September 14, 2016

Are You Making This One Critical Developer Marketing Mistake? Odds Are: Yes.

There’s one critical developer marketing mistake I see nearly every company making, from small to large. While it won’t sabotage your entire developer outreach effort, if you’re making it you’re definitely not getting the results you could. Here’s the worst part: avoiding it requires constant vigilance and attention to every single thing you do for developers.

The mistake? Assuming too much developer interest and experience

We have a tendency to assume that developers are experienced. But a recent Stack Overflow study reports that less than half of developers have more than 5 years of experience. It’s surprising but true. Of the remaining half, half of those have 6 to 10 years’ experience and only the remaining quarter have over 10 years’ experience. 

In other words, you’re likely incorrectly assuming developers have either the experience or the inclination to spend time figuring out your products. For good reason, good developer marketers make sure their potential users can get hands-on as quickly as possible. But often that’s where it stops: “Here’s your trial version – have fun.” Based on our understanding of developers’ experience, it’s easy for us to see that we need to do more. 

Since half of developers have less than 5 years’ experience, it stands to reason that we’ll get better results the more we can provide them with clear and detailed onboarding helps like sample apps, walkthroughs, and the like. Similarly, more experienced developers are even busier than their less experienced counterparts, and will appreciate the additional detail to help them evaluate and get up to speed quickly. 

It’s not just overall developer experience that affects this, either. It’s harder for developers to have deep expertise in any one area or technology now. This barrier to deep expertise is largely thanks to the rapidity of technology change and developers’ need to use many different languages and stacks on their projects. 

The new best practice: make sure developers have as much handholding as they could possibly want during evaluation and after purchase. Don’t assume they have the experience or time to spend teaching themselves how your products work. Instead, provide as much help as possible. That help may be sample apps, sample code, walkthroughs, or similar. Make it as easy as possible to get started. Experienced devs may not need it, but they’ll likely skim it and thereby better understand your product’s value. And when you do this, you’ll be embracing the full range of potential customers.