I am a co-founder of a new start-up. Our product is an SDK for iOS apps.We provide a new type of analytics service for app developers.
Our marketing efforts so far were AdWords, some email marketing and some coverage is leading tech blogs.We got some traction and have around 100 registrations and 40 SDK integrations.So far the tech blogs had the best outcomes, but we cannot rely on it as a marketing strategy.
Would love to hear your tips, insights and thoughts regarding marketing (SDK) for developers, what are the best channels etc., and if you can share some stories from socialize.
Hey Jonathan, nice to meet you.
App discovery is unfortunately a really tough issue without really good, easy answers today. You're not the only one facing this challenge. And it gets even tougher when you're marketing an SDK vs. an app, because there's an "SDK Fatigue" setting in among developers.
The only real long-term answer is that you have to have an SDK that provides real value to developers. They'll talk and it'll pick up over time. So focusing on product/market fit is the main thing.
Having said that, when we first started Socialize, we did some "guerrilla" things that got the ball rolling for us. Here's a list:
- 5 Minute Install: We've been app developers too, and we understand how hard it can be to get an SDK working in an app -- and if it doesn't work right away, you just move on to something else. That effort paid off with developer responses like these:
In fact, we held a $2,500 contest to see who could implement Socialize the fastest. The winner did it in just 23 seconds. We ere floored.
- Killer Documentation: We've really focused on having world-class documentation of our API and SDKs and many developers have thanked us for that. Again, it all starts with having a really great product.
- Open Source SDK: Our approach to the SDK was to make it open source with pre-built views. If someone wanted to, they could just use our UI elements and not hook the SDK into our back-end system. That's OK. Giving developers control over the UX and UI was an early, core decision for us, because we wanted to make it insanely easy to integrate Socialize into an app. We also put a lot of designer resources into making the views excellent. Here, for example, is the Comment section of our SDK documentation with the pre-built views.
- Always-on Support: This might not seem like a marketing item, but it is. We use Get Satisfaction for our support forum, and we make sure that all questions are answered in hours or days by having our developers "round robin" on support each week.
- Lots of Panels: Being a Subject Matter Expert is a great way to get publicity and give developers and the ecosystem a sense of comfort that you know what you're doing.
- Power in Numbers & Knowledge Sharing: Our developer evangelist at the time, Jeremia, created a group of developer evangelists called The Devangelists, which meets on a regular basis to trade tips on user acquisition (highly recommend you join!)
- Schwag Marketing: We created shirts and stickers and have an online form where developers can get a free shirt. Anytime a developer does something awesome, we send him or her a shirt.
- Beer Marketing: We put Socialize stickers on cans of beer and sponsored Meetups. We even bought a freezer so we could keep ice on hand so Jeremia or another employee could quickly get out to a relevant Meetup with cold beers.
- Developer Workshops: We invite developers to come in and we'll help them with the integration in our office. Pro tip: Charge for the workshops, but then offer coupons discounting it to free, so you can leverage the true value of the time you're dedicating.
- Celebrate Successes Publicly: When the first developer implemented Socialize, we got a big check made and sent him $500 plus a picture of all of us celebrating the win. To this day he's a very active and valued developer who continues to be invested in the success of Socialize.
Sponsor Hackathons: We sponsored a bunch of hackathons with prize money for developers who implemented our SDK.
Crash Other's Hackathons: This pro tip was given to us by the developer evangelist of a very well known API company. She suggested that instead of sponsoring hackathons, we just show up at other's hackathons and hand out postcards saying we'd offer a $500 prize if a developer included Socialize in their app. So that's what we did!
You can also see our Socialize photo stream to see other things we did which I haven't outlined here.
At the end of the day, it all starts with having a great product, and I have my co-founders Sean and Isaac, as well as the rest of our team to thank for that. No amount of marketing will help a poor product achieve success.
Interestingly, as we've grown, we've stopped doing many of these things because we're now focused on the Fortune1000 set, and while these tips are great for getting a critical mass going, they don't translate into getting larger branded apps on board. If you'd like me to put up a separate post about some of the things we're doing for that target audience, just let me know in the comments.
Thanks again for a great comment!We will definitely try to implement some of your ideas in our marketing efforts.
One major difference I can state is that your SDK is "viral" by definition, and I guessit makes things a little bit more easy.
If you can elaborate a little bit more on how you are selling to the "mobile-first" companies that will be great :)
Thanks again and I hope to have something interesting to share on this blog in the near future.
First of all let me say WOW!!!This answer is just awesome and gives a lot of new and creative ideas on how to get your first customers and create a great buzz.
I have a few questions:1. Do you feel that today most of your customers are hearing about socialize by word of mouth?2. What do you feel about paid ads (if I remember correctly I think I saw a socialize ad while browsing)?3. A few words regarding getting the big players in will be great, and maybe even share what different feedback you get from big playersin opposed to small/indie developers.
PS Jonathan, here's one more thing for you. This is shows our growth of the Socialize platform. Notice how the SDK was at only about 25,000 users in Feb of this year. Now it's over 10 million, with another 10 million coming from our AppMakr channel. We're seeing 41% monthly growth on the SDK and 60% monthly growth on social actions.
So if you have low usage today, just know that it's possible to get some rapid growth if the SDK is good and solves a real need. :)
We segment the world into three groups from an Social platform & SDK perspective:
1) Long tail "indie developer" apps. Yes we're getting lots of organic growth from them -- they all talk and are loving our platform.2) "Mobile-first" companies (think Guilt Group, iPad-only types). These groups we are actively selling to.3) Fortune500 type companies: A mobile SDK is too early for these guys. They're still trying to figure out what their mobile strategy is. But the market will be there in 12 to 24 months.
re: Paid ads -- yes we are very strategic about this. Sorry it's something I can't talk too much about. It's kinda like finding a really good fishing spot. :)
If I get enough replies to this thread from people wanting to know more about how we're selling to groups #2 and #3 above, then I'll dedicate time to writing a comprehensive post up about it.
I received an email from the CEO of another SDK-based technology company asking how we've been so successful getting developers to adopt the Socialize SDK.
I like to have conversations like these in public so that other entrepreneurs in the same position can benefit from what we've learned, and share their knowledge as well. What he's asking about is a very sensitive subject: Mobile app developers are already suffering from SDK overload, and the problem is just going to get worse before it gets better. Knowing how to successfully get developers to adopt and implement an SDK is a huge tactical advantage. Having said that, I'm not going to give away the many things we do at Socialize, but I'll give a bit of knowledge away in the spirit of doing so, and I'll hope that other entrepreneurs do the same.
First things first: For those of you who don't know the difference between an API and an SDK, here's a high-level analogy to baking a cake:
What Socialize has developed is an SDK that gives any mobile app developer the ability to drop social functionality into their app. I recently wrote a related blog showcasing how these social features can help any company create Instagram-type viral growth through social actions.
Our story begins with Ciara Pressler going on a 16-mile run. It’s her best run of the year.
She chose to run well today.
Ciara spent the night before visualizing having an energetic and successful run, and came to the start of it with that purpose and expectation. She was excited as she laced up her sneakers, and met her friends — fellow runners who can push the pace.
At one moment in the long run, Ciara thinks, “I want to fall behind.”