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Marketing for Developers: Strategies to Promote Your Software

Gabriel Halle, Apr 9, 2024

Developing innovative software, from productivity tools to augmented reality (AR) apps that bring cartoon characters to life, showcases the fusion of creativity and technical expertise. But transforming an idea into a digital product is only the beginning.

Long after the coding and testing is complete, you still need to reach the intended end users, and we can help you reach them. In this guide, we want to take the developer audience of all skill levels and backgrounds and offer a comprehensive and strategic approach to ensuring you can build interest in your project through successful developer marketing.

Software developers are problem solvers, which is why the Text Platform offers a diverse range of solutions. This is your centralized hub for marketing software on external marketplaces. Our suite of APIs and SDKs enables you to connect with customers where they live online the most.

Here are some reliable, innovative, and creative strategies to ensure you can market your upcoming project's benefits to the developer community and beyond.

Marketing vs. sales

Before we explore the various aspects of marketing to developers and other strategies you’ll cultivate, it helps to know the difference between marketing a new project and actually selling it to customers and developer communities. While both are “buzzwords” in the business world, they serve different purposes.

Sales are all about converting interested consumers in and out of the developer audience into actual transactions. It's closing deals and generating revenue for your business. That is why sales are so often associated with direct customer interaction.

Marketing to developers or others, on the other hand, is very different. You're looking at a broader view of your developer audiences to build interest in your project. Instead of trying to make a sale, you want to create awareness, cultivate relationships, and drive long-term growth.

Think about it this way. Apple sold 194 million iPhones in 2020. They did this through in-person stores, online portals, and third-party sellers like Best Buy or Walmart. That is their sales approach, not just developer marketing efforts.

Marketing for Apple products would be the annual developer community meeting, engaging commercials, ads you see on Facebook, and other ways to create interest in their new iPhone models.

As you see, marketing to developers has a formulaic and creative aspect. Breaking that code is not as hard as it may seem because software developers already have everything at their fingertips.

Why do developers make great marketers?

Developer marketers are unique in the marketing world. You already have a deep understanding of UI/UX (user interface/user experience), meaning you know the right balance of aesthetics, functionality, and ease of use.

Marketing for a developer audience is no different. You just need to blend the right tools together to create the best-fit workflow and development efficiency strategy for your unique needs. Another key reason why using the Text Platform can streamline your efforts.

Some developers hate marketing, but what sets developer communities apart are:

  • Communication: To succeed in developer marketing channels, effective communication is essential. Being able to convey technical information clearly and concisely makes all the difference in troubleshooting any project roadblocks. It's a "must-have" to augment developer tech stacks. Now, you just need to use that structured thinking to make your technical project more accessible to a broader audience.
  • Creativity: A good developer's marketing strategy needs to be creative. It should convey the unique selling proposition but in a way that breaks through typical market means and expectations.
  • Collaboration: Just as developing a new app takes a team, so do effective marketing and community building. You want to engage with users on social media, leverage pathways others have not tried, and create an educational content strategy that ensures greater word of mouth through your industry — all of which require partnerships and support.
  • Adaptability: Finally, developers understand how to adapt to a project's needs. They can spot new trends and utilize emerging innovative solutions. The same ideas apply to a developer's marketing strategy. You need to pivot and experiment quickly to find the tactics best suited for your product.

An excellent way to adapt and collaborate is by building software that extends products like LiveChat. This way, you have an immersive feedback loop from your target audience so you can adjust and successfully market your product over time.

That is only one example. There are so many more ways to reach your tech-savvy individuals and customers. Let’s examine the tactics you need to start using to build interest in your recent project.

The core marketing strategy for software developers

Before you can run, you’ve got to crawl. The same is true for real-world developer problems. You need a solid “core” of tools and resources gathered together to apply marketing strategies. Here is the foundation for building your robust marketing efforts.

Step 1: Understand your target audience

You cannot market to a customer you don’t understand. You must know who you’re developing your app, website, feature, software, or other project for and how they will benefit from its use.

Knowing their unique pain points by surveying existing users or profiling ideal customers is a great way to create a target audience.

Step 2: Cultivate a comprehensive and streamlined marketing plan

With an audience in mind, you can now create a developer marketing strategy encompassing all aspects of your online presence. Everything from your TikTok account to the emails confirming event participation should be streamlined for accuracy, continuity, and connectivity.

The various tools and integrations on Text Platform streamline this process by making it much easier to develop your product so you can focus on various marketing activities.

Step 3: Develop your messaging

This step is crucial for developer marketers. Take your time to think about the messaging that will benefit your target audience.

For example, if you build a new app for parents to track their kids’ activities, consider what problem you’re solving, what needs this addresses, and how to make it sound helpful to your users.

That narrative is what will end up convincing people to engage with your brand.

Step 4: Set your budget

Marketing for developers doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You will need funds to reach your customers. However, these efforts don’t have to break the bank.

Try to develop a mix of strategies based on your available funds. Social media and email campaigns are incredibly cost-effective compared to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising or hiring an influencer to talk about your product.

Step 5: Select your marketing pathways

With a budget in place, you can now select the marketing pathways that will best fit your goals. For example, GitHub is a safe, low-cost way to reach other developers. Instagram is a free, immersive visual pathway for younger audiences.

Marketing for developers is all about matching your funds with the pathways most likely to attract your target audience.

Step 6: Build a strong brand identity

Your brand is everything. It is the visual and customer experience that relays your core values. The utility and emotions you may feel toward McDonald's compared to UPS make a massive difference.

You want your branding to be attractive, easy to understand, and coherent across all aspects of your customer touchpoints. The Text Platform's experts can help you reach that consistency during app review so that whenever your customers use your app or software, they will associate those positive feelings with your brand.

Step 7: Measure, review, and adapt

The last thing to discuss in developer marketers' core kit is building relationships. You want to use analytics available through resources like the Text Platform because they tell you how you’re doing.

As you review what is and what is not working, you can adapt and change to fit the needs of your unique target audience. That is crucial to growing over time and establishing your brand as an industry leader.

These core steps are like the general development cycle in many ways. They help you formulate your developer marketing strategy and leave plenty of room for flexibility so you can adjust as your audience, market, or product changes.

The basics of marketing for developers

Okay, you’ve got the core tenets and have learned some examples of why you need to market your development project. Now, we need to look at the execution of your developer marketing plan.

These are the basic strategies that almost all marketers utilize when getting a product to the right audience. They're adjusted to the unique nature of developer marketers. After this list, we’ll get into some industry-specific strategies as well.

#1 – SEO

Over 68% of any online experience begins with a search engine. You must have a fully optimized website and content plan for your marketing to work. That requires search engine optimization (SEO).

You can use technical SEO like keywords on a website, content SEO for your blog posts and shareable posts, or even backend SEO like building links pointing at your landing pages. Either way, you need SEO to grow online.

#2 – Social media

To get the word out on your product, you must use social media platforms. Over 4.8 billion users are on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, X, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. That is about 92.7% of the total online users.

Start small by picking one platform and staying consistent. Post regularly and make your information highly relevant to your target audience.

Link building is more complex than posting a fun photo of your development team. This requires you to guest post an article or be listed on a high-ranking website that links back to your primary website.

The goal is to build relationships in a “sub-network” of backlinks that boost your brand's authority. This is a solid developer marketing strategy that you may want to collaborate with others to cultivate.

#4 – Forums & newsletters

Using forums directly related to your products and SaaS-type services is crucial for developer marketers. For example, you can join the 267.5 million weekly Reddit users by cultivating a strong subreddit or talk about your coding work on Stack Overflow.

Newsletters are equally a solid developer marketing strategy because they allow you to keep your target audience well informed and engaged with any new updates to your products.

#5 – Tutorials & case studies

When you’re targeting a more general audience that doesn’t have the expert background as the rest of your development team, you want to include tutorials as your marketing. These both inform the end user about how to use your product while also boosting word of mouth by addressing the convenience factor.

Case Studies are better for researchers and fellow tech-based individuals. Here, you can emphasize your software's or other products' benefits by highlighting its value, adoption, and real-world application.

#6 – Webinars

About 64% of B2B marketers use webinars as part of their comprehensive strategy. This is helpful to you because many of the product development teams create target businesses, fellow IT teams, and other entities besides the general consumer.

A webinar allows you to position your brand as an authority and gives you a clear pathway to engage with potential users by answering questions in real time.

#7 – Blogging & guest posts

A blog is your opportunity to share valuable content insights, announce new updates, or give audiences a chance to see the “behind the scenes” of your team. You can showcase your developer experience and expertise, and extend your online reach with SEO-rich content that cultivates backlinks.

Marketing for developers should include guest posting. We’ve already touched on it before, but this is one of the best ways to cultivate link building.

#8 – Podcasting & YouTube

Video and audio content are exceptional methods of engaging with your audience in a more dynamic way. Everything from short-form videos on TikTok to long-form instructionals on YouTube gives you a visual medium to share your product and build developer relations in a huge user community.

If you prefer a little audio exploration, why not venture into podcasting? There are around 464 million podcast listeners worldwide, and you can reach them as they do laundry, cook a meal, or work around the house.

#9 – Local meetups & conferences

Marketing for developers can happen at the retail level. Networking and meeting with people through industry and related events or conferences is an excellent way to make connections and answer questions.

If you can, be a speaker or host for upcoming conferences. A well-organized booth can go a long way to getting industry interest, especially in the B2B market, and give you good marketing for a long time.

#10 – Influencers & partnerships

We can’t understate the value of an influencer marketing campaign. Influencers are individuals on social media with a “pre-built” audience similar to your ideal client. When you have them do a video review of your product or interact with your brand, you get a direct pathway to those clients.

#11 – Email marketing

Email marketing is the most effective method of marketing to developers, and it perfectly balances cost with effectiveness.

Check popular email clients and APIs like MailChimp. This allows you to build interest in your product where your target clients are most likely to read it — in their email boxes.

99% of people check their email once per day, with many in professional careers checking 3, 5, or even 20 times during work hours.

#12 – Referral programs

Affiliate marketing is on the rise. You can outsource your developer marketing strategy to experts by sharing the profits with them. The same is true for friends, family members, and coworkers who may want a discount for referring to the developer tools you build.

Leverage the experts to do your work for you and get an immediate “in” on the target audience you want.

#13 – Pay-per-click (PPC) & ad targeting

PPC advertising or ad targeting through social media, search engines, or other relevant platforms is highly effective. You could get by with a $5/day ad spend and see astronomical ROI results.

It all comes down to streamlining your process, A/B testing your ad content, and using the demographic details available on platforms like Google, Facebook, and more. This strong developer marketing strategy adapts the strategical developer mindset, but you may want to contact an expert to learn the ins and outs first.

This covers the basic tactics of marketing for developers. You’ll probably mix and match many suggestions into your system. However, there are some tactics specific to the developer world. Let’s cover those in the next section.

Advanced strategies for developer marketing

These developer marketing strategy concepts are a little more targeted toward developer teams than traditional marketing. They involve the high-tech world and directly relate to a target audience already in similar industries. While they may not be best for a general audience, we wanted to include them for your benefit.

Rich documentation

Including comprehensive technical documentation about your open-source APIs or SDKs is a great strategy for marketing to developers as it attracts fellow software engineers. You get to celebrate the flexibility and capabilities of your products using language for other teams to integrate and build upon your product.

Developer community engagement

The developer ecosystem thrives on open-source software projects and developer forums. Showcasing your new product on these networks increases the visibility of your software, app, or other products and encourages developers to discover your product.

Interactive demos & SDK trials

The value proposition is essential to growing your market base. Using an interactive demonstration is a perfect way of marketing to developers because it makes the software more accessible and provides first-hand knowledge of its ability to solve a problem.

Marketing with technical twists

As you develop a content marketing strategy through social media, YouTube, blogging, emails, and more, you may want to lean into the technical details for certain audiences. In-depth technical content like a whitepaper or industry deep dive can give you a ton of word of mouth inside the industry.

Hackathons & coding challenges

Coding challenges like bug bounties or hackathons like Cactus Con and DefCon are excellent ways to announce a new product. Again, this reaches a specific audience, but many developers will already be familiar with that potential domino benefit.

One last strategy for marketing to developers worth mentioning is direct outreach. If you are working with a product that another development team or company fits perfectly as a compliment, reach out and create a “package deal” in your messaging.

For example, we discuss the numerous APIs and SDKs for chat messaging, report generation, and configuration at the Text Platform. Our platform and technology allow developers to extend different parts of their products, offering us and them benefits in the short and long term.

The importance of feedback and marketing data

You must measure your success before you can know how well you are marketing for developers. You want to know the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns by keeping a close eye on analytics.

A/B testing is an example of these analytics. Here you can test two versions of a webpage, email, or ad to see which performs better with your target market. If you have a piece of software for accounting targeting a “side hustle,” you could run an ad with content featuring a young mother working at night and an ad for a college student earning while learning, then compare the two.

As you collect this data, you adjust your marketing for developers based on the user feedback. This helps with product development while you’re still beta-testing and gives you a direct feedback loop as you grow in the marketplace. Good suggestions may include:

  • Customer surveys
  • Feedback forms
  • Direct conversations on social media
  • User-generated content
  • Website traffic
  • Click-through rates
  • PPC success

Acting on these critical insights demonstrates you care about your product success, value your customer input, and wish to develop a stronger community around your brand.

How the Text Platform can help

Among the various strategies and tactics for marketing your new product we’ve discussed, we have also mentioned the Text Platform and how it fits into this ecosystem. This is a tool designed with you, developers at every skill level, in mind. Our suite of tools benefits your product and helps streamline operations with:

  • APIs and SDKs: Our available APIs and SDKs empower developers to quickly integrate products like software with our range of services. The end result is a more versatile and appealing product for your target end users.
  • Marketplace opportunities: The Text Marketplace is full of fantastic products like yours. When you use the Text Platform, you get access to this exciting customer base that desires your solutions, opening a new developer marketing strategy.
  • Developer Console: The Text Platform offers a unique Developer Console that streamlines the app development process. Because the backend work is easier to complete, you can focus more on the marketing strategies you need.

Building a successful product is challenging enough. Use the Text Platform to do everything from adding LiveChat and HelpDesk capabilities to your project to native integrations like GitHub and Netlify.

Sign up today and experience the power of this easy-to-use platform.

Final thoughts

Marketing for developers is far more than simply showcasing your software in a quick email and hoping you’ll get millions of new customers. It is about telling your story using an identifiable brand that directly addresses the unique needs of your target audience.

These different strategies are a surefire way to increase the efficacy of your tactics, so you have a comprehensive marketing strategy that can adapt and change according to users, market trends, and product updates.

Remember, your goal is not to “sell” a product but to cultivate and educate on the value your project brings to the table. With a little persistence, a dash of creativity, and the right tools on your side, you can create a robust developer marketing strategy to make your product stand out from the crowd.

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