Sooner or later, it’s all about the numbers.
Sales numbers. Minimum Viable Audience. And while statistics lie, you need to know and care about how many people are using your software. That’s a part of business process.
When it comes to MailPoet and other WordPress Plug-ins, user statistics are complicated, both because it’s hard to define conclusively what a user is, and because WordPress doesn’t share nearly enough information with plug-in developers about the things that you could control better if you weren’t in the walled garden that the WordPress Repository can feel like.
MailPoet’s Kim Gjerstad feels like the information might not even exist.
Part of the MailPoet launch strategy was getting Gjerstad & Company’s software listed in the WordPress Repository. It was the right call; as Kim tells us, over 55% of all MailPoet’s users came to them via the mother ship. But WordPress has rules for being listed in the repository, and the trade-off for using the free-promotion-and-distribution tool is that you must play by those rules—and accept a statistics system that provides way less information than a data-driven business—and today that’s all of us—might like.
It’s still the right call; getting noticed is about building Influency as quickly and effectively as possible, and there’s no better way to get noticed in the WordPress ecosystem than through WordPress’ repository.
Let’s talk numbers and statistics, then.
As Kim tells us, the 55% figure representing MailPoet’s WordPress Repository-derived user acquisition seems to hold true across many statistical breakpoints. Gjerstad and the MailPoet team believe in another statistic: about 47% of people who install MailPoet dump the software immediately after using it. As huge a problem as that might appear to be, it too is very likely consistent with the experience that most WordPress plug-in developers have; WordPress makes experimentation easy, but using WordPress well is another matter altogether. You lose a lot of people along the way, and the more
complex useful the plug-in the more likely people who are just playing around will run away.
And MailPoet takes the WordPress model to places that few other plug-ins do. We’ll talk about things like whether MailPoet even is a plug-in, later.
Some more statistics MailPoet and Mr. Gjerstad have shared:
- 10% of people who downloaded MailPoet became MailPoet users
- only 5-6% of those users become paid users
- forecasting success by looking at the size of the WordPress universe and projecting a percentage of that is a mistake
- and depressing; the most popular plug-in in the WordPress repository—which is totally free and has been around for years—only has 2% market penetration
Oh: and whether by design or because WordPress has simply never seen a need to track any more than this, the statistics WordPress provides are rudimentary and cumulative; If you get a million downloads and release an update to your plug-in that generates another million downloads, WordPress counts your distribution as two million. And at least when Kim Gjerstad asked why better statistics and breakdowns aren’t available WordPress’ answer was “why would you need that?“.
So the WordPress repository is the best way to market a WordPress plug-in, but using it requires you to make trade-offs on statistical information.
And on marketing flexibility. But that’s a story for another day. Can’t wait? Let’s talk.