One of the beauties of working with APIs is their convenient and practical ways to share data and applications. APIs have enabled a transformational shift from an interface that relied on custom integrations to now a relatively streamlined process. That said, because of their agile framework, some companies have overlooked the importance of providing a great developer integration experience and are not taking the necessary steps to help drive the Time To First Hello World.
Unfortunately, it’s an all too common sentiment surrounding API management that the integration should be left to a hyper-intelligent developer to figure out, and that standard onboarding workflows are unnecessary luxuries. However, this is a misguided notion; developers don’t want to be treated as second-class citizens, they want to be shown how to integrate and would appreciate the convenience of streamlined workflows.
That said, there is a growing population of API-driven organizations that are trying to flip this notion on its head. These organizations believe that the integration process is of vital importance to the success of their business, as it sets the stage for the entire length of engagement with their developers. As a result, these organizations are working tirelessly to help their developers reach the First Hello World as soon as possible. Facing the reality that if their onboarding workflows take too long to integrate, developers will pack their bags up and leave in frustration. Conversely, if these organizations are quick to wow and help their developers be successful, it is very likely these organizations will have a lasting and fruitful relationship.
To draw a parallel with an entirely different industry but offers a relatable lesson in product adoption is the automotive industry with Tesla. The designers at Tesla have gone to extreme lengths to ensure that the driver’s initial experience is nothing short of perfection. For example, the seamless push to start the engine, the modern interior, a streamlined UI, and an engine that launches you like a rocketship. All these added details culminate into an initial experience that imparts value and helps customers quickly fall in love with their product.
Similar to the designers of Tesla, API product and engineering leaders should aim to provide their developers with a world-class integration experience that is streamlined and makes the adoption process painless.
To achieve this goal, one of the first steps to take is to create a funnel adoption report. An example of a basic adoption funnel might be: (1) The initial sign-up, (2) First Time to Hello World, and (3) Time to value. Once your funnel report is set up, it will enable you to measure the time it takes to reach each unique stage in your funnel and help you understand what aspects of the API are contributing to developer success. In addition, the report should also identify the percentage of developers that drop off at each stage, which in turn exposes where developers might be running into trouble.
While creating a developer adoption funnel is certainly a step in the right direction, it will not alone provide you with the entire picture. To broaden the scope it would be beneficial to add additional perspectives and metrics. Some of the top metrics that you might consider leveraging for your developer adoption funnel are listed below:
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Qualified Product Leads - When developers integrate with your API it is important to understand whether they are qualified future users of your services. In many cases, developers who begin the integration process are just kicking the tires and have no actual intent of becoming a subscriber. These folks should be marked with an asterisk, as they don’t provide a true sense of the effectiveness of your adoption funnel. In addition, for the developers that do meet your business requirements, support teams should reach out to them and double down their efforts to help them complete the integration process.
Leveraging an extension like Clearbit will help you surface the relevant demographic information, such as role, industry, and company size. This will then allow you to zero in on who is likely to be your next best customer.
Marketing Channel - Marketing teams are working hard to optimize their advertising spend to ensure they are attracting the right type of developer who has a high likelihood of converting. Therefore, it’s critical to track out which advertising channels are yielding the highest percentage of conversion with your APIs, in order to help marketing teams maximize future ad spend and attract the right audience.
Type of SDK - Understanding the SDK that your developers are using is a great metric to identify how certain types of integration might contribute to developer success or failure. For instance, does your Python SDK have a much higher churn rate than your GO SDK? If this is the case, it would be a strong indicator that there might be a bug in your Python SDK and that your engineering team should look into diagnosing the problem.
Errors - Tracking errors is a great way to expose points of friction that your developers are running into while integrating with your APIs. If you are seeing an uptick in errors at a specific stage in your funnel it enables you to proactively step in and remove future bottlenecks and keep developers from dropping off.
The question now falls to you, is your API integration process akin to a Tesla launching your developers to value? If not, to achieve this gold standard, API-driven organizations must look to constantly monitor and analyze their integration funnel in order to improve workflows, remove points of friction, and help drive the Time To Hello World.