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Post by Rich Moy on Feb 21, 2018 12:00:00 PM

In many ways, advertising to developers requires you to market to them on their terms. Marketers need to create assets that convey value without relying on misleading tactics, and they need to do so for developers at every stage of the marketing funnel.

Although the phrase “marketing funnel” is traditionally associated with a more traditional buyer’s journey, it can (and should) influence everything from your ad copy to targeting strategy for developers. To help you maximize the impact of your advertising campaigns, here are a few tips to help you reach developers at every stage of the funnel.

Start With a Large Audience to Drive Awareness

Let’s say that you’re marketing a database platform for Android applications. Conventional wisdom would say that you should focus on Android Developers that are highly skilled in technologies like SQL, LAN, and WAN. If you’re only looking to attract Mobile Back-end Developers, this makes perfect sense. But put yourself in a front-end Android Developer’s shoes. You might not be responsible for database administration today, but perhaps you’re still interested in learning more about it. Although these types of programmers aren’t your ideal user right now, they might become one sooner than later.

Although this might go against your marketing instincts, you’d want to start at the highest level, which would be Android in this case. Going after technologies like SQL, LAN, and WAN from the beginning would cause you to miss out on a large pool of potential users. This might seem like a huge audience, and it is. But not only will this give you a better chance of putting your ads in front of the right people, but it will also give you additional insights to help you refine your target down the road.

Understand the Problems That Developers Face Before They Need Your Product

Eventually, you’ll have enough data to help you understand your ideal user and hone in on a more specific list of programming languages. But in addition to the technologies that your target audience is using today, think about the challenges they’re facing before they consider products like yours—and the programming languages that they’re using to solve them. By targeting these “lead in” categories, this creates additional awareness of your product amongst developers that are on the verge of needing your platform—which is a subtle, yet practical way to advertise to developers.

Take another look at the Android database solution example that we discussed earlier. Developers that need to find a better back-end solution for a mobile app are probably looking for information related to NoSQL, Java, and Kotlin. NoSQL is commonly-used by Database Administrators, and Java and Kotlin are the two “official” languages of Android development. Focusing on developers that use these technologies enables you to refine your audience without making it too narrow.

Avoid Focusing Too Much at the Bottom of Your Funnel

Is your end-goal to identify the exact subset of developers that would be interested in your product? Not quite, and making that your end-goal could make it more difficult to advertise to developers.

Each time you add technologies, platforms, and methodologies to your targeting strategy, your reach gets a little bit smaller. When you set out to market only to a specific developer type that uses a very long list of obscure programming languages, you’ll end up with an audience that’s likely to engage with you. At the same time, that audience will be incredibly small. If your goal is to generate thousands of sign-ups or downloads, it will be difficult to achieve it if only a small handful of developers see your ads.