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Creating and marketing a new web app: trying to do it right

I’ve previously written about creating new web apps, and the simple fact that without some form of marketing effort, if you build it, they will not come. But what is the solution?

With my latest app – Interactwive, a tool for running contests on Twitter – I attempted to start marketing WAY before I’d even begun to scratch out the first few lines of code. Here’s how I’ve been getting on so far.

When I first had the idea for Interactwive, I immediately started thinking about who I could market it to, and how I could find them. I also needed to find out whether anyone would use such a tool. Time to dig out some contacts!

One of my other Twitter tools, TweetingMachine, has put me in contact with a good number of people who manage Twitter campaigns. I sent out emails to a few contacts that I get on well with, and asked the question: “If this product existed, would you pay to use it?”

The answers came in: a unanimous “YES.”

Which was exciting.

The next step was to find out more about the types of competitions that were being run. I requested as many examples as possible, worked out the basics, and sat down to code. I always find this part enjoyable, possibly because I know for 100%  that there is no way for me to fail at coding to a specification I’ve written. For this reason, I put off coding for as long as possible, staying outside of my comfort zone and trying to work on those sales and marketing skills.

A couple of weeks later, I put the site live, this version being the absolute bare minimum that would get the job done. And fortunately so; a while later I received some feedback that led me to make some pretty major changes to the system’s architecture that would’ve been pretty difficult to implement if I’d had a few more live contests running.

I launched, sent emails to and/or phoned up every contact I could find, and the response was still very, very positive. The only problem? Well, it’s not a bad problem to have… but after a week or two, the responses were becoming quite similar: “I love it, and will definitely use it for my next competition… probably in a month or two.”

And here’s what it all starts going a little bit wrong.

Whilst there are plenty of people still interested, some have gone rather quiet. I’m also starting to see people searching from Google with relevant keywords arriving on the homepage, and then drifting off, uninterested. Which makes me sad.

Rather than sit around and mope, I’ve worked out the biggest issues, and put them into a mini rescue plan:

  • Accept that I was lazy-bordering-on-incompetent in marketing only to TweetingMachine’s contacts. Fix this ASAP.
  • Improve the landing page’s copy. Tell more of a story.
  • Potentially offer a free trial – say, create a contest that lasts 24 hours for free.
  • Double-check for any obvious and missing vital features
  • The design is functional, but not pretty. Maybe time to settle on a design from ThemeForest?
I’m still thinking positively about Interactwive’s chances; compared to CampaignBar, the fact that I’m at least getting people registering is cause for celebration.
The other cause for celebration? This is all a learning experience, and nothing happens unless you make the effort. Given how long it took me to get TweetingMachine’s initial registrations – let alone its first paying customers – things are happening a lot quicker these days. I won’t be giving up quite yet :-)

Written by Tom

Are you looking for web development or just someone who will work with your business needs and not against them? Get in touch with me here, or take a look at my business website. I’m confident I can help you.

Published inInteractwiveOpinionTweetingMachine

5 Comments

  1. Always wise to test if people ARE willing to REALLY buy your product rather than SAYING that they might. Easy to be enthusiast up until the point you hand over your CC details.

    You can chose to to fake it; pretend you have the product before you actually make it. Sell it to your target group and see if anyone bites. Then develop the product. That’s what Dropbox did. I made a post about it (and a test I did): http://www.keithmander.com/?p=1235

    • Tom Tom

      Agreed, it was a bit of an amateur mistake on my part. I think next time if I have a direct connection, I might ask for some kind of pre-order (if I can do it without invoking the wrath of PayPal) with a discount if done up-front.

      Like what you did there though; a good way of proving the basics of an idea without spending too much time or money on things.

  2. Sometimes, people is just being kind to tell you they like your product, and “will” buy it.
    Ask them to take the action right away, ask if they like it, can they buy it now. Then they will tell you what they do not like about your product.

  3. The sales cycle for this product is probably a little more unique. If we were running a twitter contest I would probably research the operations stuff well before pulling the trigger.

    you planted the seed, which is a great move. Now they’ll remember your product when there’s a business need.

    • Tom Tom

      Thanks Iain, that’s a good point :-)

      One other thing I’d like to experiment with is some form of newsletter – if I can get people to sign up for it, hopefully one a month news reminders would remind them to use Interactwive :-)

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