How SDKs and Community Drove Contentful's 2000% Growth In Two Years


Contentful Main Customer Segments

There are two main customers for Contentful: media publishers and digital creative agencies. The media publishers segment includes both traditional media-type agencies that are using Contentful to create media sites, as well as the new generation of media publishers in sectors such as e-commerce (like Nasty Gal, for example) and retailers seeking to publish media content in-store (like Nike). Digital creative agencies are also a key customer segment for Contentful, as they are building mobile and web products for their clients that make use of the Contentful API products.

By working with creative agencies, Contentful is hoping to expand its ecosystem at a faster rate: A single creative agency may have multiple client projects that can all make use of the Contentful platform, for example, so there is a multiplier effect in building up this kind of a customer relationship. To aid in this, Contentful created a partnership program in August 2014 aimed at digital creative agencies that would be using Contentful when implementing media projects for their clients. While not a revenue-share model, Contentful’s partner program offers lead generation, marketing support and co-marketing activities (including being listed on Contentful’s Partner Marketplace), discounts on enterprise pricing and early adopter access to new features and beta releases.

Contentful API Growth: By the Numbers


Contentful API growth

Based on website and support subdomain regular visits, social media engagement and downloads of SDKs and other tools, Contentful appears to have an active community of about 10,000 developers. Interest in the Contentful API is higher in the ProgrammableWeb directory than for other APIs in the content management category. While it is difficult to estimate API usage growth for Contentful, traffic to the API-as-a-product website has grown substantially since the start of 2014, with a key peak following the move to release Contentful’s core API out of beta and into General Availability.

API Growth in 2014

Contentful API growth chart

(Source: Similar Web PRO Account data)

  1. Contentful saw an immediate increase in website visits when moving from a beta release of its API to full general availability in May 2014. This was bumped up further by the splash of publicity at that time, including mentions on Berlin startup websites that drew some initial interest beyond potential API users. However, the bulk of this new interest was sustained in the following months.
  2. In October 2014, Contentful saw a second jump in sustained level of interest in the website, due to increased referrals from GitHub and directory sites such as Capterra and a mention in a Telerik blog post.
  3. Contentful experienced another rise in interest in December 2014, following the release of an iOS SDK and mention of the CMS in a Gartner industry analysis report.

Note: Because Contentful is an API-product, website visits can be used as a proxy for developer interest in its API (as that is the only product it offers.) Contentful does not organize its site via a subdomain for a developer portal; however, the trend is also observable among the support subdomain, which is essentially the API’s FAQ and support desk (see right).
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Contentful web traffic

More ProgrammableWeb resources

This case study is part of our series on 8 Real World API Strategies and The Keys To Their Success. In part 2, we will look at how Edmunds has driven growth by focusing on encouraging third parties to be viable businesses via the Edmunds APIs.

Be sure to read the next API Strategy article: How Edmunds API Program Thrives On Its Marketplace and Developer Earnings