We read, with great interest, fellow lead/marketing automation vendor Eloqua's announcement that it just introduced its first Web Services Application Programming Interface (WSAPI).
Their claim to be the first in the industry is a big surprise to us, though, because Silverpop's Vtrenz solution launched its WSAPI in 2006. In fact, our software follows the simple object access protocol (SOAP), which allows clients to take advantage of Vtrenz's open API for "off-the-shelf" integrations with Salesforce.com, Microsoft CRM Dynamics and Netsuite.
So, what are all the API hoopla and claims about? Let's explore what a WSAPI is, often referred to as just API. And, if you are a non-technical marketer, why should you care?
What is a WSAPI?
In its simplest form, it is merely an Internet communication method that allows one computer to push data to - or request it from - an outside source. Using a WSAPI does require marketers to have programming expertise or technical assistance available, but the benefits are substantial for some companies.
Typical examples of WSAPI calls include:
- Pre-populating Web forms
- Providing access to a customer preference center
- Creating new contact records, new email messages, updating records – all without a user having to access the Vtrenz application
- Automatically sending an email message to a list of existing contacts
How does Silverpop’s Vtrenz WSAPI work?
It enables a company to leverage the power of Vtrenz's marketing automation and lead management platform without having to physically "log in" to the solution. This allows a company to maintain many of the custom processes already designed for their business.
Think of the WSAPI as a virtual hand that puts commands into Silverpop's Vtrenz solution, telling it to perform functions such as "look at a record of information," "update the record" and "send out a communication."
Who Would Benefit from a WSAPI?
Almost all companies using a marketing automation solution can benefit from using a WSAPI. But some of the more common reasons include:
- To leverage the data storage and capabilities of their marketing automation solution
- To share data while maintaining the complete look and feel of its existing Website
- To keep the numerous custom business practices already in place and not have to spend resource time and money to alter them
- A need for highly custom forms or surveys
- Sensitivity about outsiders "touching" their data
Pre-Populated Forms – A Simple WSAPI Example in Action
There are dozens of ways marketers can leverage APIs, but a simple example is the use of pre-populated forms in the lead generation process. An example being:
- When a first-time user visits your Website and enters any amount of information into a form, a cookie is attached that uniquely identifies that specific person.
- When the visitor returns to any form page on your Website, you use the WSAPI to send a "request" to the Vtrenz database to see if a profile already exists for the visitor.
- If a match is found, that visitor's profile information will be pre-populated in the form with the contact information that the user already provided.
- This results in less action necessary on the part of the Web visitor, resulting in an easier Web experience.
So if you are a marketer and WSAPI is a new concept, we highly recommend exploring with your IT team and Silverpop's Vtrenz, how you can leverage this technology to achieve greater efficiencies and implement more sophisticated lead automation programs.
And we congratulate Eloqua for finally launching their WSAPI so their clients can now take advantage of integrations and data sharing that our Vtrenz clients have already enjoyed the last few years. Welcome to the party!