Short answer: B2D marketing is a comprehensive approach targeting developers on behalf of a company or brand to build awareness and advocacy. Successful B2D programs combine developer marketing and developer relations (DevRel) techniques to drive ongoing engagement throughout the developer journey.
Developer marketing campaigns typically provide developers with high-level awareness assets with the intent to gain attention and elicit a deeper dive into a company’s products and solutions.
On the other side, DevRel efforts build and bolster relationships with developer communities through activities that occur after a developer is “known,” or has been placed into a CRM or database. Marketers that combine these approaches can nurture long-lasting relationships with their developer communities that lead to deeper partnerships and advocacy.
Who is the audience for B2D marketing?
The audience for B2D marketing is developers, right? Well, yes, but it’s not that simple. It should come as no surprise that developers are not a monolithic audience—yet marketers often treat them that way. Not only are developers individuals with their own individual interests and needs, but software tools, hardware, and languages they work with vary widely depending on their role, industry, and project type. Another challenge when it comes to targeting is that we’re seeing the roles of developers becoming more hybrid in nature, often functioning beyond what their job titles would suggest.
It’s because of these challenges that B2D marketers need to avoid broad audience messaging and understand the subsets of those audiences to instead target the stages of the developer journey. So, instead of looking at the endless list of different developers, let’s look at the four cross-functional buckets most developers fall into.
These are the developers that build “stuff.” That stuff could be software products, digital products, databases, computer games, and more. These are the builders looking for the tools they need to create and optimize solutions. Some job titles you might find in this bucket of developers are:
- Full-stack Developers
- Software Engineers
- Web Developers
An architect is not the one doing the building, or at least that’s not their focus. Instead, architects are focused on the planning and infrastructure side of projects. These developers will oversee personnel, determine what code will be utilized in frameworks, and plan exactly how all the different components will be linked together. Some job titles in this bucket include:
- Web architect
- Software Architect
- Database Admin
Data scientists engineer information. Essentially, they are responsible for making sense of the numbers. These developers find trends in data sets and create algorithms to decipher raw data and make it more useful. The titles found in this bucket often feature the word data in them, such as:
- Data Engineer
- Data Scientist
- Data Analyst
These are the developers behind the curtain who keep things running. If the other developer buckets on this list individually create the code, implement the code, and test and analyze the code, these are the developers that oversee it all and have their hands on every step of the process. Developer titles in this bucket include:
- DevOps Engineer
- Systems Engineer
- Network Engineer
- SysOps Administrator
- Chief Information Officer
What are the best channels for B2D marketing?
The best channels for B2D marketing are the places where your target community is already congregating to post questions, recommend tools, work through specific issues in their projects, and just chat with other like-minded devs. But don’t think you can barge into one of these “watering holes” pushing your solution. Across the board, developer audiences tend to be very wary of marketing and will close their ears if they perceive you are only there to “sell.”
Here are some of the most common B2D marketing channels:
- StackOverflow. The largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn and share their knowledge is ideal for expanding reach, building awareness, and driving the discussion.
- Reddit. A network of communities based on people’s interests is a great place for driving the discussion and connecting with developers interested in specific groups and topics.
- Twitter. Developers tend to use Twitter to quickly share information and resources and is a great way to directly engage and build community across a broad spectrum of developers.
- Facebook. This channel provides the largest reach and access to developers, making it ideal for acquisition and growth objectives.
- Niche marketing channels. Niche channels, such as IOT World Today or DZone serve well as great ways to connect with developers interested in a specific topic/language/hardware/focus area. These channels are smaller online groups, often more concentrated and focused on micro issues and resolutions. They are generally more expensive but allow you to reach developers who are, on a whole, more likely to be interested in your solution or message.
Get a crash course in developer marketing channels 101 here.
What is the right content for B2D marketing?
The tricky part about creating assets for developers is not only the wide range of projects, but also the wide range of developers and their levels of knowledge. The best way to move forward is to make content that more or less addresses the needs of the many, within multiple cycles that target specific developers at different points in their journeys. Choose your content wisely and make sure it speaks to the developers you want to reach. For example, code samples can be handy for experienced developers, but may come with a bit of a learning curve for others, which may require you to connect tutorials to the piece. Either way, that content is wanted, addresses a specific need, and can be used immediately—exactly what developers want.
Find best practices for creating assets that developers actually want here.
What outreach tactics are best for B2D marketing?
As mentioned before, developers don’t like traditional marketing and can sniff it out and move on quickly. The key to B2D marketing outreach is community. At their core, developer marketing channels like Stack Overflow are communities where developers come together to learn, educate, swap war-stories, and converse. Most companies that fall short of their B2D goals attempt to push their product onto developers instead of joining the community at large to push toward the united goal of bettering development. Instead, take a peer-to-peer approach that focuses on providing real value to the community, whether or not they adopt your solution. From this foundation, true and long-lasting partnerships can be born.
Brace yourself, because developer acquisition takes time. It often takes numerous visits to a brand or product site for a developer to seriously consider adopting a solution or product. Once they have the product or solution in hand, it takes countless more visits for a developer to get acclimated and comfortable with integrating an offering into their project. At either stage, your goal is to build trust with a developer through frequent positive interactions.
Here are some tips for better outreach to drive a more effective developer program:
- Don’t wait to acquire leads. Capture minimal contact info from the start and begin establishing a rapport as early as possible.
- Utilize acquisition data to influence other tactics. Aggregating demographic and engagement information from acquired leads can help validate your ideal customer persona (ICP), hone in on audience targeting, and inform content gaps and roadmaps.
- Have a nurture plan ready. The acquisition serves no purpose if the developer audience only receives opportunistic communications or vague newsletter updates.
The Iron Horse insight.
Every developer program has an acquisition component but must go beyond acquisition campaigns to build and manage advocacy. In order for success on both ends, everything needs to be done with the intent to set up the next stage in the developer journey. No matter what is going on with the marketing side of the relationship side, the perspective B2D marketers must maintain is that everything is part of a larger program trying to grow advocacy.