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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Marshburn

Community for the C-suite: How dbt Labs surfaces the metrics that matter

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

More than 60% of developer relations professionals believe their organizations view their work as “mission-critical” or “quite important,” according to our 2022 Developer Relations Compensation Report.


And with good reason: DevRel practitioners are key to fostering passionate user communities that power up product adoption, raise brand awareness, and drive business growth.


But connecting the dots for C-level leaders isn’t always easy. That explains why DevRel practitioners use a wide range of KPIs to justify their programs to senior leaders, from video views to monthly active users and everything in between.


Common Room’s CEO and co-founder Linda Lian spoke about that and much more with dbt Labs’ Senior Director of Community and Data Anna Filippova as part of the DevRelX Summit event’s fireside chat “C-level Metrics to Unlock Community-led Growth”. If you’d like to be part of more insightful talks like this one, the registrations and Call for Speakers for the 2023 DevRelX Summit edition are now open! Visit devrelxsummit.com for more.


Here are three of the top takeaways from that conversation:

  • Why C-level executives should care about community-building

  • How dbt Labs approaches community metrics to track success

  • Why community success starts with understanding your data



1. Software sales are community-first

According to SlashData’s latest State of the Developer Nation report, 41% of developers influence purchase decisions and 26% are decision-makers.


And they’re not getting swayed by sleek marketing campaigns.


They’re turning to their peers across a massive ecosystem of digital touchpoints, from private Slack communities to Reddit forums. This means product discovery, adoption, and activation are increasingly happening outside of direct marketing and sales channels. Instead, they’re happening in communities.


“One of the reasons why we set out to build Common Room is because of my personal experience leading developer marketing at AWS for serverless computing,” Linda said. “When I was there, our business was seeing gangbusters growth—300% year-over-year growth—and we found that all of these services were growing not through a traditional kind of sales-led model, but rather through developer community.”

Communities are where purchase decisions are being made. That makes the ability to find, track, and engage community members—across both owned and unowned channels—crucial.


2. Community success correlates with customer success

Hosted by dbt Labs, the dbt Community is where dbt users come together to discover and share new ways of working.


“The dbt Community is very much a community of practice, first and foremost, and all of the other things around brand and around open-source contribution come out of that,” Anna said. “And so, what community-led growth means for us in this context is dbt enables folks to work differently than they've been able to in the past.”


With this in mind, dbt Labs uses Common Room to ensure members are receiving value and to facilitate the growth of the community. The platform helps track:


  • Engagement: Community members who are active, engaged, attending meetups, and talking to each other

  • Contributions: Community members who tell their success stories more broadly, such as by writing blog posts about how they solved a particular problem using dbt

  • Influence: Community members who are stepping up and taking on more visible roles, such as running community programs


Influential members can help companies grow their brand awareness by driving others to join the community, all while raising the skills (and product adoption) of the community at large.

“These are also thought leaders, these are folks who are influencers in a particular area that we operate in and who carry a lot of weight,” Anna said. “And what we do is we invest a lot in their development in order to support their growth, and that creates great outcomes for us in terms of word of mouth.”

In many ways, dbt Labs views community engagement and product engagement as two sides of the same coin. The more engaged someone is with the dbt Community, the higher the likelihood that they’re getting value out of the product.


“We have metrics that help track where different folks are in their community journey, the same way that your product team may have metrics that track where someone is on their product journey,” Anna said. “For us, those are very closely linked things.”


The data backs this up. Our research revealed that community engagement resulted in three times more feature adoption when compared to companies that are not affiliated with a community.


3. Community data shouldn’t stay in the dark

Community creates a flywheel effect that builds and sustains momentum over time, from increasing product awareness to driving product adoption. But it’s hard to get your community flywheel spinning—or prove its worth—if you can’t see it.


DevRel pros need to be able to understand where community activity is happening across all channels, as well as how it relates to business priorities on a data level. This is essential to demonstrating the value of community to company leaders (and getting the resources you need to deliver more value to community members).


When community data is siloed across different platforms—or completely hidden from view—it’s next to impossible to tie it to business outcomes. The first step is getting a bird’s eye view of which levers your community is pulling and where.


Just remember that the key to building a community people actually want to spend time in is centring it around the wants and needs of your product users. Ultimately, your users should dictate your community-led growth strategy and execution priorities. Start with your customers and work back from there.


“I think one of the best parts about community-led growth is that it's not just extracting value for the business, it's not just growing pipeline, it's really again about creating this platform of economic opportunity and helping people grow their careers and enabling them to go out and tell their story,” Linda said.


By balancing revenue and relationships, you can reap the rewards of community-led growth—more sales pipeline, more deals won, and faster sales cycles—without turning your community members off or losing sight of your primary goal: educating and empowering your product users.


No matter which metrics you’re prioritizing, we designed Common Room to help. Try it for free to see how you can scale and measure the impact of your developer community today.


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