What is DevRel and what makes it different from developer marketing?
The terms DevRel and developer marketing are sometimes used interchangeably, especially as the idea of building relationships and marketing to developers is still an emerging field. However, the roles, activities, skills required, and goals aren’t the same.
This article will look at what DevRel is, and how it differs from developer marketing.
What is DevRel?
The word DevRel is a shortened version of developer relations. Its goal is to build a relationship and garner the trust of developers who might implement your product.
It’s an important role for several reasons:
- The developer population is increasing in size and SlashData, the leading analyst firm for the developer industry, expects it will grow to 45 million worldwide by 2030.
- Developers are typically the ones who implement or integrate a purchased product with their company’s internal systems. Because of this, they are getting more and more involved in the buying process to ensure that the right product is purchased. Today, more than half of developers now exert a great deal of influence on technology purchases and 60% of developers approve or reject technology purchases.
- Developers don’t respond to traditional marketing tactics and sales techniques, such as cold calls and static demos. This requires a different focus that relies on building relationships and a community.
Building a strong developer community is the foundation of your developer marketing strategy. If your company takes part in technical conversations (wherever your product’s developers are having them) and adds value as product experts and thought-leaders, you can gain the trust of developers and build a reputation for prioritizing your developers’ needs.
A developer community also gives developers a place where they can seek help with your product, assures business stakeholders that they are adopting a product that won’t just disappear, and shows the world that your product has the support of a large talent pool from which they can hire. Having a large and strong developer community shows the world that your product is built by a mature organization that prioritizes a healthy and vibrant developer ecosystem.
Key developer relations responsibilities include:
- Create, develop, and nurture a product-focused developer community
- Speak at developer-oriented events and represent the company in press interviews and PR opportunities
- Run and promote product events and meetups aimed at technical audiences
- Monitor social media for brand or product mentions and answer questions from developers and other technical audiences
- Work with the wider marketing team to prepare educational content for a developer zone, including presentations, blog posts, videos, demos, hands-on product sandboxes, and podcasts
- Share and explain the company’s product roadmap, source code, tutorials, and product sandboxes to developers
- Be the point of contact for developer feedback, feature requests, bugs, and difficulties using certain features. Collaborate with the engineering team to relay this information
- Understand what makes developers tick and learn the best languages, tools, and forums to connect with them
What Makes DevRel Different from Developer Marketing?
Developers hate being sold to, but they love learning about new technologies. For this reason, both developer marketers and developer relations experts eschew traditional marketing techniques and instead favor educational initiatives.
Developer marketing is the collection of principles, strategies, and tactics that companies use to increase their product’s awareness, adoption, and advocacy across various technical audiences.
Developer marketers work to raise awareness of a product through the creation of interactive content, as well as self-paced training courses and product demos that educate developers on how a product can solve their problems.
Often, a developer relations advocate will start work after a developer marketer has already brought a developer into the company’s broader ecosystem (typically through an event, a hackathon, or a developer-focused campaign). DevRel professionals will then engage with these developers to learn about what the developer is working on, their level of interest in the product, provide them with resources, and remove roadblocks.
There may be overlap between the two roles and responsibilities, especially when building a community. Both developer relations and developer marketing professionals might take part in developer communities, answering product questions and providing thought leadership around their product. Both roles might be involved with creating content that addresses developers’ problems or product questions – always careful, of course, to deliver this content in an educational (rather than salesy) tone. . DevRel professionals also provide crucial feedback to their organization. This feedback look ensures that content built for developers meets their needs, answers their questions, or increases their usage of the product.
Developer relations goals include:
- Increase awareness of the product, including # of registrants to your developer newsletter, # of impressions to your developer portal or content, social media subscribers and mentions, and blog article views and reads
- Improve product adoption, including how many trials are being spun-up, how many applications are being built or have been built, number of applications per developer, and number of 3rd party integrations onto other platforms
- Increase engagement, including how often developers are using your product and which features they’re using, the average number of logins, and the number of developers engaging with your product 30 days after sign-up
DevRel professionals might have broader goals that align with developer marketers — such as an increase in product usage, features used, and engagement. However, their main goals will be focused on community engagement.
The community metrics DevRel professionals will be measured on to show success include:
- Monthly growth of your developer community
- # of developer groups & # of new groups added per month
- # of developer meetings per month
- # of developers per group & # of total developers
- Active developer tokens
Supporting DevRel Professionals and Developer Marketers
Both developer relations advocates and developer marketers are crucial for getting your products into the hands of developers and ensuring long-term adoption. But developer marketing and relations are a slow burn. You can’t expect success overnight. DevRel professionals and developer marketers need support from executives and the tools that enable them to excel at their job.
Appsembler’s Developer Marketing platform can help organizations improve product awareness in marketing-hesitant audiences like developers. It enables companies to create interactive, immersive, and educational product experiences that drive product adoption, product usage, and built applications.