Growth September 22, 2020

How to boost traffic to your boring SaaS product (not clickbait)

Richard O'Dwyer @richardindie

If I was really traffic hungry I would post this in a Twitter thread ;)

In short, if you have a SaaS product and it's moderately boring, like mine sheet2api.com. Then create some FREE exciting/useful tools related in some way and share them around.

I added one which turns Wikipedia Article Tables into a functioning API: (https://sheet2api.com/tools/wiki-api/)

As you can see from the screenshot, this has driven a bunch of users to the website, and I guess some backlinks at some point.

Brand awareness, SEO juice, backlinks, all free.

p.s. I stole this idea from @yongfook of bannerbear (https://www.bannerbear.com/demos/tweetagram/)

  1. 11

    looks like that's not all you stole - I'd recognize my arrow graphics anywhere ;)

    1. 10

      "Inspirational quote about how stealing is ok"

  2. 4

    How would you compare the traffic that you get from a "FREE exciting tool" vs. the traffic from a decent blog post?

    1. 2

      My theory is that a tool has the ability to bring users back and users will want to share the tool amongst their peers.

      Not only that but a tool gives you an opportunity to upsell easier, and like @shanefromfargo said the average customer takes 3-10 visits to convert -- which is really interesting.

      I am looking for "mousetraps" and ways to create stickiness. The best way to do that is to solve problems fast and cheaply. Offer people as much value as you can on the front end, and kindly show them the way to the back end if they want more, if not then cool.

      This is why I created a free video trimming tool https://storycreatorapp.com/tools/video-trimmer and why I plan to create more.

      • It's fun
      • It's sexy
      • It's unique
      • It solves a problem
      • It creates an opportunity to lead the user to a next step
      1. 2

        I'm really curious how you do this cost effectively? If this gets popular I'm assuming bandwidth cost would be rather high.

        1. 1

          I am using Lambda, and didn't actually factor in the costs -- I don't mind paying a higher bill for cool results as long as it works out economically in the long run.

          Your question struck some curiosity, so I found this tool https://s3.amazonaws.com/lambda-tools/pricing-calculator.html and did the math.

          In a really good case scenario, I would consider 1,000,000 trims per month the point in which I am sure out of that volume it would yield a significant amount of paying customers.

          So with 1,000,000 executions, at let's be generous and say a 1 minute execution time (60,000ms) the total monthly cost would only be $118.36/month.

          To me, that is not a problem at all. Happy to cover $100 if I can get 1,000,000 renders.

          1. 2

            I think this is a bigger take away for me! We are paying way more than this to render our videos. I'm going to take a look at Lambda.

            1. 1

              If you don't mind me asking. What infrastructure are you using? What are the specs and what is the cost? Are you paying per hour?

      2. 2

        Thanks for sharing your tool! Based on your web, can't you share some numbers about amount of traffic coming from the video-trimmer vs. traffic from the best blog posts you might have?

    2. 2

      Would also like to hear about this, maybe @yongfook has insight too?

      1. 3

        I've never made a tool for my SaaS so I'm unqualified to answer this. However, at a first glance the benefit of a tool vs. a blog post would be the potential for a lead to continuously come back to the tool. A blog post is usually read once, then left alone. But with the right tool, people could be frequently visiting your site to re-use the tool.

        When you factor in the average customer takes 3-10 visits before they convert, I would think a tool would be more useful than a blog.

        1. 1

          I'm trying to think of some tool that I've used or come back to... but I can't really think of one. I'm sure it would work, especially if it's useful enough to share with friends.

          1. 1

            I use this tool fairly frequently. https://dbdiagram.io/home

            It's a free tool built by Holistics. I've never heard of them before, but started looking into their product after finding and using DBdiagram.

            1. 1

              Oh nice, that reminds me of this tool that I've used quite a bit. I don't know if it counts as a "complementary tool" but it's nice. https://www.websequencediagrams.com/

              I now remember that I've used quite a few "serverless cost estimation tools" provided by companies with interesting products that I wouldn't have discovered otherwise.

  3. 3

    Side note but did you update the design? Looks really good now.

  4. 2

    Side project marketing rules :)

  5. 2

    Very cool! When you created your wiki-api page, what did you do (if anything) to promote it?

  6. 1

    I have done this very successfully. I spent $3500 on the development of the tool. However, the power of this is in audience and viral sharing. This tool will require its own marketing budget. Great examples of this where as companies have done huge business this way: https://www.wordstream.com/keywords

  7. 1

    Yeah this is a solid strat - covered in detail here too RE kapwing https://marketingexamples.com/seo/seo-project-marketing

  8. 1

    I was wondering. What part of your users are on paid plans for a service like this?

  9. 1

    Just to put in my 5c - as a developer, your product is definitely not boring!

  10. 1

    I love what you're doing and your results seem hella impressive too!

    I'm doing the exact same thing promoting Spread through my side project TheContentShack and my upcoming (free) E-Book on TikTok viral growth...

    If you have any more tools/side-project ideas then please keep making posts about it. I live for this shit. (I've followed you)

    Also if you want to turn this post into a twitter thread, then... use Spread

  11. 1

    Great idea, thanks for sharing! Something I'll have to try out.

  12. 1

    Your footer is filled with a bunch of guide/tutorial/landing pages. I've been curious about that kind of marketing since I first saw it. How are they working out for you?

    1. 1

      Most are built for specific SEO keywords, a few of them perform well. They take a long time to get any traffic though.

      1. 1

        Does it happen organically, or do you promote the posts in some way?

  13. 1

    This is actually a great idea! Also, your product isn't boring :)

  14. 1

    I've got the same issue - boring, utility product. I think this is great advice! I'm working on a free resource as we speak actually. Best way to get people's attention is to provide them with something useful for free.

  15. 1

    I definitely wouldn't call your product boring ;) Nice work!

  16. 1

    Did you promote that particular wikipedia tool? If yes, how?

  17. 1

    This is a really great idea. Thanks for sharing 👍

    Others who want to read more about the idea might want to search online for "Side Project Marketing". AFAIK that's how people describe this kind of marketing tool.

  18. 1

    thanks for sharing! just wondering if that traffic converted to users/clients, or if it's more of a long term game

  19. 1

    My product isn't ready but I did the same by extracting a small part of it and making it a standalone tool here: https://baseline.is/tools/type-scale-generator/

    Like you said, it's a very nice way to build brand awareness and get some backlinks. Plus in my case I've gotten quite a few people to sign up for my newsletter to be notified about my main product.

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