Ask just about any developer, and they’ll tell you they “hate marketing”.
In my experience, what this really means is that they hate a particular style of marketing - the fluffy, salesy type of marketing.
Developers are a smart, analytical bunch and they like to experiment with stuff and try things for themselves.
So they hate it when people try to push them and persuade them to click on a link or sign up for a service. What they really want is to be informed, educated, and enabled.
Developers want clear information about what a product is, what it does, and who it’s for. They want to understand exactly how a tool will be useful to them, and only then will they be compelled to try it and see for themselves.
Marketing to developers, in general, forces you to get back to core marketing principles and speak clearly about your product in the right way to the right people in a relevant context.
A mix of traditional and unique marketing tools
So what does this look like in practice?
At first glance, the technicalities of marketing to developers can seem pretty traditional, with many of the standard tools and tactics. But there are also tools, channels, and platforms that are uniquely relevant to the dev-marketing niche, and so a successful developer marketing effort will probably require elements of both.
Our developer marketing stack at Livecycle
For us at Livecycle, we’ve been building our marketing stack around the above understandings. Between our dev collaboration tools and our OSS preview environment provisioning CLI, we offer developers solutions that shorten feedback loops and speed up their review workflows.
We place a lot of emphasis on creating and distributing valuable content that’s relevant to our solution space: developer experience, developer productivity and frictionless workflows. And our marketing tool stack is built accordingly. Here are some of the key components that we use on a regular basis:
Notion - for drafting, sharing, editing and scheduling upcoming content
Ahrefs - for keyword research and competitive analysis on what type of content might be most interesting to our target audience
Screen studio - for creating more aesthetically pleasing screen-capture videos, tutorials and walkthroughs
SurferSEO - a tool we’ve recently started using to make sure our content is both readable and optimized for the relevant keywords.
Content publishing and distribution
DEV and Hashnode - Developer-centric blogging platforms
Medium - A global blogging platform on which we’ve set up our developer experience blog, publishing relevant articles to our target audience
Hacker News - A tech-focused content aggregator where people submit and upvote interesting links and products. It’s a good place to show off new tools and share interesting content.
Hackernoon and Dzone - Popular online tech publications with a wide reach within the developer world. Thoughtful, well-developed content that gets picked up by these platforms can bring you lots of relevant readers.
YouTube - More and more developers are consuming video content in the form of tutorials, product reviews, or interviews with industry personalities. This is a great way to “show” and not just “tell”.
Slack, Discord, and Reddit - No surprise here. Regardless of what developer community you are targeting (and there are many of them!), there’s a seemingly endless supply of Slack channels, Discord servers, and subreddits to join, follow and engage your target audience.
Twitter and LinkedIn - Twitter remains the go-to social platform for many developers, and LinkedIn is also relevant as a professional-oriented platform. So while we’re also active in other places, these two platforms remain part of our regularly scheduled program.
Hubspot social media manager - When it comes to scheduling and automating social media posts, we prefer to use the integrated solution offered by Hubspot. We’re already using Hubspot as our CRM, and so we were pleasantly surprised to see that their new social media calendar gave us most of the functionality we were looking for on this front.
The missing ingredient: reactive engagement
The above collection of tools has been great, but in the world of developer marketing - it’s not enough. Over time, I’ve noticed that even the most carefully executed marketing strategy lacks one important ingredient - authentic, reactive engagement.
The above set of marketing tools is built with a proactive approach in mind. Create relevant content, publish and distribute it, and hope that relevant people will see it and engage.
But the world doesn’t revolve around you and your company.
There are many other developers out there already raising questions, discussing issues, and having conversations of their own. They are already writing and talking about what is relevant to them, and so reacting to and participating in those conversations is an incredibly important part of the dev-marketing equation.
By participating in these exchanges in an authentic way, you earn credibility, trust, and brand recognition amongst an audience that is hyper-qualified for your solution.
If only there was a way to find where the relevant conversations were taking place.
It’s impossible to follow every Hacker News comment thread and every potentially relevant post on Dev.to and Reddit. The amount of content is just overwhelming.
Which is why I was thrilled to discover Eagle Eye from the team at crowd.dev.
By entering my keywords and selecting my preferred platforms, Eagle Eye gives me a personalized feed of the content most relevant to me and my company. The platform does the heavy lifting by suggesting where we should be engaging with developers to have a high chance of attracting new, engaged users.
For me, Eagle Eye is the missing piece of the dev marketing puzzle. It makes it even easier for dev-centric companies like us at Livecycle to engage with developers in an authentic, effective way, without the promotional marketing fluff.
And that’s the kind of marketing that even developers can fall in love with.