Web Developers are a notoriously difficult group to market to (some call it “B2D” or Business-to-Developer). Whether they identify as coders, programmers, “brogrammers”, devs, app builders, etc., as a group they are:
- very skeptical,
- obviously *extremely* web savvy
- i.e. they don’t like to give up their personal info on lead generation forms,
- part of the 1% that actually knows and cares what marketers are doing to cookie them, target them, remarket to them, etc.
- likely a higher % use ad blockers
- generally have a disdain for sales and marketing (instead they have a strong belief that the product is all that should matter).
- not afraid to be very vocal if they feel an advertiser/marketer has been deceptive or crossed a line
So are there any web developer marketing strategies that actually work? Well, it is actually possible to build effective developer marketing programs. Developers do still want to learn about new and interesting companies, software and tools that help them do their jobs better. Here are a few successful developer marketing strategies and tactics:
- Banner ads – haha, ok just kidding, mostly. Banner ads have notoriously low click through rates (CTR) industry wide, and they are even lower with a developer audience. However it *can* sometimes work with the right targeting . And worse case the thing that banners are effective at is good old fashioned branding – a four letter word to some but still proven to be effective if you have the budget and awareness/recall are the goals vs. direct response. Familiarity with a brand can have a powerful subconscious effect when it comes time to download a free trial or create a vendor short list.
- Free T-shirts – you can’t walk around San Francisco without bumping into some sort of developer tools or technology t-shirt. Check out this New Relic partner offers page – free trials, discounts, and t-shirts (6 out of 28 vendors) are the top offers. Just make sure you splurge for the high thread count. Programmers don’t like the cheap Hanes tees.
- Free Beer and Pizza, i.e. sponsor a meet up, hackathon, etc.
Two more ways that I personally have found effective for companies like Atlassian, New Relic, etc.:
- Humor is always a good way to break through the clutter and deliver a marketing message. Vooza is a video comic strip about a fictional startup that is a big hit with web developers, designers, etc. They do some of their episodes as branded episodes or native ads – find out more on how this can work here.
- Educational content on trusted sites like Codetuts+Tuts+. Developers of course have an arsenal of apps, tools, platforms, and technologies to help them do their jobs. Educational content that can show your product in action solving a problem or building an app can be very effective to drive education/demand/adoption. Here are some examples of sponsored content programs on Tuts+:
And yes I represent both of those companies if you’d like to talk about developer marketing programs on Tuts+ and Vooza for your company.
To wrap up, some other good perspectives on developer marketing are Tom Tunguz, a VC at Redpoint on how B2D go-to-market strategy (and marketing) differs from enterprise, and some musings on the challenge from a marketer, Hilary Cook at Mindscape how to market to programmers and how not to.
What have you seen work (or not work) with marketing to developers?