LearnMarketing web apps – Putting DropSend in kick-ass mode

Ryan
writes on March 16, 2007

So as most of you know, DropSend is on the block.

I apologize for the lack of updates. One thing that I’ve learned about selling a web app is that most of the time is spent waiting for people to get back to you.

The scales have fallen off my eyes

A friend of mine expressed interest and we started trading emails. After several emails back and forth about the figures, I got this amazing response:

Ryan,

I’m just going to be really honest with you. Simply because I don’t want to see someone purchase your site, run some basic marketing on it and make a killing off of it, whilst you did all the hard work.

I plain don’t understand why you haven’t marketed DropSend. Or got someone on a salary (preferably in the US) dedicated to just that task now that the product is complete. I reckon your 5 (?) potential buyers are thinking of doing just that.

I can already see some of the people on Ed Dale’s Dominiche system (the art of buying and selling websites) smacking their lips in anticipation of ‘flipping your site’ with some basic marketing.

Some basics:

  1. Adwords. Get Perry Marshall’s Definite Guide to Google Adwords. Run some PPC campaigns focused on getting traffic to various landing pages around the idea of sending stuff over the net. Get signups for your list so you can run autoresponder sequences.
  2. Autoresponder sequences. The landing page from a PPC ad has an opt-in form. Get the sign up and send a free five part mini course comparing all the file sending programs out there and the best way to do it + free access to the tool for 1 or 2 sends. This gives you permission to contact people each day for the five days. Then do an upgrade on day five for a ‘discount’.
  3. Organic. Articles submitted to article directories for some decent backlinks with keywords in them.
  4. Blog for same reason. Short keyword rich articles on your blog to generate some nice back links and bring in some organic traffic.
  5. Back end. Once you have sent out the five part mini course it’s time to start sending out information on other related products that you have a % affiliation with. People interested in sending large files are probably interested in video streaming services (low end/high end), folder sharing apps. Each email will generate a nice load of signups and some nice commissions for you.
  6. If you’re not sure what they want then ask them with a multiple choice survey email. Segment the responses into more refined lists that you can mail. I like manageprocrm.com for heavy duty autoresponder action tracking and response. I also like getresponse.com for more just basic autoresponder stuff.
  7. Affiliates. Does dropsend have an affiliate system? Get your affiliates to sell your product for you.

These are just the basics of internet marketing. But at the very least you should read Perry Marshall’s book or get someone else to read it, implement his strategies. Get a ton of paid traffic (search network & content network), monitor conversions with the Google adwords & analytics tracker and drive some more sales. Then do the autoresponder stuff to follow up with those who signed up to your opt-in form so you don’t waste the adwords click. Remember ‘frequency x time = reach’.

You’ll quadruple your income.

Hope that was helpful 🙂

I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. How had I not seen this? Why have I been wasting DropSend’s capabilities to bring in valuable revenue for us?

I guess sometimes you can’t see something until someone puts it right in front of your face and slaps you around a bit. Hey, I’m always the first to admit I don’t know everything.

The plan

I’m not sure my friend’s advice is 100% the way to go, but it’s a damn good start.

We’re going to start by moving Lisa off of managing FOWD and onto marketing DropSend almost full time (the remainder of her time will be spent maintaining Vitamin). We feel she’s got an amazing ability to learn quickly and she’s got a great marketing brain.

We’re temporarily moving Mel onto FOWD (she’s one of the best events organizers we’ve ever seen!), while we look for another events person to bring on board. This will help with the events load.

The goal

Lisa’s got a goal of tripling DropSend’s monthly revenue in eight months. We think she’s got a great chance, considering we haven’t been actively marketing it. After that, we’ll put it back on the market and hopefully achieve a much higher sale price. Our new mentor/advisor has offered to help us sell it at that point – he’s got the skills and connections to make it happen.

Hell, even if it doesn’t sell and we’ve tripled the revenues, we’ll keep it and enjoy the extra cash! 🙂

Well, that’s the plan. Let me know what you think! We’re sure excited.

0 Responses to “Marketing web apps – Putting DropSend in kick-ass mode”

  1. Appreciate the info guys, thanks

  2. Yes Carson, tell us how it worked out.

  3. sgtuzxhj uqjim eugynhq zywcuxqen qyizskjp qbdv pjqx

  4. I’d be really interested to read a follow up story to this – to hear what you’ve learned, what worked, and what didn’t.

  5. I am not too sure about the affiliate program, sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. There are a couple of things I would strongly recommend though: –

    1. Tell your existing users about new features! I have just discovered that you have changed your $99/month business plan to something that would certainly suit my company. We are likely to go for this, but I didn’t know about it until I looked to update some credit card details. Putting it on the home page is fine, but existing users are just looking to log on and do not see these notices. This would upgrade us from a $5/month account to $99/month plus!

    2. Here comes a controversial one….seeding blog posts. Make sure you keep a sharp eye on blogs (Google Alerts is reasonable for this, although you will need to check keywords closely). If you see relevant posts, write a comment and let them know about dropsend. Research has shown that this is far more cost effective than advertising.

    3. Lastly, give a few bloggers free accounts and ask them to comment about them.

    Hope this helps.
    Simon

  6. Hi Ryan great to see it. I could never understand why you were selling it in the first place. Your mate has described our own business plan in a nutshell. Build application service and hire someone to run and market it while the development team looks to the next project.
    Best of luck with it.

  7. Sometimes we spend months thinking about great ideas or innovations. But at the end the most difficult thing is sell it!
    As Greg Gianforte (founder of RightNow Technologies Inc.) says:- Sales is really the most noble part of the business.-

  8. Jeremy W. on March 17, 2007 at 8:50 am said:

    Ryan,

    I think you need to spend a few thousand dollars every month and hire a professional marketing expert. In my opinion this will be the best move.

    You can adjust your annual budget and hire a marketing professional. This will have two advantages:

    1- Your current team will expand which means a possible increase in your business

    2- You will have a professional marketing expert and Lisa will not loose several months on try-n-see methods for marketing.

    Marketing is a really complicated and full-time task in the business in my opinion.

    What do you think?

  9. Jeremy W. on March 17, 2007 at 8:48 am said:

    To: John

    We are also running a software development company and I absolutely agree!

    Releasing a new version is always jumps our solution popularity. I think the point is keeping your community (clients) hot always.

    Comments?

  10. Jeremy W. on March 17, 2007 at 8:46 am said:

    Try shareasale.com or run your own by installing a third party affiliate management system to your server such as PostAffiliatePro

  11. Hey Ryan,

    if you really want to ramp up long-term success with SEM hereâ€s what I suggest:

    1. Create a plan – Iâ€d say 95% of companies that do web marketing donâ€t even have a plan. How can you measure progress if you donâ€t know where you are going? A good online marketing plan should detail the following:
    * Conversion Rate Optimization
    * Keyword research & prioritization
    * Customer Personas
    * ROI tracking/Web Analytics strategy
    * Unique Content & SEO strategy
    * PPC Strategies
    * Usability Strategy
    * Link Building Strategy
    * Email Marketing Strategy
    * Viral Marketing & Affiliate Strategy if you have them
    * And a Testing Schedule
    2. Manage your time wisely – Spend 70% of your time on things that are most important to your success. For me that is:
    * Measuring and improving ROI
    * Writing quality content
    * Link building
    3. Identify personas for your company – Read Brian & Jeffrey Eisenbergâ€s book “Waiting for your cat to bark” for more on this.
    4. Prioritize your keywords – After you do keyword research, figure out a way to prioritize them so that you get the most amount of traffic possible from your SEO efforts
    5. Continually improve the usability of your site – use A/B or split testing on a regular basis
    6. Build trust and resolve concerns – Every element on your site from pictures to content should do one of two things. 1) build trust or 2) resolve concerns
    7. Write compelling content – duh.
    8. Optimize your PPC campaigns – Start slow. Turn on one small keyword selection at a time – weed out all of the non-performing keywords – make sure that section of keywords is profitable and then turn on the next small selection of keywords. Rinse and Repeat.
    9. Donâ€t over-SEO your pages.
    10. Make link building look natural – if you are going after competitive keywords, mix your linking strategies up a bit so that they look natural. If you donâ€t search engines may penalize you.

    Just thought I’d add my two cents.

    Thanks for all of your great posts!

    Dave

  12. Autoresponders are the way to go. My former company, we implemented a sales lead automation tool. Coupled on top of auto responders, as leads are stored into a database, we had inside sales to warm up the leads and then another guy to close the deal.

    They also received monthly newsletters until they opt’d out. You can use that to pitch other products.

    You might want to look into listing this product into directories. Given that you have a Windows client app, you can put it on sites like download.com, betanews.com, etc.

    One of the sales guy I knew, he recommended subscribing to hoovers.com as another alternative to finding sales leads. Narrow the search by industry and snail mail postcards.

    My clients particularly who needed a service like Drop Send were web hosting companies. Usually, the web hosting company didn’t want to raise the limit of email service they provided, so they’d configure an app on a case by case basis and maintained it. In your case, you could offer it to them where they get kick backs for referrals.

  13. re: affiliate system comments
    any good recommendations? CJ requires like $5k balance at all times, but are there cheaper ones that are good and popular?

  14. Ryan,

    Where does the continued development of DropSend fit into all of this? Are your Russians going to be adding an API (for example)? I ask because Joel Spolsky wrote that nothing increases revenue like new features:

    With six years of experience running my own software company I can tell you that nothing we have ever done at Fog Creek has increased our revenue more than releasing a new version with more features. Nothing. The flow to our bottom line from new versions with new features is absolutely undeniable. It’s like gravity. When we tried Google ads, when we implemented various affiliate schemes, or when an article about FogBugz appears in the press, we could barely see the effect on the bottom line. When a new version comes out with new features, we see a sudden, undeniable, substantial, and permanent increase in revenue.

    (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/12/09.html)

    I’d be interested to hear your take on this. I know that Fog Creek dropped their affiliate scheme. Do you think they didn’t try hard enough to make it work, or perhaps it’s easier with a product like DropSend that’s inherently viral…?

  15. Will be keeping a look-out for some DropSend marketing! Good luck

    Just saw a DropSend mention at theregister.co.uk too!

  16. Jeremy W. on March 16, 2007 at 3:03 pm said:

    I agree with Chris. I again want to bump on Affiliate System.

    If you make your service/product attractive for potential affiliates, then you can easily triple your revenue from DropSend easily with the help of tens of affiliates all around the world.

    Just follow these steps;

    1. Make your system attractive for affiliates (sales commission, marketing tips, benefits, etc.)

    2. Setup a powerful affiliate system on your server or use a 3rd party one (ex: shareasale.com)

    3. Promote your affiliate system on your website network.

    If you can achieve 10 – 15 high performance affiliates, then you can notice the revenue difference in just a few months.

    J.W.

  17. Ryan, great move. You’re really in a unique position with DropSend in that it’s a super crowded market and you’ve got one of the top contenders. That’s something that you really should take advantage. These sort of things certainly have a bit of a snowball effect in that you’ll almost immediately see the fruits of your labor with doubled/tripled/quadrupled income by just putting in some focused effort.

  18. Ryan,

    I totally agree with your new “kick ass” marketing plan. One of the things I think a lot of people neglect when they build web apps (ourselves most certainly included), is the power of internet marketing. Traditional marketing is great, PR etc (which you’ve got wired). But, internet marketing is incredibly powerful in its efficiency. It’s our bread and butter here at Voodoo. Out of the above email you posted, here would be my unsolicited advice based on our experience with marketing our sites:

    1) Start w/ PPC. Make sure you have a “conversion goal” in mind, along with conversion code placed on that page. This probably would be a signup or a file send for DropSend. Then you can build a huge keyword to market through Adwords, etc. The importance of a conversion page is it lets you know what keywords are working ie: converting, and what is not. You can then optimize your bidding based on what converts. And you’ll be surprised, but often times the best converting keywords are not the ones you think will work. Also, PPC is instant gratification, you buy traffic and it starts immediately. We’ve found Adwords to be 3x more effective than Yahoo, and 5x more than MSN, so start there.

    2) Organic optimization. Don’t do this yourself, its too much of a commodity, and it doesn’t make sense for you to learn it yourself since techniques change all the time. You could become “an expert” but its not worth your time or energy. We use a company called ebrandz (www.ebrandz.com). I highly recommend them, we’ve been through 3-4 companies and they are inexpensive and highly talented.

    3) Affiliate programs can be huge. The tricky thing there is designing your program so that it is attractive to affiliates with high enough payouts, but at the same time remains profitable for you. A great start here is just to see what competitors are doing.

    Best of luck to you. I think this is absolutely the best thing you could be doing with DropSend. Congrats on getting the fire in your belly on it!

    Chris

  19. Jordan Glasner on March 16, 2007 at 2:30 pm said:

    I would *not* recommend just appointing someone head of marketing because they learn quickly.

    Adwords is no longer a system that can be learned in a week with an eBook. Of course, you can learn how to place an ad, but your ads will cost 2-3 times more than an optimized campaign.

    That learning curve usually leaves a pretty sour taste.

    At least get Lisa some hands on training. It will probably cost you 4-5k, but at least you won’t be paying click costs while she’s learning the basics.

  20. Jeremy W. on March 16, 2007 at 2:27 pm said:

    I agree with BradM. Great timing! I was thinking all the day about how to increase revenue of my site and you punched me in the stomach 🙂

    By the way, I strongly recommend oemPro (http://www.octeth.com/) or Mailium (http://www.mailium.net/) solutions for professional auto responder campaigns. I use oemPro every day and it rocks.

    Before ending my post, I want to mention that affiliate system is the most effective marketing method in my opinion. If you can get at least 25 affiliates all around the world, they can bring you hundreds of new customers and prospects every month and the best thing is, you will not spend any $$$ for these new customers.

    Keep us informed Ryan.

  21. This article could not have been posted at more perfect time. I too have been fighting the ‘how to market’ idea for the past few weeks.

    The blog articles (the organic traffic) is really quite obvious, but what really hit home with me was the affiliate program.

    While reading the article, before I even finished I signed up for the Definitive Guide (5 Day Course).
    That is a GREAT tip.

    I think this will also rejuvenate some excitement in your office regarding the application (sounds like it already has). What I mean is, if you had it in the back of your mind, “I’m just going to sell it anyway” I don’t think you can sit down and fully appreciate what the full implications of what the application can do for you and what type of revenue can be generated. But now, you can feel inspired again and make the product that much better, which is a win win for everyone.

    I’m so excited! I can’t wait to get someone started on my app! GREAT ARTICLE!

  22. Forgot to say… that sounds like a great plan! Send your friend a thank you gift!

  23. For autoresponder services, also check out http://www.aweber.com

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