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by Nikki Griggs, Online Marketing Manager, Robert Half
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7 Physical APIs That Put the Personal Touch Into Digital Marketing

The stage has been set for Physical APIs to shine in 2015. Companies that make real world services available as codified sets of instruction, or “Physical APIs”, allow software to perform tasks that are traditionally done by humans. These might include writing and mailing letters, issuing gift cards, or shipping merchandise via courier.

Why Physical APIs?

For marketers, Physical APIs offer all kinds of opportunities to be more creative, add value, and earn customer loyalty. By combining Physical APIs with marketing automation software, businesses can automate online and offline touch points at every step of the buyer’s decision-making journey, creating a consistent brand experience across channels while adding some wow factor.

Consider this “thank you” journey sent to attendees of an exclusive webinar. Using an API that searches lead intelligence services like InsideView, you first look up and record the business address of every attendee. Following the event, a thank you note is written by hand, combined with a gift bag, and collectively shipped to every attendee —  all with the same level of effort needed to schedule an email blast. Great, you say, but how do I do this?

Incorporate Physical APIs into your marketing

One way that non-technical marketers can use Physical APIs to beef up their programs is by using marketing automation software like Autopilot. Autopilot’s open platform empowers marketers to connect with cloud services like Salesforce, and Physical APIs like Lob or MailLift (see below), and send automated communications in response to behavior or data-based triggers. Now we can save time and market better – and attain ROI through data insights.

Here are seven Physical APIs that can help you put the personal touch into digital marketing this year:

1. MailLift

MailLift is a letter writing service that’s designed for marketing and sales professionals. MailLift’s Physical API allows organizations to transcribe electronic letters by hand — and mail them anywhere in the world. Studies show that a personalized note alone can increase response to a marketing campaign by 30-50 percent. And sending follow-up notes to people who stopped by a booth at a trade show is a unique and personal way to stay top of mind.

2. Lob

Lob is printing and mailing for developers. Instead of thinking about sending print and mail as a complicated and manual process, Lob lets anyone programmatically send targeted and personalized print messages, like a postcard, the same way they might send email. An added bonus is Lob’s ability to assess the deliverability of a physical address and their bank-grade security with PCI and HIPAA compliance.

lob

3. Shipbeat

Shipbeat is shipping and fulfillment for e-commerce. Shipbeat makes it easier for a customer to receive their order while saving time and money for the e-tailer to ship merchandise. More than just carrier management, Shipbeat can align a customer’s delivery preferences with the vendor’s most appropriate shipping option. Their Physical API instantly enables businesses to ship online with multiple carriers.

4. Metapack

MetaPack is a single solution that enables everyone in the supply chain to become more efficient. Their Physical API manages every aspect of the ordering and fulfillment process– there’s more to it than vans and boxes. Check out the sheer power of this Physical API by touring this Inside Delivery guide, where you can monitor the journey of a parcel, from the click of the buyer’s mouse to delivery and beyond.

5. Shapeways

Shapeways provides developers easy access to world class 3D Printing technology. Using their Physical API, you can generate and sell real world products just by writing code. See how companies like Mixee Labs and Cell Cycle are putting the Shapeways API to work.

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6. PrintToPeer

PrintToPeer has provided the first 3D printing API, allowing developers to send designs to any 3D printer wirelessly and remotely. For example, jhatch.com allows users to select any area on the world map, and the terrain model can be sent directly to your 3D printer. The user doesn’t need to know the source of terrain data, there is no post-processing required, and no 3D printing experience is needed to send the data to the 3D printer.

7. StickyStamp

StickyStamp handles the printing, packing & fulfillment of custom merchandise to your customer. Their Physical API integrates merchandise delivery deep into the workflow. StickyStamp customers can reward new or existing customers with customized merchandise. By integrating their API, distribute T-shirts, stickers, and tote bags by setting custom rules on when your customers should claim the reward.

StickyStamp

Are you considering leveraging Physical APIs into your marketing or sales efforts in 2015? Are there any companies that we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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Author Nikki Griggs, Online Marketing Manager, Robert Half

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