Our research puts the number of developers worldwide at over 50 million!(1) That is a large supply of developers and they most certainly aren’t all the same. Developers range in age from 7-year-olds through to 80-year-olds and engage in a number of different technical activities all over the world. The definition of “developer” also varies depending on their role and decision-making abilities – it could refer to a person or a company. Because of this, an approach that treats all developers as a single segment in the same way, is almost a sure guarantee that your API or Developer program will fail.
So how about categorizing developers using labels such as long tail, hobbyists, makers, or gold seekers? Such labels may sound fancy, but are often too generic to be useful. Segments should be clear and specific enough to allow you to put a messaging and activity plan in place to meet both your developer program and corporate objectives. We're also assuming that you don’t have unlimited resources, so you must focus on the right developers to achieve your goals. That’s segmentation!
Segmentation answers a very important question:
“Who is required to make this product (your API, SDK, tool, device etc.) successful?”
A good segmentation model answers this question, and it focuses your efforts so you can get your developer messaging and activities correct much more easily. In turn, you’ll convince developers to invest their limited currency – their time in your APIs.
So we've come up with a template to share with you to make sure you get your segmentation right! WIP's Segmentation Framework (show below), includes four filters to help you determine your segmentation targets based on the characteristics and drivers that are most important to your business:
You may not have criteria for each filter, and the relevance will vary from API and SDKs and company to company (that’s the point, after all!). But as you create your segments, you must be able to answer “yes” for each segment of the following questions:
Is the segment relevant to our business?
Is it a large enough segment?
It is a valuable enough segment?
Can we access this segment based on our resources?
Depending on the type of API you have, you may settle on two or three segments that you want to target. And given your budget, resources, and time constraints, you may want to target one at a time. Be sure to craft specific, relevant messages for each one, keeping in mind that each may require different outreach channels and different events, and other activities.
As with most strategies, be agile! Segmentation isn’t a one-time exercise. Make a point of reviewing your segmentation every six months to one year as your products change or the market changes (e.g., due to new entrants, maturity of developers or your product, etc.). Once you have developers as part of your community you can segment them too, which will help to support your retention tactics, champions programs, and more.