You know the importance of content to reach a technical audience. Maybe you’ve even used it to attract developers, software architects, engineers, and similarly technical personas to your product. Almost certainly, you also want to find more of the right audience. You want to amplify the content you already created and gain some bigger numbers to show for your effort. That’s the goal of this blog post and enumerating these 15 developer marketing content channels.
As you think through your own concept catalog, consider each of these content channels. There are likely multiple channels that you could test for each of your concepts, which provides more opportunities to see what works. Your content should resonate with your audience and engage them into action. Pay attention to the signals they send and you can double down on the channels and concepts that attract the right audience to your product.
You’re likely already using a couple of these content channels. Some will be very familiar, while a few may confuse you at first. To clarify and get your team on the same page, each of the channels is explained below.
They’re also categorized into these four content areas:
- Written content
- Community content
- Presentation content
- Paid content
This will also help you identify where you’re producing the most content already and which channels are ripe for testing. Many of these ideas, as you’ll see later, are inspired by the “traction channels” in the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares. More on that in a bit, but first let’s dig into these developer content channels.
The most likely location for your written content, you’ll want a steady stream of informative articles to attract and engage a technical audience. Remember, even though it’s “your blog,” most posts should be about your audience, not your product or company.
Blog posts can only go so deep. An educational property can be its own site or a separate section of your existing site. It should provide deep coverage of a concept, often with multiple pages and its own navigation. You can support the property with global navigation links and frequent references within blog content.
Publishing your own content provides an opportunity to attract relevant, evergreen traffic to your site. However, you can manufacture links, referral traffic, and greater awareness through targeted guest posting opportunities. Find an appropriate audience and bring the same educational approach to the content you publish elsewhere.
A flavor of guest posting, republication deserves separate consideration. Here you take existing content and publish it elsewhere with little to no updates. That makes it one of the easiest methods in our technical content reuse framework. There are several places where you can republish content to a broad audience without editorial oversight or SEO drawbacks.
The first of the community content channels, your own social presence, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, should be included in your plan. Some republication could also be considered social, though it’s separated out because, for most social channels, you must be active in the community to be most successful. Without engaging yourself, you’re unlikely to see maximum engagement with your social content.
While most social channels focus on following accounts, developer forums follow specific technologies or topics. As with other community content channels, you’ll want to be engaged in these communities, which can include sub-Reddits, StackOverflow, and Hacker News.
Video is a popular format for showing technical products and ideas in action. With YouTube often cited as the second-largest search engine (after its parent Google), it’s also a viable traffic acquisition method. In addition, you can build a community that anticipates new videos via Youtube’s built-in subscription. Further, video embeds can get you in more search results and may receive more clicks with thumbnails.
Another flavor of video popular with technical audiences is Twitch and other streaming services. Here, you create content live (and provide replays) to show technical topics in action. This format can be very authentic, as you’ll show what it really takes to use technical products together. Though part of the social category, good streaming requires the presentation skills of the next few channels.
In-person events, such as conferences and meetups, can be a great way to meet your technical audience. This is an often expensive, but extremely high-fidelity and authentic way to endear developers to your company via its people. While you don’t need to present at events, this often provides the best exposure and interaction, compared to even sponsorship or mere attendance.
Virtual events became a necessity during the COVID pandemic, but have been options before and since. Whether called webinars, webcasts, or other names, these are typically a presentation format that also invites audience participation. With many platforms, including a more traditional video conference call, the experience is flexible. By partnering with or inviting other experts, you can increase your audience.
Podcast tours are the new media equivalent of yesteryear’s blitz of morning news shows. The advantages of this channel over the traditional method are fewer gatekeepers and more niche audiences. You’ll want guests to be experts or at least able to communicate authentically with your technical audience. While this often requires time that is hard to get, the advantage is you don’t need much—typically the 30-60 minutes it takes to prepare and record the podcast.
It’s worth separating the podcast channel into hosting because it’s very different from a guesting tour. You’ll need to identify an audience, concept, or likely both for your podcast. You’ll also have production considerations that are very different from other channels. And it will take more of your team’s effort to promote your own podcast, especially in the early days. The benefits could be a channel with less competition for technical listeners.
Some, myself included, have advised against unrestrained advertising to technical audiences. The first of these paid channels makes the most sense. Sponsorships are ongoing, relational, and often collaborative. Developers will appreciate those who support their favorite creators in an authentic way, which makes sponsorship worth trying for your product.
All the things developers dislike about marketing are present in your typical advertisement. Yet, you can still bring an authentic message to banners, pre-roll, keyword ads, and more. Unless there’s a really compelling reason, you’re unlikely to see a lot of signups from this channel. That shouldn’t keep you from looking for ways to engage your technical audience with authentic, educational content.
Email newsletters can certainly be your own channel, but they’re in the paid content section for a reason: to have any success with this channel requires intense editorial and research that you’re unlikely to have on staff. Instead, look to support others who have built the skills and following. You can—and should—still maintain a list yourself, but don’t count on it as a primary channel.
There’s plenty of content to create in the channels listed above. As I’ll show in the next section, you shouldn’t try to do all of it. But first, what about some of the channels that didn’t make the list?
- Public relations: There’s often content involved in PR, but it’s not entirely a content channel. And PR can be a lot of things—in fact, Traction dedicates two of its 18 channels to PR. Rather than dedicate a content channel for PR, you’ll find elements of PR in other content channels (guest posting, for example).
- Tools: An entire chapter of my book Developer Marketing Does Not Exist is dedicated to free developer tools that attract a technical audience. Traction includes an engineering-as-marketing channel. But this approach doesn’t get a spot in this list for a simple reason: there’s not much content involved in these tools.
Even without these other channels, there’s a lot to consider. Let’s narrow the focus for a moment and consider where your team can be the most successful.
We’ve talked with a lot of teams that represent technical products. Whether a startup or Fortune 100 company, one thing remains the same: they just don’t have enough people to plan, produce, and promote their content. That’s one reason we wouldn’t suggest using all the channels, at least not all at once.
Your current team, including their skill sets and backgrounds, can help you determine which channels to prioritize. Before you set your sights on individual channels, look at the four channel categories:
- Written content: a primary marketing skill, though your team will need some technical background to come across as authentic to your audience. Engineers have the knowledge but may procrastinate or over-polish their writing. Developer relations often has this mix of skills, but many competing priorities.
- Community content: the likely spot for a developer relations team or similar team focused on engagement. It’s one thing to fake knowledge in a blog post—you can’t do that while streaming, for example. Since many of these channels are ephemeral, you’d ideally avoid too much review for community content.
- Paid content: just because you’re paying doesn’t mean you get to be promotional. You’ll need outbound marketing skills to run these campaigns, but look to collaborate with team members that can help these messages be authentic to the audience that will receive them.
- Presentation content: again, a classic place for developer relations, who know the audience, problem, and product so well. You can incorporate any team member with enough curiosity and enthusiasm to tell a good story. Podcast hosts, for example, can ask questions of technical guests without knowing the details themselves.
You’ll want to gauge skill, previous experience, and availability as you determine which channel categories you’re prepared to tackle. One other factor that should be considered: eagerness. A team that is motivated will be much more likely to be successful. Is everyone excited about community content? Even if you aren’t sure yet how to connect that to metrics at the moment, it could be worth testing.
Speaking of testing, that’s where we can go back to the book that inspired this post in the first place.
First published in 2014, Traction has become a go-to resource for go-to-market. The marketing channels covered in the book are broader than the developer content channels in this post. However, you can take a similar approach that the book recommends to evaluate what works to reach your technical audience.
The authors introduce what they call the “Bullseye Framework” to evaluate potential channels. It’s a whole book and this is just a blog post, so consider this only a short summary of the process.
At a high level, here are the steps:
- Consider every channel
- Prioritize a couple of channels
- Test and evaluate results
It’s surprising how often teams don’t perform one (or more) of these steps with their marketing activities. The first step, especially, is an easy one to skip. If you haven’t had success in the past with a specific channel, it’s natural to not even consider it. Even if your team isn’t well-matched for a channel, it’s worth a little “what if.”
Traction encourages you to imagine what each channel would look like at your company or with your team. You may still not pursue it, but at least you’ll go through the thought experiment—maybe there’s a possibility you hadn’t given a chance!
For example, you might not even consider search engine advertising for your technical product. Yet, instead of ruling it out without consideration, as yourself:
How could my product benefit from search engine advertising (or another content channel)?
Perhaps you could advertise on problem-focused searches with product-agnostic solutions. That way, you’d reach a whole new audience that hasn’t heard of you and would never click an ad that asks them to try a new product.
Does that approach have more promise than other channels? That’s the question you answer once you’ve considered every channel. You need to prioritize a couple—maybe 2-4—channels that seem most likely to succeed and are feasible for your team. How you prioritize is up to you, though the Traction book shares some methods.
Then you test one channel at a time, carefully observing the results. You’re looking for a channel that makes a difference in your marketing and could supply a repeatable stream of potential customers. Again, plenty in the book about how to do this, though be sure to watch out for vanity metrics. You want an engaged audience, not just numbers to put in a slide deck.
As you go through testing these channels, you may want expert assistance to evaluate results or assess your progress. Or you may want to test channels that aren’t a natural fit for your team. In that case, you’ll want to look to collaborate with someone outside of your company.
There may be a channel—or an entire category—that you’d like to pursue, but don’t have bandwidth on your team. That’s very common! Unfortunately, a frequent solution is to look for a content marketing agency to pump out the content your team can’t produce. That can work if you’ve co-created the strategy, but often it feels a little haphazard (at least internally, and sometimes externally, too).
EveryDeveloper places an emphasis on collaboration in all of our projects. We become an extension of your team, advise on content strategy, and expand the content footprint of your company knowledge. For example, we recently took a 90-minute deep-dive with a client’s sales engineer on information architecture that now has set up multiple pieces of content: a series of blog posts, a valuable explainer to accompany the visual, and a deep guide on one key section of the architecture.
If you’re looking for a partner to collaboratively tackle one or more of these content channels, reach out to EveryDeveloper.