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Zugg
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 6:52 pm   

Marketing Ideas
 
Everyone we have talked to about this site has said "That's a great idea! I'm surprised nobody else has thought of that!"

This is exactly the reaction that all of the Gurus had when I first posted about it last month.

Now that the site is written and almost ready for public release, the KEY is going to be "How do we tell people about this?"

Marketing. Something I've never been good at. Simple "word-of-mouth" like with zMUD/CMUD isn't going to good enough for this. We have a fairly narrow time window to get the word out and become the first and market-leading site in this area. Because obviously some other smart people are going to realize that they can put together something like this too. This kind of simple idea cannot be patented or copyrighted. So there are going to be competitors. It's just a matter of time.

Now, we have very carefully designed the business model for this so that the service is sustainable, but also dirt-cheap. It's probably going to be difficult for someone to make a real professional service like this that is any cheaper. It doesn't lend itself to ad-based business models like Google and most customers will realize that this isn't a "free service", but something you want to count on for a long time. But even so, there are still going to be competitors.

So how do we get the word out? I have a long-time relationship with someone who sends out press releases to computer-related media sites. I plan to send a press release using his service. My key target is WIRED. I think this service would make an excellent article for them and exactly fits their target audience. So I've got my fingers crossed for that.

I'm hoping that someone will post this site on SlashDot or Digg when we are ready. That will also help. We will be telling all of our friends in various online communities about it, and hope that all of our testers will do the same.

But what other ideas do you have for marketing this and getting the word out?


Last edited by Zugg on Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Fang Xianfu
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Joined: 26 Jan 2004
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Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:14 pm   
 
Infiltrating the blogosphere (ugh, I hate that term - I even have a tshirt on that very theme) would be an immense boon. If the story gets onto enough news sites, the blogs will definitely pick it up, but now's the time to call in favours from anyone who knows anyone whose brother has a blog with any kind of popularity at all.
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Zugg
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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:32 pm   
 
Since we have gone live, I'm just bumping this to see what other marketing ideas people might have. We are going to send out press releases next week and are still learning more about marketing and the best way to do it without pouring a ton of money into it.
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slicertool
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Joined: 09 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 6:53 am   
 
Your Digg, sir.

http://digg.com/odd_stuff/How_will_your_online_friends_find_out_if_you_died#
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Rorso
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:11 am   
 
Find perfectly valid excuse to include popular search queries on the website.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 5:01 pm   
 
Slicertool: Thanks!

Rorso: I'm not sure what you are suggesting.
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Rorso
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 5:07 pm   
 
Zugg wrote:

Rorso: I'm not sure what you are suggesting.

What I mean is to take a look at popular search keywords. If you see keywords related to the kind of website you run on Google Trends then you might want to add them to the website. If I think about it correctly it means that users searching after those keywords would have higher probability to find your page.

Edit: Thinking about it some more I wonder which is wisest. To have keywords that are popular on Google, or to have more "rare" keywords. We have the keyword 'mmorpg' on the MUD website, but looking at the search log show that there are actually very few hits on that keyword.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 5:37 pm   
 
Well, I'd only add search terms that are meaningful for the site. I won't add them just because they are "popular". For example, I wouldn't add "mmorpg" to your MUD website, because your MUD isn't an "mmorpg" and isn't going to interest most people searching for that term. But let's not get into the MUD vs MMORPG topic here.

For SlightlyMorbid, it's really a new concept that nobody else is dealing with, so there probably isn't going to be any "popular" search terms for it. I'm going to stick with the relevant search terms, like "online death notification, online death notices" and stuff like that. I'll research more keywords when I set up the Google Adwords campaigns next week (after we send out the press release).

Keep in mind that the meta keywords tag isn't even really that useful anymore. See this: Death Of A Meta Tag. The content of the site and the links to the site are more important.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 5:55 pm   
 
Hmm, interesting that Digg doesn't work at all well with Firefox. I thought the entire site was broken until I tried it in IE. That's very sad. How did a big web app like Digg get popular without Firefox support?

Sorry...didn't mean to sidetrack.
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slicertool
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 6:43 pm   
 
Zugg wrote:
Hmm, interesting that Digg doesn't work at all well with Firefox. I thought the entire site was broken until I tried it in IE. That's very sad. How did a big web app like Digg get popular without Firefox support?

Sorry...didn't mean to sidetrack.


Actually, the site was broken most of yesterday and went down completely the day before. They're having some stability issues.

Edit:
Zugg wrote:
Keep in mind that the meta keywords tag isn't even really that useful anymore. See this: Death Of A Meta Tag. The content of the site and the links to the site are more important.


We hadn't heard. If only Meta Tags were using your service.

(Sorry, bad joke, but it really lined itself up).
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:08 pm   
 
ROFL...ok, that was pretty bad Laughing
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charneus
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Joined: 19 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:42 pm   
 
Zugg wrote:
Hmm, interesting that Digg doesn't work at all well with Firefox. I thought the entire site was broken until I tried it in IE. That's very sad. How did a big web app like Digg get popular without Firefox support?

Sorry...didn't mean to sidetrack.


Slicertool's right - Digg works well with Firefox. I use it quite a bit. I'll see if I can spread the word around though. I think people who post to other forums for various reasons could put SlightlyMorbid.com into their signature. That'll pique a few curiosities.

Charneus
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Seb
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Joined: 14 Aug 2004
Posts: 1241

PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 4:25 pm   
 
Suggest your site (or even better: someone else suggest your site) to people who recommend sites to other people. E.g. the BBC 'Click' program has a section ('Webscape') where they talk about a few websites each week. No guarantees of getting on the program of course, but you'd reach a big potential (international) audience if you do (plus getting a good linkback to boost your Google Rank) and I can see it maybe getting on the program. You might want to read (or view) some reviews of other sites before deciding how you want to say to them, although they feature all kinds of sites.

It might then get picked up by Newspapers or Tech / Computer / Lifestyle magazines (because it is an original service), or get in touch with Technology Editors directly. You need to create a lot of press quickly to get a good base of users. You might want to get someone in PR to do this.

Make a feature from the website where you can recommend the site to friends and contacts (both for registered users to suggest the site to their contacts and even for non-registered users to suggest the site to a bunch of e-mail addresses they put in). Disclaimer: I didn't check if this already existed.

Frankly, I'm not sure how useful Google Ads are going to be, because people are unlikely to looking for this service (since they won't have thought of it) and therefore you can't target your ads easily, unless you can do so demographically, and even so... Actually one place where you could target ads maybe is into Gmail spefically (if you can do this), so if someone opens an e-mail saying Xxx has died or had an accident or the message contains the words earthquake or flood or fire or whatever, then you get your ad displayed. If they are opening an e-mail rather than searching Google, it is likely to be much more personal to them, and therefore you should get a better click-through, I imagine.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 6:25 pm   
 
When I mentioned doing press releases next week, what we are doing is using a PR firm that I've used in the past for software press releases. They have created a custom editor list for SlightlyMorbid that overlaps both computer media and lifestyle media. The press release will be going to about 300 editors. So yes, I think we have that part covered pretty well. But it's more focused on traditional media (magazines, newspapers, etc). There are some online news sites, but it doesn't cover "blog" sites as well as I'd like.

So there is still plenty to be gained by individuals posting to online sites that they frequent, and telling their friends. We are getting some hits to our home page, but nobody has been interested enough to create a free trial yet.

I agree on Google Adwords. I've actually wasted money with that in the past and have never had any good luck with it. And I agree that this is a case where the service is such a new idea that nobody is even searching for it yet.

This is much more of a traditional marketing problem of how to create a market for a new idea that people haven't even thought about yet. It's sort of like selling life insurance. It's something that most people need, but nobody wants to think about it or spend money on it. That's the same challenge we face here.

The "recommend this site to a friend" is a good one, and I'll add that to the list.
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Seb
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 8:47 pm   
 
It would be worth e-mailing click AT bbc DOT co DOT uk directly I think because they're not likely to read the press release. Of if you give me your recommendations for what to say, I'll do it. (It should probably only be a few lines, and directed to Webscape: something like: 'There's this new website I found for ...'.)

Actually, the area to target with Google Ads would probably be people who are on MUD or MMORPG websites (including clan sites) or forums (again, probably not actually from Google search but on other sites), because these are the people who are likely to have online-only friends. And other online communities. Second Life, close-knit forums, etc.

An affiliate scheme is also something to consider but it would need to be discreet, I think.
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Tarn
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Joined: 10 Oct 2000
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 9:12 pm   
 
Seb wrote:

Make a feature from the website where you can recommend the site to friends and contacts (both for registered users to suggest the site to their contacts and even for non-registered users to suggest the site to a bunch of e-mail addresses they put in). Disclaimer: I didn't check if this already existed.


I don't have experience or knowledge in this area. How would you go about doing this without being placed in black hole lists as recipients hit the "This is Spam" button on the major email web services? I assume the mailing would be from slightly morbid? Or are you thinking of a traditional MailTo link that pops up the user's default mailer and the user then enters email address and a message?

-Tarn
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Seb
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 10:40 pm   
 
Tarn wrote:
Seb wrote:

Make a feature from the website where you can recommend the site to friends and contacts (both for registered users to suggest the site to their contacts and even for non-registered users to suggest the site to a bunch of e-mail addresses they put in). Disclaimer: I didn't check if this already existed.

I don't have experience or knowledge in this area. How would you go about doing this without being placed in black hole lists as recipients hit the "This is Spam" button on the major email web services? I assume the mailing would be from slightly morbid? Or are you thinking of a traditional MailTo link that pops up the user's default mailer and the user then enters email address and a message?

I was thinking of e-mails coming from slightlymorbid.com but appearing to come from the person recommending. e.g. E-mails come from "Seb" <recommendations @ slightlymorbid . com> - or with Seb in the subject of the e-mail (e.g. "Seb recommended you visit this website"). Most e-mails programs will display the sender as Seb in the list view, so recipients will probably open the messages, or if not they will delete them, but as they know who they came from they are not going to mark them as spam (99% of the time). So long as one doesn't keep them sending them messages.
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Seb
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 10:53 pm   Re: Marketing Ideas
 
Zugg wrote:
Marketing. Something I've never been good at. Simple "word-of-mouth" like with zMUD/CMUD isn't going to good enough for this. We have a fairly narrow time window to get the word out and become the first and market-leading site in this area. Because obviously some other smart people are going to realize that they can put together something like this too. This kind of simple idea cannot be patented or copyrighted. So there are going to be competitors. It's just a matter of time.

Now, we have very carefully designed the business model for this so that the service is sustainable, but also dirt-cheap. It's probably going to be difficult for someone to make a real professional service like this that is any cheaper. It doesn't lend itself to ad-based business models like Google and most customers will realize that this isn't a "free service", but something you want to count on for a long time. But even so, there are still going to be competitors.

I understand what you're saying about the business model, but as you point out, once the idea is out, competitors are going to spring up. The way to avoid the competitors is to make it look like they are not going to make any money or like they are not going to be able to, or want to, compete. That it isn't worth their while. So you make the service free of charge. That allows you to build the market, become established, get lots of press, lots of linkbacks, lots of blog articles. Then, after a while, you start charging a small amount for the Premium Account. Then, if that works and some people go for it, you increase the price of the Premium Account to what you have now, and start charging for the Full Account. Leave the Basic Account free. Maybe eventually start charging for that too, but I think it's a good idea to keep the Basic Account free. People are much more likely to visit your site if there is a free service. I know if I visit a site and there's no free service I usually close it at that point. (I don't want to spend the time deciding if it is worth my money so I'll move on to something else.) Look how many sites or products who do charge people also have a free slimmed down product or version? A lot. Why? Because it drives visitors and interest. And people may decide to go with the paid for version, or upgrade when they realise they want it. Having a free version will certainly help get the word out and make it more likely that your press releases make it to readers.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 5:21 pm   
 
Seb, I see what you are saying, but in this case, it just *cannot* be free. The problem with having any account being free is that it then becomes a free way to send out spam, and we'll get people abusing the service.

Like I said, I understand the business advantage of having part of a service being free to start with. That's why I created the free trial account (which I might eliminate or extend the "10-day" part). But the trial has email disabled. There are just too many annoying people looking for any free way to send out spam email. Even with the limit to the number of contacts, I just don't want to open this up to that kind of abuse.
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Seb
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:44 pm   
 
Zugg, I really don't think you need to worry about spam, and certainly not on the non-Premium accounts: the Basic and Full accounts can't customize the "Last Words" and the Basic account presumably only has OnDeath category so how are they going to be able to send a spam message? I mean, look at the free e-mail services out there - Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc. - if people want to do small scale spamming they can use those. You just need to add a CAPTCHA before allowing registering, 'recommend to friends', and maybe sending of e-mails to eliminate bots. Who is going to use the service to spam up to 30 people when they need to login manually into the site to do it? Most spam e-mail databases have millions of e-mail addresses. 50 simply does not register. The percentage of people who open spams is pretty low most of the time so one needs big lists. And you can easily limit accounts to only sending e-mails like 12, 24 and 48 times a year or so if you think it will still be a problem. Anyway, it is easy to keep an eye on volumes of e-mails sent and if it starts getting suspiciously high, you can take action at that point.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:14 am   
 
Yes, and I'm sure Yahoo, HotMail, Gmail, etc have a whole slew of people who deal with deleting free spam accounts everyday. It doesn't matter that the service only allows 10 or whatever email addresses. They will just create an automated script to sign up for a thousand free accounts. You don't need to log in manually...it's trivial to write an application to automate it.

Just look at MMOs with all of the accounts with names like 'fdsdgwef' who do gold selling.

CAPTCHA has been broken long ago. It's nearly impossible to keep out bots. We even see spam on these forums now and then and I've taken huge efforts to keep it away. And I personally hate CAPTCHA systems and don't want to force my legitimate customers to have to jump through that hoop.

Sorry, but we don't have the resources to deal with stuff like that. And honestly, I'm not interested in the customers who think that everything in the world should be free. Doing your Will isn't free. This is a web service that has to be sustainable. By paying for the service, customers are trusting us to stay in business and keep the service running. You don't get that kind of service for free.

Also, this isn't like a normal email service that you use everyday. It's not like you use it a while, then get "hooked" and then pay for it. It's a service that you set up and then mostly forget about. When you get the yearly reminder messages, you log in to make sure your contacts are up-to-date. It's not something you will use everyday.

Anyway, we are probably wasting our breath here and will need to agree to disagree. I'm not doing a free service here. There is already a free trial to test the system. That's as far as I'm going.
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Rorso
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:27 am   
 
Zugg wrote:

Just look at MMOs with all of the accounts with names like 'fdsdgwef' who do gold selling.

I suspect many accounts involved in that might also be stolen using key loggers or other methods to fool people to give out their passwords. There's definitely ways to avoid paying and still spam by using someone else's account. Even if they do pay, it could be done using a stolen credit card. The question is how much the spammer wish to use a certain service. If you look at WoW they are selling separate hardware key generators to use when logging in to the game to try reduce the amount of stolen accounts.

Edit: I just want to point out that you can never blame someone for having "poor security" when getting their account stolen. Even professional companies can get problems.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:30 pm   
 
New "Press" page is now up. Go to www.slightlymorbid.com and click on the Press link at the bottom of the page. That is where we will post the Press Release later this week. For now I've got some starting banner ad images in various standard sizes. Feel free to use them.
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Seb
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 12:24 am   
 
Zugg wrote:
CAPTCHA has been broken long ago. It's nearly impossible to keep out bots. We even see spam on these forums now and then and I've taken huge efforts to keep it away. And I personally hate CAPTCHA systems and don't want to force my legitimate customers to have to jump through that hoop.

I don't like them either, especially the hard to read ones, but once on signup and before sending e-mail is not too harsh. I remember when I first signed up to Facebook and had to do a CAPTCHA every time I added a friend, which, obviously, I was doing a lot of to begin with. Annoying. But the non-graphical ones are more fun, although it is 'security via obscurity' to have a database of obvious questions and answers.

Press Release is up I see. Looks good. Good luck!
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 2:53 am   
 
Yep, Press Release is up, so feel free to use it. I expect it to be sent to all of the editors sometime tomorrow.
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