Advertising to software developers can be easy… if you get it right.

If, however, you take the wrong approach or dive into an ad campaign without a solid plan, then you’re likely setting yourself up for failure. Marketing to software developers is very different from marketing to other groups. Developers are smart people and cannot be swayed with hyperboles or wild claims. You need to know how to present the information properly and you need to be patient.

This is the first in a series of articles that will help teach you the basics of marketing to software developers. We hope these help you on your way to becoming a Dev Marketing Pro!

Craft compelling messaging

Developers are busy and your banner ad, newsletter copy, or whatever other advertising medium you are using may only be seen for a quick second or two. For this reason, when creating an ad for a developer it must be compelling.

Think about this: What is the most important thing you want the developer to see? What is the one critical message you want the dev to take away with them?

Got it? Okay… show that in your ad!

Try to limit each ad to one key benefit and really focus in on it. If your product has multiple benefits, consider creating a few different versions of the ad. Do some A/B testing to find out what’s most important to the developers you’re targeting and see which ads convert the best. You may be surprised at what you find.

It’s also a good idea to change up your creatives every so often. If you run the same ads or messaging for too long they will become stale and developers will skip over your ad because they’ve seen it too many times before and will not be interested enough to click or engage.

Most importantly, you must ALWAYS have a compelling call to action. Do not rely on the developer to know to click on your ad. They won’t unless there is a good reason to and you actually ask or tell them to do so.

Developers are tinkerers, they want to get their hands on your product and test it, so if you can offer a free trial, a demo or a sandbox offer, or something else that persuades the developer to want to click on your ad you will have a much better chance at converting them.

Don’t try to BS developers

Developers don’t care about fluffy ‘feel-good’ advertising; they won’t respond well to that type of marketing approach. To win the hearts and minds (and dollars) of developers, you need to demonstrate how your product or service will solve a need that they have. Many marketers make the mistake of simply listing off a series of features when advertising to developers. Save that for your landing page or website, what devs really want to know is how you are going to make their lives easier.

Consider that if you make a claim that your product is the fastest, the easiest, or the best, developers are one group of people who may actually sit down and test your product claims or compare your product to another.

Developers will share their findings with their colleagues, on their favorite online forum or community (like CodeProject or StackOverflow), or they might even blog about it. If they have a positive experience with your brand you could quickly see a boost of hot leads in your sales funnel. Conversely, if they have a negative experience you will quickly lose a whole segment of potential customers.

So remember: when making a product claim to a developer, it must be clear, concise, and accurate.

Developers demand facts. Don’t try to BS them.

Where to advertise?

Google AdWords celebrates its fifteenth birthday this year and remains one of the top online advertising services, used by more than 1 million advertisers globally. But is AdWords really the best way to reach developers? Are there reasons you shouldn’t use AdWords?

While running a Google AdWords campaign can result in a great click-through-rate (CTR) and number of clicks, when it comes to converting to sales the results can often be less than stellar. Most people click on AdWords ads either randomly, or because they are already aware of the company that’s advertising.

You also might not always reach your target audience with an AdWords campaign. Your marketing dollars are probably better spent advertising on sites that focus on the niche of software development such as CodeProject, CodePlex, and These niche sites are places that developers frequent on a daily basis and advertising on them will be crucial to your success.

Devs visit these sites to consume technical content, chat with other programmers, download code and share their own knowledge with peers. These are online communities that they trust and when developers see your ads there they will begin to recognize your brand better and associate it with the software development communities they are already a part of.

Even if you plan to use AdWords as a component of your overall marketing plan, often times advertising on these niche sites can help increase AdWords campaign performance too. When your ad is viewed by a developer on AdWords next to five other companies, yours will be the one they are more likely to click on because they’ve already encountered your brand on a software development-niche site and you’ve already established a certain level of comfort and familiarity with the customer.

The long game

Just like you don’t commit to marriage on a first date, you can’t expect a developer to necessarily buy your product the first time they see or click on your ad. Remember, you are building a relationship with your audience and there is a nurturing process that must take place as you move them through the sales funnel one step at a time.

Sure, there are instances where the stages of the funnel may not apply – maybe the developer simply needs your tool to be able to collaborate with a colleague, or they’ve already done some research on their own and found your tool to be the best fit (price-wise, functionality-wise, simplicity-wise, etc.) and are ready to buy – but for the most part you will still need to move a majority of your customers through the funnel from awareness, to interest, to engagement. Only then can you expect to sell them your product.

Remember, developers have a lot riding on any tool they buy, they may have weeks, months or years of code that needs to be integrated with your product and they need to know that you will be around to support them down the road. Branding and awareness while not sexy is quite necessary. You must build your brand and establish credibility in the developer space if you want to sell developers a product.

To accomplish this, it’s a good idea to run integrated campaigns touching developers at all phases of the funnel when running advertising. This might mean that while you have banners, newsletter ads and direct-to-inbox email offers running to build awareness and drive traffic to your site, you may also want to post articles, white papers, webinars, product reviews, and interviews so you can simultaneously be educating and engaging your target audience at a deeper level.

At Developer Media, we believe that integrated campaigns such as these work together iteratively. As with any marketing program, the pieces and their impact are additive. Each campaign element provides tremendous value on its own merit. When combined, however, the value exponentially increases, giving your target audience repetitive visibility into your products and brand experience.

We hope this primer has given you a basic overview of how to get started on your first developer-focused marketing campaign. Follow along with the other articles in this series as they are released to learn more in-depth tips and tricks on how to be more effective with specific advertising vehicles like display ads/banners, newsletter marketing, lead generation, content marketing, events and more!

If you’re looking to reach developers, then get in touch with Developer Media today and we can help you put together an effective campaign that will help reach your goals and stay within your budget. We’d love to hear from you.

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