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:
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.
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.
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!