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Marketing for Marketing Haters: How Stripe’s Online Payment Software Conquered the Hearts of Developers

Stripe app on mobile phone
Credit: Ralf /

Stripe. Even if you never heard of them, you probably have used their product. The company, established by Irish brothers John and Patrick Collison, provides infrastructure for online and mobile payments. After only 5 years in business, Silicon Valley touts Stripe as a serious competitor for payment behemoths such as PayPal. Their user friendly applications seem to sell all by themselves. But how did Stripe do it?

Online and mobile payments are a lucrative business with a bright future. However, newcomers to the business also face high entry barriers, the dominance of well-established top dogs such as PayPal and a target group which is notoriously hard to catch: Developers traditionally resent marketing campaigns. Nevertheless, according to Forbes Magazine, the percentage of Americans who used Stripe applications for their payments shot up from 3.8% in 2013 to 27% in 2015.

Big names such as Pinterest, Kickstarter, Twitter but also retail giants Best Buy and Saks 5th Avenue grace their client list. Stripe convinced them using the following 3 principles:

1. A product that solves an actual problem

In Stripe’s early days there was a real problem for many entrepreneurs and their webmasters and designers. It is easy enough to set up an online business. It was only when they started to integrate payment options on their website, that a tedious journey began, involving forms, regulatory constraints and the service providers’ inefficient processes.

This is where the Collison brothers’ idea came into play – Stripe’s back-office takes over all the time-consuming processes, while developers only have to integrate the new infrastructure, a task made easy by well written documentation. The developer’s work thus becomes easier, more efficient and successful, too. At the same time, website owners and users enjoy a simple and seamless process regarding corporate design and redirection to third party pages. The result is a win-win-win. That’s when the happy developers started spreading the word about Stripe …

Principle 1: A well-developed product is the best marketing tool.

2. Enhance word-of-mouth

No marketing message can beat personal recommendations for credibility. When the first die-hard Stripe fans started to talk about the new product in forums and on conferences, the company helped them make bigger waves with a couple of targeted measures. Launch packages for developers who integrated Stripe applications, community events and so-called Payment Hackathons rounded up customers and gave them the opportunity to further exchange and contribute their ideas, while spreading the word about the product even faster.

Principle 2: You cannot force word-of-mouth, but you can effectively enhance the natural process by targeted measures.

3. The customers come first

From the start, Stripe tailored their products to the needs of their main target group – developers. That included detailed and well written documentation, being open to various coding languages and a comprehensive testing environment in addition to a simple and intuitive user interface. The more clients came on board, the more closely Stripe listened to them: Since 2013, the Stripe API has been integrated and extended with new features, including bank transfers, mobile one-touch payment options and more.

Principle 3: Do everything for your customers – and keep learning from them.

This article is based on the following sources:


Picture of Peter Ramsenthaler

Peter Ramsenthaler

When working for a global brand back in the 90s, Peter realized that spreadsheet overload and inefficient processes were holding back the marketing team. That’s when he decided to build a martech platform that gives businesses back control and allows marketers to bring great ideas to life.