As someone who’s been in marketing longer than I like to admit, I’ve gotten used to seeing things change. We’ve gone from print to digital — from speculating on what produced results to using mountains of data to help guide our decisions. The one thing that has stayed moderately consistent is buyer behavior. We present our product and message to the decision maker and they either buy or they don’t.
With the growth of Business-to-Developer (B2D) marketing, this is changing.
What Your new Buyer Looks Like
When it comes to a marketing strategy, it’s important to understand how the buyer journey can differ from what most marketers are used to. Your target personas may not be the people who are driving decisions. There’s still value in targeting management level decision makers. But most engineering leaders are savvy enough to know that making decisions about products without end-user buy-in isn’t a wise decision.
The developers who will ultimately use your product may not have buying authority — they may not even have phones on their desk — but they can make or break buying decisions. According to Evans Data, more than 95% of developers surveyed had at least some influence over buying decisions.
Our own research, which we will publish in full shortly, shows that 87% of developers are involved in researching product alternatives and test software when there’s a free trial.
If you’re selling products that developers use and you don’t currently have personas for non-management developers, that should be your first priority.
What Does the Buying Cycle Look Like?
This emerging buyer demographic requires a fresh look at how we sell. To engage developers in a meaningful way, we need to understand how they make decisions and what’s important to them. There are some subtle differences in how the funnel looks that are important to note.
Developers, like marketers, are both curious and skeptical. They are interested in finding tools that can make their code cleaner and their processes more efficient. They are, however, far less likely to respond to a sales pitch than a marketer.
The best way to engage a developer is to have them find YOU. Whether that’s at a conference or event, through blog content developers read or through a Google search. If you’re discovered, you’re already ahead of the game.
This is the critical stage in the buying process since it all revolves around trust. Trust that your product does what you say it does. Trust that if they recommend your product, it will be a good decision for the company. Fortunately, this is the stage where effective marketing can make a huge difference.
According to Evans Data, the top three sources for trusted information are vendors, analysts, and conferences. If you have contact information for a prospect, this is where a nurture program focused on product value, user reviews, and case studies can be critical in advancing them to the next stage.
This could be considered an extension of research, but for those who provide a trial version of their product, is the testing stage is the ideal time to introduce a trial. Too often, marketers try to use a free trial as a top-of-funnel activity, but free trials can actually be more effective after prospects are more familiar with your company and products.
If a trial version isn’t an option, your nurture should focus more on the technical details and use cases. Success stories related to integrations and APIs will help potential customers feel confident that your product will support their workflow.
You’ve made it into the consideration set — the stage when marketing steps aside and the sales team takes the lead. Marketing should continue to support the sales process, but their heavy lifting is complete.
It’s important that sales and marketing stay aligned with a developer-focused approach to continue a smooth sales cycle. The sell should be centered around the value to the developer and should instill confidence that your product won’t be disruptive to the customer’s current development workflow.
Wrapping it All Up
Effective B2D marketing doesn’t require a new approach to marketing. It’s about understanding that there are two target markets: the decision makers and decision breakers. Focus on both to deliver leads that sales can convert.