Ovi's Blog on technology and the web

Marketing a web app

This is the third post in a series about working on my side project: Indie Aisle. The previous covered design and development. Originally this article was going to be about specific techniques I’ve used to market the Indie Aisle web app. But there is a critical aspect I missed that makes the results on those techniques inconclusive: tracking their outcomes. I’ll talk more about it in a bit.

The first big thing I’ve learned about marketing a web app (or marketing anything really) is to have a clear, focused message. It sounds basic, but it can be the most difficult thing to get right and I’m still not sure I’ve gotten the hang of it for Indie Aisle. Getting the message figured out has not only allowed me to write better content for the site, but as the message is part of the brand and permeates throughout every aspect of the product, it also becomes a part of every marketing campaign. Here are a few campaigns that have yielded some results for me as I tried to pay attention to the message:

  • Blog – helped develop the message with every post, having regular posts was helpful as well
  • Twitter – worked for figuring out who my audience was and understanding their experiences
  • Newsletter – good for some feedback and keeping interested users updated, including blog posts or tweets was a good way to reuse some content
  • Adwords – measuring/tracking is key, once you have that, you can start to properly drive traffic you pay for and figure out how to better focus your efforts

So, tracking is where I went wrong when it came to ads I ran (the most being through Google’s Adwords). I essentially spent way too much on ads this past year and at the end of it all was not able to identify the specific results that showed if the product was successful. I essentially got carried away looking at traffic numbers and sign ups as they went up while blindly overlooking the fact that they did not lead to the most important figure: paying customers. The only way to really know if someone is using your product, this making it successful, is if they are happily paying for it!

I also realized that by not tracking results based on conversions (the connection between a click and a sale), it also lead to incorrect customer targeting which is also an important aspect of marketing. I didn’t know if the audience I was pushing to the site was in fact the right audience for the app because I didn’t know to what extent they were using it. And in hindsight, I now see that this also made it difficult to know how to continue developing the app.

Tracking every marketing effort and getting paying customers is what ties together the idea from being conceptual to knowing if it works in practice, as a concrete product. And as I’ll cover in my next post, not having a good understanding of this can ultimately lead to a failed product.

Originally published December 11th, 2012