Developers and technical users are no longer at the tail end of the product purchasing process, solely responsible for implementation and problem solving once the decision has already been made. Today, developers and technical users are heavily influencing product purchasing decisions, if not making the purchasing decision directly. What this means is you need to increasingly think about how to market and educate your product to these technical audiences.
When it comes to technical enablement, you need to ensure that developers have the tools they need to fully embrace your product, recommend it for purchase or upgrade, and to want to take the time to use your product within their company or project.
When you are targeting a technical audience and software developers, providing static fact sheets that talk about the product’s benefits – or videos that walk them through the high-level benefits – isn’t enough. Instead, you need to create an educational initiative that provides the necessary content and tools to ensure that will be and feel enabled to use and integrate your product from a technical perspective.
Below, we’ve summarized the best practices that will make your technical enablement program a success.
1. Understand Your Product
When you’re working with a technical audience such as software developers, you need to know your product’s features and capabilities like the back of your hand. Technical enablement requires an in-depth technical understanding and knowledge of technical use cases, with the ability to answer technical, product-related questions from a savvy audience without trying to sell them the product itself. In some cases, this may even involve explaining that your product isn’t right for the specific use cases or won’t solve their problems.
While you don’t need to have all the answers on-hand, if you can’t explain how features work or point them to the relevant documentation, then you’ll immediately lose credibility (and so will your company) from this audience.
2. Lower the Friction Between Users and Your Product
When it comes to providing hands-on educational experiences, you need to make it as frictionless as possible for your users to reach a live experience of your product. To engage your technical audience and ensure that they give your product a try, you need to provide a sandbox environment that comes pre-populated and pre-configured to ensure that users can quickly experience the power of your products without having to do too much heavy lifting on their end.
When developers have frictionless access to a sandbox environment, they can analyze your product’s effectiveness in its raw and unfiltered state.
3. Provide Hands-on Educational Experiences
Providing hands-on software experiences is key, as your users need to gain a deeper understanding of your product’s features and how it works. They need to know what your product does and how it does it if they are to get the most out of it. Providing developers with developer education means they are more likely to feel fully educated on your product’s capabilities, potential, and (perhaps more importantly) limitations.
Hands-on product sandboxes will also ensure that they get a learn-by-doing environment that lets them analyze your product to determine if it solves the problem they’re working on, or delights them enough to justify purchasing a license.
Consider using a software sandbox, which provides a frictionless environment (no installation, pre-configured, and pre-populated with data) that enables your technical users to have a hands-on experience with your product. These labs provide a personalized, cloud-based learning environment that you can tailor according to a developer’s experience level, the type of problem they’re working on, or around a feature you want to highlight.
4. Add Interactive Elements to Your Documentation
Interactive documentation is a great complement to a hands-on sandbox environment of your product. To educate themselves about your product, developers need to read copious amounts of uninterrupted, continuous documentation. To that end, you should make your documentation more engaging by adding interactive content such as:
- Quizzes, polls, and surveys
- Discussion forums
- Hands-on software sandboxes
- Sample code
In addition to this interactivity, consider creating a dedicated developer zone on your website that contains all of your developer-first, technical product content so it’s easy to find and access at all times.
5. Create Self-Paced Courses
Self-paced courses are a useful tool when it comes to lowering the friction between developers and your product. You can create courses that are tailored to different roles, personas, and seniority levels to maximize the reach of your courses and ensure that learners get a personalized demonstration on how your product solves their problem(s). For example, you could create separate courses intended for experienced and junior developers, or developers in different roles, such as DevOps or software management.
With self-paced courses, developers get real-time feedback as they go through the content, including knowledge checks and quizzes. They’re validating their understanding of the product interactively. They can also see the clear progression towards the end of the course, helping to nudge them forward and to keep them motivated to learn more about your product.
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6. Invest in Building a Community
Developers enjoy learning from other developers. They sometimes trust their peers (who have first-hand experience using the product) more than the company that built the product. That’s why building a community that can help other developers understand how to use your product, explain its benefits (and shortcomings), share best practices, and answer support questions is so important.
Having a large community of developers backing your product also shows that the broader technical ecosystem has confidence in your product. Other technical buyers will sense this community confidence, which improves the probability that they will integrate it into their systems and become product advocates themselves.