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What is a Technical Marketing Manager?

Trying to market a business is one thing, but marketing a technical business? That’s another thing entirely. A whopping 63% of tech startups fail in the first five years, mostly due to marketing mismanagement and ineffective strategies.

This is why technical marketing managers matter more than ever.

Technical marketing managers aren’t your average marketing lead. Instead, they’re a powerhouse of multiple disciplines and highly trained in their technical field(s). They have a working knowledge of your product and industry, as well as a deep knowledge of your target audience — which typically includes developers, devops, and software engineers.

The average technical marketing manager juggles a wide variety of tasks:

  • Designing, writing and publishing technical content
  • Sharing content via LinkedIn and Reddit
  • Conducting campaign analyses and assessments
  • Performing work on Ceros and Atlassian Confluence (among others)
  • Managing developer relations (if you don’t have a dedicated role)

Demand for technical marketing managers is steadily on the rise. Digital marketing as a field is set to grow 13.1% between 2024 and 2032. Combined with the growing number of tech startups in the US (with more than 13,000 new brands per year), the need for experienced technical marketing managers is here to stay.

Whether you’re trying to hire or become a technical marketing manager, we wrote this guide to help you build a plan. First, we explain what they are, what they do, and the tools they need to succeed. Then, we describe some hiring triggers and reasons why you may want to wait.

Looking for a place to get your first gig? Or looking to post a job opening? We also explain how DevRel Careers can help you get started for free.

What is a technical marketing manager?

The technical marketing manager is responsible for creating and managing content that educates and persuades technical audiences. This includes tasks such as developing technical content strategies, creating white papers, writing product documentation, and managing social media channels.

There are a few ‘bare necessities’ required for technical marketing managers:

  • They must be familiar with your role, product, and target audience. If they’re not, they won’t know how to best approach your target market.
  • They must have experience writing technical content. This doesn’t have to be on a large scale; even a few well-written social posts are proof enough of their skill.
  • They must be familiar with technical marketing tools. We’ll chat more about this later.

How does a technical marketing manager’s role differ from a digital marketing manager? For one thing, their level of experience is different. Most technical marketing managers have hands-on experience in your industry. Some digital marketing managers, however, have never worked outside the marketing industry. 

Plus, many technical marketing managers focus heavily on content creation. Content might be a focus of the digital marketing manager, but they may have more experience working with PPC, SEO, and earned media.

Perhaps the biggest differentiator of all is the marketer’s approach to your target audience. Traditional marketing strategies rarely (if ever work) for technical audiences. The technical marketing manager knows this all too well — they’re not going to waste time on tactics that don’t work.

To summarize: the technical marketing manager uses developer marketing tactics, not just traditional marketing approaches. This usually means writing great technical content, but also includes open-source development, building a network, and focusing on developer content strategies that scale.

Characteristics of a technical marketing manager

Most technical marketing managers didn’t start in marketing. Many of them began as software developers or engineers, then moved into the role as their skills developed.

For this reason, you’d be hard-pressed to find two marketing managers with the same skill set, experiences, or backgrounds. There are, however, a few key characteristics shared by top talent in the industry.

This includes:

  • A strong understanding of technical concepts. This is especially applicable to technical concepts within your company (especially the jargon used by your team and its audience).
  • Excellent writing and editing skills. Managers should be able to communicate your message in simple, accessible terms. Low-fluff writing is also key. The fewer words they use, the better.
  • The ability to use technical marketing tools such as Atlassian Confluence and Ceros. If they’re not familiar with the tools in your stack, they should be able to learn quickly and get a working knowledge fast.
  • The ability to think strategically and creatively. There’s no such thing as a straight line in marketing, and when it comes to developer audiences, this is even more applicable. The technical marketing manager must be flexible and think outside the box.
  • A technology-related education and career background. This may include a Bachelor’s degree in a technical field such as computer science, engineering, or information technology. Higher-level marketers may have a Master’s degree in another technical field or marketing itself. 
  • At least five years of experience in technical marketing or a related field (such as developer relations). Depending on the position or length of time in question, this experience could serve in place of formal education.

If you want to become a technical marketing manager, you should start with the experience side of the equation. First, you can try your hand at technical writing or look for opportunities within your current position. Then, you can join a community of technical marketers willing to share experience in developer relations. 

Do you love the thought of writing, but feel uncomfortable about navigating the technical side? A career in content marketing management may be what you’re looking for.

Tools technical marketing managers use

There’s some overlap between the platforms used by digital marketing experts and the tools required by technical marketing managers. There are several, however, that are completely unique, and require a working knowledge to successfully complete a campaign.

That’s why most technical marketing managers are familiar with these five integral platforms:

  1. Atlassian Confluence: Essentially Notion for software developers. Technical marketers use it to build resource centers and publish technical guides for customers.
  2. Ceros: Specifically designed for technical content creation. This enables technical marketers to give contextual feedback, design dynamic landing pages, and build interactive content.
  3. Google Analytics: The quintessential measurement tool for any seasoned marketer. A technical marketer may want to build custom events, import external data, and create specific audiences to track campaign effectiveness.
  4. HubSpot: Digital marketers usually rely on HubSpot for the email automations and product libraries. For technical marketers, HubSpot is a gold mine for blog hosting, content strategy, and automatic social posting.
  5. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions: The best technical marketing managers don’t just know your audience, but also know how to reach them through the platforms they use most. LinkedIn is one of the most powerful of these.

If you’re not familiar with any of the above, you’re not disqualified from becoming a technical marketing manager. Most of these platforms are simple to learn, and there are hundreds of training videos online.

When do you need a technical marketing manager?

You may be ready to hire a technical marketing manager:

  • If you are launching a new product or service. This applies to established companies as well as new brands.
  • If you are trying to increase brand awareness in the technical community. You may be an unknown quantity looking to build connections, or an existing brand trying to rebuild its reputation.
  • If you are looking to generate leads from technical audiences. You may have tried traditional marketing tactics in the past and saw no improvement in your KPIs. 
  • If you want to improve your website’s search engine ranking for technical terms. This requires well-written content, keyword strategies, and social promotion.

On the other hand, you may not be ready to hire a technical marketing manager if:

  • You don’t have the budget to support a full-time employee. The average salary for a technical marketing manager is around $129,902 per year, so if you’re not ready for this expense plus benefits and hiring costs, it’s best to stick with a freelancer or agency.
  • You have an internal team performing the same tasks as a technical marketing manager. No need to duplicate their efforts unless you need to delegate more tasks.
  • You have a strong influx of new customers and good WOM marketing. Scaling before you’re ready could come with growing pains, so you may want to wait until your business is ready to grow.

Not sure where to start with hiring a technical marketing agency? We wrote this guide to help you vet your options.

Ready to become (or hire) a technical marketing manager?

The technical marketing manager can be an ace-in-the-hole for technical startups and established brands. Not only can they get more eyes on your product, but they can also nurture customers into passionate brand ambassadors.

Plus, the future is bright for those pursuing a role in technical marketing management. Demand is increasing, the salary is competitive, and the opportunity for career development is virtually endless.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum, DevRel Careers can help. On this platform, companies can post their marketing positions to hundreds of qualified applicants all over the world. Applicants can easily create a profile online then upload their resumes for review. 

Ready to get started? You can submit your resume or post a job for free at any time.