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: iplan.to
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: moreproductive.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.
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
Both projects were shared in similar forums and communities online, and roughly around a full day's worth of sharing each.
Winner: a tie
Winner: a tie (iPlanTo gained 12% more visitors, but over a longer time)
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.