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Written by Tyler Wetzel on Monday, February 10, 2014
Applications and smart phone apps have become more prevalent in our daily lives. Many people rely on them to work and communicate in the workplace. They are becoming ever more common. If you’re new to the arena of emerging apps it’s difficult get ahead of the competition. Just breaking through the wall of noise is a major hurdle. For some, it’s advertising. For others, it’s a clean user interface. Solutions for getting into the mainstream are endless, but in our case we broke through the barrier with inbound marketing techniques that relied on limited financial resources.
Our challenge was to get traction on the application without spending a monumental amount of cash. Obviously this is a difficult problem to solve, and I’d like to share with you some of our techniques that we used to break the noise and some lessons we learned along the way.
Since the mid 2000’s inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time. Sounds easy right?
The basic underlying assumption here is that you are creating interesting content that will compel your readers to stay. Over time you want to convert your followers into avid supporters, even paying clients. Typically in the end, it’s being motivated by sales. That’s the conflict. Are you only going to provide essential content about your product (usually boring but informative), or are you going to take the direction of using a persona (mascot) to build hype instead? Perhaps both would work.
We wanted to gain visibility in the ever growing market of cloud-based applications. Our target was small to medium sized businesses and design firms that would have a need for a collaborative business oriented software. Specifically we were interested in getting the attention of managers and early adopters who could easily convert and bring their whole teams to Goodwerp. We were conserving our cash flow in the early months of our inception, and we had to come up with a simple yet cheap solution to build hype for our fledgling start-up.
We decided upon inbound marketing since it is relatively inexpensive and appeals to our client base. This decision was made partially because pursuing professionals on the web through outbound techniques such as personalized emails seemed too intrusive, even pervasive. Instead, we kicked things off by opening a company Twitter and Google+ account so that we could promote and tie our own material to outside sites. People would follow us out of their own general interest for our product. Therefore, it was on us to delight the customer and bring about their conversion through engaging content.
Another bonus to having Twitter is that it can also serve as an area for clients to post bugs and/or ask questions. Sometimes just getting initial feedback is the hardest hurdle, and having a easily asses-able outlet for frustrated customers to reply to is essential for good customer support.
The key to successful company Twitter account is to remain relevant and informative. You don’t want to sound preachy, and you don’t want to overload users with useless information that they can find elsewhere. You should remain unique. Focus your content on your product and avoid retweeting other people. This will only serve to distract or annoy your followers. We made this mistake early on. We started gaining more followers once we cut down our hourly tweets to only a few a day, and only at optimal times. You can employ the help of such software as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule tweets.
We did however avoid Facebook. Why? We believe that Facebook isn’t the right fit for us, and we feel it’s intrusive. People don’t get on Facebook to get notifications about products (at least I hope not). They’re on there to talk with friends and family. So not only would we be out of place there, but we would also have a greater chance of getting lost in the noise.
You can begin by targeting websites where professionals dwell, such as Quora or Dribble, to get that initial interest. The elites frequent these sites and usually have considerable decision making power within their fields of expertise. Therefore, it’s a great way to find actual paying clients that aren’t just interested because they found it in their feed.
These websites also tend to be free, and if written correctly can generate a lot of interest which can even lead to website visits and eventual conversion. Try finding that niche in your industry. Professionals will give better feedback, and generate more general interest. If you can get the interest of the most passionate people in your industry then you are on the right track. Sometimes the biggest hype can come from these splinter websites.
We established a blog and began posting articles pertaining to our fields of study in code, design and project management, as you probably well know. The blog would feature a variety of content from tutorials to articles on life and other musings. In essence, we wanted to share our company culture with our clients. We wanted them to know who we really are, to remain transparent, especially since we are based out of a new country. By creating passionate articles about our business operations we hoped to build trust.
Establishing this trust was crucial in overcoming the barrier of our region. We wanted to get the message across that you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley anymore to produce great products. Innovation can come from anywhere, and we are certainly from everywhere. Goodwerp has employees from all over the world ranging from Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo and even the United States. Displaying diversity is a wonderful way of telling your clients that you are open minded and accepting of ideas from outside perspectives.
We also dedicated several blog posts to tutorials, showcasing some of our most notable features and assets. This is another great tool to utilize.
Whether it’s an in-app tutorial or videos demonstrating its use, tutorials are a great way to promote a product cheaply. There are a host of applications out there that can assist you in creating videos for apps. We currently use Camtasia, but I have also used Adobe Premiere in the past.
Tutorials open a whole door up for inbound marketing. Not only can you showcase them in your blogs and on Twitter you can also setup a Youtube channel and garner a following there. We opened up a channel and began posting a new video every week. It provides a great area for potential clients to explore your product. We also plan to use this area to post non-tutorial related videos such as interviews and sit downs with founders.
This one may cost a little more if you aren’t already knowledgeable about SEO techniques. You can find plenty of resources online that discuss this pertinent topic, or you can hire a professional to optimize your website so that you can get more traction on search engines. By boosting your ranking on Google you can expect higher search results and eventual sign ups. It’s a slow process but it pays off handsomely in the end.
Writing blogs and increasing your author rankings will also give you greater visibility on the net.
Late last year (2013), Google released a new algorithm for their search engine that directly changed how people go about SEO optimizations. Check out this interesting infographic highlighting some of the most important changes to SEO this year here.
Dishing out a change log on a monthly basis is a great way to show clients your progress. Also, if they are overly technical then they have an area to geek out. This documentation can be useful later on for your records as well.
Registering your company on Wikipedia is another important step towards getting global recognition. Before you start throwing your information on the wiki though you should compile some legitimate sources to validate your entry. We opened a Goodwerp entry after we had garnered a few articles from reputable online portals. Wikipedia also provides a whole area for new users to learn, test and edit pages.
Remember this all just advice. So go out there and find your fame!
Read next: The Power of Dreams
Goodwerp stands for "The Good Web Enterprise Resource Planner" and it encompasses a family of online products that help companies big and small around the world, succeed in their business goals.
Goodwerp, Inc. is a registered business in the State of Delaware.
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