You’re not where you think you are

Signposting is an integral part of everyday life.  Whether it’s a train station, festival, or town centre, we accept that being told where to go is a key part of creating a functional, positive space. People look for and need direction, and in the absence of strong signposting, they will follow the crowd.

Life in the crowded digital marketplace is no different. Clear signposting of products, leading potential and existing customers to the first (or next) stage of their journey, is crucial for awareness and adoption  of those products. But how to do this?

Step 1: Developers as customers

If you are marketing a developer product, the first step is to recognise developers as your customers. Unless you really are the next Google, it’s likely you need developers much more than they need you.

Step 2: The customer journey

We often talk with our clients about ‘the developer journey’, and (with a few variations on the theme) it generally looks like this:

Unaware of product > Aware of product > Interested > Registered > Activated > Sharing & promoting > Building

Much of our work in the last 6 months has been intended to take place at the activation stage – accelerating the pipeline of developers who have registered for a product or service, but have not yet started interacting with all the benefits available.

However, during the course of these projects we’ve discovered that in almost all cases, developers are not where the client thought they were. We’ve had to go back not just to the adoption stage, but to the awareness phase.

In a real world example, signage within a train station to platforms and ticket office can be top notch – but if no one on the street has found the train station in the first place, the signage inside is redundant.

Step 3: Stand out from the crowd

‘Build it and they will come’ is no longer an effective strategy for driving adoption of new APIs, platforms, and developer tools. The marketplace is crowded, and developer products must stand out.

In a recent study we conducted, 16% (174) of the top 1,000 paid Google Play apps use a game engine SDK. Of those 174 apps, 101 – 58% – use Unity3d as their primary game engine. Unity3d is used in more apps than the next 10 most popular game engine SDKs put together. These other SDK providers have an uphill battle to make a dent in a market with a dominant leader.

Assuming that the product is good – it works, the proposition is strong, and the support is exceptional – then marketing is the answer. Although no one likes to feel that they are being marketed to, everyone likes to be told where to go, when to go there, and what to do when they arrive. Make sure your signposting is visible and accurate from the very beginning of the journey, with a marketing mix covering events, paid media, social, and a network of credible product advocates. The risk in not doing this is that developers make the sensible and safe choice by adopting the market leading tool.

A healthy developer pipeline begins right at the start of the journey, and builds from there.

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