The Formula for Winning at Developer Marketing = Data + Creative

Depending on which data source you choose, there are between 25 and 30 million full-time software developers in the world. This is before we include other potential users or buyers of your product such as designers, executives, researchers or data scientists. Therefore, we all now understand that simply addressing your target audience as ‘developers’ will result in a waste of marketing dollars and lead to failure. 


We’ve long argued that marketing to developers is not that different from marketing to any other group. Yes, developers have a highly tuned ear for nonsense and won’t respond to many of the tactics used in consumer marketing, but the principles remain the same. Define your target audience, figure out why your product is great for them, research how you can reach the group, craft interesting messaging and content, then execute. Simple, right? Well kind of…


Often times, even well-crafted marketing campaigns that follow this process don’t bring the success the client wanted. In our experience, there are two broad reasons for this. First, sometimes a client wants to jump straight to the far end of the funnel with their campaign when the market simply isn’t ready. They need to go through a long and costly exercise of creating awareness, education, and engagement before going for daily active users as a measure of marketing success. We’ll talk more about this situation—‘You’re not where you think you are’—in a future post. In this one, we’ll address the other reason, lack of underlying marketing data.


It’s not enough to simply call your target market developers, it’s not even enough to know that your market, for example, is ‘US-based Python developers working on machine learning applications.’ To make your marketing truly effective you need to know much more about the target group including what are their pain points, what do they like about competitor’s products, what their challenges are, where and how they communicate with each other, and what current users like (and dislike) about your product. This kind of information needs to be researched and worked into data-driven insights long before dollars are spent on marketing campaigns. 


This is where we start with clients who are looking to acquire new users or better engage with users they already have. By creating a data-driven Developer Preference Dashboard we are able to build robust go to market strategies for our clients. Knowing your developer segment is not enough, you need to go deep into research and data and act on the insights they can give you. 


However, that isn’t the end. There can be such a thing as too much data, data for data sake can be overwhelming and lead to inaction or worse,l poor actions.  Marketers need to be able to turn data into insights and then into campaigns, stories, and messages. This is where the creative and human angle is key. Data is a great and essential foundation to build your marketing campaigns and it will ensure maximum success when combined with first-class creative. Data without insight is just noise. Data plus insight plus creative is the formula for winning developer marketing.

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