Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday BuzzSumo Reflections - Measuring Progress Before Your Product Launch

Late last year we released a public beta version of our BuzzSumo tool, a social search engine that provides valuable content insights for marketers. Our intention has always been to release a paid Pro product later this summer and to use the free Beta version to build a community, test ideas and get feedback. We also agreed the basic search for the most shared content on the web by topic, domain or author will always be free to users. The beta version has been a valuable tool for us to gauge interest and improve upon the product. We are also very interested in whether the Beta can provide any guidance or indication to the likely success of the paid Pro product.

Back in April I wrote a post on tracking the performance of a start-up and how the public beta product was going. In the post in the spirit of openness I shared some of our tracking data in terms of Google analytics data and our Alexa ranking. This morning over a few too many cups of espresso I have been reflecting again on our progress as we near the launch of our paid product.

Traffic to our BuzzSumo site has continued to rise, although since the end of June it has flattened a little. This has been achieved entirely through word of mouth marketing and outreach. We have yet to spend anything on advertising or promotion of any description.

The good news is also that subscribers, people who register with their email address in order to undertake unlimited searches, have continued to grow and the rate of growth appears to be accelerating. Well over 20,000 people have subscribed so far. More importantly the number of people who use the site every week is growing, which would tend to indicate that people find the tool valuable and useful.

We have also seen a steady fall in the bounce rate for individual sessions, as shown below, which may in part be due to a core set of users that consistently use the tool.

We have introduced new features and tested them during the last 6 months. We have added author searches, so you can search for the most shared content by an author in addition to a topic or domain. More recently we added a feature where you can search for the content shared by the top ten influencers in any particular topic area. The feedback on these features has been helpful and we have tweaked the features in line with requests from our community.

Our Alexa rank has also continued to rise. Whilst we don't attach too much significant to the exact numbers the direction of travel seems a useful indicator. In my last post I shared how we were being ranked similar to sites such as Talkwalker, which is a different tool but has some similar features.

The latest Alexa rankings below show how our ranking has continued to increase to the point where we are ranking higher than Talkwalker and other tools such as Followerwonk. However, we are still some way behind Topsy, and we would very much hope to be ranked similarly to Topsy, if not higher in time.

I think these indicators are at least pointing in the right direction. People seem to really like the marketing and content insights they gain from BuzzSumo. We have also been adding a range of new features for the paid Pro product which are not in the public beta such as:

Content alerts - These provide an alert when an article mentions your keyword, when your competitor publishes a breakout post, or when a specific author publishes an article. They can be mailed to you or you can create a personalized dashboard in BuzzSumo.

Content reports -A range of content analysis reports for a topic or domain that allow you to analyze and chart average shares, shares by network, content format, day published, content length and most shared domains. They also allow you to compare the content performance of different domains.

The proof of the pudding though is always in the eating. The real test is when we launch the new paid Pro product. We are currently putting together our marketing plan for the launch and hope that the lessons learnt from the public Beta product will have put us in a good position. Fingers crossed.

Finally, we are very conscious we are still learning and that we do not have all the answers. Thus if you have any tips on how best to promote and launch a paid product such as BuzzSumo they will be gratefully received.