Fireside with Voxgig for Professional Speakers

Jason St-Cyr

Published On:
Jason St-Cyr
Podcast Host
Richard Roger
Voxgig Founder
Podcast Guest
Jason St-Cyr

This episode looks at how DevRel works at very large organisations. Jason St-Cyr, Developer Relations Leader at Sitecore, one of the largest digital experience providers in the world. With such a large ecosystem, it’s no wonder that DevRel looks different here than in a SaaS start-up! Jason tells us about ambassador programs, the starting point for his career in DevRel. And he shares his metaphor of DevRel professionals with us – do you see yourself as a human router? Maybe you should! We also cover developer portals that work, and of course, the old chestnut: measurement. Listen and learn and share.

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See Show Transcripts

Interview Intro

Richard Rodger:  [0:00:00] Welcome to the Voxgig Podcast. We talk to people in the developer community about developer relations, public speaking and community events. For more details, visit All right, let's get started. 

Have you ever wondered how developer relations works outside the traditional startup SaaS model? Today we talk to Jason St Cyr, who works for Sitecore, which is one of the largest digital experience solution providers in the world. Now developer relations in such a large organization, that has such a large ecosystem, has a slightly different flavor to the one you might be used to. 

We talk about the importance of ambassador programs and how ambassador programs led to Jason becoming involved in developer relations in the first place. Jason also has a really awesome metaphor for developer relations, to think of yourselves as a human router, which I just love. We also talk about the importance of developer portals and how to design them, depending on our developer audience. And finally, we talk about that old chestnut, measurement, and how Jason does things at his company. All right, let's hear what he has to say. [0:01:14]

Main Interview

Jason St Cyr

Richard Rodger:  [0:01:16] Welcome to the Fireside with Voxgig Podcast, welcome, Jason. It is fabulous to have you here today. [0:01:21]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:01:22] Thank you so much, Richard, great to be here. [0:01:23]

Richard Rodger:  [0:01:25] Awesome, okay. So, let us get straight into how you ended up being a dev rel leader at Sitecore. [0:01:34]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:01:37] It was a long and unique path for me, but probably not so unique amongst those who wound up in similar positions. My career started – I was in software dev doing engineering stuff for years and years and years. I wound up being an engineering manager leading an R&D group, which – at the time – this was more thana decade ago. At that time that was not the right fit for me. I was doing okay but I was not happy with that type of role; it was not what I wanted to do; wanted to get back to that independent contributor stuff. 

I want to be leaving a product company and joining into an agency role; figured out that's a different pivot I could go with. And this company was doing something I had never heard of before. They were doing content management systems and specifically focusing on hiring in for implementing something from a company called Sitecore. 

So, I got into this and learned the ropes and brought my background in and built a lot of stuff. And along the way got introduced to the Sitecore community, which were largely other agencies that were out there and customers who had developers all over the world who were building the same stuff. And everybody was doing blogs and videos and showing up at events and doing usergroups and stuff. 

And I got super into this, because I had a background enjoying writing. But the most writing I could do on the job was usually writing documentation, which I gotta say did not exactly excite me. But this was a different way of doing – this was a way for me to learn and then share what I learned. 

And so, I started doing this whole thing with – I'll do some blogs, maybe write every couple of weeks. And that got me into the idea of developer relations before ever getting paid for it; it's just something on the side. And Sitecore was running a – I guess it's called an ambassador program in a lot of places. It's very similar to the Microsoft MVP program, so that was a Sitecore MVP program. 

And I said, 'I've been doing a bunch of stuff. Let's see if I can do that.' And I got awarded it, and I was like, 'This is awesome. Big incentive for me to do this.' So, I started doing more and more, trying to join this community and become one of the leaders in it. So, that got me into the idea of how do we help other people? How do I tap into this part of me that wants to learn and wants to help and get into forums and go on Stack exchange and all that stuff. I was doing all of this, and from an agency side, this was really helpful for them, because what it did is, it allowed potential customers to see the knowledge of their staff, build credibility. [0:04:30]

Richard Rodger:  [0:04:33] The agency were supporting this; they were- [0:04:34]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:04:34] Exactly. They'd be like, 'Why don't you go write another book? Let's put this one on the corporate site.' Because this allowed them to go and point and show potential customers, 'You should hire us because we know what we're doing.' But eventually, an opening opened up where I could get paid to do that, that that would be my job. 

And it was at the Sitecore company and the folks who were running the MVP program were looking for some – what they called technical evangelists at the time. And I threw my hat in my ring and it was a grueling process a little bit just trying to – I was super-psyched to go for that type of a role, so I probably stressed myself out way more than I should have. 

But the company was very focused on their partners, and I worked at a partner; I really knew how that life worked. I knew I could help those people because I knew what the job was like. So, that allowed me to get into this company and start learning more about how it works from the other side of things. 

How do you work as a vendor with all these implementation agencies and partners around the world and try to get them excited about what's going on and get them the amount of help that they need to be successful? Because ultimately, if they're successful, then your customers that are buying your products, they're also successful. 

See, Sitecore is – plays in the DXP space, which is digital experience platforms. They're primarily known as a content management group. They've been around for 20 years; they built up that history. But when I was going in there they were changing their model to think about all this digital marketing that's happening. It matches up well with developer relations stuff of how to speak to an audience, get them what they need, be helpful, personalized to their needs. 

And what their tools are primarily for are the marketing audience, so developers implement the solutions; marketers use what's built. You might have an authorizing team that wants to build a lot of content. They need a digital asset management system or they need to do marketing automation or they're managing their website content or their mobile app, whatever it might be. Those marketers have very specific needs, especially in the enterprise space. 

So, the developers, they wind up having to have highly extensible tools, something that's able to plug into whatever you have. You might be running some Salesforce CRM, but you've also got MailChimp over here, and you've – and then you need a CMS and then you need a place. So, you start putting this whole stack together. 

And Sitecore saw that as a way for us to bring in – here's all the tools you need, and then the last few years, switching over to hey, why don't we make this all SaaS, make these all composable, have it all as pieces; you take the pieces you need. We were traditionally more of a monolithic platform DXP where it's like you get this big thing and it's got all the bells and whistles you need. 

You don't need to get something else, but you might not use all of it. So, that was kind of a switch in the – I'd say about a couple years ago. So, I got to see Sitecore through that whole change that they went through. And the -- starting off as technical evangelist and then moving over to leading the technical evangelists-

Jason St Cyr:  How did you end up as the big boos of developer relations? 

Richard Rodger:  That path was one, from desire on my part and having a really good boss that listened to me and put a career path in front of me. And two, being senior enough to know here's where I need to go next. I need to establish myself as really good at this part of the job. But then how do I show that I have a more strategic bent?  How do I start introducing data driven aspects? 

How do I start measuring KPIs and things like that, showing that I'm not just going to go create some videos and blogs, but I'm also concerned with how are we performing? What particular things are working well? Deciding, this is what we need to do better. And that type of thing allowed me to become more the manager of just the advocates. And then taking more of a role of the whole department of developer relations, which included community as well as developer experience. 

We're a big enough company to have many departments, but a small enough company that you still need somebody who looks at it all. So, for example, we have a documentation team; that's not part of dev rel. We have a learning team that's not part of dev rel. We have people who build SDKs; they're part of engineering. 

But they're all very isolated into their products; they're doing their own thing, and we can bring that overall view. So, dev rel at Sitecore winds up – the way I've wanted to put it is that we address the community; we're very focused on the community. We're looking at all developers wherever they may be, whether they're in the industry, don't know about us, whether they're one of our partners, whether they're one of our customers. 

And we look at that holistically and we can bring feedback to the product team and put together platforms that address things as a whole, and give a holistic overview. If you come to us, we can help you. You don't need to know how all of it is working behind the scenes. We're like – I think it was Emily Freeman I saw first use it, the idea of the human router. [0:10:19]

Richard Rodger:  [0:10:21] I like that. 

Jason St Cyr:  [0:10:23] I love that analogy because- [0:10:24]

Richard Rodger:  [0:10:24] That's a good one. Wow. [0:10:25]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:10:26] It explained what we wound up doing is, we go out and we be these faces. And we're doing all this stuff behind the scenes, but we offer this way for community members to come in and go, 'I have this issue,' or 'I really wish you would do whatever.' And then we can rout it where it needs to go and push for it and be that force on the inside as their voice. 

And then vice versa be able to have teams in site at the company be able to come to us and go, 'We need to do something with community members. We don't know what. How do we do that?' And I'm like, 'We can – don't worry. We'll connect you to the right people. We know this team over in India is doing great work on this, but this other team in Australia has just built this other thing.' So, we can be that in-between that knows about both sides. [0:11:14]

Richard Rodger:  [0:11:15] Let's unpack developer relations at Sitecore, because if I go to the Sitecore website, wow, there's a lot of stuff happening. And there's a lot of solutions; there's a lot of depth. There's a whole developer section, developer resources, all that sort of stuff. I would contrast that with a lot of more high-focused products in the SaaS space where it does one thing. And there's an SDK and API, but that's it. 

And even though they might have a developer relations team – even somebody like Mongo DB, it's still very unified in terms of what it does; ultimately, it's a database. Whereas you guys, there's a lot of stuff happening. So, it feels like developer relations for Sitecore needs a little bit of unpacking. It feels- [0:12:15]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:12:16] It is complex. If you go to as the website, that's the business corporate view. And that is for decision makers and buyers and marketers, that they come there and they go, 'What is Sitecore? What do they do?' And then like you say, your overload is, well, they're doing all this digital asset management, but then they've got commerce and they've got some content management pieces in here too. And so, there's all these pieces that come together. 

But holistically as a company, the idea is that an IT team and a marketing team are ultimately working together to reach customers, whatever customer that might be. So, it might be Nike; it might be L'Oréal; it might be Toyota. It might be – whatever the customer, whatever type of company. But they're smaller companies too, that also need this need, to connect with an audience. And there's a lot of pieces to that, and then Sitecore says, 'We're going to go with your digital experiences, whatever channels those might be. How do we give you the tools to go and do that?' 

And that's great when you're talking to the folks that are looking at it from a business perspective, but we rolled a developer portal, which is, that focused purely on how do we do the same thing, but for a developer audience? Because that was one of the things that we understood, was it's very complex but – to figure out what it is and what the resources are, and they're all over the place. 

So, one of our roles is how do we connect people? Make it – make findability a feature. And the complexity too, even of having those two sides of it, of the tech and business marketing also makes it – our customers are sometimes IT teams; they're sometimes marketing teams. They're often both. So, when we look at developer relations, I'm looking at the developer, but is that developer always the customer? 

I might be influencing someone who's the customer making a decision, because I've provided a video that shows a really cool use case and it happens to be what they're looking for and they go, 'Okay. I see a proof point here. This matches what I want it to do.' We might be building a repo that a customer would look at and go, 'I can spin this out and I can tweak this around to what we need. I can show that this makes sense.' So, in that evaluation stage, it can happen. 

But more often than not, the developers we speak to are those implementation folks that are at a partner agency, that their job – they've been hired by a customer. And they have some customers said, 'We bought Sitecore. Now go make it do the thing we want it to do.' And they just saw that we released six new products and they have no idea what any of this is. How do we help them get-

Richard Rodger:  And this is where the human router comes in, right? 

Jason St Cyr:  Exactly. And then also strategizing and going, 'Look, I know that this customer is going to be sold these products. I know that we have a GTM that's going to happen and put out these new features. What is it we have to do as a team to make sure all those developers, when their boss comes and asks them, 'Hey, can you use this?' that they go, 'Yeah, I know what that is.' How do we get them prepped; how do we get them ready in advance? So, there's a lot that goes into that (inaudible) Time: 0:15:51] support. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:15:52] Talk to me about the developer portal, because I want to narrow in on that specific point for a minute. How important is the developer portal experience? Because you tend to have two kinds. You tend to have one that is definitely a developer portal and then you tend to have one where you're just using your normal account but there's a developer area. How do you guys – do you guys find that it's an effective tool? Is it critical to what you do or is it just, here's where you find the API keys, but that's it? Tell me about how you use it. [0:16:29]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:16:32] It's interesting, because we looked at this, and looks like in the industry, the term developer portal itself has started to become a place where you can go and test out the API and see some docs. And that is definitely not the approach that we took. We took it more from the more classic idea being your entry gateway into where stuff is. 

So, we knew that we had all these products; we knew that we had documentation sites and we have videos and we have community forums and we – so, there's all this stuff. How do we provide an experience where it's a landing area and you can search here and it'll search all that stuff? You come here and it'll tell you what the latest news is; it'll tell you where you go to find the developer APIs for a particular product. 

It comes back to that holistic experience of – you – when you talk about a company does one thing; they've got this one thing, this one set of APIs; they've got this one product that does it. A developer portal for a company like that is about how do I work with this product? But as soon as you start thinking multi products and of portfolio and multiple platforms, now my developer portal can't be about that one thing. [0:17:50]

Richard Rodger:  [0:17:51] Gotcha, yeah. [0:17:52]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:17:52] Because that's too far – that's too granular. I gotta bring you up a level. How do I find where those things are? [0:17:58]

Richard Rodger:  [0:18:02] Okay, and then following on from that, and it's something that you alluded to at the start; it seems to have been the reason you got promoted as well. Talk to me about measurement, because this is a relatively hotly debated subject in the world of developer relations. 

My personal experience of that is that I really love to have charts and numbers. But at the same time I know that I've generated sales that were two years distant from the conference that I spoke at where I made first contact with the prospect. And I had no justification for doing that particular conference; just liked the destination city and that's why I did it and I got accepted. 

So, how do you marry those two things? Where it is very hard to measure immediate results, but they definitely do work. So, how do you guys do it at Sitecore? Can you walk us through how you guys measure and how you guys decide to approve this conference but not this one, or this activity? [0:19:20]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:19:21] Yeah, definitely. Just hearing you talk about your own experience, that's – one of the things that is the most frustrating about metrics in developer relations, but also what I like the most about it. I like that there's this butterfly effect. I like that I can go out, have a chat with you today, Richard, and maybe that helps somebody a year from now. And I have no idea that that's going to happen; there's a magic in that. 

I like to think that if we genuinely want to help people and we focus on that first, that it's going to work out in the end, that those numbers are going to work out. But I also have the side of my brain that's very data driven, that wants rationale for why I'm making a decision. And I want to be able to walk into a room and when someone says, 'Why did you do this?' that I go, 'This is why. Look at my charts, and all the numbers go up.' [0:20:15]

Richard Rodger:  [0:20:16] What's my audience numbers, right? [0:20:17]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:20:17] Yeah, exactly. So, there's both sides of those that I like. And I think the fuzziness makes it difficult for us to often come back to a company's North Star, the thing that they care about the most. And in for-profit companies, that's almost always revenue numbers. There's very few that have some other North Star other than, let's make the number go up. And that's very tricky when you're not part of the sales team, but you kinda are, and you're not part of the marketing team, but you kind of are. You're not part of customer success but you kinda are. So, you've got all these different influences, so- [0:20:51]

Richard Rodger:  [0:20:52] As they're easy – they have easy – they have real metrics, right. They can go, 'Here's my numbers.' [0:20:56]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:20:58] And their activity's tied to those numbers, so they have a direct influence on the success of that. So, that's where the fuzziness starts making and measuring – so, I started looking at this as, if I accept that this is a Herculean task that I'm probably not going to get right, and that I have a limited amount of time in my day, how do I achieve the goal of what I actually want? Which is, I want my team members to not get fired, I want to grow the team ultimately, and I want to keep doing what we're doing because I think we do a good job. 

What do I have to do to do that? And so, a lot of that comes down to, let's listen to what leadership cares about. What makes them go wow, that -- so oftentimes, that's about aligning to OKRs. What is it that are the OKRs that they're sending? How do I make them look good on those OKRs? What are the things I could do that would do that? 

So, if I can show, we allowed you to get to that OKR viewer you were trying to reach. That's often something that I do from a reporting perspective. So, that's one side of the metrics, is let's look at what they want to report on; let's report success on that. And that's more of managing up type of reporting. 

But then there's the whole operational of the team type of metric, so I do a lot of monitoring reporting. I look at vanity metrics, things like numbers of views, numbers of subscribers, new viewers that we're getting on YouTube; that's just YouTube for example. I look at our growth in articles; I look at which articles are performing well; what are our top articles in a quarter, so I can see what the topic trends are. 

I'll look at things like our Slack; which channels are growing. Because we have a lot of channels that are tied to different products. So, I can start gauging where are people excited, which products are doing what better? Which is usually an indication that that means that that's the one that' s going to sell more because more people are asking questions about it and more people are joining there to try to hear what the answers are. 

I'll look at things like growth and competition too, where there's public numbers available. How are we doing against, say, somebody else's YouTube channel; what does that look like? I also look at things that are more lower level at the developer level, for – whether it's ACR downloads for Docker images or MPM downloads per month for a particular SDK. All of that can be an indication of where's adoption going for tech. 

And some of these I measure and report out and a lot of it is just for our team, so we know what's working and we know where we should focus. Because if we're seeing, nobody cares about this particular SDK, we should invest in creating a whole web series around that and doing event presentations on it. 

But there's a lot of questions in the community on this. We're seeing a lot of hits on the videos on this topic and we're seeing a lot of content being created by our community around it. Maybe that's an area we should be looking at and focusing on and supporting. Because people are engaged there; that's where we can have the most impact. [0:24:12]

Richard Rodger:  [0:24:13] And are you in – are you doing this measurement with Excel or do you have dashboards, homegrown tools? Do you use a solution? [0:24:20]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:24:20] I would say it's mostly homegrown, with a lot of different tools being pulled together. My favorite tool to use in there is probably Excel, which is where I go to all the different tools and then centralize it in, and then I can, from there, crunch it out, back out to dashboards. Power BI is used sometimes. 

But I find that some people go whole hog in on the tooling aspect and they go all the way there; some people aren't doing anything. And we live somewhere in between, where it's like we can do better. We could go towards that. What do I have to do now to get one step closer to that fully tooled solution and how do I improve it little by little, year after year? 

Because when we started, we were doing nothing but how many blogs did we write this month?  And we still track that. But that's the starting point, and then you just iterate. And I feel teams are on different levels of maturity there and we're on our way. We have what we need now, but there's this other side of it where you could do so much better. [0:25:30]

Richard Rodger:  [0:25:33] 100%. I do have a question for you. Based on your measurements and your metrics, how effective are ambassador programs? You might have a soft spot for them yourself, but- [0:25:47]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:25:47] I do, yes. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:25:47] -I am interested in – I'm interested in this question because there comes a point as a company grows where it's not enough just to have meetups and blog posts and that sort of stuff. You need to formalize your relationships with your superfans, the developers that are really into what you're doing. So, when do you decide to start an ambassador program? How do you run it? How do you measure that? And how important are they? [0:26:17[

Jason St Cyr:  [0:26:19] I'll start with the last question; how important are they? I think that it depends on what your audience is from a developer perspective and what those individuals' audiences are. In our case we work with a lot of agencies, so activating those developers and getting them to talk about what they're doing is incredibly helpful for us. Because the developers we're talking to are not at the customers but they get to influence the customers and they build a third-party trust on it. 

So, in our scenario having a whole – hundreds of people out there that are talking about our products directly influences our ability to make revenue. Because it's not the marketing from Sitecore; this is somebody else that they trust. It's their trusted partner that they work with to make sure they're getting the right tools and the right solutions. And they're not solely usually working on Sitecore stuff; they know what the other things are too. So, when they're talking about they have an element of trust to it. 

So, I feel that in that scenario it's incredibly important. I would say that it takes a lot of time to invest in that and that if building that trust with customers and creating content at scale and you have a small team, investing in ambassador program early can really help. Because suddenly, you are not the content creator. Now you're a manager of content creators and you've got this army out there. And if you get them engaged, you don't need to create as much content because they're doing it for you. [0:27:59]

Richard Rodger:  [0:28:00] Is there some sensitivity around the fact that the ambassadors work for other people? [0:28:04]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:28:07] Yeah. I would say one of- [0:28:10]

Richard Rodger:  [0:28:10] Let's unpack this one. [0:28:10]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:28:13] So, every – in our world, all of these people who are our ambassadors are often competitors with each other. So, you have somebody talking about something over here, and then someone has a different opinion on the same subject and they work for the competitor, now they're both our partners, so we've gotta make sure everyone's happy. And I think that's what's great about community in general, is that when you find people connecting individually, it starts transcending that competition. They start thinking of themselves as one group of people all solving the same problem and less about who's working at who. 

And if you can get your community to that point where they're collaborating together, it starts lessening that problem of the competition, that they're working at different places. And I think it's – I think one of the things that is really tough for me to look at is how do you keep a community wanting to have that helpful nature over a long period of time? So, I've had the benefit of being in this community now for a decade and it's changed a lot and there's a lot – 

But a lot of the people who are the most vocal and the most supportive of the community are a lot of the same people that were there when I was there a long time ago. And as – once you go into the developer relations side of things, one of the tricky parts of community management is, how do you keep that going? How do you bring in a new group that builds on that culture? How do you adjust the culture if you start seeing culture changes? There's a lot of interesting challenges in community management on that side of developer relations. [0:30:02]

Richard Rodger:  [0:30:03] You have a 10-year-old community and a lot of the same people still in the community. Congratulations. That's- [0:30:09]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:30:09] The community's probably 15-20;years old; I can't even remember how old it is. I've – it's only me that's only been able to be part of it for that long, so- [0:30:18]

Richard Rodger:  [0:30:18] That – it – that is an achievement. Maybe you guys don't realize it because you're in the middle of it, but communities do evaporate. They do become toxic; they do disintegrate. Keeping it going is – well done. [0:30:33]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:30:35] And I think a lot of that is a testament to when we talk about master programs, that when you recognize certain types of activity, those ambassador programs are signaling, look at what these people do. This is what we want; this is what we value. And if you want to be like this too, you should emulate that type of activity, that type of helpfulness, that type of selflessness, that these people are going above and beyond what their day jobs are. They don't need to do this. They're doing this because they love it. 

And by – that's where an ambassador program can have a real impact on people, because – so, I did a talk years ago where I did the Mr Rogers spiel on community management, where you look for the helpers. And if you can find those people and you can elevate those people and put them in front of others and say, 'Look, this is the – this is good. Other people strive to do that too.' I'm not saying we're solving world peace here or anything like that? But for me, that's a very satisfying thing to be a part of, to run something that is trying to just make people better people, more helpful, and trying to help each other out. Community can be really rewarding. [0:31:55]

Richard Rodger:  [0:31:57] We don't appreciate how lucky we are in the world of tech and coding. For some reason community seems to be quite values. I speak to friends who work in other industries and I'm not saying it's across the board, but certainly, you can pick out other industries where this -- it doesn't seem to be as friendly. There doesn't seem to be this idea of community as a thing that is valuable in and of itself. I just don't think we appreciate it as much as we should. [0:32:30]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:32:32] And I know that there's several people in our developer relations community that are so well known for what they do and so well known for the value they bring to organizations that they now teach other parts of the organization how to do that. Because it's no longer just about the developer; they realize that maybe this is all people. Maybe this is less about developers and it's just that developers are getting the attention because they've got some influence on a particular decision. 

But if we take these approaches towards other parts of our business, of how we deal with customers, how we deal with business colleagues, how we deal with partners, that maybe it works there too. And it doesn't always. A lot of lessons learned from what we've been doing for the last while in dev rel. That applies to a lot of areas of business. [0:33:28]

Richard Rodger:  [0:33:29] I have one final question on the ambassador program, which – help me understand how – moving away from community back to hard business reality. Help me understand how the revenue generation works there. Is the value because the agencies are generating deal flow for Sitecore, or is it because Sitecore is generating work for the agencies, or is it both? [0:33:57]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:34:02] The way we approach our ambassador program is we recognize three types of ambassadors. We have what we all a technical or a community MVP. And we recognize them as people who are trying to help each other and are sharing a lot of content, sharing answers, supporting others. 

So, we recognize that type of – and that goal there is more about how do we build brand trust out there? How do we deflect support tickets? How do we make sure that there's good SEO? Because we've got people creating content about our product, so those blogs are going to get picked up and it's not coming from, so you're getting that extra trust on it. So, there's a different type of angle with that piece. 

Now we have something we call strategy MVPs. And these people are people that we recognize for excellent work that they do, making sure that customers get the most out of what they have. and this might be because they're doing really cool personalization stuff or they're doing some kind of neat business problem that was solved in a unique way. So, there's these – it's more of a solution level. And those are great when we're thinking about case studies and showing to other potential customers, look at this awesome stuff. 

So, we want to fuel people to want to tell those stories more and make those stories a reality. So, that probably lends itself more towards customer success and retained ARR and people feeling they got the value out of what they invested in. And then we have something we call the ambassadors. It's interesting; it's an ambassador program but we call it the MVP program and we have these ambassadors. 

And ambassadors are less focused about sharing content; that's not what they do. But they're people who are recognized voices that are out there and saying, 'Yeah, this is something that's going to solve your problem. And these people, they may not write a blog post; they may not do some video. They might be not involved in a build. But they're incredibly value to an organization because they establish the trust with your potential customer. [0:36:22]

Richard Rodger:  [0:36:23] Gotcha. 

Jason St Cyr:  [0:36:23] Because they're out there saying that this works. They're giving it credibility. So, there's different aspects, and that drives our potential revenue numbers. [0:36:34]

Richard Rodger:  [0:36:34] Bit nuanced. Quite nuanced all right. [0:36:36]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:36:36] Yeah. There's different ways to go at it. Anybody who wants to start up a program, pick what you want to solve. What is the problem you're trying to solve? And then activate people to do the behavior that solves that problem. Maybe it's deflecting tickets, so you want to get people who are in on answering questions. 

Maybe it's, you need to drive more revenue and that's going to be marketing pipeline. You got to get more people talking about you, more people creating content, more people out on stages at industry events, saying, 'This is what I did. So, there's different approaches. You first have to know what problem you're trying to solve. [0:37:12] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:37:14] Got it. Okay. Think we have time for one final question, unfortunately, because I could keep going forever. I've a whole lot more that I've now. But we're – well have to defer those to the next time. In your leadership role and in building out the developer relations activities for Sitecore – and before we started recording, you alluded to the fact that some strategies work, are interesting and work for a while, but then stop working. Do you have any examples of that, or that a general phenomenon? Is it something you have to watch out for? What did you- [0:37:56]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:37:56] I think yes. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:37:58] And then stopped working. [0:37:59]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:37:59] Yes, you're absolutely right. It's definitely something you got to look out for. All of us – I'm sure you've had a situation where you saw a problem, you solved it and everybody was super happy about it. And then you did the exact same thing you did before and people were like, 'Eh. I've seen that. That's not new.'

As a concrete example, one of the things that I identified when I first joined Sitecore years ago was, we're lacking a video presence. I'm not a big fan of watching YouTube, but I'm a big believer in video as a medium to help teach. So, I said – there's this old dormant site that the training team was using; nobody's using it right now. Let's take this channel over; let's just put something out once a week. 

And we grew that thing 250% in the first year, at which point, I'm like, 'I know enough. That's not going to happen a second year.' But the second year, I did at least a 50% growth again. And it was this big, huge arc of growth of audience on it and – because people were just getting to know about it, and there was this huge excitement over video. 

Now fast forward 5-6 years later; that growth rate isn't there anymore. You hit a saturation point you're going, 'Well, I'm hitting my 10% target now; that's decent growth. But how much of that is the activity I'm doing.' And we're doing better-quality content; we're doing more content there. But you're not seeing the same return you did at the beginning. [0:39:40]

Richard Rodger:  [0:39:41] So, do audiences have saturation points? Do they segment themselves into groups that – there's just a limit to how far they'll grow? [0:39:50]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:39:51] Absolutely. I think the – when you go after a channel, one of the thing – so, if we're talking specifically about advocacy and going in on channels – we went at video, and we have to keep it up to maintain a certain level. And at the very beginning, you're going to see big growth of adoption, and then you hit a certain point where you can only grow as much as your audience grows. 

So, now you gotta switch to how do you grow that funnel that I can saturate into? And just doing what you did before is not going to keep getting you there, so maybe you switch to doing more written content, and we did try that, where we increased the amount of written content. We tried to work on SEO and things like that and we saw a boost. We're getting a lot of good traffic here, but then it starts slowing down again. So, every time we try to do something new, people go, 'Wow, that's cool. I'm going to listen to that.' And then there's a drop-off point. So, trying to innovate all the time is tough. It's – you can't always be going viral; it's just not going to happen, so you gotta experiment. [0:40:51]

Richard Rodger:  [0:40:53] You don't want to be going viral all the time. [0:40:54]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:40:57] You're right, that might be bad. [0:40:57]

Richard Rodger:  [0:41:00] My takeaway from that is, don’t get disheartened; it's part of the day job. You explore a channel; you push it to the max and then you reach a steady state and it becomes part of your content process or whatever. That is to be effective. [0:41:17]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:41:18] That's the everyday; that becomes the everyday. [0:41:19]

Richard Rodger:  [0:41:21] Awesome, okay. I could keep going for ages. We've got to wrap it up. Thank you so much, Jason. This has been very interesting, hugely beneficial. [0:41:34]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:41:33] Thank you very much, Richard. It was great to have a chat with you. Likewise, I can go all day on this. [0:41:38]

Richard Rodger:  [0:41:39] Yeah, well, that's what they pay us for. Okay, cool. Thank you so much, Jason. Take care. [0:41:44]

Jason St Cyr:  [0:41:44] Have a good one. [0:41:44]


Richard Rodger:  [0:41:45] You can find the transcript of this podcast and any links mentioned on our podcast page at Subscribe for weekly editions, where we talk to the people who make the developer community work. For even more, read our newsletter. You can subscribe at, or follow our Twitter @voxgig. Thanks for listening. Catch you next time. [0:42:12]