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API Endpoint Basics for Business Decision‑Makers

Learn what API endpoints are and how they allow different software systems to communicate and exchange information seamlessly.

If you use software that integrates and communicates with other systems, you may have heard of APIs. Application programming interface (API) enables different software programs to send data to one another, allowing for integrations and shared data between applications.

APIs allow you to take data from somewhere else and integrate it with your own, letting two different software work together to give you the necessary information.

APIs can simplify your business processes and increase your efficiency, but unfortunately, understanding APIs can be confusing. So, let's start with the basics.

The point where another software or developer's program integrates with yours is located at the API endpoint.

But what is an API endpoint, and how does it affect your business and digital marketing efforts? Keep reading to learn more about API endpoints to help you understand integrations and how data interacts.

What is an API endpoint?

To understand API endpoints, you should first have a basic understanding of APIs.

APIs are protocols that allow two software applications to interact and communicate. Developers then use API keys to identify and gain access to other applications.

So, what are API endpoints?

The API endpoint is the location of the API where a system interacts with a web API. It is also the point of communication between two systems.

It's the specific URL that's used to access a resource provided by a web application from an API. The endpoint is reflected as a uniform resource locator (URL), similar to a website URL, where the data is transmitted from one program to another.

The endpoint URL is the exact location of the requested resource on an API server, allowing two programs to interact. At the endpoint, the API will access the resources it needs from a server to perform a specified task, such as retrieving certain data or information.

APIs send requests to access data from a server with a response sent back. The location of the response is the endpoint, and it's an important part of any documentation because it tells developers how to make API requests.

Why are API endpoints important?

Now that you know the answer to your question, "What is an endpoint in API?" It's crucial to understand their importance in terms of applications and integrations.

All APIs need endpoints because the two systems can't interact without them. The endpoint is the location of the resources one application requests from another. If there's no endpoint, the system can't return a response. Many businesses use APIs to share information for free with other businesses, applications, and systems.

Of course, you might wonder why APIs exist in the first place. Why would businesses want to share their information with other users?

APIs make it easier for companies to work together than build in-house software. Instead, a company can use an API to make another business' data or software program interact with its own.

This saves business owners time and money because they don't have to develop unique solutions for each customer. Instead, customers can use an API to let their existing software communicate with other applications.

APIs allow companies to build comprehensive applications by incorporating other types of data and using a web server to communicate. They allow for integrations between various software.

For example, if you use email marketing, you can integrate other marketing tools to analyze website performance and leads. You can connect various tools using APIs and endpoints to tell the server where to find the information requested by the API client.

If you want to include transactional email analytics in your CRM reports, you need an API to integrate the programs and an endpoint to tell the server where to find the correct data.

API endpoints enable businesses to create programs and improve existing software. For example, you might use a CRM and want to incorporate data from another system, such as email, sales, marketing, and project management software.

How to test API endpoints

Another way to think about endpoints is a specific address on a server that tells it where to find the information you're looking for. API endpoints must be predefined to complete API requests. Without them, your next API endpoint won't work.

But how do you test API endpoints to ensure they're working properly?

HTTP methods

The most common type of API is the REST API, which uses HTTP to send requests. REST APIs are a predetermined set of guidelines that applications use to communicate.

For example, client software will send a request to a server, which transfers the data back to the client. Let's say you have a program you want to integrate with your CRM. The client (your program) will ask the CRM's REST API for information about an existing resource, and the CRM's API will respond.

So how do you test if your API is working? There are four common HTTP methods:

  • GET: retrieves (or gets) a requested resource
  • POST: creates a resource
  • PUT: updates a resource
  • DELETE: deletes a resource

An API endpoint example might be a system trying to retrieve information from a website. For example, your weather app's API endpoint lets you view the weather from your mobile device.

Another API endpoint example is coding that's used to request specific data from one system to another. If you want your CRM to integrate with your email marketing software, it will send a request to the email marketing software server using an endpoint with the word "GET" to deliver it back to your CRM.

All of this happens behind the scenes, and it's not something you need to worry about as long as you've properly developed your API and API endpoint.

When working with APIs, you'll need to look at specific API documentation that tells you how to perform all of these actions to ensure you're using the correct endpoint for the integration to work. To test your endpoints, you can use various API testing tools that allow you to create tests and monitor your APIs.

Ultimately, testing your API endpoints aims to ensure the client can properly request information from the server, with the server delivering the requested information back to the client. If you don't receive any information, your api endpoint isn't working.

How to secure API endpoints

Are your API endpoints secured? As we've mentioned, API endpoints give other companies your data for free, but they should still be secured properly to protect your business.

Unfortunately, unsecured APIs are relatively common, which leaves users open to malicious responses and attacks. When the client sends a request to the server, the server sends data back, and this data sent back could leave you open to a cyberattack or data theft if API endpoints aren't secured.

Therefore, it's essential to protect your API keys and API endpoints to prevent vicious cyberattacks that can be dangerous to your business.

Here are a few ways to secure your API endpoints:

  • API security platform: There are many ways to secure your API endpoints, but the easiest is to use the same software for all of them. API security software enables you to protect various endpoints with threat prevention, A/B testing, and authentication. API security platforms should provide monitoring and testing to protect your APIs from vulnerabilities.
  • One-way password hashing: One-way password hashing improves security through encryption, providing better protection. Hashing refers to converting a password into data that can't be converted back. If someone manages to hack your system, they won't get access to your password because it's encrypted, and there's no way for them to convert it back to the original password.
  • HTTPS: If you've ever looked at website URLs, you may notice http or https before every domain name. HTTP is a protocol that allows for data transmission over the internet. Ultimately, it allows for communication between browsers and servers to show you websites. HTTPs is an extension of HTTP, with the S standing for "secure." A website encrypted with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) — developed for keeping internet connections and sensitive information secure — offers more secure communication over the network to prevent cyberattacks and data breaches. When creating API endpoints, you can use either HTTP or HTTPs, but HTTPs will always provide better protection.
  • Input validation: Validating inputs can help identify cyber threats before the request returns to the client. When one system sends a request, the API endpoint tells the server exactly where to find it, so validating the client's inputs can prevent the server from delivering potential threats to the client.

Unlock new business opportunities with API endpoints

Sharing APIs can help businesses scale and succeed while allowing other companies to use them in ways that help their businesses thrive.

With APIs, you can integrate your digital tools to help you analyze internal and external processes, sales, marketing efforts, customer service, and more.

API endpoints are the location of a resource that allows two systems to interact with one another. Software can't communicate with other tools without APIs, and APIs don't work without endpoints.

Business owners can use integrations to maximize productivity and efficiency while collecting data from various sources to create reports and make better business decisions.

Ready to learn how to make API endpoints work for you? Try our CRM integrations today to integrate Mailchimp with your favorite marketing tools.

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