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A Tough Nut to Crack: How to Market to Software Developers

Tetiana Sukmanyuk
November 7, 2022

Let’s say, you have an excellent product that solves developers’ problems and you know that they need it. To convince them to buy it, you’ll need to market it in a way that makes sense to them. 

Engineers won’t be excited to talk to salespeople or download reports and whitepapers. When it comes to traditional marketing, you won’t find a tougher crowd than software developers. 

And this is where developer-oriented marketing comes into play. This approach lets you get the word out about your tech products in a way that attracts the interest of developers and helps you convert them into customers. 

But before talking about how developer-oriented marketing works, let’s circle back a bit and find out why traditional marketing doesn’t work on software developers. 

Your “marketing” shouldn’t feel like marketing or why developers are such skeptics

So, what is so special about marketing to software engineers? Here are a few things that make developers different from business decision-makers and other regular folks: 

  • Developers buy a product only when they know it can help them. Seems like something you can tell about any person, but in the case of software engineers, a good understanding of a tech-savvy audience is a must for marketers. If developers suspect that you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s impossible to persuade them to buy your product.
  • Content should help developers solve their problems, and educate them instead of promoting your company or services. How-to guides, templates, tips and tricks – anything that gives practical value to software developers and educates them will be much more effective than classic ads, social media posts or inflated marketing slogans.
  • Developers are usually short on time so your content should be straightforward, with no beating around the bush. Developers prefer spending their time solving important coding problems, rather than reading three "warm-up" paragraphs of your introduction. So when you’re about to prepare a 30-page whitepaper – don’t, you won't keep their attention if you don't get to the point immediately. 

All in all, it’s really not that challenging to come up with an effective marketing strategy focused on developers, you just need to go for a different approach instead of a conventional one.

Now, how to market developer-focused products?

Here are some insights on how you can come up with an on-point marketing strategy that will help you turn snobbish software engineers into loyal customers.

Define developers' problems

If it’s your first time doing developer-focused marketing, you need to spend time researching your audience. Once you know the key pains and needs of software developers, you can come up with a viable marketing strategy that attracts their attention. 

Let us look at Stripe, a payment system. Have you ever wondered why Stripe became so popular? Stripe is a developer-focused company. 

From the start, Stripe knew who would use their payment system (hint: programmers). Obsessed over their customers, Stripe spent a ton of time talking to developers to find a problem that frustrated their target audience. For example, they discovered that great documentation is almost as important as having APIs that work, and focused their efforts on making their documentation effortless to use. 

By creating an amazing experience for programmers, Stripe has won their hearts and turned them into active promoters of their products.

Another example of developer-centered marketing is DigitalOcean – a cloud hosting provider that offers cloud computing services. They identified the main developer's pain – cloud providers are too complex to deal with – and created a simple and developer-friendly solution. Here's what their homepage says. 

Focus on technical use cases in your content

When you start marketing your product using content, it's a good idea to focus on technical use cases and write helpful and practical blog posts that engage IT specialists rather than trying to convert them with flashy headlines or “creative” words.

For example, Twilio has tutorials and how-to guides for developers and even a CodeExchange platform where programmers can find code samples for Twilio use cases in different programming languages. Such content helps build credibility in the developer community and provides real value to developers. 

Segment is another example of a company that uses marketing to solve developers' problems. Segment is a customer data platform (CDP) that helps build marketing strategies based on the outcomes of data analysis. To make their marketing more practical, they have a separate part of the website called Recipes. Basically, these are detailed step-by-step guides for clients on how to solve marketing problems using different tech solutions, including Segment itself. 

Let them try your product

Software engineers are more hands-on than business people and prefer to have real experience with a product before buying it. Don't waste your time telling them how good your product is, just let them use it. 

Developers love Twilio because it lets them integrate complex features with simple commands. And in marketing, Twilio is very straightforward and practical. Instead of limiting access to their tool, they made it accessible to anyone. 

Let's take a look at DigitalOcean's homepage again. Do you see any “Enter your email” button? Neither do we, as there isn't one. The company doesn't try to get information about you right away. No demos and no call bookings – instead, they offer you to check out their GitHub repository – a place developers like to visit to learn everything they need about the product in its shared pieces of code. Thanks to this approach, DigitalOcean has a great developer community that's helping it grow.

Now that you’ve learned something new about developer-oriented marketing, it’s time to talk about creating content for devs.  

Developer-oriented content. Who is the one to write it?

Once you’re settled upon your marketing strategy and stuff, it’s time to put it into words with content marketing. But who should write content for devs? Your in-house developers, SEO content writers, or dedicated writers? Let’s analyze each option. 

In-house software developers 

This option seems great since software developers understand the technical side of things and the IT industry in general. They can come up with ideas for valuable content, but the decision of having developers write content for your blog often fails.

The reason is pretty straightforward: good developers aren’t always good writers. When it comes to content writing, content should be simple to get, and that’s where developers are not that skillful. Besides, software developers are usually busy doing their work, so creating content regularly might become a problem in the long run. 

SEO writers 

Turning to SEO writers who don’t specialize in creating tech content is not the best strategy either. Clickbait titles and keyword-stuffed content would rather scare developers away instead of attracting them to try your product. 

When you hire a writer for content marketing geared toward developers, they should have a firm grasp of the subject matter before you can trust them to write for such a picky audience. SEO writers, on the other hand, are interested in search results above all else, which brings us to the third option.

Dedicated tech-savvy writers

Hiring a tech-savvy creative writer seems the most suitable alternative for developer-focused content. These guys are true gems because they understand the technology and can speak the same language as developers and also write engaging and consistent content.

Once you find a writer with both technical and marketing skills to do your content marketing, you will be able to create content that attracts developers and sells your product without being too pushy. 

Of course, a tech-savvy writer can't beat a programmer on the knowledge of the subject matter, but they can interview developers to create content that stems from the developer's experience.

Trust your marketing hassle to Kaiiax

Convincing software developers to buy your product can be challenging. You can't find a group of people more opposed to marketing than developers, but with a hands-on approach, informative content, and a writer who speaks their language, you can turn them into leads. 

We at Kaiiax specialize in SEO and marketing for technology companies. We work closely with software engineers and help them sell their services by writing developer-oriented content that engineers can relate to. You can visit our website to learn more about our services. 

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