StatCounter, a Web site analytics provider that tracks billions of page views each month across more than 3 million Web sites, launched its first API for paying StatCounter subscribers in February.
Using StatCounter's API, subscribers can retrieve their StatCounter stats, which include recent visitors, popular pages, and entry and exit pages, for a specific date range or common ranges (such as the past day, week, or month). The API returns data in either JSON or XML format.
Although StatCounter, like most analytics providers, has an interface through which its users can visualize their analytics data, StatCounter Founder and CEO Aodhan Cullen says that the new API "will open up a number of new ways for our members to interact with and view their StatCounter stats." For example, "The API will allow the creation of custom widgets for members' sites and apps for their phones. Businesses will be able to integrate the StatCounter data into their business systems more easily," he stated.
Involving customers in API development
Prior to the official launch of its API in February, StatCounter offered a small number of its customers access to a private API on request. According to Cullen, their feedback "was crucial" as StatCounter prepared its API for broader consumption.
One of the biggest advantages of StatCounter's approach was that it was able to identify important use cases and validate assumptions before the company unveiled its API to a larger audience. On the basis of member feedback, "We added a number of new stats calls to the API, and we even changed the authentication system. Users wanted API access on a per-user basis, and we had initially launched it on an account basis," Cullen explained.
Even though companies can and should respond to customer feedback and evolve their APIs accordingly after they have been launched, StatCounter's experience highlights the fact that involving customers in the development process can produce a more polished and immediately useful offering.
Revenue growth? There might be an API for that
StatCounter believes that its API has the ability to provide more value to its existing members, and that is the company's primary goal. However, by offering API access as part of its subscription packages -- which range in price from $5 to $119 per month -- StatCounter also sees the potential to grow its member ranks and, in turn, revenue. "We want to provide the best Web analytics service to our members as we can. Hopefully, member growth and revenue will follow if we focus on making the best experience possible," Cullen told me.
With more and more individuals and companies asking for the ability to consume data and functionality through APIs, businesses like StatCounter are finding that they have the potential to bolster their offerings through the inclusion of API access. For instance, ShipStation, a SaaS provider serving online retailers, offers API access to subscribers who purchase its two most expensive plans. Trading Economics, a provider of global economics data, offers API access to subscribers who purchase a professional plan on an annual basis. Similar examples are increasingly common, and the strategy of offering API access to paying customers, or customers who purchase a certain level of service, is one to keep an eye on.