When Coronavirus Grounds Your Team, Technical Content Marketing Gets You Leads
No travel. No trade shows. No customer visits. No conferences. Because of the coronavirus, you, and the rest of the tech world, are working from home. And it looks like the trend is only going to grow. As the days pass, an increasing number of businesses are telling their employees to work from home and to plan on working from home for an indefinite amount of time.
You’ve been grounded. And so has your lead gen and sales.
So how will you make up for the loss? There’s a sliver of good news: your potential customers are now working from home, too. They are online more than ever - reading, learning, and searching for solutions.
It’s time to double down on your technical content strategy.
I probably don’t have to convince you of the value of content marketing. Content marketing is already the marketing tool of choice for inbound leads. It builds trust and brand awareness, generates leads, is essential for SEO, and is ideal for converting website visitors. Content marketing costs about 62% less than traditional marketing and generates 3 times as many leads.
Specifically, technical content marketing is the preferred way to reach potential users and buyers of your technical product. And now is the time to use technical content marketing to reach your users.
What is Technical Content Marketing?
Technical content marketing is how you speak to the techies: developers, engineers, architects, and IT leaders. It’s content written by highly-technical writers about your product or service. Technical content offers education, solutions, technical best practices, and often includes code and architectural diagrams.
Types of technical content marketing include:
- Syndicated content on sites such as DZone and Hacker Noon
- Sales support materials
- Developer community posts
The content is used wherever you need it most: on your site, on 3rd party technical blogs, by your sales team, promoted in your developer communities, or ideally, on all of the above.
But Technical Content Marketing is Really Hard.
You probably already know technical content marketing is hard. At Dev Spotlight, creating technical content is all we do - so we understand that marketing to developers and engineers is hard.
Why is marketing to developers and engineers so hard?
Developers are sensitive to marketing and sales. They don’t want to hear your vision statement or your why. Technical readers need technical knowledge. They want facts, real solutions, and help getting their project done on time. And they want all this without marketing hype or fluff. It’s easy for you to come across as disingenuous, and lose your potential customer.
Developers tend to ignore websites and marketing materials. They don’t want to surf your website and watch your well-crafted videos. But they are out there, searching, actively reading content on technical sites and blogs.
The topics you need to write about are difficult. You can’t google the answers. You can’t piece together an article. You can’t hire a general content marketer, or even a general technologist. This is deeply technical work, and you need a SME. Some of the topics require years, if not decades, of experience to understand. Technical readers will know right away if your writer is inexperienced.
Technical content requires a specific type of writer. Not only do you need someone extremely technical, but you also need someone who is a good writer, who has an understanding of marketing and content marketing, and who is actually interested in pausing their current project to write for you. If you’ve ever searched for that person, you know how difficult it is.
And if all that isn’t difficult enough, most content marketers publish content every single day. All this adds up to the extremely difficult task of creating a steady drumbeat of expert-level, informative, well-written technical content.
How Do You Create Technical Content?
Here are some options to consider:
1. Look for internal help.
Get one of your internal developers, engineers, product leaders, or tech writers to write your content. If they aren’t a good writer, try having them create a draft - or even just a list of bulleted thoughts or instructions - then have a better writer copy edit and revise the draft. But be sure to have the developer review the final draft before publishing. It’s surprising how often a slight change in wording can key the reader that the writer is not truly technical.
Your IT team can be your best resource. They know the technical details of your product better than anyone else and will need little to no time for research.
They already work for you. You don’t have to suffer through the time-intensive process of searching, interviewing, reading writing samples, etc.
Internal costs can be lower than hiring externally.
You have more say in priorities and deadlines.
Your developers are busy building your product. You’ll have to fight with IT to get their time…and you might not win.
Your tech writers might be technical, but be careful – they might not have the true experience needed. Writing technical documentation is very different from technical content marketing, which requires a deep understanding of the technology that is often only gained by being a developer or architect for many years. For example, most tech writers could not write about the Best Practices in Event-Driven Architecture.
Syndication (publishing your articles on popular 3rd party websites) can be difficult, as writer accounts can take months, or years, to reach enough followers and ‘likes’ on a site for a post to reach a large number of developers.
It’s hard, and frustrating, for an engineer to write a blog. No one like staring at a blank page trying to come up with a topic.
Creating content for a corporate blog is notoriously slow due to red tape and approvals.
(For more on creating a coporate engineering blog, check out this recent discussion on Hacker News)
2. Hire a contract writer.
These sites offer a wide variety of contractors looking for side gigs. You can often find the expert you need, even with hard-to-find skills.
There is no long-term commitment, so the work can ebb and flow with your budget and needs.
It’s a simple, one-stop-shop.
Costs are lower since you’re going directly to the writer.
The sites usually use escrow, so you have an authority to appeal to if you aren’t happy with the work.
The writing quality varies widely. Just because someone is a great technical architect, doesn’t mean they’re a great writer. Just because someone is a great writer, doesn’t mean they’re a great technical architect. Reviews help, but only to a point.
Tech experience is often exaggerated or outright misrepresented. You’ll need to not only read writing samples but tech screen the candidates. Otherwise, you may discover late in the process (and maybe not until you’ve got the first draft in hand), that the person was not everything they said they were.
It’s a challenge to find true experts, such as people who can write code and also understand the C-level viewpoint of technology.
Varying rates make budgets difficult to predict.
Be prepared to spend significant time reading through writing samples. And if you aren’t technical, you won’t know if what you are reading is technically sound. You’ll need to involve a technical reader to help.
Availability changes quickly. Your contractor might change priorities because of a better-paying job, a family illness, or their full-time job. You’ll be their secondary interest, so don’t depend on deadlines. Be prepared for dates to slip.
Content velocity can be hard to predict. You don’t know who will be available and when.
You’ll have to handle syndication, and it can be tough to get views unless you have established accounts with followers.
3. Outsource to a technical content agency.
There are a few agencies out there (like ours, Dev Spotlight) that specialize solely in expertly written technical content for your content marketing.
A good agency will have a proven track record and significant samples of work. You won’t have to worry about the quality of the content.
A good agency will “take care of everything” - the writing, the tech, the delivery, the workflow. The right agency will make your job simpler. They will handle everything with creating the content so that you can focus on doing your job well.
A good agency will have a stable group of writers that can deliver the content velocity you require, whether 1 article a month or 1 article a day.
A good agency will have established accounts on syndication sites.
A good agency will work with you to figure out your strategy and topics. They will know topics that perform well with the audience you are trying to reach.
Prices will be higher than going directly to the writer.
The wrong agency will, in the end, waste your time. They will deliver poorly written content that is difficult to follow, not technical, and worst case, have incorrect technical information. Be sure to read recent sample work.
There are several options for starting or increasing your technical content marketing. Which one is right for you depends on your budget, time, and internal resources. But one thing is for sure – technical content marketing is poised to become the leading way to increase your sales funnel, and with more people working from home and lead gen taking a big hit, you should be doing more.
Now is the time to increase your content velocity so that you can benefit in the months ahead.
For the past three years, Dev Spotlight, has provided technical content to clients like Heroku and Solar Winds. We write deeply-technical, expertly-written content that regularly reaches the top of Hacker Noon, DZone, and Dev. Frankly, as our customers will attest, we are the best in the business.