Marketing to Jaded Developers: 101 Posted in Marketing Thomas Bush July 23, 2020 Let’s face it: there are plenty of developers who don’t care about you or your API product. They simply want a quick integration to build what they need and when they need it. No marketing spiel will change that. We’ll call them jaded developers. In this article, we’ll look at how you can still market to folks that honestly could care less. You can do this through a combination of discovery (making your API easy to find), language (speaking the right language to potential users), and self-service tools to enable quick onboarding and easy ongoing maintenance. Discovery-First Jaded developers not only know what they want, but when they want it. As a result, you should focus your marketing efforts on enabling developers to discover your offerings when they need them. The alternative — continuously throwing money at advertising — may help to create awareness, but will rarely encourage developers to take action any sooner. Here are a few simple but effective ways to set yourself up for discovery: Optimize your website for SEO and create relevant content, so that your website shows up on search engines when developers search for tools or integrations. Use Google AdWords to get in front of developers when they search for tools or integrations*, instead of trying to advertise to them continuously (e.g., through Facebook Ads). List your offerings on relevant directories and forums, which some developers might favor over conventional search engines. Example Let’s say a developer needs an API to display maps in their web application. Unless they already know of an API that fits the bill, they’re likely to start their search by Googling maps api. The first real search result for this query is Google’s very own Maps Platform, with an enticing description and links to “Get an API Key” (we’ll touch on why this is effective later on). You can bet that page is getting plenty of hits from this search alone. Before that first result, however, there’s an ad for TomTom’s Map Display API. Instead of trying to beat Google at the search game, TomTom is using AdWords to ensure they’re the first solution developers see when looking for maps APIs. Working on SEO for API homepages and docs can aid discoverability. Talking Turkey The marketing world has taught us that we should sell benefits, not features. That’s because technical features, like the type of non-stick coating on a frying pan, don’t invoke as much emotion as benefits, life “flip pancakes and omelets with ease!” The thing is, jaded developers want — and often need — to know the technical features of your offerings. So, cut the crap, and give developers the facts they need to make a decision. “Developers don’t like to tiptoe around subjects. They prefer to hit matters straight on. They want to know just what you can do for them and understand how the whole thing was built and why it will work.” – TheNextWeb On the subject of sales copy, be sure to speak the same language as your developers. Avoid unclear phrasing or marketing jargon that developers won’t relate to. Instead, emphasize specific technical terminology to describe features accurately. “In writing, ambiguity is a sin. In documentation, it’s a killer […] It doesn’t matter how nicely something reads if it can be interpreted in more than one way.” – Zachary Flower Here are two specific pointers to bear in mind when writing marketing copy for developers: Reference concrete technologies, standards, and statistics wherever possible, as this is the information developers want. Don’t shy away from technical terminology just for its sake — trust that most developers will understand. At the same time, consider linking dense vocabularies to definitions to be inclusive. Example Nobody talks features quite like Cloudways. The popular cloud hosting platform has an entire page dedicated to features in every category from performance to monitoring. Best of all, many of the features relate to specific technologies and standards. Cloudways outlines its features using non-ambiguous language. Self-Service There’s only so much prep-work and reading that developers will endure. Most of the time, they’ll want to jump in, test, and implement your offerings as soon as possible. After all, that’s the best way to find out whether a solution will cut it. Streamline the onboarding process as much as possible, so that developers can start building right away. Self-service onboarding is a must: developers will likely look for an alternative if your call to action is “Get in touch!” This is what makes the “Get an API Key” we saw earlier so effective — it suggests instant API key generation and immediate testing. Once developers are signed up, make it easy for them to get started. For API products, there are a few particular additions which jaded developers will love (or at least tolerate): Provide code samples side-by-side with your API reference, which developers can copy-paste to kickstart their own integrations. Implement a Run in Postman button, enabling developers to import your Postman Collection and run sample API calls on their local machine. See this in action. Offer a free playground or sandbox if you charge for your production API, so developers can quickly test its capabilities for free. Example For self-service, we like the Coinbase API. It offers instant sign-up and enables easy testing, with click-to-copy requests and example responses for every endpoint. Coinbase API provides a navigable self-service developer portal. Reductive Recap As we’ve seen, there are a few ways to optimize your marketing funnels for jaded developers. By dedicating resources to discovery (and not outreach), you enable developers to find your offerings when they need them. By getting to the point with your sales copy, you give developers the facts they need to make a decision. Finally, by enabling self-service onboarding and easy testing, you seal the deal! Lastly, we don’t mean to generalize. Of course, not all developers are “jaded,” and many are passionate about their work. What’s great though, is that the tips in this piece can apply to all visitors who want to quickly find a Software-as-a-Service and get rolling!