maintenance is required by the brand once an API integration is successfully setup? What does that monitoring and maintenance process look like after launch?
The Vibes ecosystem helps keep our customers properly informed and worry-free that something requires an update that they don't know about. This is managed in a couple of ways:
First, there are a variety of automated monitoring and alert-based systems in place that are constantly checking to identify any application abnormalities. If one is detected, the appropriate resources at Vibes are automatically identified to work towards a resolution. For companies that opt to be more involved and manage their API campaigns more closely, our Customer Care team is available 24/7/365 so someone is always at-the-ready to assist and help troubleshoot.
Second is the callbacks functionality. Callbacks are a way for a third-party system to receive real-time informative calls from the Vibes Platform when specified data has changed. The callback itself is a Vibes-initiated HTTP request that is sent to the third-party system to notify them of activity in the Vibes system. While the default approach is the third-party system, or endpoint, being responsible for storing, recording, and monitoring this information, custom automation can be built out based on the internal needs a company has.
What's your favorite example of a successful API integration with the Vibes platform, and why?
I have two, and the first one is Chipotle. By integrating their Rewards program with us and their loyalty provider, Oracle CrowdTwist, all Rewards members can save their loyalty cards to their mobile wallet, scan it at checkout to earn points / redeem rewards, and receive real-time updates to their purchase-based point balances. Their mobile wallet loyalty card has been wildly successful among their member base, generating over 1M mobile wallet installs in its first 4 months of being live in market.
The other example is one of our insurance customers, and the reason why I like them so much is because of how much APIs drive the success of so many of their programs. They use our APIs for a variety of applications - from automated program signups and personalized messaging to real-time conversations between agents and customers. I am also especially proud of this customer example because the insurance industry has a complex business model, and our platform and APIs have proven to not only be flexible enough to accommodate their needs, but also how scalable they are for the variety of use cases this customer has as their program continues to grow.