Product Development June 2, 2020

Pivoting a project - What would you do?

Anand @hubbion

Hello IH,

So I have an app called BridgeURL which helps share multiple liks with one URL. This project is free to use and has been around for 10 years. Today, though the application still sees a few thousand users each month, they are mostly used by a non-monetizable crowd.

Now, I have a few ideas to make it better - I want to create a paid tier that targets the business users. I also plan to create more features that will make useful for this audience.

Now, given that this pivot is going to take me to an entirely new audience who have not been big on using my product till now, does it make sense to pivot on this same domain (with a paid tier), or do you think I should clone this app on a new domain and market the new site?

Pros of using the existing domain : it has a legacy and authority which makes it easier to promote.

Cons: the userbase is different to the one I want to target. Also, with a new domain name,I have to start marketing from scratch.

  1. 2

    Do you have any limits for free users? There may be an opportunity there to say you get X free links per month and then you need to upgrade to a paid tier (which also adds in some more features).

    1. 1

      When I started this app, you didn't even need registration - just visit the site and get your link. In the second version of the app soon after (again, this is almost a decade back), I created a login account where you could access all your links.

      Since you didn't need registration, there is no limit I could have imposed. And that's another reason I am considering if it makes sense to create a fresh brand altogether where you need to sign up to build links - but this will have limits for the free users vs. paid.

  2. 2

    I'd find a way to get in touch and talk with the power users of your product. People who's mega happy to pay for extra functationality. So you can actually design something that suits them. Win-win for both. Even if you start with 5-10 that's enough to get qualitative feedback to make MVP for Pro Tier.

    Important to not talk about your ideas at first! See: The Mom Test in Brief

    1. 1

      Thanks @witsuma - to be honest, I am not really keen on building up on my power users. These are people who share torrents and minecraft server voting pages through my site. I have not used either of these products to really know a good way to monetize.

      There is a small section of users who use it for SEO (building one page slideshows simply because they get a backlink from my website). I realized I could make a few more features that will help these marketers/business owners and then convince them to pay for these features.

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        It's nice you're considering founder/market fit for building. A lot of people end up can't stand their users. Now you found people you might be fine working with.

        You got one thing backwards. For weeks let's focus on what the SEO people need. What do they want. What value they get from your service. Would what make it even better. Monetary terms of said value. Where they spend on. And many more learning questions.

        This is so you can build something that don't even NEED convincing. Because you're building up something JUST FOR THEM!

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          Great point. I guess that is where I started this ideation from. I'll probably get my new feature, test it on the SEO/marketing crowd in the mix, and then come back to this question based on their feedback.

  3. 1

    I would also advise to keep the old domain if possible. You have years worth of authority built up on it. How different is your new target audience?

    I think one of the best things you could do would be to set up a way to capture emails of people who are using your product. At least this way you can start to build an email list and audience that you can consistently market to. You could offer a more premium version of your product if people opt in with an email or offer a lead magnet of some sort in exchange for their email.

    It seems you already have a decent bit of traffic, so this should build up nicely over time.

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      Thanks @gordon - yes, definitely not killing my old site. I have around 10,000 registered users on my current site - these are all kinds of people from marketers to gamers to kids sharing explicit images. No matter what I end up doing (pivoting on the same site, or building a new brand), I want to leverage this audience to sell my product.

      There are a couple of convincing reasons to move to a new brand:

      1. One way to look at it is the name "BridgeURL" tells what the site does, but does not exactly tell you what benefit a paying users gets from it. Let's say I want to pitch this as a product that marketers can use to curate content from various places. Wouldn't rebranding it as something like "curate.io" sell it better?

      2. Like I said, all sorts of links have been shared with my current brand. Would a business pay to use a site that also links to p0rn or gambling links?

      But what's holding me back is that this site has a very good link profile. It has links from the likes of Mashable and ReadWrite.com. I have had users write to me that a bridge-link from my site ranks better for their keyword than their own websites.

      It will take a long time for me to replicate this on a new brand name.

  4. 1

    I'd keep the old domain as the name is fine and it should help with SEO. It will also help you with business customers to talk about the thousands of users who have used the product successfully (even if it's changed a bit) and to show any reviews you might have gathered.

    Even if you completely changed the site content and pricing a lot and lost a bunch of your old users, they aren't paying you anyway, so what exactly are you afraid of losing?

    1. 1

      Hi @drudg3 - wrote a longer reply above here

      The reason I am convinced I must switch to a new domain name is because the current one does not express the value proposition better. It also has a lot of links to websites in shady territory.

      I do not mind losing existing free users. But worried if the legacy of the site content could put off new customers who I have to convince to pay.