Places to post your startup - with (some) metrics
This is a list of places that I have posted ChartBlocks in order to promote it. It’s a work in progress - I will probably add sites as I find them and once I’ve been able to evaluate how effective they were.
Bear in mind that tracking where users come from isn't as easy as it once was so these aren't exact figures. We use Google Analytics' utm_source where we can but that's not always possible. Some of the data is even manually collected - a sudden flurry of users after a particular event gets noted down. Figures are also not completely comparable - some figures are collected over months, others might be weeks.
All of that said, I hope you still find some useful ideas you might not have thought about yet.
Consistently sending quality traffic, though not huge volumes. You get to benefit from your competitors’ brands, as people will often by typing in ‘Alternative to [competitor name]’ and Google will be sending them to the alternativeto.net website.
More people who come from alternative.to than any other site end up creating an account, presumably because they know exactly what they are looking for. This is echoed in Google Analytics' bounce rate stat of 24% compared with a site-wide 49%.
Hits: 800 Signups: 144
We’ve tried a few things with Twitter and it’s definitely going to be a staple of our marketing going forward. Twitter offers promoted tweets and promoted accounts, but you can of course just tweet and follow people.
Promoted tweets get good exposure but not a particularly high click through rate. My tweets were clearly not interesting or not click-baity enough.
One of the biggest successes we’ve had is from following people. We decided one of our target markets would be journalists so we made some lists and started following journalists. Almost immediately we had signups from the New York Times, Le Monde and Mirror Group newspapers.
Hits: 766 Signups: 81
Unless you somehow make the front page Reddit isn’t going to send you thousands of visitors but thanks to subreddits you can find good niche audiences that match your target perfectly.
One subreddit that was good was SideProject - http://www.reddit.com/r/SideProject/. You can show off what you’re working on and if your project is interesting you will probably get some useful feedback as well.
It seems to be 30 to 50 visits per post I’ve made (trying to post useful stuff rather than spam) and the conversion rate to signups is higher than most traffic.
Hits: 519 Signups: 65
I tried posting on Product Hunt a couple of times but my hunts never made it through moderation. So, I came up with a plan to get some people to submit it for me.
The key thing here is that Product Hunt usernames are Twitter handles. I went onto the Product Hunt website, found a product with a few hundred upvotes, copied the HTML source for the list of people, stripped out their Twitter handles, pasted them into a mass following tool and started following all of them.
We appeared a couple of days later, having been submitted by multiple people, and managed around 160 upvotes which is reasonably good.
Metric-wise we had 2200 website visits and around 600 users in the 48 hours after being listed. A couple of weeks later and we’ve had another 1000 visits since.
I should note that this exposure also led to us being reviewed on a few other websites and tweeted about hundreds of times - we know get around 3x as many signups per day as we did pre Product Hunt. The follow on effects of Product Hunt have been great.
Hits: 3200 Signups: 844
Show Hacker News
I understand that if you get picked up on Hacker News you are going to get a lot of traffic so a few months ago we tried a Show HN post.
Rather than link to our website we thought throwing people straight into a demo of our app would be good so they could see if in action. Unfortunately at the time we had misconfigured the load balancer on AWS and all of the traffic was originating from the same IP - that of the load balancer. Within a few minutes our anti-spam triggers had detected tens of signups from the same IP and blocked it meaning no one could sign up all afternoon. Lesson learned.
I’ve also commented on something related to D3.js charting that came up on Hacker News and included a link to ChartBlocks. Even this, buried 50 comments in, sent us a handful of visitors and twelve signups. Note that this was only a single comment, and only when it was relevant.
Hits: 148 Signups: 12+
There was a question on Quora about charting libraries and one of our team added a response mentioning ChartBlocks. I have come across another Quora answer recently where someone recommended us as well. There’s also the option to promote the question to 100 people by using up 500 credits. I had 500 credits so you must be given them when you sign up. I promoted the answer that had recommended us.
Hits: 31 Signups: 2
We’ve done three YouTube tutorial videos now, using titles like ‘How to make a bar chart’ and ‘How to embed charts in Wordpress’ in a very simple attempt at SEO.
The oldest video, which was posted about 3 months ago now, has had 900 views. I’m quite happy with that for something that cost $30 to make. Using screen recording software and then sites like PeoplePerHour for your voiceover means it costs next to nothing so trying a few videos is a no brainer. Conversion to signups is hard to track but the videos are useful as tutorials for existing users anyway.
Hits to the videos: 1019
Google Chrome Web Store
The Google Chrome Web Store is a directory of web apps that you can add to your Chrome home screen.
We didn’t have to change anything in our app to make it qualify as a Chrome web app. With very minimal effort you can create a JSON manifest file (not as scary as it sounds, takes 5 minutes) and upload a logo to get yourself listed in the directory.
Over the past couple of months more than 1200 people have installed our Chrome app. Our stats suggest the majority have gone on to create ChartBlocks accounts. Not bad for five minutes work.
Installations of the Chrome app: 1237 Signups: 1020
Stumbleupon (“paid discovery”)
Stumbleupon offers something called paid discovery where they will drop Stumbleupon users on your site. Now, the success of this is definitely going to be dictated by your landing page (ours wasn’t great at the time) but we found it to be a complete waste of money. From a hits perspective it might look good but the $50 we spent on a small test campaign provided a 93% bounce rate and not a single signup.
Hits: 800 Signups: 0
This has saved us a lot of time and is great value for money, especially for the amount of work that would have been involved. They manually submit your startup to high quality directiories, review sites and blogs (40+). This inturn helps to drive traffic, acquire customers, and grow our follwoing. This is targeted at early stage and established startups, so is highly reccommended.
Translating the website
Not exactly somewhere to post your startup but I think it’s important to have on this list. As a European startup we’re very aware that not everyone speaks English. One of the best things we’ve done is translate our website into a few languages.
Most of the websites that I’ve mentioned above have global audiences. We’ve had numerous blog posts written about ChartBlocks off the back of appearing on sites like Product Hunt. So far they’ve mainly been in Spanish, French and Japanese - the first three languages we chose to translate the website into. One Colombian blog post sent us 150 Colombian user signups in a single day.
Foreign language blog posts about ChartBlocks: 13 (that we've found)
I will try to keep this list updated so check back soon.