Generating new business leads is one of the most fundamental duties of any marketing professional. Doing it effectively and consistently, however, can be challenging; especially when dealing with an audience as discerning as software developers.

At Developer Media, we’ve helped companies of all sizes grow their developer fanbase and convert prospects into new customers with a no-nonsense approach to lead generation. We know there are still many organizations that could be doing a better job at generating developer leads, so we’ve gathered up some the best practices we’ve collected over the years and provided them here in this guide for you to apply to your own marketing initiatives.

If there’s just one thing you take away, remember: Effective lead generation is about building trust with developers by providing valuable and quality content.

What is a lead? Why are they important?

A lead is simply a potential customer who has (in some way, shape, or form) expressed interest in your company’s products or services.

This interest can be generated and measured in a number of ways, but a common approach is to offer something useful (an eBook, a free trial, etc.) to prospects in exchange for some contact information and the invitation to follow up.

Generating leads is an important practice for any business’s growth strategy, but this is especially true for organizations with a dedicated sales force. Why? Because it will be easier and more natural to begin a conversation with a developer that has already shown some interest in your company by engaging with your content or offer. By identifying “leads” you can focus on the prospects that are more likely to convert to a sale, rather than wasting time on those who won’t.

Crafting a compelling offer

Ultimately, the goal of lead generation is to warm prospects up to your business, earn their trust, and nurture them along the path in your sales funnel. To achieve this you need to offer developers something of value. You need quality content that aligns with their interests and naturally attracts their attention. You need a lead magnet.

A lead magnet can be almost anything. Below are some examples of different content, assets, and offers you can use in your own campaigns:

  • technical whitepapers and eBooks
  • webinars
  • a series of training videos
  • an interview with a technical expert or someone that can provide an interesting perspective on your products, services, or industry
  • a set of tips and best practices
  • worksheets or a checklist
  • a free trial or download
  • t-shirts or other swag
  • free passes to an event or conference

As long as it provides commensurate value for whatever information the prospect is giving up (usually their phone number or email and permission for you to contact them), it can be used as an icebreaker to open the door for your sales team to start a conversation with the prospect.

You should never try and use sales or fluffy marketing materials as a lead magnet. Things like spec sheets and sales brochures just aren’t worth a developer giving up their contact information. You will only annoy them if you try to use these. There has to be a proper incentive for them to care.

Similarly, the offer should be exclusive in some way. A blog entry on your website, an infographic posted on social media, or a video on your YouTube channel are not good lead magnets. These kinds of assets are already publicly available on the web and can be found with a quick Google search. Why would someone want to give up their phone number for that?

Lastly, make sure that the content and offer is tailored specifically to the type of customer you want to attract with your campaign. If you’re after product managers at medium-sized companies in Europe your content and offer should reflect that as closely as possible.

In short: be focused, produce quality content, and provide value to the developer community.

Mechanics of a lead gen campaign

Now that you understand what a lead is and the types of assets and offers that can be used to attract them, let’s review the actual components of running a successful lead generation campaign.

  • The offer: As discussed above, your lead magnet is what is going to draw in new prospects and leads. Remember that the offer must have enough value to merit someone providing their personal information in exchange for access to it. Have something that will be useful and will attract their attention? Great, now you’re ready for…
  • Promotion: You will need to use various promotional vehicles to advertise your offer to potential customers. If they don’t know about your offer how can they redeem it? Any number of channels can be used for this purpose: your email list, newsletters, web banners and display ads, social media, or even your company blog.Keep the message short and highlight the benefit to the developer. The goal here is to pique their interest and entice them to click-through to your…
  • Landing page: This is a web page that your prospects will land on for the distinct purpose of the lead gen campaign. A good landing page must be focused on the specific goal in mind and must deliver on whatever promise was made in your promotions.Your landing page is where you can go into a bit more detail about your products or the offer, but you still need to keep it concise. Cut out any excess information that isn’t essential to the campaign and use a strong call-to-action (an image, a button, or a message) that spells out exactly what you want the visitor to do. In this case, we want the prospect to fill their information into the form on the landing page in exchange for access to the offer – tell them to do exactly that.Once the prospect has completed the form and clicked “submit” they are officially a fresh lead. They have their content and are happy and you now have the information you need to…
  • Follow up with them: This is where the hard work actually begins. A developer lead has shown some interest in your company or your products, and are ready to be moved along yours sales funnel until they are eventually ready to buy.It’s important to follow up with leads quickly while your company is still fresh in their mind, but don’t sour the relationship by necessarily diving into an immediate hard sales pitch. Nurture these leads, make them part of your developer community, and gently introduce your products and services to them. Be helpful, not annoying, and you’ll win developers over.

Final tips

Before we wrap up, here are some other final general tips and best practices that you should keep in mind the next time you’re putting together a lead generation campaign targeted at software developers:

  • The more lead magnets you can offer in a campaign the better. Just make sure they’re relevant to your target audience.
  • The advertising copy and graphics you use to promote your lead magnets need to be STELLAR. Developers hate marketing buzzwords; don’t use them. The titles of assets like eBooks, whitepapers, webinars need to be concise, but also explain what the content is about (and why the reader should care). Graphics should be eye-catching and look professionally designed. If you know you have quality lead magnets, but your campaign still isn’t converting these are some of the first things you should review and revise. (Better yet, take the time to get them right from the start.)
  • Limit the information you collect on lead forms to the bare essentials. You’ll need to know enough about the prospect to gauge whether they have a genuine interest and are a good fit for your product, but knowing exactly how much information to ask for will depend on your business. Don’t scare prospects off by asking for too much too fast. Generally the more information you ask for, the less likely people are to give it. Remember, the value of what you’re offering must be appropriate to the level of personal information you request.
  • Don’t target too narrow of an audience in your campaign. The number of leads you collect will be vastly reduced, and you’ll be missing out on other potential customers.If your company only does business in the United States then it’s fair to only want US-based leads. But if you start narrowing the demographics too much – say by only targeting leads that are C-level execs, from European companies with more than 1,000 employees, who dance the hokey pokey on Saturdays and enjoy wearing the colour purple – you’re probably going to have a bad time.Jokes aside, of course each company will be a little bit different, and you may not have much flexibility in what you’re able to target depending on company directives, but where possible you should try and cast your net as wide as you can.In a recent poll of CodeProject members, we found that over 83 percent of software developers have some influence in the buying process of new tools, technologies and services at their workplace (24% of those said they have lots of influence and 26% said they are the sole decision maker). By only targeting C-level execs your campaign could be missing out on a whole segment of potential advocates that could influence a sale at their company.

By now we hope you have a good understanding of the basics of running a dev-focused lead gen campaign. Of course, if you don’t have the time and resources to put all these components together, throw a landing page up on your website, and start collecting leads yourself you can always partner with us here at Developer Media. All you need to do is provide your lead magnets and we’ll take care of the rest of the heavy lifting.

When you launch a campaign with us we’ll post your assets in the CodeProject Research Library, set up promotions in our newsletters and throughout our developer community, manage user registrations, and send you regular reports with fresh leads for your sales team to follow up on.

If you’d like to learn more then please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you: