- Posted by Tengku Zahasman on September 30th, 2007 filed in Marketing, Advertising
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One of the most costly part of a web app deployment will usually be on the marketing stage. Web startups spend tenth of thousands of dollars in advertising to get a bunch of audience to use their app. They send hundreds of emails to the many Web 2.0 medias out there such as TechCrunch and Read/Write Web to get some coverage and generate the buzz. They hire expensive PR firms to do the harsh marketing works on their behalf, and they also spent numerous amount of time/money doing offline marketings by participating/sponsoring in seminars, opening up booths and so on.
Nothing’s wrong with any of them. Afterall, a marketing is a marketing. But if you can code your application to do 90% of the effective marketing for you, you can save a huge amount of time and money and focus more on delivering high quality service to your users. Here are some of the ways to do that:
5 ways to let your web app market itself
1. Emphasize on SEO
Search engine is one of the best marketing tool out there on the net. If you can tackle search engine, there’s a high chance that you’ll receive a consistent flow of new users stumbling onto your app each day. Simply focus on the content of your app (allow UGC), use friendly URLs all the way, craft relevant page titles, use tagging folksonomy… and you’re on your way to the top of the search results for a lot of keywords. And remember, meta keywords and meta descriptions DO have its place in SEO, so don’t forget to utilize them as well.
2. Create useful/interesting widgets
People love widgets… especially bloggers. Widgets are small embeddable programs which can be included into any webpages by just pasting in some small chunk of codes into the site. This widget can make use of the information you have in your app to do interesting things. Take an example of Kiva.org, the microloan application which provides a widget that shows the loan status of a person you’d like to help (see example here). Or simply take a look at Flickr which allows users to create a widget of their own photo album and publish it in their websites. Meebo becomes more successful after launching their Meebo Me and Meebo Room widgets. YouTube, SlideShare and many other famous web apps out there also becomes famous because of the availability of embeddable widgets. If your widget is creative enough, everybody will start to use it and it will spread like virus. That’s massive ‘free’ marketing for your app without you having to lift a finger.
3. Allow members to send invites to their friends
Provide a simple page in your app which contains some hassle-free HTML forms to allow your users to invite their friends through e-mail. Call it a “Tell Others” or “Invite Others” page. They can simply key in a few of their friends’ email addresses into the form with a template invite message automatically inserted for them, and hit submit. This method of marketing makes use of the proven “word of mouth” marketing. Believe it, a simple function like this can do wonders. So make sure you have a function like this before launching your app.
4. Provide buttons/badges for members to help spread the word
Happy users will happily volunteer to promote your app — as long as you provide them the tools. Design some nice and cute buttons or badges and place it in a page called “Help us promote” (be sincere) along with the HTML codes of the imagelinks so that your die hard fans can easily help you promote your app without costing you a dime. The cuter your buttons are, the more likely that people will voluntarily place it into their sites. Not only will this help you reach more audience, it will also create the brand for you. Meebo used this method with their GoMeebo and they worked perfectly. You’ll be surprised to see how many people will voluntarily place your buttons into their sites.
5. Leverage RSS
If your web app allows user-generated content, there’s a high chance that you can convert their contents into RSS. As long as the content has a title and a timestamp (and possibly a category), you can definitely ‘RSS’ them. A huge amount of Internet users today rely on RSS on a daily basis. If you don’t provide RSS subscriptions for your app, you’ll lose that amount of potential users. The good thing about RSS is apart from allowing your users to stay updated, they can also be submitted into many relevant websites that accepts RSS feeds. What happens next is when your RSS is updated, it will also be updated to the thousands of readers on those sites, thus reaching more potential users.
Of course there are more ways that you can do to make your web app do the marketing by itself. But I think the list up there are some of the most basic and yet most effective method for passive marketing. It’s a good idea to have all these functions ready before launching your Web 2.0 app.Tags: marketing SEO strategy web 2.0 web app development
- Posted by Tengku Zahasman on May 8th, 2007 filed in Web App Development, SEO
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Using friendly-URLs in your web application is essential when it comes to SEO (Search engine optimization). Friendly URLs (or some might refer to it as “Clean URLs” or “Pretty URLs”) help search engines’ crawlers to read your URLs and understand better what the page is mainly about. It acts as an additional option to look for keywords apart from looking in the page’s content itself.
There are a few strategies of how people make their friendly URLs to look like. Consider the three examples below:
1. Using IDs without descriptive keywords
http://www.domain.com/items/23 <– that’s the ID of the item in the database
2. Using descriptive keywords without IDs
http://www.domain.com/items/the-name-of-the-item <– (eg: a blog post’s title)
3. Using both IDs and descriptive keywords
#1 doesn’t explain much…. so while it is cleaner to the eyes, it’s not really friendly to the search engines’ crawlers. You lose a lot of points by not utilizing keywords in your URL to describe your page item. However, this technique is not all useless because for links that doesn’t need descriptive URLs (eg: when doing paginations), this technique can be pretty handy.
#2 is what most people like to use for linking items. The idea is to make the URL “very friendly” so that every part of the URL is descriptive and contains only keywords. No numbers. No IDs. However, this is gonna bring some problem because by using this technique, the application will search for the item in the database based on its name, not the ID. It takes out the slug “the-name-of-the-item” from the URL, chop it, slice it, and then use the string to search for the exact name of the item in the database. What if in the future you decided to change the item’s name? At that point of time, the application won’t be able to look for the item anymore using the old URL. And this is not good. Because if your URL has already been indexed by a search engine, or if someone has linked to that item from his website, users who click on the link will reach an “Object not found”, unless they use the new URL.
#3 is my favorite technique when creating friendly URLs and one that I recommend the most. Always include the ID. And always use the ID to look for the item in the database. The keywords at the end just describes the link. It doesn’t need to do anything else. This way, not only you save time (because you don’t have to write codes to slice the URL and look for the item based on the name), you also ensure that the item will be reachable no matter how many times you change its name. Afterall, that’s the main reason why people create IDs in the first place.Tags: SEO web app development