Developer Marketing Guide

You’ve got a great product, let's get the word out.

In this Developer Marketing Guide, you’ll learn about:


Content Types

Danielle Morrill joined Twilio in 2009 as Director of Marketing as the community grew from a few hundred developers to more than 100,000 members. She is currently the co-founder & CEO of Mattermark.

During her Heavybit Speaker Series presentation, Morrill touts the advantages of simple yet effective marketing tools. “These are all organic things that you do that don’t cost you anything other than time,” she says.

First things first: Who are you talking to?

Building effective content isn't the easiest thing in the world, but it's nearly impossible if you don't know who your target audience is. Do you have concrete personas that you're building your content for?

Nisha Ahluwalia, ex-CMO at PagerDuty, breaks the process of persona identification down into simple, actionable steps in her talk GA to Product-Market Fit.

First answer the question "what problem does my product solve?". Then decide who has that problem and is looking for a solution. Only after you've identified these personas should you build content and begin channel experimentations, otherwise you're just burning your runway to the ground

Get a Newsletter

Email might not be the most attractive means of communication, but newsletters are direct and exclusive to customers, a good starting point. Morrill says “you should have an email newsletter if you have nothing else... This is the one opportunity you have to make something just for them that no one else consumes.”


Email drip campaigns

Danielle is a big believer in drip campaigns, she says “you should have an email drip campaign, even if it’s just, ‘Hi, thanks for signing up.’” As your list grows you can begin to segment your users. Watch what content each user clicks on most and start sending them more of that type.

Things you should do

Things you shouldn't do

Fancy a blog?

A blog is a good idea if you know you will be able to maintain it. “You could post once a month,” Morrill says. “Just post.” Content can range from contests to documentation where you can describe the product. “A great product is great marketing.” These documentation pages may be the most visited on your site.

What kind of content will you have? Get some inspiration from a presentation by Takipi co-founder Iris Shoor.

Link to your own content

Social media is not necessarily marketing. It can be ineffective, especially if you're linking to third-party sites. Remember to focus on your own product and content. “Every single one of those tweets is a missed opportunity to link to your great content.”

Create a buzz around your product as described by Tiffany Spencer of Bessemer Venture Partners.

Repurpose existing content

Why spend hours putting your thoughts to paper if you're only going to post them to your blog? The best content marketers find multiple ways to repackage each piece of content they create.

GitHub's Chris Kelly put's it nicely in his talk Content Is King And Other Cliches:

"It takes seven different opportunities for an audience to respond to your message. So you have to tweet at them seven times, or you have to give a conference talk seven times, or you have to give some combination of a video clip and a trade show and a meet-up, and having them come to your office, and then receiving a newsletter from one of you."

A single blog post can be converted into several tweets, a slide deck, an onstage presentation, a podcast, or a video. Each format lends itself to different channels, which allows you to take a single message to different users in their preferred formats.

Get your product listed

Product listing sites like stackshare, GetApp, Capterra, Product Hunt, Slant, Siftery and G2 Crowd provide lasting results with minimal effort. Developers are highly informed and proactive about finding the most powerful tools to compliment their trait.

By listing your product you're able to get in-front of developers who are actively looking for new tools, create a place where users can submit meaningful reviews and gain a powerful back-link which will help you climb the SERP ladder.



Craig Kerstiens was an early member of the Heroku team. He blogs frequently about Python, Django and Postgres and curates content for Postgres Weekly and Postgres Guide.

Timing Your Launches

Have your content ready and schedule a time for launch. When should you launch?

Stormy Monday

Even distribution plans can come down with a case of the Mondays. “Monday is not a good day for launching,” Kerstiens says. “Your engineers are going to be worried about it through the weekend. You're going to be thinking about it. You're not going to sleep well. It's just going to create other problems that are unrelated to audience.”

Ruby Tuesday (Through Thursday)

“Tuesday is the biggest day for traffic,” he says. “When do we launch this? It’s always Tuesday through Thursday.”

Fridays I’m In Love

It’s the start of the weekend, but people are still checking Twitter and sites like Hacker News. Why not get some lower-tier content out there? “Friday I actually love,” Kerstiens says. “I can get eyeballs that I wouldn't otherwise get.”

Working For The Weekend

“For smaller, interesting engineering blog posts, thought leadership, etc, it's really easy to do. Weekends are quiet, but there's still developers reading and engaging with your content on the weekends.”

Learn more about timing and frequency of content releases with Codenvy CEO Tyler Jewell.

Iris Shoor wrote a fantastic guide on Distributing Content Marketing that outlines 11 channels for content distribution.

Tell Everyone You Know

Hiten Shah is the cofounder of QuickSprout, Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics where he’s helped hundreds of SaaS marketers reach millions.

In his talk Building A Content Marketing Machine he says the most common mistake he sees people make is to spend tons of time on content creation only to fall down when it comes to distribution. If a developer posts an article and no one reads it, did she really post it at all?

For each piece of content you build, spend as much time promoting it as it took you to create it.

Hiten suggests you email your friends & coworkers, and run tests sending individual pieces of content to your mailing list - but make sure you spend plenty of time crafting these messages so they feel authentic and human. It's worse sending a robotic email than no email at all.

Work with Influencers

"Developers influence other developers" says Hiten, so it makes sense to integrate developer influencers in your content from the start.

Marketers don't necessarily influence other marketers because they're all trying to compete for the same traffic. While developers, they just want to get their job done, get it done more efficiently, get it done better. They're always trying to keep up with what's going on with new technologies, and they're looking to other developers to help them do that.

Find influencers in your segment and figure out how you can work with them. When you publish, @ them on Twitter or GitHub to encourage them to share your content with their wider networks.

Become a Contributor

Most of the time when we hear the word ‘contributor’ we automatically associate it with open source code contributions. Don’t limit your contribution to just code. Technology evolves and expands faster than any one person can keep pace with, this leaves content creators (think bloggers, podcast hosts, vloggers) seeking out individuals who can speak to their audience from the perspective of a niche technology expert.

Create a list of technologies that live in the ecosystem where your product or tool fits. Then begin reaching out to moderators and submitting content about how your solution is innovating in that ecosystem.

Focus on adding practical value to the community not selling your product.

Timing your PR Pitch

Does it matter when you send out your PR pitches? It sure does. Read more in this piece on the Heavybit blog.

Not sure where to even start with Developer PR? Subscribe to The Pitch Room a podcast that features the latest news, tools, and tactics for everything PR related.

Minimum Viable Launch

CoreOS' Melissa Smolensky lays out what you need for marketing success in this Heavybit Speaker Series talk. Jump to any section of her talk with the links below.

Third Party Channels

“On the beginner content piece, really what you want to do is have your content live on a third party property… As your product grows and becomes more complex, you're going to want to focus on that, and then how do you get other people engaged and contributing?”

“Heroku actually has a great example of this in where it's clearly tied to Heroku,” he says. “But it's not a property. There's a lot of these.”

Measure your performance

You don't want to find yourself in a position where you've received a ton of new signs ups but can't point at specific activities to say 'that worked'. In his DevGuild: Demand Generation talk 1:1 Personalization at Scale Segment's VP of Growth Guillaume Cabane outlines some seriously impressive programmatic approaches to making the most of your marketing measurement efforts

Watch what your users are doing with your product and content, and use that information to deliver personalized messaging and experiences across all your marketing efforts.

Community Projects

and Retargeting

John Sheehan is the co-founder & CEO of Runscope. He knows firsthand how to get developers engaged and how to drive grassroots adoption of developer products; he led developer evangelism at Twilio and API/Platform at IFTTT.

What makes a site popular?

Community Projects

“We have had a really good run of success with these, so we are constantly on the look out for new community projects,” Sheehan says.

Example Community Projects

Still not convinced?

In this video, Meghan Murphy of Twilio illustrates the “ROI of Community.”

Here's more from Sheehan on the marketing impact of others using your community products & services.


“Our community projects refer, between direct, organic referrals and retargeting, about 33% of our sign-ups for an average cost per acquisition for retargeting of about 2 dollars… I consider this roughly like free sign-ups.”

Retargeting in action:

Retargeting with Email

Retargetted ads are just one way of engaging users who have dropped off. Alex Schultz, VP of Growth at Facebook, has a great talk where he discusses strategies for growing engagement and fighting churn. One of the choice quotes:

Sendwithus has a guide to Re-Engagement Emails that covers how to use notifications and other emails for retargetting.

Retargeting Tools

John uses Perfect Audience, but there are plenty of other options. The top retargeting services are AdRoll, Chango, Triggit, and ReTargeter

Have something to add?

Head over to our Github page and submit your pull requests, or submit an issue with your additions and we'll take care of the rest

Want more developer focused content?

Subscribe to Heavybit Updates to unlock access to our monthly newsletter, event invites, and educational courses specific to your interests.

dev marketing guide is a heavybit community project

Heavybit helps startups turn products loved by developers into successful businesses. Founded by Former Heroku Founder James Lindenbaum, our community is the only one of its kind to focus solely on taking developer products to market. Throughout the program, founders work on developer traction, product market fit and customer development.