Designing and building your WordPress product can be easy and enjoyable but marketing and promoting that product can be frustrating, especially if you are not seeing the results you want.
Over the years I have built and sold a number of WordPress related products including, 3 premium plugins and as you may know I currently run ThemeFurnace which is my own theme shop so I have seen what works and what doesn't when it comes to marketing a WordPress product. I also receive multiple pitches and requests for coverage each day here on WPLift - some are great, some not so much.
Here are my top tips for promoting your amazing WordPress product.
1. Free Stuff!
Seriously, this is my number one tip - make something great and give it away for free, people love freebies. I have given away plugins, themes, icon sets and these posts and products always garner the most attention. People are far more likely to link to your blog or product site if they are linking their visitors to something which will provide value to them ( a free download, eBook etc ).
By releasing a free version of a product you are introducing your company or product to that person who may want to upgrade to receive support or more features if you offer a "pro" version. They may like the product so much that they look into what other items you sell.
I currently have 2 free themes in the WordPress.org directory, since they were added I saw a direct uptick in the amount of premium themes I sold, each theme also currently provides over a million backlinks each to my main site. Footer links may not count for SEO any more but that's still a million real links to my site that visitors who like the theme can click on and learn more about my company.
A tip if you release a free theme to the directory: Keep it updated, everytime I update one of my themes it gets listed as "updated" so each time I get a good boost in downloads and then after that my daily downloads are a bit higher than before. Really, you should keep your freebies updated anyway, but this acts as a nice little reward for doing so!
2. The Dashboard Up-sell
This is something that I am just investigating at the moment and would be combined with point 1. If you are offering a free theme or plugin, a lot of these include some way to up-sell the user to your premium offering. That can be by way of adding info to the settings page telling people about your premium products or a dashboard widget with company news - there are quite a few ways to reach a user in their dashboard now. The trick here is to keep it tasteful and non-intrusive - it is a major turn-off and instant un-install for me if a free plugin adds a big banner or some other obnoxious message asking me to upgrade in bright yellow! When used correctly though I think this is a great way of turning a free user into a paid customer.
Take a look at Yoast's SEO plugin settings screen - he is advertising 2 more of his products and his review service, its not over the top and I bet he sees amazing results from having this advertising in such a popular plugin.
3. Build a Newsletter
Start building your mailing list before you even launch your product - there is no better way of announcing your product, new features and so on than right there in someone's mail box. Get a holding page up and start tweeting news and updates to get a pre-launch list going which you can email when you go live - this is great to build some initial buzz. Then when your product is live, keep building the list by having a signup on your site. When someone purchases your product, have an email sent asking them to join your list. To really boost signups, offering a freebie as an incentive to join is the best way that I know of.
4. Press Release
By Press Release I dont mean using PRWeb or a similar service, I dont think that really works for our industry but I mean contacting the relevant blogs and sites - I'm sure we all know the main ones in the WordPress news world. Craft an email and send it over - some tips for your email :
- Make it personal, use the person's name not a generic "To Whom it May Concern" and dont accidentally use the wrong person's name or site name in the subject - not cool!
- Don't use marketing speak, write the email in plain English explaining what your product is / does and why it should be covered
- Don't take offence if your product isn't covered, there are hundreds of new products launching every day - move on to point 4.
5. Paid Reviews
Lots of blogs, including WPLift, offer a paid review service for a few hundred dollars so if you are not getting any joy with free coverage then booking some paid reviews is a guaranteed way to get your product some coverage. I have used paid reviews to launch a WordPress product, allthough I used blogs related to blogging rather than WordPress itself I saw amazing results with thousands in sales because of the paid posts. Some people see paid posting as a grey area but really as long as posts are marked as paid and they are unbiased, I dont see anything wrong with it - If you are selling a commercial product, just build it in to your marketing budget - I guarantee if you pick the right blogs you will see a better return than most other forms of advertising.
Another good thing about paid reviews is that the post stays there permanently so once you have paid for it, you will continue to see leads come in over the long term as it is picked up by the search engines and also other sites / bloggers may link to the review or write one themselves for free.
6. Have Patience
Unless you have the remarkable luck of your product going viral immediately, the process of building sales and awareness of your company can be a slow process so it pays to have patience.
Building a blog is one of the slowest types of sites I have done - it literally takes years of constant work to see results and building a good product can also take a number of years to build to the level you want. You can take short cuts by reinvesting profits back into advertising and marketing but I would still prepare yourself to be in it for the long haul. I am entering my third year at ThemeFurnace now and I am still short of the targets I set myself when I started it - I am seeing slow, steady growth though which is what keeps me motivated.
I have covered the methods which I think are most effective here, have I missed anything ? What else do you do to promote your WordPress product ?