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Using the right developer marketing metrics.

Read Time: 4 Mins

Back in the 1500s, John Heywood advised, “don’t miss the forest for the trees.” In 2020, it’s still a meaningful lesson to be learned, especially for dev marketers. Companies measuring developer programs are often fixated on individual campaign goals, and losing sight of all the other moving parts and factors that lead to the end goal. Developer programs need to look beyond the trees to see the entire forest by measuring holistically in regard to their developer marketing metrics.

This holistic approach happens at each stage of the funnel, and while micro-key performance indicators (KPIs) are important, they cannot be the only information dev marketers use to inform decisions and grow developer communities. Here’s a look at each stage, what developer marketing metrics are currently used and why, and what ultimately needs to be included.


Top of the funnel measurement.

At the top of the funnel, goals are often associated with ease of discovery and generating awareness of a developer tool or solution. Companies often get caught up in developer marketing metrics based on large scale reach, looking solely at volumetric measurements such as impressions, share of voice, clicks, and visitors. While capturing basic metrics is necessary, marketers should also look to answer how these results affect the next step in the journey and ultimately set the stage for continued success.

For example, a campaign may drive millions of visitors to a developer site and be considered a success. But,

  • What are those visitors doing?
  • How long are they on the site?
  • What resources are they consuming?
  • Are they navigating beyond a first touch?

Being able to understand beyond the quantitative numbers will influence future content development, site optimization, and the difference in quality from different referral sources. Most importantly, evaluating qualitatively will give you better insight into how to continue effective outreach to this audience beyond the site visit.

Developer marketing metrics currently used: Quantitative volumes including impressions, share of voice, clicks, and visits to the site.

Developer marketing metrics needed: Qualitative engagement such as length of interaction, breadth of consumption, and perceived relevance to the audience.


Middle of the funnel measurement.

At this point in a developer journey, a primary objective in communicating with developers is to educate and encourage them to adopt a solution or product. Companies often continue to focus on scale at this point: how many leads have been captured, how many developers have downloaded, etc. The measure of success often focuses on driving volume of explicit actions at this stage, rather than depth of engagement.

While not incorrect per se, developer brands often lose sight of the detailed developer marketing metrics that can be recorded and analyzed when in this phase. Developers are very rarely homogenous in regards to function and utilizing a one size fits all message fails to address the vast majority.

Beyond conversion metrics, it’s important at this stage to also consider the impact of direct interactions and when/where people are primed to go further. Measuring the depth of engagement will lead to a more nuanced but better transfer of knowledge.

Understanding how different statuses and origins of developers give clues to what are the most effective and salient channels. Understanding the core resources for different developer audiences will help you deliver them at a more appropriate time. And finally, understanding milestones in a developer’s progress is crucial to formulating a content and delivery system that attenuates to developer’s actual needs rather than pushing a solution onto them before they are ready.

Brands will often put the act of converting, e.g., download or purchase, on a pedestal and forego pursuing the true “endpoint” of a developer relationship — driving brand advocacy and evangelism.

Developer marketing metrics currently used: Conversion rates and volume of conversions.

Developer marketing metrics needed: Depth of engagement, the relevancy of resources, velocity towards conversion, and makeup of the engaged audience.


Bottom of the funnel measurement.

The developer journey is cyclical. Software companies often set a final conversion point, such as partnering with a developer to collaboratively build a product ready to go to market, as the end of their developer journey. Unfortunately in doing this, they are missing out on a large opportunity to facilitate developers advocating on their behalf.

We know that developer-to-developer referral is a powerful and relevant tactic for expanding developer marketing activities and driving more fruitful developer relationships. While not all developers using your tools will become evangelists, companies should always focus on creating advocacy programs for developers that have used their products.

Identifying power users and community influencers is an organic activity with the potential for a high, hands-off yield. This can be done by measuring and understanding the frequency of engagement with the brand while also understanding the affinity and sharing habits of top users; these developers may not always be the furthest along or have completed their journey, but their activity should be noted as it is very likely something that other developers in your audience are aware of.

By working with these developers, companies can improve their resources and approach to get developers exactly what they need. These developers might not make the big change to the bottom line in the short-term, but they can do a lot for long-term goals such as building community and creating feedback cycles with developers.

Developer marketing metrics currently used: Number of co-developed software product or design wins and or the completion of a certification program.

Developer marketing metrics needed: Frequency of activity/communication or repeated use of provided tools from developers and community constituents.


The Iron Horse insight.

Measuring developer programs should not be done only at a campaign or tactic level. As developer journeys are cyclical, marketing efforts should be measured at a macro level with the understanding that each stage or tactic does not only contribute to that particular action but to the journey as a whole. It is imperative to keep developers curious, engaged, and active throughout, and by building a comprehensive plan to measure across all activities, you can ensure a higher likelihood for repeat and ongoing engagement.

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