A guide to API-led integration

As your organization evaluates different methods of connecting applications, you’ll likely consider APIs.

Integrating applications through APIs, otherwise referred to as API-led integrations, lets you sync data quickly and reliably across a wide range of scenarios. 

We’ll explore some of these scenarios and go deeper on the benefits of API integration, but to start, let’s align on the definition of API-led integration.

What is API-led integration?

It’s any integration that’s built using APIs. Once the integration is implemented, specific data can be synced between the connected systems on a predefined cadence.

In addition, API-led integrations include two scenarios: internal integrations, or integrations that are built between the applications a company uses, and customer-facing integrations, or integrations that sit between your product and your clients’ and prospects’ applications.

A visualization of the two types of API-led integration

Related: What is third-party API integration?

Examples of API-led integration

Here are a few examples of API-led integrations:

Note: The first two examples are internal integrations, while the remaining examples are product integrations.

Enrich leads that chat with your team

As prospects browse through key webpages to evaluate your product, such as specific features pages or your pricing page, they might eventually decide to use the chat on their browser to ask follow-up questions.

You can equip your team with speaking to these prospects thoughtfully and effectively by integrating your business messaging software (e.g., Intercom) with your data enrichment tool (e.g., Clearbit) and building the following workflow: Once a prospect is chatting with your team, the enrichment tool finds additional information on the lead (e.g., the company size, industry, region, etc.) and displays the information in Intercom.

API integration that syncs leads between Intercom and Clearbit

Related: Examples of API integration

Notify the company at large when a candidate signs their offer letter

Say your company encourages employees to congratulate candidates via text message as soon as candidates sign their offer letters.

To help encourage and facilitate this behavior at scale, you can integrate your ATS solution (e.g., Greenhouse) with your business communications platform (e.g., Slack) and build the following workflow: once a candidate is marked as hired in the ATS solution, a notification gets sent to a specific channel (e.g., #new-hire-announcements) that includes information on the new hire, such as their full name, the role they accepted, and their cell phone number.

API integration example between Greenhouse and Slack

Automate user provisioning in your product

Enabling clients to add and remove users with ease doesn’t just provide a great customer experience—it also increases the likelihood that more users at a given account access and use your platform. This, in and of itself, can carry positive downstream benefits, like improved customer retention.

To help clients provision (and de-provision) users seamlessly, you can integrate your product with clients’ HRIS solutions and build a workflow where once a user is added to or removed from a client’s HRIS solution, the corresponding action takes place in your product. In the event that you’re adding a user, you can also sync additional fields, like job title and department, to assign them the appropriate level of permissions automatically.

A visual breakdown of automating employee onboarding and offboarding with your product

Related: How to automate user provisioning

Create issues in your clients’ ticketing applications 

Say you offer a platform that helps clients detect security vulnerabilities.

To ensure that your discoveries get uncovered and follow-up on, you can integrate your product with clients’ ticketing applications and build a sync where once a new vulnerability gets detected for a certain client, a corresponding ticket gets created in that client’s ticketing tool. The ticket can include a variety of insights that were discovered by your product, including a description of the issue, the level of urgency in resolving it, a suggested remediation, and so on.

Customer-facing integration for creating tickets in clients' ticketing systems when your product finds an issue

Benefits of API-led integration

The benefits of API-led integration can differ depending on whether you’re building internal or customer-facing integrations. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits from both scenarios:

Improved employee experience

By allowing data to move between systems seamlessly, your employees don’t have to copy and paste data between the systems themselves or hop between them to find information. This saves them a meaningful amount of time and lets them focus instead on more impactful, strategic work.

Prevents human errors

Reentering information can also easily lead to subtle errors that have significant downstream consequences, whether that's invoicing clients an incorrect amount, sending the wrong candidate an offer letter, adding leads to a nurture sequence that doesn’t fit the stage they’re in, etc.

Since API-led integrations let you avoid data-entry tasks, you can largely avoid the issues they’d create altogether. 

Increases your close rate

As software buyers evaluate different solutions, they’ll likely look at the integrations each vendor offers.

If your organization can offer relatively more, you’ll have a higher chance of winning their business. Our own research bears this out: Nearly 3 in 5 organizations cite improved close rate as a benefit from providing product integrations

Top benefits of customer-facing integrations
The top benefits of offering customer-facing integrations, according to our state of Product Integrations

Elevates customer retention 

Since integrations allow your product to sync data and kickstart workflows automatically, your integrations are likely to improve the customer experience. And while there may be a time lag, this should lead to improvements in customer retention.

Moreover, if you manage to offer a greater depth and breadth of integrations relative to rivals, your client has one less reason to move away from your business.

Related: The benefits of cloud API integration

Helps facilitate market expansions

Whether you’re looking to break into new industries or move upmarket, you’ll likely find that the prospects you’re hoping to reach use a unique set of applications. 

If you can integrate with the applications your target market uses, you’ll be—all else equal—more likely to get traction.

Build API-led product integrations at scale with Merge

Merge lets you add hundreds of integrations to your product across key software categories through a single unified API. 

Merge also provides comprehensive Common Models, along with advanced features like Field Mapping, to help you access and sync a wide range of data; Integration Observability tooling to enable your customer-facing employees to manage clients’ integrations; and integration maintenance support to help you provide reliable  integrations. 

Learn more about how Merge can help you build impactful integrations at scale by scheduling a demo with one of our integration experts.