Developer marketing encompasses tactics designed to grow awareness and adopt software tools, solutions, and SaaS platforms. Developer marketing has become the standard among software companies with a platform component, where developers can build applications on top of the core software or open software. Therefore, engaging developer communities has become a key element of marketing for many digital businesses.
Understanding developer marketing
With the increasing prevalence of tech start-ups, however, there is a growing demand for business-to-developer (B2D) engagement. Developers are consumers in the theoretical sense of the word, but they are very different from the typical consumer.
Consumers who are also developers are more discerning and tend to default to skepticism and analysis as a general rule. They become quickly disenfranchised with traditional sales and marketing methods.
Developer marketing means thinking like a developer. Most developers are well-read and are aware of the latest methods and technologies. These are only adopted once the developer has seen them in action and experimented with their use in a low-risk environment.
Furthermore, developers are not the only end-users of software tools and solutions. Marketing messages for a developer would be inappropriate for a product leader, and vice versa.
Some important developer marketing strategies
There are several ways developers can be marketed to. These include:
- Developer content – in the form of an authentic and consistent blog that speaks the language of a developer. This means writing about development stacks, engineering teams, and common use cases.
- Advertising – traditional forms of advertising can work provided the message is crafted in such a way that it resonates with developers.
- Source code – whether that be sample applications to open source, code is usually effective at attracting developer attention.
- Documentation – a form of content rare in traditional marketing strategies that developers prioritize. However, documentation content must be high quality to be successful.
- Social media – this means determining where developers spend time and marketing to them. CodeProject, CodePlex, HTML.net, Hacker News, and StackOverflow are good places to start. Reaching developer communities in this way adds value to community conversations and increases peer validation. It also allows marketing teams to identify and then solve real-world developer problems.
- Advocate creation – the most successful businesses will use developers who are akin to influencers. These individuals will champion software products across their personal and professional networks.
Measuring the effectiveness of developer marketing
Traditional marketing uses KPIs around breadth and reach to gauge success.
On the other hand, developer marketing should focus on the depth of engagement as a determinant of success. Specifically, early adopters of the software product must be empowered to mobilize their contacts – whether that be through tools, knowledge, or other resources.
Businesses can also ask themselves three questions, with each being a key indicator of success:
- Are early adopters talking about the product organically? In other words, without provocation or incentivization?
- Does the target developer audience see the brand or company behind the product as a solution provider or a solution partner?
- Are target developers actually using the product beyond initial adoption? Are they integrating the solution into their workflow without being prompted to do so?
- Developer marketing involves the marketing of software services, tools, and SaaS products to developers to grow awareness and adoption.
- While developers are end-users, they tend to be more skeptical and analytical than the typical retail consumer. They are also highly resistant to traditional marketing strategies.
- Developer marketing uses many of the same mediums as traditional marketing. However, the message is much different. Developers respond well to content marketing provided the content speaks their language and is well documented.
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