Developer Marketing Plan - Appsembler
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6 Things Every Developer Marketing Plan Needs to Succeed

Developers play a huge role in the software purchasing process. They discover, evaluate, recommend, sometimes purchase, and then implement and use the solution. As software is increasingly being sold from the bottom up, rather than top-down, you need to create a developer marketing plan that resonates with developers.

Business-to-developer marketing differs quite markedly from business-to-business marketing. Developers are averse to what they perceive as marketing in any form. That’s why your marketing shouldn’t appear too aggressive or pushy. Developers are smart; they will know when you are trying to sell to them.

Having a plan is key. Instead of launching your developer marketing efforts without any strategy or direction, you need to define the steps you’ll take to create a plan. Read on to learn about the elements that every developer marketing plan needs to succeed.

1. Personas

You’ve narrowed your target audience to developers. But developers aren’t all the same. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all developer persona. You need to be more specific with who you’re targeting if you want them to discover and engage with your product.

This is where developer personas come in. You need to think about who the developer is, including their:

  • Goals
  • Background
  • Skill level

To build these personas, spend time with developers online and offline to get to know your audience. Create surveys that you can send to them to understand what they need and how you can create content and use the right channels to reach them. 

Persona segmentation is important when it comes to creating tailored developer marketing initiatives. Once you have built your persona (or personas), you can create personalized learning paths and guide developers down the appropriate learning journey. The idea is to identify who the developer is and tailor their learning path appropriately. 

2. Tone and Style Guidelines

As a general rule of thumb, developers don’t like jargon and fluff. They want concise and straightforward language and they want you to get to the point immediately. But depending on who you are targeting, you’ll need to get more specific than that with your tone and style guidelines. 

It’s important to learn the language of the developers you’re speaking to, know what you’re talking about when you speak to them and take time to understand the terminology and acronyms. Create cheat sheets explaining the key concepts so anyone on your team can quickly get up to speed. If you spend enough time with developers you will be able to create tone and style guidelines that use the same language and tone.

It’s also important to be authentic and helpful in your tone so that you seem like you are empowering developers, rather than directly selling to them. This will help you build trust and will build your reputation. 

3. Targeted Content Topic Ideas

One mistake that developer marketers sometimes make is to only create content around their product. While that has its uses, this will miss the mark if your target audience is further up the funnel and hasn’t come across your product yet. 

If you find out what problems your target audience is grappling with, you can use SEO and keyword research to create top-of-the-funnel content that people can find through Google without needing to know who you are. Ideally, you’ll already have information on the problems faced when you created your buyer personas, but you can also use tools like AnswerThePublic which provides information on what phrases and questions people are using when searching for specific topics on Google and other search engines. 

While developers will start by reading these tutorials and articles, once they know they can trust you, they’ll eventually end up on your product pages and signing up for demos and free trials. It’s key to plan out in-depth, unique content that is written from an expert’s point of view as developers don’t like fluff or anything thin on detail that hasn’t been properly developed.

4. Community Guidelines and An Events Calendar

Building a strong developer community is a crucial part of any developer marketing plan. Participating in relevant communities and building your own will allow you to gain the trust of developers and build a reputation for prioritizing developers’ needs. 

To build this community, developer advocates need to meet developers where they are and engage in their preferred channel. This includes: 

  • Answering questions on Reddit or other forums
  • Participating in Slack channels and Discourse forums
  • Organizing, sponsoring, and speaking at events and meetups

Make sure you have put together an events calendar so you’re able to cover all the events that are relevant to your product and audience and can attend either in person or online.

5. Educational, Hands-On Experiences

Developers don’t want to just read about your product and watch videos about what it does; they want to get their hands on it and see what it can do and whether it is right for them. Developers want to figure out your product and use it in real-life situations that they’ll encounter on a day-to-day basis. A developer education program ensures developers know how your product works and can use all the features to build things. 

What is developer education - blue background

But this hands-on experience has to be frictionless and you need to make it easy for them so they are clear on what your product does and how it can help them. Deploying virtual labs provides an immersive experience where developers can get hands-on software sandboxes that enable them to try your product and shape their buying recommendations. 

6. Goals and Metrics

Paying attention to what your data is telling you is one of the strongest ways to get a sense of the degree of interest within a prospective organization. But the data you need to collect and the metrics you need to measure differ from traditional marketing and sales. While some traditional marketing metrics might still work for developers––such as newsletter sign-ups or eBook downloads––there are developer-specific metrics further down the funnel that won’t be applicable and take much longer to measure.

The five categories of metrics you need to measure to determine the success of your developer marketing program are:

  • Awareness
  • Adoption
  • Engagement
  • Community 
  • Satisfaction

However, if you’re using Google Analytics, you won’t be able to collect important information as the data is anonymized. A developer education platform enables you to gain insight into developers’ product experience and track the metrics that matter through interactive tools and reporting. These tools allow you to discover which product features your developers are focused on, which features they’re learning about, and the courses they’re taking. All of which you can use to iterate and improve your developer marketing plan and strategy.