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StackOverflow and Fixate Partner to Make Public Docs a Business Accelerator

May 7, 2019 - Marketing - , ,
By: Chris Riley

Is it possible to be giddy over a standard B2B partnership? I think so. If you are a developer — even a mediocre one like myself — you know Stack Overflow. I’m a duct tape developer, and I need Stack all the time to slap together APIs and frameworks. It makes me look like a pro, and saves me from reaching that level of frustration that results in computers being broken and keyboards slamming against the wall. That is why I’m super excited to announce that Fixate and Stack Overflow are partnering to make vendor public documentation even more powerful.

Public documentation has increasingly become a vendor’s first opportunity to engage with developers. Before you get a chance to say anything, developers will have already looked at your docs and made a decision to test (or not test) your API. That’s why it’s critical that Product, Marketing, and Developer Relations band together and focus on public documentation. How do you do that? Focus on a developer journey, practice deliberate and regular content creation, and enable engagement at the right place and right time. This is what Stack Overflow and Fixate bring to the table.

Documentation has classically been a product management and engineering responsibility, and a customer service task. But this is no longer the case. Public docs are usually stop number one in a typical developer journey. Developers will go immediately to vendor documentation to get a sense of core functionality. This alone makes docs a top-of-funnel product marketing activity, but vendors are also increasingly finding that documentation is the number one source of organic traffic, bringing it into the world of demand generation.

The bad news: Despite this, approximately 70% of the time, developers are unhappy with vendor docs (Evans Data 2017 Survey, SlashData 2018 Survey, & Fixate IO Contributor Survey). Developers are extremely vocal on this issue. Developers will shame you if your docs fight them rather than enable them — not just because they are critical of everything, but because docs are most often created with an inside-out worldview, making them void of developer empathy and an understanding of the developer journey.

Let’s assume you are the 30% whose documentation rocks, or that make public docs a substantial focus. You have less than three seconds to give a developer the article they need when they need it (KISSMetrics & SlashData 2018 Survey). And if it’s a technically related question or issue that needs addressing, it’s three seconds plus an intense emotional reaction.

This is where team Stack and Fixate come in.

Fixate provides technical depth and experience in high-performing documentation information architecture and content. And Stack Overflow, one of the most renowned technical sites for getting answers to technical questions, brings engagement at the exact right time. This powerhouse combination helps organizations increase trials, trial completions, and builds lasting relationships with a challenging audience.

“Fixate impressed me with how dedicated they are to creating quality technical documentation and content,” says Joy Liuzzo, Stack Overflow’s Senior Product Marketing Manager for Advertising. “Being developers themselves, they understand the detail and clarity that’s needed when you are learning something new. Stack Overflow makes it easy for anyone who codes to get to building, and for companies to reach anyone who codes. Our product, Direct-to-Developers, is an ideal approach for companies to get their documentation into the hands of developers, right when they are asking a question or looking for an answer about it. I believe that Fixate’s documentation and Stack Overflow’s Direct-to-Developers advertising are a perfect match.”

Fixate’s practitioner-driven, three-phased offering of documentation strategy, assessment and organization, and content creation helps vendors actualize documentation that has the best chance of success. Once the steller docs are established, Stack Overflow’s Direct-to-Developers offering puts the right documentation in front of developers at the right (and most critical) time with intelligent content mapping.

The outcome is:

  1. More trials and trial completions: Better docs mean better organic traffic and better alignment to developer expectations, which naturally leads to more users who go from registration to actual usage. And surfacing doc pages at the point when developers have the question builds great developer empathy and overall traffic.
  2. Better awareness: High-quality, highly accessible documentation has proven to create market evangelists organically. Because developers are used to how bad documentation can be, they will actually call out good docs among their peers.
  3. Better product understanding: Better surfacing of documentation helps the market more quickly understand what to do with your API, and offers the confidence for success. This is how vendors expand the depth and breadth of adoption.

Making public docs a priority is not only necessary for customer success, but also top of the funnel engagement — which means Marketing and Developer Relations need to take it seriously. But the effort to get from a current doc to optimized can seem daunting. Fixate and Stack’s proven models for building and exposing public docs makes the execution turnkey, and less complex. Fixate working together with Stack Overflow is a path forward for many vendors who have been stuck getting real value from their public docs.
For more information on this offering, contact [email protected] or [email protected]


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Chris Riley (@HoardingInfo) is a technologist who has spent 12 years helping organizations transition from traditional development practices to a modern set of culture, processes and tooling. In addition to being a research analyst, he is an O’Reilly author, regular speaker, and subject matter expert in the areas of DevOps strategy and culture. Chris believes the biggest challenges faced in the tech market are not tools, but rather people and planning.

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