Think about your last marketing campaign. You likely spent most of your time catering it to decision-makers: the ones with the budget and those who make the final call on whether to select your product or not. But, did you think about the people who actually use the tools?
As the primary users of new products, you’d think developers would have a say into which tools their organizations purchase. However, more often than not, marketers target just the purchaser — the C-Suite, project managers or lead engineers — and don’t take developers’ thoughts into consideration.
And without considering developer buy-in, marketers face risks like negative product reviews or developers simply refusing to use certain products, leading to an insecure sale and potential brand damage in the long-run. Especially in our subscription-based world, adoption can be equally as important as the initial purchase, as organizations can choose to simply stop paying the bill at any time.
With product reputation at stake and developers gaining an increasingly significant say in budget choices among organizations, it’s more important than ever for marketers to win them over. But, building solid relationships with developers requires time and effort. Here are a few simple ways marketers can create campaigns that keep developers top of mind.
Let them play in the sandbox
Don’t show or tell developers about a product, let them test it for themselves. Developer Media found 26 percent of developers believe a new product was pushed on them without anyone asking what they wanted — illustrating why marketers need to encourage “sandbox thinking” and let developers play around with a new tool. By allowing developers to test a product first, they can ensure it meets their standards before making a decision to use it.
If you sell enterprise software, offer developers a test drive of your product at little to no cost. Developers gravitate toward trying easy-to-access trials with as many complete features as possible, so make it simple for them to test. Because they often find tools given to them don’t solve their primary problems, conducting trials opens a line of communication between developers and marketers to discover potential improvements. Take time to listen and gather feedback on any drawbacks of the product. Working together will lead to a higher likelihood of long-term developer buy-in and approval.
Documentation is key!
According to Developer Media, 19 percent of developers have rejected a tool because the documentation on a product was awful, or even non-existent — illustrating a clear need to encourage your organization to prioritize it. A product for others to use without documentation is simply not a product you can market well. Documentation helps track all aspects of an application, making information accessible and simplifying the product for new users.
Your first documentation priority should be a “getting started” tutorial for developers. While developers don’t mind working through complex products, they need a solid foundation and jumping-off point. A solid onboarding experience helps developers research and fully understand a product.
And to ensure your marketing and engineering teams carve out time to document products correctly, ensure this important task is baked into your team’s job. Even better, consider hiring someone outside your organization to fill this role; that way, you give a new team member with fresh eyes the chance to document your product in a way new users will comprehend. If you go this route, ensure your engineers and product team work with the new hire so the writer’s work matches the experience you already provide to customers.
Ensure someone is listening
Developers will work hard to solve problems on their own, but they need someone to reach out to if they get stuck. When they hit a roadblock, they often turn to resources like Stack Overflow, Reddit, Twitter and your company’s own support forums and customer service tickets. First, find out which of these common places they’re searching to find answers on your product.
Next, prioritize monitoring of these forums. Many times, developers will be the first to find bugs – and they’ll post about them in these forums. You’ll want to ensure you have a team member monitoring and listening to any issues with your product so you can capture and fix it quickly before it costs you before it costs you. If you don’t have budget for a dedicated developer relations or developer marketing team, make sure you have an engineering team resource to support both the API and your developer documentation portal.
Ask your own developers
You can make guesses on whether a product or tool will click with a developer audience, but the best way to find out if a solution resonates is to ask your own developer team.
Marketing and developer teams can operate so independently that often they lack an open line of communication to align on developers’ opinions and feedback. Before you create your next marketing campaign, schedule time with your IT staff and developers to find out what has resonated with them. Pick their brains: ask them questions like which marketing tactics influenced their decision to pass on using a product, which tools have been most beneficial, what they’d like to see more of from marketers. Use these one-on-one feedback sessions to gather practical insights to implement.
Developers and marketers handle such different tasks and responsibilities throughout the day that aligning on product benefits and top-of-mind tools can be challenging. But by considering developers key stakeholders in your next marketing campaign and opening the conversation, both parties can find success in the long-run.
Through taking developers’ preferences into consideration, you’ll drive adoption of your product and encourage the delivery of critical feedback to help you improve it along the way.
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