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APIs Explained: What They Are, and How They Might Benefit Your Company

Jul 07, 2013

APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, allow you to connect two applications for the purpose of communicating or transferring data. APIs maintain the structure and security of both applications while allowing information to pass between applications. 

 

In the context of direct mail, APIs are particularly handy for automating your direct mail workflow and/or adding direct mail functionality to an existing website or program. Click2Mail’s APIs can reduce your cost of operations and save you the time of having to print, fold, stamp, and mail any size mailing order. 

 

There are two different types of APIs:

1. SOAP API – The SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) API is a protocol for accessing a web service or HTTP. It is action-based and enables communication between programs using different operating systems, technologies, and programming language. It allows you to integrate your data with other applications, and create, retrieve, update, or delete records. It is most commonly used when integrating your database with ours in order to automate mailings.


2. REST API – The REST (Representation State Transfer) API is a protocol that transmits resources between client and server in order to produce a representation of the resource. It allows you to access and integrate information within a server or database. Perfect for web-based applications, mobile applications, and highly interactive social applications. 

 

A Click2Mail API in action 

Bret owns a mid-sized marketing firm. One of his most effective lead generation tools is to offer a whitepaper for free download on his website. Visitors enter their names, email addresses, and phone numbers, and in exchange they receive the whitepaper in the mail.

 

It’s a great marketing tool for Bret, but the process of inputting visitors’ personal information into his database, creating mailing lists and labels, printing, folding, stamping, and mailing the whitepapers was incredibly time-consuming. Eventually Bret hired an assistant to do that work; she spent 35 hours a week doing nothing but printing, folding, stamping, and mailing. It was costing Bret’s company a great deal of money and detracting from other activities. 

 

So Bret had our developers help him develop a SOAP API that would enable him to automate his mailings. With the API, when visitors enter their information into Bret’s website, it automatically populates Bret’s database – and through the API, our database as well. It also generates an order within the Click2Mail system, so we print the whitepaper, address it, and mail it. Bret gets the same lead generating benefits as he was, and now his (and his assistant’s) time is freed to focus on higher-priority activities.

 

Is an API right for you? 

An API might be right for you if you have an online database that collects personal contact information in order to create a mailer. If you're not quite sure where to start, we are here to help. We will:

  • Help you determine which API would work best for your project
  • Assign a Click2Mail developer that work with you through the entire process
  • Provide a free API account to get you started, and sample code that is available in many different development environments
  • Plus, we'll help you debug code while you are testing with us

 

If you don’t have an online database from which you send mail, then one of our other mail automation programs might be a better fit:

 

  • MailJack allows you to send an order to Click2Mail simply by clicking “Print” on your computer. Once we receive the order (which is generated automatically when you click “Print” – no need for you to log into Click2Mail.com) we print it, and you get the same kind of volume discount that you’ve come to love from Click2Mail. Especially if you are sending a high volume of mail, MailJack can be a huge time- and money-saver.

  • Email-to-Mail is similar to MailJack, but instead of sending your mail order to us by clicking “Print” from your computer, you do it by sending an email to a special Click2Mail address. Again, the process is automated – no need for you to log in to Click2Mail.com – and you still get all the time- and cost-saving advantages of mailing with Clic2kMail.

 

No matter what your needs, we are here for you. For more information on APIs or to get the integration process started visit Click2Mail.com today or give us a call at 1-866-665-2787.