What Is Developer Marketing? [Best Practices & Examples Included]
What is developer marketing, and what is the point of it?
As the name suggests, developer marketing is marketing to developers. Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?
In short, developer marketing is more than just capturing the attention of software developers and getting them to use your product.
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about developer marketing, as well as best practices and examples to learn from.
Let’s get started!
- Developer marketing is a set of strategies and tactics designed to connect, attract, and incentivize developers to adopt your product.
- The developer community is inclusive and fragmented, so there are very few places where you’d find developers to market them.
- Don’t make the mistake of solely engaging with developers. Developers are end-users, but it’s only one role in a multifaceted team.
- Software developers don’t care about your product’s benefits; they are interested in its features.
- There are five KPIs to measure the success of your developer marketing campaign: awareness, engagement, adoption, education, and community.
- There are seven common channels for developer marketing: in-app guidance, in-app knowledge bases, blog posts, tech events, Stack Overflow forum, Slack, and Hacker News.
- The following are two examples of developer marketing:
- Stripe makes its knowledge base easily accessible to developers.
- Auth0 uses content (whitepapers) to attract software developers.
What is developer marketing?
Developer marketing is a set of strategies designed to connect, attract, and incentivize developers to adopt your product.
Why is developer marketing important?
Developers are a valuable audience for SaaS businesses.
Aside from the obvious reason, here are three other reasons why your business needs to focus on developer marketing:
- Developers influence software purchases
Janel Garvin, the CEO of Evans Data Corp, in her Linkedin article “Software Developers Wield Purchasing Power,” said:
“Don’t make the mistake of minimizing the purchasing power or the influence of developers. In many ways, they’re in the driver’s seat.”
Developers are controlling more and more software purchasing decisions. And as marketers, it is always wise to go after people who make the buying decisions.
- The developer population is increasing
According to Statistica, the global developer population should reach 28.7 million by 2024, an increase of 3.2 million from 2010.
So if you’re marketing a product tied to software, there’s a good chance that a software developer is involved in your product’s evaluation process.
- Traditional marketing doesn’t work on developers
There is a saying that developers hate marketing – that’s untrue. The actual statement should be that developers hate bad marketing. But who doesn’t?
Developers don’t care about your marketing jargon, sales calls, or demos. They are more technical, pragmatic, and interested in your product features.
Traditional marketing vs. developer marketing
Developers are different from your regular customers. Don’t approach developers with traditional marketing – it won’t work. Instead, build relationships with developers, share helpful information, and partner with developer communities and influencers to reach common goals.
In order to understand why traditional marketing will not work with developers, let’s examine some of the challenges marketers face:
- Fragmented Communities
The developer community is inclusive and fragmented. This means that there are very few places where you’d find developers.
For example, if you’re looking to reach content marketers, there are lots of communities where you’d find thousands of marketers. You’d find software developers in smaller groups, making it hard to target them all at once.
- Developers are not your only audience
Developer marketers often make the mistake of engaging solely with developers forgetting that developers are only one piece in a puzzle.
Yes, it’s important to engage with developers, but remember that they are just one role in a multifaceted team. For instance, a marketing message for a developer will not apply to a product manager.
- Developers are difficult to market to
Traditional B2B or B2C or B2B2C marketing won’t work on developers. Developers have more knowledge and tech-related experiences than business leaders and customers, so your exaggerated marketing campaigns won’t work on them.
Software developers don’t care about your product’s benefits or the problems it can solve; they are interested in its features.
How to measure the success of developer marketing?
Let’s be clear – developer marketing is not like your typical marketing.
As soon as you stop viewing developer marketing as marketing, your developer programs/marketing will succeed.
But how do you measure the success of your developer programs? There are five important key performance indicators to measure your developer marketing success.
Awareness: Awareness refers to how many developers your marketing program is reaching. You can measure this by looking at the number of:
- Blog views
- Social media or email list subscribers
- Social media mentions
- Developer event attendees
Engagement: The engagement rate analyzes how many developers frequently use your product. It’s important to calculate the engagement rate to know whether developers return to use your product or if it’s a one-time thing. You can figure engagement by looking at:
- The average number of logins per developer
- How often developers are using your products
- The number of developers engaging with your products 30 days after signup
Acquisition/adoption: Your adoption rate analyzes how many developers signup for your product. You can figure out your adoption rate by identifying:
- How many numbers of 3rd party integrations onto other platforms
- Numbers of applications per developer
- How many applications have been built
Education: Education is key to developer marketing. You should equip developers with enough information and data to make more informed and justifiable decisions. You can figure out if you’re giving out enough information by looking at:
- The number and quality of content you put out
- The number of views and engagement your content receives
Community: Your developer community is essential to the growth of your brand. Here are some community metrics you should pay attention to:
- Number of developers per group
- Monthly growth of your developer community
What are the most common channels for developer marketing?
Let’s look at some of the most common channels for developer marketing:
In-app guidance offers support to your users using short messages that drive user engagement and lead to product adoption.
As we established earlier, developers care about your product features and what they can do. You can use interactive walkthroughs like tooltips, modals, and checklists, to provide in-app guidance and support to new developers.
Are you interested in using in-app guidance to educate developers? Then we’d love to offer you a free demo of Userpilot to show you how to create interactive walkthroughs, code-free!
In-app knowledge bases
A knowledge base is a centralized repository that stores information and content about a product.
Let’s say a developer uses your product and comes across a problem. Instead of letting them call or email your support, you can provide knowledge bases to offer contextual solutions in-app.
Your in-app knowledge base can contain in-depth guides on your product, written and video tutorials, docs and FAQs, and an in-app help center.
You can use blogs to create relationships, build trust, educate your users, discuss new functionalities and share product updates.
Developers go through various stages before deciding to use your product. You should make sure that you provide helpful blogs for each developer stage.
Tech events and conferences
Events are a meaningful way to engage with like-minded people. Since the developer community is fragmented, attending software development and programming conferences/events is one of the best ways to connect with developers in-person and network.
To save you the stress of looking online, here are some of the top programming & software development conferences for 2022:
- DevOpsCon Hybrid Edition
- PowerShell & DevOps Global Summit
- Oracle Developer Lice
- ACCU 2022
- Microsoft Ignite
Stack Overflow forums
Stack Overflow is an online forum for developers. You can leverage this forum to meet with other developers and discuss your product. Stack Overflow for Teams is free for up to 50 users.
Similar to online forums, Slack is a powerful tool for creating meaningful conversations on the topics that developers care about.
Here are six public Slack channels for developers:
Hacker News is a social news website focusing on the latest hacking news, cyber attacks, computer security, cybersecurity, and entrepreneurship. They have over 5 million monthly readers and followers, making them one of the most influential sites in the cybersecurity space.
If you’re looking for a platform with millions of developer audiences, then try Hacker News.
Developer marketing best practices
Now that you have an idea of the marketing channels you can use in developer marketing, let’s talk about some best practices in developer marketing:
Be authentic and not too salesy
Traditional marketing doesn’t work on developers. They don’t care about your marketing strategies, but your product. Instead of trying to sell to a developer, offer helpful tips and product updates.
Avoid buzzwords and be clear
By all means, avoid buzzwords. Developers don’t care about your marketing jargon; they want something clear and straightforward.
There is a lot of fluffy content online, don’t add to it!
Your content will only attract developers if it has real value. So instead of creating content filled with buzzwords and fluff, take the effort to be straightforward and add value.
Learn software development terminology
How would you effectively execute your developer marketing program without understanding the basic language of software development?
You don’t need to learn how to code, but you need to know the basics: HTTP, backend, frontend, APIs, database, etc.
Provide freemium and free trial offers so they can test out the tool
Developers don’t want to be walked through a product by some salesperson on a demo; they want to try it first-hand.
The best thing you can do is introduce freemium and free-trials offers in which developers can easily signup and start using your product until they feel confident to upgrade.
You can also offer beta versions of your developer tools to some or all of your users so they can keep their hands full.
Developer marketing examples
Now let’s look at some real-life developer marketing examples.
Stripe makes documentation and API statuses easily accessible
Remember we spoke about in-app knowledge bases as one of the most common channels for developer marketing?
Stripe is a real-life example of a brand that leverages knowledge bases. They made their knowledge bases easily accessible to developers; this will help them earn the trust of developers.
Auth0 uses whitepapers to attract developers
Unlike traditional business and consumer audiences, developer audiences consume lots of content. Auth0 is a great example of a brand that uses content (whitepapers) to attract software developers.
Getting started with developer marketing can be tricky since you need to think like a developer. However, following our recommendations and best practices should make it easier for you.
Want to build product experiences code-free? Book a demo call with our team and get started!