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The Seven Deadly Sins of Developer Marketing

Apr 06, 2016

It’s very easy to get things wrong when attempting to build an effective developer marketing program. The first mistake many companies make? Using the word “marketing.”

Developers live in the world of the tangible, and have a keen eye for anything with a whiff of vaporware about it. They have an autoimmune response to traditional marketing approaches and offers. Building a successful developer marketing approach—one that attracts developers who will use your API to create apps that reach your customers—requires, at the very least, the avoidance of seven common pitfalls.

No thought leadership

How do you become a credible source of information, products, or services that will attract developers to your business? Developers don’t want to be advertised to (who really does?). Developers research and evaluate solutions by searching the web for content that solves their problems, provides a unique perspective, and inspires them to think differently. Providing value through the content you offer is a key part of attracting developers to your brand.

Thought leadership as a dimension of a solid content marketing strategy is key here. It’s about creating valuable content from the the best and brightest minds within your company. And it doesn’t happen by accident. I suggest standing up a thought leadership content marketing program with the right people to contribute to, strategize, and operationalize the effort.

No monetization strategy

Getting developers to buy products is often a very poor monetization strategy. They want everything for free, and have no buying power in most organizations. The true value of developers in the purchasing process is their ability to influence the buyer, as they’re the primary user of your product. At Apigee, we map out the developer’s life-cycle with the buying lifecycle. I suggest co-creating your monetization strategy with Sales to understand how they can use developer activity as a “trigger” to take sales actions on an account.

Spammy email marketing

Email is a key outbound marketing strategy, but many marketers get it wrong. Problem is, developers hate email. Avoid derision by clearly understanding your email recipient’s context. What exactly are they doing with your product? We’ve succeeded by sending developers emails based on how engaged they are (specifically, the number of weeks they have been using Apigee Edge). I’ll give a more detailed blogpost on this topic in the future.

Inappropriate live events

The key to great live events for developers is a great hackathon, right? Wrong! Live events for developers primarily need to be educational, and not only about you pushing your product down their throats. That doesn’t mean you should not have a path to getting developers to adopt your product during the few hours they are spending with you. Evaluate live events not just based on the ability to drive sign-ups or awareness, but think through what “call to action” you want developers to take when the live event is over.

Neglecting the community

You’ve created a valuable product. But how do you scale? A vibrant community is a great way to help developers help each other. Peer-to-peer learning lowers support costs and fosters confidence that other developers were successful with your product. Sharing of use cases and business results helps drive faster buying decisions. It also encourages new developers to come on board.

Timing is critical, though. Marketers should not expect significant community too early, when the number of active users hasn’t yet achieved critical mass. Another mistake: forgetting to promote the community once there are enough active users.

A poor developer onboarding experience

Unlike with consumer products (or even most B2B products), developers have to make a significant investment to derive value from your API.

Ensuring the onboarding experience is excellent—from emails, to support, to the product experience—requires a fanatical attention to detail. I suggest meeting with the product and support team to go through the developer experience together.

No weekly analytics

Most developer marketing teams meet once a month or once a quarter to analyze results. This isn’t often enough. Weekly analytics is critical because live events or changes to email campaigns can drastically alter the stats. Weekly analysis helps determine a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t. I suggest marketers to have a short, cross functional weekly meeting (especially with sales) to review the metrics weekly.

There are no shortcuts to developer marketing. Get it wrong, you waste lots of money. Get it right, and maybe you can become the next Stripe. If you need help with your developer marketing program, let us know at https://community.apigee.com/.

For more on developer marketing, download the eBook, “Developers Hate Marketing.”

Image: Flickr Creative Commons/Phelan Riessen

Creating World-Class Developer Experiences