APIs (Applications Programming Interfaces) are computing interfaces that make it possible for applications to communicate and share data. They are dictating innovation, automation, and ways through which businesses operate.
In a business setup, different teams work on an API to ensure that it meets all its expectations. Each of these teams tracks different metrics to see the performance of the APIs they are working with. The metrics tracked by infrastructure teams, for instance, are different from those tracked by product managers.
The metrics being tracked can also depend on different factors, such as the stage of an API in its life cycle. In this article, we are going to discuss some of the metrics that every product manager should be tracking.
Growth in API Usage
Measuring the adoption of an API is one of the most important things for all product managers. It is one of the ways they can measure the usage of their APIs. An API is not good only if it has no errors, but also if its usage is growing every month.
Unlike other metrics measured by other teams such as RPM (Requests Per Minute), growth in API usage is measured over a long period, mostly monthly. This helps product managers to understand the trends with their APIs.
If you choose to measure this metric over a month, then choose 28 days. This is important in avoiding measuring weekend or holiday API usage. You can also check the number of days each month and set the number of days you are going to measure API usage depending on it.
Unique API Consumers
As discussed above, growth in API usage is an important metric for product managers. However, how much growth will this be if you only got a single user over that period? This is where unique API consumers come in.
Apart from measuring the growth in API usage, product managers should also measure the unique consumers that they have. These are also known as monthly active users. Using this metric, product owners can get insights into API growth and the acquisition of new customers.
It is important to note that there is a difference between web monthly active users and API monthly active users. Some product managers tend to assume that these two are the same. In case the number of web monthly active users is higher than API monthly active users, then you might have a problem with your API.
Some product managers find themselves in a situation where they do not know whether they should spend money on API growth or its engineering and other development areas.
Well, they can answer this question by tracking the retention of their APIs (or churn of the APIs). If your API has a high retention rate, then it means that you almost or already have a perfect API that does not need too much work added to it. The opposite means that you need to do a lot of work with your API.
API retention tracks how users are consuming your API. When measuring API retention, you need to ensure that you are getting a higher value than what you have with web retention. This is because some users might log in to your website and log out without interacting with the API.
Top API Customers
Product managers should also track their top API customers depending on the API usage. This is important for businesses because they can understand how their most important customers use their API and identify possible selling opportunities.
As a business, you need to understand that your success can not only be influenced by having a large number of users but also by a select few who are actively engaging and buying from you. The select few top customers are also referred to as power users.
Product managers, therefore, need to measure the engagement and performance of their top customers and what they are doing or using their APIs for. With this information, you can gain more insights into things like the endpoints they call, how they call them, and how they generally interact with the APIs.
Number of Calls for Every Business Transaction
Even though most product managers would like to have a high number of calls for every business transaction, you should try as much as you can to have a lower number for every transaction. This metric depends on how your API is designed.
For instance, if your new customers are forced to make three or more different calls for every business transaction, then you need to look at your API endpoints. There might be a problem with the endpoints forcing customers to make all these calls.
In the API design stage, all teams should think about what a customer needs or where they want to be directed instead of thinking about endpoints and the API features.
Tracking these metrics is going to help product managers understand the performance of their APIs and improve them to ensure that they meet all expectations.