Also what are the usual mechanisms for you to get contacts of sites/bloggers who can review you app?
The average user perceives no value from the opportunity to review your application. That sounds suspiciously like work! They perceive value from using your application (one would hope, anyway). I think folks here say "I need folks to review my app" because you think that that gets you "You will, naturally, publish that review somewhere which is visible", but this is sort of putting the cart ahead of the horse. Get the use first and you will get the talking later, rather than the other way around.
(This is one place where TechCrunch et al distort our perception of reality. TechCrunch et al will use any application just because it is new and shiny. New and shiny iPhone-enabled social network for blind dog walkers? Whatever, we'll give it 45 seconds just so we beat ReadWriteWeb to the first post about it! Conversely, TechCrunch et al will not use an application just because it is old, despite the fact that it actually provides value to Actual People. Actual People are not a constituency of TechCrunch et al.)
Bootstrapping your way into users isn't necessarily a fun place to be. I really can't pound the organic SEO drum enough -- it is cheap and anyone can do it. Write stuff which solves the problems of your target market. Bonus points if the stuff you write recommends they try your app for more of the same pain relief.
Incidentally, SEOMoz has a few oldie but goodie articles about "linkerati". Study carefully the factors which make content easy to consume and the factors which make content easy to recommend. (They're not co-extant. Content which is easy to consume but not easy to recommend, such as a lolcat picture, is not a high priority for you if you have no users.) This should inform what sort of stuff you build to ramp folks up in the early day. If it is too hard to recommend the trial because it takes hours of setup before you start seeing value from it, write a whitepaper. If the whitepaper takes too long for the average customer to "get", condense it into a blog post. Keep reducing the barriers to having your new best buddy in the world tell his friends/peers/readers about you.
Find a list of bloggers in your niche.
Find their contact details. (Either their contact page, or their whois.)
Send them a snail mail letter explaining your offer.
This seriously gets more high profile bloggers to review your products - because it cuts through the clutter. Its more work, but a lot more effective than email.
Don't use snail mail. Use email but with a) A superb subject line which lays out the differentiator of your product and b) a clear concise intro para which lays out the proposition in one easy glance.
That's all. If it's any good, we'll take a look at it. And yes I'm a journalist/blogger.
Shameless plug: If you're serious about snail mailing people, check out my latest project, SnailPad (http://www.snailpad.com). Pretty soon, you'll be able to upload a PDF and blast it to anyone you want, etc... my contact info is in my profile if you're interested in checking it out.
Also make sure the content of those books is being indexed by Google even if there is a paywall to read them.
Thanks a lot for feedback. That's correct. Unfortunately we have only 2 books as of now. Talking with lots of authors and publishers to get more books on the store. Soon we should get some books and users should be able to browse through them.
What is your opinion about core idea/product? Feel free to write to us at email@example.com.
-hold a launch promotion, give away some ipods, or something along those lines.
-build something your users would want to talk about. It's all about going viral.
for finding bloggers, you can do 5 things:
3. SEOTools to see who linked to your competitors.
4. If you are going for any niche outside of tech, there'll always be blog rolls. Use that to jump from one blog to the next.
5. Delicious and other bookmarking sites.
Not trying to high jack your discussion. I would be perfectly happy to be given the link to some previous discussion about the topics I listed, as I imagine it's been so very done before.
Back to your regularly scheduled programming (with apologies, if that is appropriate).
I learned a few things along the way. I got quite a few initial users off of Mechanical Turk. I submitted a request asking for users to test my application out. I paid them a nickel a piece to have users visit my site, click through a couple of links and post a comment on something cute. I ended up paying around $1 a day, and I got some great feedback from them. It was also fairly low pressure for me, too. I didn't have to worry about things breaking and losing users. The Turkers expected things to break, because I was asking them to test the site out. I recommend trying spending $5 to 10 on the Turk. It's really hard to go wrong.
I also tried advertising using adwords. That was a mixed bag. Initially I got a decend click through rate on my ads because the Westminster Dog show was going on, and people were interested in seeing pictures of cute dogs and cats. So, I got a bunch of decent traffic from that for around $0.10 to 0.20 a visit. But, as I continued advertising on adwords, I started noticing a pretty big bounce rate. So, I cut back on adsense and focused on other channels.
I also spent quite a bit of time emailing bloggers who had cute blogs. I got some traffic from them.
I also spent quite a bit of time posting good comments on other people's blogs. I actually got a couple of clicks a day from people clicking through my signature link on icanhazcheezburger.com.
Probably my ROI was from a comment that I posted on a cute pig video on the LA Times website. I got several good referrals a week for two months off of that single comment.
So, I just put up http://newsley.com which is a business/economic social news site. Right now, I'm just talking to friends and family and getting feedback from them, so I can make changes to the app accordingly. My next step is going to get some feedback from Mechanical Turk. It's a cheap and easy way to elicit good feedback from users.
This time around, I'm going to work with twitter a lot more. A friend of mine developed some decent twitter bot software that categorizes twitter users by value to me and handles the following/unfollowing bit while avoiding spamming people. I think that if you can find twitter users that are interested in your niche, they could probably help out a lot.
I don't really know if I'm going to user adwords or not. It ended up being pretty expensive. My customer acquisition cost using adwords was about $1-2.
I'll still post comments on news stories and articles. I can sleep at night as long as I'm not spamming the comments thread, and I feel like I'm adding something to the discussion. Finally, I'm probably going to go out and press the flesh quite a bit more on this one. I'll probably do a lot more meat space networking for this site.
That's a great insight from a person who already tried the things. Can you please tell me the name of the twitter app.
I try to do 1 or 2 promotions a year. Any more and your app is 'always on sale'. Results vary for me. I find my business app outsells my 'geek toy' app most of the year, but during promotions the toy gets good sales. Business users don't tend to hang around looking for cool toys at promotions. Geeks do.
Generally I find out about these promotions by keeping my eye on the Mac developer community. In todays case I got an email out of the blue about a month ago saying they were interested. (There's some sort of mechanism where users vote that they'd like to see a piece of software on their promotion.)
I don't think I've ever spent more than an afternoon setting one of these up. These people do this constantly, and I'm more than happy to let them play to their strengths.
That's one way you promote. Instead of getting your app in front of reviewers, you get it in front of actual customers.
That being said, I also:
- Send out a lot of personal emails to various editors, bloggers, etc. when release time comes around. Give them a little advance notice.
- Make sure you're listed on major directories. For me, this is the Apple Downloads page and sites like MacUpdate or VersionTracker. Most of my traffic comes from these kinds of sites. (That being said, I really need to improve my sites Google ranking for certain keywords.)
- Get to know the salespeople at your local computer stores. I'll admit, I'm biased on this one since I used to work for one of my local computer stores. These are people who sell things all day to your potential customers. If somebody complains "I keep having to switch my SMTP servers when I bring my laptop home from work" when they're in the store, I want the sales people to know that there's something they can point the customer to. Some people also have the same reaction to 'local developer' that they do to 'locally grown lettuce'. Somehow it's better, even if it's the same.
- Show your app to everyone you know. As a bonus, they might even start to understand what it is you do all day.
Those are the strategies I use myself.
Here are a couple of videos from the C4 conference that I found fantastic on the subject. They're long, but they're worth it.
Wil Shipley: Monster Marketing (http://www.viddler.com/explore/rentzsch/videos/4/)
Adam Engst: Hacking the Press (http://www.viddler.com/explore/rentzsch/videos/12/)