DX, API Design & Documentation

Best Practices for Engaging and Helping Developers at Every Stage of Their Conversion Funnel

196views

If your business model involves selling to developers, you probably have already realized that much of the traditional processes and metrics applicable to traditional enterprise sales or consumer marketing don’t work. Specifically, selling to developers usually means attracting them to your platform and helping them succeed in building something, whether that’s a new app, integration, or automating an internal process. Getting developers to adopt your platform can be daunting and requires investment in product, onboarding and developer experience, and documentation. However, there are few tools product managers and developer relations leaders can leverage to measure and improve that experience.

Web and mobile analytics tools like Mixpanel and Amplitude can only measure activity on the website itself, yet most developer platforms price on what happens with the API, not via website activity. On the other hand, most API monitoring tools can only track infrastructure metrics like requests per minute and CPU utilization without any context of the user. To accurately measure your adoption and conversion funnel, you need to track usage across your entire platform from initial ad click and sign up, to what a new developer does with your API.

What is the developer-first marketing strategy

Most developer-first platforms have a B2D (business2developer) go to market strategy which is uniquely different from B2C companies which drive consumer adoption, but also different from B2B companies who maintain large sales forces to push their solution to other businesses. In reality, B2D sits somewhere in the middle between B2B and B2C.

B2D is like B2C in that:

  • Self-service signups and credit card payments takes priority over sales demos and contract negotiation
  • Low-cost acquisition channels like SEO-optimized content, SEM, and partnerships are prioritized over large and expensive sales development teams sending emails.
  • Because almost everything is self-serve and online, you can be very data-driven in terms of product metrics focused over just focusing on 1:1 relationships.

B2D is also like B2B in that:

  • The developer still works at a company who is buying to solve a pain rather than an individual looking for the latest gadget or online hangout spot.
  • Sales processes can still be complex involving multiple stakeholders and require technical validation.
  • Developers are still humans implementing a complex solution and may need high-touch dedicated support vs B2C where support is super transactional handling password resets and returns.

Building a cross-platform funnel across web and API

API product managers can focus on any number of initiatives at any given time, whether that;s API features, pricing and packaging, or top of the funnel acquisition. In order to know which area to focus, you should map out your _entire_funnel from very first ad click to a fully activated customer paying and referring other customers. The beginning of your funnel might start on your website as a visitor signs up to use your API. However, once they created an API key, much of the magic happens on the API side rather than the web side. Many developer platforms build their business model around usage-based pricing, which means your revenue is correlated to API usage, not website usage.

Linking web with API activity for users and companies

Business2developer go to market models have elements of both B2C and B2B and involve both individual developers and also companies or accounts. It also involves cross-platform tracking across web and APIs. This can complicate accurate funnel and conversion reporting. Do you track an individual user sign up funnel or do you track companies who integrated and use the API? What happens if a developer clicks on an AdWord and signs up using his or her GitHub account but doesn’t do anything. If the person invited a colleague to do integration, then that person may only be attributed to “direct traffic” or “invite referral” depending on your marketing attribution. We need to still attribute the successful integration to an AdWord click.

One way to solve this is mapping out a 4×4 grid to track:

Not all API platforms will follow this model and may fill some boxes with a don’t care. For example, many APIs don’t care or track which developer is accessing the API, yet it’s important to understand which company is using the API. In this case, we want to track the following:

In order to solve this, analytics platforms like Moesif link everything through user ids and company ids regardless of the sessions. Your API and website should use the same identities regardless of the platform for accurate reporting. By modeling companies as groups of users, the linking can be simplified. This provides flexibility in picking and choosing whether to track usage only at the user-level, only at the company-level, or both for the API and website separately.Solving the cross-platform tracking

While having permanent identifiers are great, sometimes we don’t have all information available when the API call or user action is logged. To solve for these cases, we leverage the website session token or API key to uniquely identify the person and company. An alias table that links both session tokens to user/company ids and also API keys to user/company ids enable end to end funnel tracking.

Closing thoughts

Tracking usage and retention accurately is critical in 2020 as leadership shifts from a growth at all costs to efficient growth driven from product optimizations. You can no longer just measure vanity metrics like pageviews and signups. Instead, you should be measuring the entire funnel and understand the inputs that impact each stage. How does changes to your pricing and packaging modify your conversion rates from active developer to converted paying customer.

Derric Gilling

Derric Gilling

Co-Founder and CEO of Moesif
Derric Gilling is the Co-Founder and CEO of Moesif (www.moesif.com), the leading user-centric API Analytics platform. Previously, he was Co-Founder and CTO of Trove. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he built award-winning functional and formal verification software for Intel, and later a computer architect on Intel’s Xeon Phi, a manycore CPU for HPC and ML workloads. He focuses on API strategy, platform growth, analytics, machine learning, and computer architecture.

APIdays | Events | News | Intelligence

Attend APIdays conferences

The Worlds leading API Conferences
with 9 Conferences in 2019:

Singapore, Zurich, Helsinki, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Sydney, Barcelona, London, Paris.

Get the API Landscape

The essential 450 companies

Get the API Landscape
Industry Reports

Download our free reports

The State Of Api Documentation: 2017 Edition
  • State of API Documentation
  • The State of Banking APIs
  • GraphQL: all your queries answered
  • APIE Serverless Architecture