Developer Marketing Insights
With this new series, DeveloperMedia is spotlighting professionals who are focused on marketing to developers. Our goal with this series is to provide access and insight to your peers, like Jason Ng of Redis, so that you can learn firsthand how they market to developers, share best practices, and learn something new.
The Man with the Plan
Confident would be a good word to describe Jason Ng, who is the Sr. Digital Marketing Manager at Redis. He knows what he wants, and is flexible enough to pivot to a better track when his expectations are not met. While he has a degree in advertising, he actually started out wanting to be a forensic scientist, driven by watching episodes of CSI. After a year of college biology and chemistry, he realized that the pursuit of criminal investigations through forensics was not for him.
From there, he shifted from analytical to creative and focused on advertising. He appreciates the culture and power of advertising. Jason entered the job market right at the tipping point when traditional advertising was giving way to the digital revolution, so he’s experienced the best of both worlds firsthand. His trajectory in digital marketing has been fueled by his focus on tech industries and living in the San Francisco area. We asked Jason a few questions designed to highlight developer marketing best practices. Our conversation is presented below, edited for length and clarity.
What do you love about developer marketing?
Marketing to developers is definitely a challenge. I think they [developers] view marketing from a different perspective because they are a skeptical audience. Developers are skeptical, and rightfully so. I mean, although I am not a developer, we are all faced with non-stop advertising [and have been] since forever, even before the Web. But now with marketers using better tools, you’re constantly hit with it because there’s a revenue stream associated with these ads.
A lot of companies offer free services, but being in a technical space, developers are definitely tech-savvy, so they understand the ins and outs of these offers, and they’re going to scrutinize everything. From a marketing perspective, it’s a balance between how you’re driving core business and your pipeline while also servicing your developer audience. You have to prove to them the value of what they’re investing in. I recall one of my instructors in college referencing StackOverflow, and how it is a channel or forum for developers to share their ideas and help solve problems for others, using the platform to build credibility. And that’s how I want to approach developer marketing.
How can we use marketing and our channels to provide value, versus simply collecting information? Transitioning from simply looking at conversion rates, the quality of leads and things like that, can we go further than that? Is there another metric that we can use to track the benefits of our products? It’s always on my mind. Granted, I know that there’s a business case to marketing. We still need to drive quality leads, we still need to run ads — but how do we turn that upside down? It’s a constant iteration.
What are your greatest challenges?
Well, marketing to developers, it’s like you walk into the room with a bad reputation already. So how can you overcome that reputation? Developers hate advertising, but you have to essentially change that mindset, because we still need to run the business. I think the real challenge is that as marketers, we want to be data-driven, but understand that the data is never going to be 100% accurate. So that goes back to what is more important. Is it the data, or understanding our audiences and really speaking to them in their language, and really providing value? And how do we provide value while also generating business?
You can’t do everything at once. For example, I had a boxing lesson today. And my partner was saying, “You’re moving around a lot, but when you’re moving, you’re expending a lot of energy. Sometimes, you only need to focus on your legs, and you can just keep your arms up, but keep your shoulders relaxed.” Focus like this also applies to marketing — in determining areas [where] we can close the gap by segmenting correctly. Once you have the right audience, then you can start focusing on how you’re reaching them. Are you producing the right message? Moving forward, you have a better understanding of who they are, and what they want. Then, you have the specific audience you can reach out to. Better segmentation enables you to develop better data. Once you have the audience, then you can create the right message. The right message has to hit the right audience, and there is an order to developing the message. Figuring out that order and then prioritizing is the key.
What surprises you about the developer community?
I really love how they’re cohesive. There’s lots of support. There are different types of developers, different disciplines, and they really like to dive into the details and provide solutions and contribute to the overall discipline of development. I really, really appreciate that dedication to the community. It reminds me of a motorcycle community. Like every time you ride, you’re part of a community because you’re on a bike. Fellow riders wave as they come across, and you always give them a peace sign. It doesn’t matter who they are, or who you are. With developers, if I’m solving a problem, I get that sense of the welcoming community and it’s just really cool! You know people want you, and what you know. If they discover something new, they want to share it. It’s a very rich community.
Who is your target audience?
Software architects and DevOps. We market to C-level VPs as well, so we have three segments.
How long have you been marketing to developers?
I’ve been marketing to developers for around 11 years.
Over those 11 years, what changes have you noticed?
I think every marketing organization changes, depending on what stage the market is at. I think overall, not much has changed — although there are nuances to marketing because different segments have different issues. But fundamentally, it’s really being able to segment our audience with the right message.
There are hundreds if not thousands of tools that are available each year in the developer landscape, so it’s not going to be tools, because there’s always a tool that’s going to try to solve one aspect of their pain points. It goes back to how well we know the audience, and as the developer community continues to evolve and there are new problems that are going to be solved, the need for our tools will be there. I think as long as there’s a community with new developers entering into the markets, and more experienced marketers becoming leaders, there’s a level of influence which will continue.
I think from a marketing perspective, we’re starting to see the value of being collaborative and using marketing as a collaborative tool with our audience, versus just using marketing to get information. There are ad blockers now, ad-free websites, and more and more people don’t want ads. So, there’s always going to be that kind of tension. But you know that the marketer or company that can bridge the gap and really build that trust is the one that’s gonna win.
What’s the next big thing?
Marketing doesn’t go away. It doesn’t die. It just evolves. So for every challenge, there’s going to be a solution. Changes in the marketplace will change the way we approach things because, for example, if there’s an ad blocker, then our segmentation is going to be harder. Tools that worked in the past are not going to work anymore. Messages may not work, but it will always be about finding that path to our audience, which is the goal. I think it’s a distraction if we think marketing needs more tools — if you don’t know how to use them or use them correctly.
How do you track your marketing campaigns?
We use Salesforce for our core CRM. We use Marketo as our marketing automation platform. In terms of all the various digital marketing platforms, we’re using Metadata.io to marry them together and really get that single hub of data.
Do you miss travelling?
The funny thing is, right before the shutdown for COVID in early 2020, my wife and I were planning on traveling more, based on conversations we had in 2019. Then, COVID hit, so that completely derailed our plans. I miss traveling and want to travel more because it opens your perspective and offers experiences — which improves your marketable skills and marketing skills. You’re able to come up with new ideas using those experiences, and you can share those experiences, and they just take on a new perspective. Connecting your brand with a recognizable emotion or feeling or experience — like traveling — you can take that concept and tie it into a campaign or create a message.
Any notable blunders?
In a previous role, we were running a high-value contest for lead generation, and it did not meet expectations. I learned that it’s not the more you give, the higher the value you give, and the more results you get, the better results. There’s a threshold for any incentive that provides value before the returns start diminishing. If you offer something that is too good to be true (like its value is too high) then people think it’s a scam.
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
I’m boring. I like mint chocolate chip — but it has to be the green kind.
What do you like about working with DeveloperMedia?
They are selective about the type of marketing they do, which prevents mistakes and is efficient in terms of reaching the right developer audience. They have been very supportive and concerned about our goals and needs. They offer insights on channel selection, and their customer service is great. They continue to evolve their services according to the needs of their customers and the developer community, which I think is great.
Jason is an analytical thinker. He researches areas of interest and is pragmatic about how he practices his marketing techniques. He likes to incorporate real-world experiences into practical applications and is always looking for a competitive advantage. Some key insights include:
- From a marketing perspective, it’s a balance between how you’re driving core business and your pipeline, while also servicing your developer audience. You have to prove to them the value of what they’re investing in.
- Better segmentation enables you to develop better data. Once you have the right audience, then you can create the right message.
- Marketing doesn’t go away. It just evolves. So for every challenge, there’s going to be a solution.
We are grateful for Jason’s time and for his insights. If you want to learn more about building successful advertising campaigns and the capabilities of DeveloperMedia, check out the Marketing to Developers Field Guide.
DeveloperMedia – Marketing to Developers Field Guide https://developermedia.com/marketing-developers-field-guide/