LockerPulse Month 3 Update

LockerPulse Logo

We’ve been working hard on LockerPulse, but I haven’t posted about it much since we revamped the home page a few weeks after launch in response to some of the initial feedback we received. I’ve got a lot of small updates, none of which constitute enough for an entire post so I figured I’d just lump them all together into one:

Server: Stable

As I mentioned in June, obscurity is your friend. It took over a month to get right, but by seeing the true technical demands of the live site we were able to tweak it and get it right without the whole world witnessing our screw up. Everything has been more than stable since then, which gives me confidence that our site is as scalable as we’ll need it to be for the foreseeable future.

Launch Fast

I can’t overemphasize how important it was that we launched in May. With Mike heading to China for June, I strongly considered recommending to the guys that we wait until he got back. In retrospect, I’m so glad I didn’t. We didn’t need extra time to build more features – we needed immediate feedback from the real world on what we did build.

Our Marketing = Twitter

I’m impressed at the steady increase in search engine traffic, particularly because we aren’t doing any active link building. The site is as SEO friendly as it can be from an on-site perspective. This makes me think that we’ll be getting a ton of SE traffic in a year or two once we’ve established the site a bit.

The only real marketing initiative that we’ve done is promoting our Twitter accounts. We have one for all 122 teams. We use Twitterfeed to pipe our RSS feed directly to Twitter, although I’ll be working with their API to do this on our end to speed up the updates. We’ve hired a part-time social media manager to manage all of these accounts because it’s just too much for any of us to keep up with consistently. As of yesterday, we’ve got just under 15,000 followers for all of our teams combined. Again, give that a year or two and we’ll have a really gigantic number.

Data Driven Revamp

One of my largest fears with any new site is that it just stalls upon launch and you never get that initial wave of traffic beyond your immediate friends/family (at least without paying a lot for it). If that happens, you don’t get any “real” users and you can’t begin to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.

Between Twitter and SE traffic, we’re getting plenty of data to work with. About a month ago we reviewed everything as a team and were able to find several pitfalls in the way we were doing things. I’m working on a wave of improvements, which I’ll do a separate post about once they’re live, hopefully by 9/1.

People Will Pay

Speaking of data, one of the most exciting things is that people are signing up and paying. A lot of people told me that this wouldn’t happen. I myself wasn’t so sure it would. The only thing we had in our corner was that for years people have been paying $4.99/mo for SportsLizard’s Premium Price Guide when we offer the majority of the functionality for free. Our conversion rates have been decent given the level of traffic, which is very encouraging considering that the traffic should go way up in the future and we’ll continue to tweak the site to be better and better at converting.

One of the improvements we’re making involves giving the 30 day trial without forcing users to sign up for a PayPal subscription. They’ll sign up on day 31 if they want, not on day 1 for a subscription that charges them on day 31. An astonishing amount of people bail at that portion of the sign up process. We just want them using the site, the mobile site, and getting the daily newsletter for a month. At least some percentage of those people will get hooked and start paying.

Not to over-generalize, but from my experiences with iPrioritize, SportsLizard, and now LockerPulse, people will pay for subscription based web services if you provide them something of value. It’s a potentially very profitable business model.

I’m addicted

By the way, I’m hooked. LockerPulse has completely changed the way I consume sports. Most of the time I’m on it I’m using it as a fan and I almost forget I’ve developed it. When I have a down moment, I always pull out my phone and use the mobile site to catch up on what’s going on. If I am on my computer or my phone, and I want a quick score, or I want to know if one of my teams is playing today, or what time they’re playing, the simplest and fastest way to get it is to just pull it up on LockerPulse. A lot of people tell me they’re addicted to the daily newsletter, which aggregates all of their news (and now scores) into one email.

Even though all of the signs point in the right direction, this is the one that really makes me certain that this will work. It’s inherently a very addicting product to a subset of sports fans.

More News Sources Coming

People have told me that they love the site because we have great sources that they’ve never heard of before. It’s a new way to follow the teams they’ve been following for years. Still, we are missing a lot. We’re currently in the process of roughly doubling our sources to include every single local newspaper beat writer for every team, and even more great fan blogs.

1,000 true fans

Moving forward, once we finish the revamp of the site and adding the new sources, we’ll really turn up the heat on marketing. I’ve read (and re-read several times) a great essay called 1,000 True Fans, recommended by Tim Ferriss on his blog. That’s what we’re looking for – those 1,000 true fans who are so addicted to the service that they tell everyone they know about it. I know they’re out there, it’s just a matter of getting them. That’s what I consider to be the next big hurdle now that we’ve cleared the launch hurdle.

Should be fun!

8 comments on LockerPulse Month 3 Update

  1. Neville says:

    A bunch of dudes tossing a ball around….I still don’t get it.

    …but fortunately millions do. I’m telling you….”social betting predictions” for the paid members = $$$

  2. Rob says:

    Hey,

    So pleased this is working out for you!

    Agree with Nev – think I said it in an earlier comment too – there’s a lot of mileage in social betting when you get a large and passionate user base.

  3. Adam McFarland says:

    By the way, kind of as an aside, just because people are signing up and paying, and I’m happy with the conversion rate, it doesn’t mean that we’re making a ton of money or that the venture is profitable. It does mean that we’re going in the right direction though. For a web app like this, there’s a certain amount of patience involved that is hard to come to grips with sometimes. This is one of the rare times where I’ll cite experience as a huge factor. It’s easy to freak out/give up when the whole world doesn’t stop to use your site as soon as it launches. Our team knew from the start that this would be a project we’d likely be investing years in before seeing a big payoff.

    • Rob says:

      Totally understandable – think that’s true of a lot of businesses, it always takes a while for the people to come. That graph you drew a while back should come in handy if you’re ever feeling doubtful.

      Obviously dev expenses are a huge upfront cost – I imagine that scaling from nothing to the first few users is MUCH more time consuming than say from 1000-1000,000. Are other costs things like servers, support and feed royalties?

      What are the other costs that I haven’t mentioned?

      Once the payoff does come it should come long and hard…

      • Adam McFarland says:

        Haha yes, my hand-drawn web app launch rollercoaster.

        Our dev time aside, the only real costs are server costs (we should be in good shape to scale, and once we do the costs will be minimal compared to what is coming in) and marketing costs, which right now consists of just paying someone to handle the Twitter account management.

        In the future, we probably will begin to pay royalties for certain content and to certain leagues so that we can have full usage of images and logos.

        All in all though, it’s a pretty low-cost business model, and once it’s running the customer service on these sites is minimal in relation to how many people are using it.

        SportsLizard is more complex from a user standpoint in my opinion, but I still only get a few emails per week related to billing or the app itself. It was more at one point in the beginning. Once I saw the types of questions coming in, I put inline help at the spot people were getting confused and all but eliminated the customer service.

  4. bobby says:

    great to see you are making such progress with the site! fwiw, i just visited the site and noticed that the center/foreground image with all the team links will overlap the links pane on the left as well as the ‘post it’ note on the right if you resize the browser.

    i actually only noticed it in firefox when i had my bookmarks pane open on the left side of my browser (19″ monitor at 1280×1024). i don’t know if this is behavior you expect or just that maybe you didn’t notice because you use a widescreen monitor.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks for the comment and feedback Bobby. Without writing an essay about it lol, that’s the correct behavior in the sense that we know about it and given our constraints have decided that’s OK. It’s auto-adjusted to a different layout for browsers with a low res (1024×768 or lower) and also for the iPad, but it’s tough to account for things like your bookmarks toolbar. That said, while it doesn’t really break functionality, it’s certainly something that we’d like to have a better solution to at some point in the near future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Commenting Rules

I'm honored that you found this post interesting enough to leave a comment. Before posting, I have a few ground rules:

  • Please keep your comments as relevant to the post as possible.
  • No personal attacks or any other nastiness.
  • Your first comment is subject to my approval.

Thanks!