How Developer Marketing Leverages Education, Product Sandboxes, and Community to Increase Developer Adoption
Software developers have a unique role; they are involved in both the purchase and implementation of technology (often at a detailed level). Because of this, they have to be critical and skeptical when evaluating products — after all, they will be responsible for making the product successful.
Their detailed involvement in fixing problems also means that they have an intimate understanding of the problem (duh!), why fixing the problem is important, and the steps needed to fix the problem — which means they don’t need a sales call, a live demo, or a product brochure to tell them about the problem!
That’s the primary reason why developers don’t respond to traditional sales and marketing tactics. Developers often understand the problem better than a salesperson, are the persona that the marketing team is speaking to, and will ultimately work with the product more than anyone else on the team making the purchase decision. And down the line, they will probably have to train their coworkers and act as the first line of support when a problem arises related to the product.
But if you get developers on your side by providing the type of developer marketing experience that allows them to play around with the product on their own schedule, and to see the product’s benefits by themselves (without a sales rep), then your life as a product or developer marketer will be a lot easier.
This blog post explains how self-paced, hands-on courses (with virtual IT labs) can foster stronger developer communities and drive product adoption.
Using virtual IT labs as immersive product trials
When you’re speaking with a developer, what is one of the first things they’ll ask you for? They want to try your product. That does not mean sitting through a sales demo or looking at PowerPoint slides. And they also don’t want to call or email you if they have questions about the product. They want to figure out the product for themselves, use it in real-life situations that they’ll encounter on a day-to-day basis (rather than contrived scenarios), and have access to clear and helpful product documentation.
Virtual IT labs give developers frictionless access to your product. These labs can be pre-populated with data so developers don’t face the “blank slate problem,” can quickly understand how your product helps them, and provides validation that the product does what your website says it does. And because it’s a sandbox environment, developers can manipulate the environment to see how your product performs and whether it will help them solve the problem or use case they are working on.
And when you combine virtual IT labs with self-paced courses, you can create learning paths that are tailored to different types of developers and their roles, the different problems they can solve with your product, or the different skill sets they are trying to learn.
Developers and product education
If you’ve previously marketed to non-developers, you’ve probably sent a brochure summarizing your product’s features and benefits. This material will probably not work for developers, who seek educational and technical product information, as well as interactive, hands-on product experiences (mentioned above). And as far as educational product information in concerned, this includes things like:
- Technical product documentation
- Data sheets
- Sample code
- Hands-on labs
- Group Discussions
- Product Roadmap
- Quizzes, Polls & Surveys
All of this content is aimed at providing developers with the educational product experience they need to learn about your product and see if it’s the right solution for the problems they’re trying to solve. Without it, developers have to sit through a sales demo — which, as we’ve established, isn’t something they’re particularly keen on doing.
Trust is key to building collaborative developer communities
Developers don’t only want to know how your products work, they also want to play around with the code and collaborate with their peers. Building developer communities is an important aspect of developer marketing, and creating a genuine and honest environment is important to nurturing an engaged and collaborative developer community.
One way to build this trust is to give developers the ability to ask each other questions about your product. Peer-to-peer discussions create transparency about your product’s capabilities and limitations, fostering the kind of hard-earned trust that’s critical when building developer communities. Peer-to-peer discussions are an effective way at building trust because developers have higher confidence in their peers’ first-hand experience with your product than what your marketing collateral is saying about your product.
It can be scary to provide this level of transparency, but it builds the type of genuine product awareness that drives developers to adopt your product.
Developer Marketing Platforms
Without access to technical resources, building the kind of educational and hands-on experiences that developers want is a critical problem that developer and product marketing teams face today. However, a developer marketing platform, supported by a professional services team, can enable companies to create the immersive product experiences that will drive product awareness and adoption among developers.
A developer marketing platform uses a learn-by-doing approach that includes hands-on sandboxes with self-paced courses. This combination gives developers the educational experience they need to decide whether to adopt your product or not, which subsequently has a higher probability (compared to traditional marketing) of reaching the developer audience because it’s educational material (not marketing material).
Since developers don’t respond well to traditional marketing tactics, a developer marketing platform turns the process on its head by using education as marketing. This approach provides genuine, educational content about your product that lets developers experience its features by learning about it, experimenting with it, and figuring out how it works. Over time, as developers become well-educated users of your product, their high comfort level (with your product) will encourage them to share your product with their community, and act as an active participant in helping other developers learn and adopt your product.
Finally, a developer marketing platform also gives product marketing teams crucial insight into how and what developers like about your product. For example, you can see which features developers are learning most about, which features they’re completely ignoring, and which skill sets they are interested in building — all of which are useful pieces of information to improve your company’s understanding of how developers find benefit in your product.
Appsembler for Developer Marketing
We know developers don’t respond to traditional marketing. And with traditional learning management systems (LMS), it can be a cumbersome process to create the hands-on, educational experience that developers need to adopt your product.
Appsembler for Developer Marketing lets you build frictionless developer experiences easily. With it, you can create hands-on, self-paced courses that help developers to learn and adopt your product, with the ability to add product sandboxes, videos, quizzes, and discussion threads. By leveraging a developer marketing platform, you gain the ability to offer a unique experience that will drive developer product awareness and product adoption.