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Joel Patrizio
Joel Patrizio

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I made 2 marketing microapps: one failed, one didn't. What did I learn? 🦧

After an initial failed launch of my new accountability coaching app, I decided that I really needed to take marketing more seriously if I wanted this to work, and brainstormed a bunch of different tactics.

One that appealed to my product side was marketing microapps: little free side projects that would hopefully generate traffic and qualified leads for my service.

I settled on two to begin with, and they performed radically differently. In short, one bombed and one didn’t:

Micro-app 1:

First I coded iPlanTo, a 30 day habit streak app.

It lets you set a goal and tick whether you got it done or not each day - basically the Seinfeld "don't break the chain" concept.

I build in a way it could be used without needing to register or download anything, basically to make the friction as little as possible with users able to enter an email if they wanted the security of the link being sent to them (eg- to be able to access it on different devices or in case they cleared cookies on their browser).

Microapp 2:​

More Productive Me

Next I created MoreProductiveMe, a 30 day "productivity bootcamp" where users are sent a daily tip on productivity, supported by scientific research and encourage users to apply them to their own lives.

How did they do? Let’s break it down:

👨‍💻 Development effort

iPlanTo took well over a full week to create, test and iterate. In contrast, MoreProductiveMe took only one to two days to develop (being a limited life email newsletter) with content writing adding an extra day’s worth to the effort.

Winner: MoreProductiveMe by a lot

🤹‍♂️ Marketing effort?

Both projects were shared in similar forums and communities online, and roughly around a full day's worth of sharing each.

Winner: a tie

🚌 Traffic?

iPlanTo launched on 18th of Jan and has received 620 visitors so far: traffic

MoreProductiveMe launched on 23rd Feb and has gained 551 visitors so far: traffic

Winner: a tie (iPlanTo gained 12% more visitors, but over a longer time)

💌 Email subscribers

email subscribers

iPlanTo gained only 33 emails, a miserly 5% conversion rate of site visitors. On the other hand, MoreProductiveMe gained 247 subscribers, a conversion rate of over 40%, 8 times better than iPlanTo!

Winner: MoreProductiveMe, by a long shot.

💸 Revenue leads

I had links to my main project GoalsWon in both microapps. So far iPlanTo has gained a grand total of 0 leads to my paid service. On the other hand, MoreProductiveMe has already directly led to one paying subscriber (potential annual revenue of $720 to $1200 depending on plan) with one other warm lead that has a good chance of closing.


I learned a few lessons from first two marketing microapps:

  1. Less is more.
    The microapp that took a lot more time to code bombed.
    Next time I’ll try out simpler ideas first before moving to more complicated ones.

  2. Microapps still need marketing.
    The idea that you can build something and it'll instantly go viral might work for some, but so far they both took effort to try to spread and get traffic.

  3. Microapps are dangerous for builder types.
    I naturally prefer to spend time coding or coaching than having to do promotions. I found myself wanting to spend more time to keep building these microapps, and had to stop myself. Next time I’ll apply a firm time limit so I am forced to a simpler scope.

  4. Make the link back to the main service more prominent
    iPlanTo had a weak tie back to the main project, with email being optional to use, and only a few subtle links on the site. No wonder it performed so badly. MoreProductiveMe was a bit better with email being mandatory, and inclusion of links at the bottom of all emails. Next time I’ll work backwards from the link and pick concepts I know can directly lead back to GoalsWon.

Overall, worth it both for the new revenue and even more so for the lessons learned.


Top comments (7)

barelyhuman profile image

I've seen this and done this myself, a lot of developers get down to code the whole thing when the basic requirement in cases of certain services can be handled by existing tools and services and hooking them up together.

When tillwhen was built, it was built as a full fledged app with a the whole web UI and everything. Looking back, I could've had more success by just creating a slack app and seeing the response and then building a proper web UI would've saved me an extra day or two worth of effort.

Next time, plan out if the service/product you're trying to sell does really need a full fledged scratch creation or can you just use an existing service to start off first.

joelpatrizio profile image
Joel Patrizio

Hey, thanks for sharing your experience here!

Agree about using third party solutions when you're validating an idea. It can save you some valuable time at the start of your project.

Another approach I've seen it's to create a waitlist, and see if there is any interest in your idea, even before you build anything.

barelyhuman profile image

True, the waitlist can help but then we gotta make sure we don't add an imaginary feature in there.
It's worth jumping in a failing like this though, helps you analyse everything that went wrong. Just reading all this online doens't work in terms of implementation unless actually done.

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joelpatrizio profile image
Joel Patrizio

That's true! I also think it was worthy to try, since it didn't take too much time to build either.

Thanks Reaper, I wish you the best with your projects!

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barelyhuman profile image

Wish you the same!

dmahely profile image
Doaa Mahely

Appreciate the insights.

joelpatrizio profile image
Joel Patrizio

Thanks Doaa, glad you appreciate it! :)