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Need advice on promoting my wordpress plugin


#1

Hey all!

(Apologies in advance for the long post below - I realize I should have introduced myself a while ago, but since this is my first contribution other than replies I figured a little history might help. Sorry and thanks!)

I’m Shane, a solid developer who sucks at marketing.

I’ve always had the entrepreneurial itch so over the last few years had been working on some side projects in the nights and weekends. Documented my experience at http://www.sideprojectprofit.com to hold myself accountable and hopefully help out others too. Anyway, after doing this for a couple years I had been stuck at around $500/month extra income from about 5 different projects. Had a couple respected mentors tell me I’m never going to make any serious money off these side projects unless I make them a priority. So, after being steadily employed over the last 11 years of my life, until I decided to go freelance a few months ago.

I have a stable contract that accounts for most of my income, but still have a gap that I need to fill via my side project income. I’ve narrowed my focus to one project and have about 20 hours/week to work on it. Hooray, right? Well…

This decision to go freelance has forced me to have a limited runway, ie - I had about 4 months savings to account for this gap in income that I needed to fill via my ‘side project turned half-time project’. I’ve been told this is a good thing because it would force me to take actions I wouldn’t normally take and stretch my abilities. Well that’s definitely been the case, but I’m also not seeing any significant changes in extra income as a result of my new focus. That’s frustrating, which is why I’m looking for your advice.

Of the many side projects that I run, I chose the one that had the biggest $ per visitor. It’s a premium wordpress plugin that helps people optimize the adsense ads on their sites via split testing. It’s called AmpedSense: http://www.ampedsense.com/

To date (started almost 2 years ago) I have around 50 sales (at ~$70/each). Every couple months people email me with thanks showing how they’ve doubled their revenue and love the product. I’m proud of this and it has given me the impression that there’s much potential here, especially since these sales have happened without a free trial - you must buy before you try.

But since I haven’t been able to take it to the next level, I’m now I’m wondering, is this plugin meant to always just be a side project and never bring in more than a few hundred bucks a month? I feel like the need exists (in fact, someone just posted this the other day on reddit, which is my ideal customer looking for the solution I provide - https://www.reddit.com/r/marketing/comments/3xcwf6/google_adsense_and_what_im_doing_wrong/), but my marketing just sucks. I feel like it’s just a matter of trial and error before I find the right way to market this (am I being delusional?)

Over the last 2 months I had been working on 5 marketing tactics -

  1. SEO
  2. Affiliates
  3. Paid reviews
  4. Opt-in list
  5. Retargeting ads.

Wrote about it in detail here http://www.sideprojectprofit.com/results-of-hardcore-marketing-my-plugin-30-days-later/. Yet none of those have worked (I understand SEO takes time, but the other tactics should have shown results more immediately).

My latest approach has been to create a free limited version that’s available via the wordpress plugin directory (they don’t allow paid or trial plugins there, but you can have freemium versions). I released it last week, and has been averaging about 5 downloads per day (although I only see about 2 new active users per day). This is with pretty much zero marketing, just people searching for plugins. I kinda consider this a success since my plugin is so new it’s at the bottom of the list when you search for ‘adsense’ plugins, and thus those numbers can only rise.

Yet I just wanted to hear some other thoughts before I continue to push forward with this freemium model as I only have another 2-3 months of runway left before it has to start bringing in about $2k/month (currently about $200/month). The plan is to change the model into a monthly recurring model at $9/month instead of the one-time purchase of $59/$79.

Thanks so much if you’ve read this far! Here are my questions I’m looking for input on:

1) Does the fact that I have 50 sales already validate the product, and if not how else should I validate this before I continue my efforts? I have plenty of other projects and ideas I’d love to focus on, but don’t want to give up on this unless I know it’s a failure (and I’m still convinced it has potential).

2) Does my plan of changing from a one-time premium sale to freemium with recurring upgrade charge sound like a decent way to go? Personally I’m a fan of paying for something once, but I’ve seen how successful SAAS can be and think the jump from $0 to $9/month provides less resistance than the jump to $79.

3) Are there any other marketing methods you’d suggest I try other than the 5 mentioned above? Haven’t focused on social at all yet. What else could be considered?

Been lurking around here for some time so I know there’s lots of smart, experienced people around - super interested to hear what you have to say! Thank you in advance for any responses!

Here’s the website again - any criticism very welcome -
http://www.ampedsense.com/
And the new free version -


#2
  1. Yes. 50 sales validates your product at the $70 price point.

  2. SaaS is definitely better than one time payment. However, I believe wordpress users are used to paying a one time fee for plugins and you might therefore face resistance. (I could be wrong) With a SaaS approach you could also segment customers into different segments based on total ad impressions. This way you charge users with more ad impressions (and thereby get more value from your plugin) more than the others. As the customer’s pageviews grow, so does your revenue.

  3. Figure out where your customers hang out. People who own wordpress websites and use adsense probably hang out at various online marketing forums. Quite a few of these forums allow you to create a sales thread and promote your product. Start participating there, provide value and promote your product through your signature.

Bonus:

  1. You mention that you get emails from customers on how their revenue has increased. Convert these to testimonials and show them (with real numbers and pictures) on your homepage (and wordpress plugin page if you can) - for e.g. “David made an additional $1,456 in Jan after installing AmpedSense”. I see that you have a success stories page. This needs images of real customers too. Sprinkle testimonials all over your website - homepage, pricing page

2.Your pricing should be based on how much value you provide to your customers. If your user made an additional 1000 dollars a month, then paying $100/$200 for your product is a no-brainer. Keep raising prices till you get enough people telling you that its way too costly and you get no more sales.

3.Your Ultimate plan allows your customers to install the plugin on unlimited websites. A customer with 2 websites and another with 200 websites will pay you exactly $79 each. That is leaving money on the table. Let your ultimate plan allow a max of say “3” websites (and increase this to the price of 2 websites i.e. $120). Then add another plan for “Enterprise” with a “Contact Us” instead of a price. This is for the user who has 200 websites.

4.On the landing page for your email course, have the sign up form above the fold (as well). This page would also do very well if it had some testimonials (with customer pictures)


#3

Thanks so much, Akash.

Definitely agree with you on the testimonials point. I have a few already up on the site but doesn’t hurt to add more (I have plenty just waiting to be used). Will work on this this week.

In regards to the SaaS vs one-time purchase - how should I go about making that decision? I’d love to offer both and let the data decide, but don’t want to offer too many choices (for fear of decision paralysis) – 3 monthly + 3 one-time plans is a lot to sift through, right? Totally see your point about most plugins being one-time fee, yet have seen a few rising plugins that are SaaS (the SumoMe plugin comes to mind)

Also regarding participating in forums - many don’t allow signatures, so I have been posting and hanging out there, yet under my own name. Occasionally I’ll drop a link to my site, but I hate doing so since it can come across as promotional/spammy sometimes. Would using my product name as my profile instead of my personal name help? I guess I’m not just sure how to participate while also promoting my product without coming across as spammy.

Thanks again!!


#4

Hey Shane,

Thanks for sharing this.

Based on what you’ve said, it sounds like you have probably have a viable business idea which is always exciting!

I checked out your blog post about what you’ve tried and it seems like you’re on the right track.

The growth will hopefully compound, over time. Not sure if 4 months of runway is enough to support you full time, but you can certainly make progress with that.

The most important thing on your site is your value proposition and differentiation.

You are saving people money on AdWords. But why should they choose you over your two competitors?

Talking to visitors and customers

You should be talking to your visitors and paying customers.

Why did your paying customers buy? Was there anything that almost stopped them from buying? I’ve got a couple of other questions I normally ask – I’d be happy to whip out the list if you’d like to see the questions.

On-site surveys with HotJar or Qualaroo can be REALLY helpful to get some data from your visitors.

Where do they hang out? Where can you find their friends? Ask them.

Is there anything stopping them from buying (on your pricing page)?

Ask them. Once you know that you can start addressing their concerns.

Once you’ve talked to people and changed your website, customer acquisition seems important.

I’ve found it helpful to keep track of a backlog of growth ideas (in Trello or a Google Spreadsheet), which I’ll prioritize using the PIE or ICE framework.

That’s all for now but I’m happy to brainstorm with you, elaborate, or answer any questions.

Nathan


#5

For a SaaS priced wordpress plugin to work, it should meet two criteria
(1) provide continuous value to user
(2) data is hosted and processing is done on your server and not the customer’s
The SumoMe heatmaps & a/b testing would qualify for the above. However the welcome mat would not.

You could still go with a SaaS business model without meeting the two criteria above. However, that makes your product vulnerable to someone who can build the exact same thing (they have your plugin code) and sell it for a one time pricing.

If you feel you do meet the criteria above, you should definitely try to go the SaaS route instead of a one time pricing. It is easier to onboard a customer for $10/mo v/s $70 one time and the lifetime value of your customer would be much higher.

About the forums - yes, you do not want to sound spammy. However, as long as you are dropping your link with a disclaimer that you own the product and are doing it so as to provide real value to the forum, you should be fine. Once you build authority in the forum, you will find others dropping in your link as well. If you feel like spending time on a forum is not a good use of your time, you can contact a few respected members in the forum and set up an affiliate-type deal to help you market your product in the forum.

I’m torn between the idea of using your real name v/s product name as your username. If you plan to build more products in this space, go with your real name. If this is the only product you want to build in this space, go with the product name.


#6

Hey Nathan -

Yes, I can see how talking to customers is key. And believe me I am (which is another source of my testimonials). However I haven’t had much luck getting any info from people that didn’t buy. Have emailed the people on my opt-in list that haven’t purchased and didn’t get any responses (70 email addresses). I’ve tried exit popups and on-site surveys before on other sites but those always failed.

Thanks for the confirmation on what I’m doing so far, I hope you’re right!


#7

Hey Akash - That criteria you provided about when a wordpress plugin should be SaaS priced makes a ton of sense. I partially fall into the criteria, but thought of an additional feature (weekly email reports) that would further put me in that category. Going to brainstorm adding that in, as I think it’ll provide a lot of value as well as keep reminding them about the service.

Thanks for your input, has been super helpful so far!


#8

Didn’t read the whole thread but I like the idea quite a bit. Think there’s definitely some validation. I’d probably try to saas it. Any time you’re making people money every month as you are that’s a good place to be.

Id probably try up’ing your LTV and then getting on the phone with warm leads.