Let’s Talk About the Developer Experience

The developer community is a highly technical audience. Many developers hold advanced degrees and enjoy working with complex numbers. How can you market to developers who tend to be more skeptical than the rest of the general population? The secret to generating leads from developers is that you have to make a compelling offer. That said, if you’re making a pitch to developers, the devil is in the details — and those details are typically deeply technical in nature. You also have to be quick – developers have little time to waste on a product they may not need or want. Get to the point without a lot of sales talk.

Sources of Skepticism

Advertising surrounds us, and just when you think there are no more clever ways to post an ad, a marketer somewhere figures out that an ad can be made to jump out of your home page, and take precedence over the other five ads in various quadrants of your display. Information overload, making overblown product claims, and not following up will increase skepticism in the developer community about you and your company.

What you say, how you say it, and who says it all play a part in getting your point across (or not). Selling to scientists and developers is very similar in that products sold into these markets are highly technical in nature and application oriented. To adequately understand the products, you need scientists as salespeople and developers as salespeople. It’s far more practical to provide sales training to scientists and developers than it is to train a salesperson in science and software development. Nothing is worse than having to say to a developer “I don’t know, let me find out and get back to you,” when questioned about a specific aspect of your product.

Specific to your content, consider the following areas for evaluation against a skeptical developer audience:

Source of SkepticismHow to Address
Manipulative ad-speakAvoid hype, hoopla and meaningless marketing speak. Content and copy should be technical, specific, useful, and easy to evaluate to appeal to developers.

Content or context mismatch

  • Use a well-defined persona for your ideal developer.

  • Tailor content that applies to the specific conditions and problems the developer faces.

  • Make sure the ad is specific to the programming languages they use and other technical details about their tools.

  • Place your ad where developers look for information they need to do their jobs.

  • Avoid pop-ups.

  • Use a clear call to action.

Saturation Keep your advertising fresh. In planning your campaign, have several ads you can rotate. You can keep the same theme, but include variations on the theme.
OverpromisingDon’t overpromise and underdeliver. If a feature of your new tool is not going to be available at launch, make sure the issue is managed by explicitly communicating what is available and when it is available.
Poor communication Keep your claims within the bounds of believability. Don’t use jargon to confuse or impress. Developers know more about developing than advertisers, so don’t confuse or obfuscate anything technical.
Irrelevant or uninterestingYour offer has to be worthy of a developer’s time. They don’t appreciate fluff or sales pitches. Things that resonate with developers include:

  • Technical advice which solves a problem or improves a process.

  • Expert advice or an interesting perspective in the form of an interview.

  • Free product trials or downloads.

  • A better way to do something — hopefully, using your product.

Winning Them Over

When it comes to lead generation, the ball is in your court. Developers are not a captive audience. They can and will leave anytime. Make sure your total value proposition is compelling, and  that it calls them into action. Keep in mind there are elements that are entirely in your control that will allow you to increase your chances of generating a lead:

  • Attractive presentation.
  • Right venue, right vehicle. Podcasts and display ads in developer communities offer information where developers already go to stay current and solve technical problems.
  • A landing page that frictionlessly moves your developer along the buyer’s journey with a compelling call to action. But don’t ask for more than a name and an email. Privacy matters in the developer community.
  • Use content that works: How-to and best practice guides, market competitive analysis, inclusion in “best tool” independent reviews, and testimonials from their peers in the developer community.


DeveloperMedia – Lead Generation

DeveloperMedia – Landing Page Structure

DeveloperMedia – Marketing Best Practices