Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday BuzzSumo Reflections - Getting People To Use Your Product

Over my espresso this Saturday morning I am excited by the prospect of finally launching our BuzzSumo Pro product next week. There is a 14 day free trial of great new features such as Content Keyword Alerts, Domain Alerts, Link Alerts and Reports, so lots of people will love it and sign up right? Unfortunately, it doesn't work this way. Even if you get lots of people to sign up to a trial many of them will not actually use your product to find out how great it is.

We have already experienced this at BuzzSumo with our free beta product. Over 30,000 people signed up for the free version although many more just used the free search without signing up. However, last month only 11,000 people actually logged in to BuzzSumo. Thus 20,000 of the people that subscribed didn't use the tool last month.

At first glance this seems pretty depressing, as whilst we haven't spent a cent on advertising we have worked hard to make people aware of the tool and to sign up. So to have 20,000 not sign in last month seems like a poor return. However, the guys at Intercom really know their stuff when it comes to product sign ups and launches.  Based on their product research they say "Most customers who sign up will use a product only once".

This made me feel a little better but not much.

I did a few webinars this week with some of beta users of BuzzSumo Pro to check in on how they were getting on. What was very apparent was they were busy people and whilst they had used the tool a little they really hadn't explored the range of features available to them. For example, in each case when I pointed out for competitor tracking they could set a DomainAlert to be notified every time their competitor published new content and also a Link Alert to also be notified whenever an article or blog post on the web linked to the competitor, they were really impressed but hadn't explored these features themselves.

It may be that our interface design is lacking but I am not sure that is really the issue, getting people to spend the time exploring features and getting the most out of a product is hard work.

I really like this diagram from the Intercom blog which sets out a simple formula for calculating customers and tasks at each stage.

We appear to be doing reasonably well at converting website visitors into free subscribers, and whilst our active usage is not bad, we really need to do more to encourage and engage users so that they will gain value from the tool and be prepared to pay for it.

The Intercom guys recommend an approach as follows:
  • Explain how your application works
  • Motivate your users to get started
  • Let your users know how to get help, if and when they need it
Our free BuzzSumo Pro trials start next week. We are following Intercom's advice and our current thoughts on getting engagement and usage include:
  • welcome tour
  • knowledgebase tips and tutorials to provide an overview and how to's
  • introductory and follow up webinars to demonstrate key features
  • in app help and feature highlights, Intercom see a 10x increase in communications  from in-app messages over email announcements
  • regular emails to encourage usage and highlight features, though 70% of mails go unopened
  • targeted email tips based on usage
  • on screen assistance and support
  • case study blog posts outlining features and benefits
I will let you know how we get on. You can also try sign up for BuzzSumo Pro next week at the BuzzSumo website and join me for an overview webinar on Tuesday at 4.30pm UK/11.30am EST at

If you have views or experiences do share either here or via Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Facebook.