The developer marketing landscape is defined by program growth and, by extension, where that growth comes from. While 2023 was a turbulent year for the technology industry, on the developer side we saw realignment rather than reduction. The balance of companies spending on developer programs has shifted and budgets have fluctuated based on evolving definitions of success. In short, the best programs are fostering growth and investment in their strategic initiatives while the rest are losing out.
So, how do they do it and what can we learn from them? We sought to answer this question in our session “Up and to the Right: The Surprising Science Behind Developer Program Growth” at the 2023 Developer Marketing Summit.
Let’s take a broad view of the industry to better understand what we saw in 2023. As the leading developer marketing agency, Catchy has the unique benefit of working horizontally with nearly every type of company in the space. We can broadly place these companies into three distinct categories:
- Enterprise Technology: Leading technology companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. These companies wrote the developer marketing playbook and have set the gold standard for going to market with technical audiences and operating mature developer programs at a global scale.
- Innovation Technology: Scale-ups on the cutting edge of technology. These companies are racing to build developer ecosystems around new products. Recently, this category has included sectors like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and blockchain.
- Legacy Technology: Large organizations from various complex industries like banking, telecommunications, and manufacturing. These companies have strategically decided to open their ecosystems to developers for the first time to stay relevant in an increasingly digital world.
This cross-section of client engagements gives us a broad view of investment and budget allocation across the industry. Furthermore, Catchy operates a proprietary developer marketing benchmarketing system to track marketing spend of 30 leading developer programs. Information from this system typically informs competitive analyses for our clients but also allows us to track program budgets year-over-year with a high degree of accuracy.
Using trends from this data and cross-referencing it against the spending levels we see with our clients, we were able to paint a compelling picture of what happened in 2023:
- Enterprise Technology companies saw an average YoY decrease in developer marketing spend of 11%
- Innovation Technology companies rearranged but the category stayed at a consistent level (hot technologies like AI and ML rose while sectors like blockchain and Web3 dropped)
- Legacy Technology companies saw a YoY increase in developer marketing spend of 36%
These findings left us with two main questions:
- What factors explain the macro trend differences between Enterprise Technology organizations (increase) and Legacy Technology companies (decrease)?
- What did successful organizations in all three categories do to grow their developer marketing programs?