Bootstrapping Stencil #3: Marketing

This is the 3rd series of Bootstrapping Stencil.

It has been a month since my last update and the product has received numerous changes. I have pushed various improvements and features in which you can read here.

However, on the marketing side things haven't changed much despite all of my efforts - the sign ups rate are really low and the page visits for https://www.usestencil.com are dwindling down. It is averaging around 15-20 visits per day which is atrocious.

Here are few things that I tried to increase traffics to Stencil and their outcome.

Cold Emails

This is one of the first thing I tried because they were mostly free and only require efforts from my part.

I scouted multiple marketing agencies, did research on what they do and came up with how Stencil can be used to save their time and marketing cost. I really try to emphasize on time and cost saving.

All of the emails sent were personalized with a video/GIF of a demo that matched their use case.

No one replied. Not sure on the open rate because I don't like spy pixel.

One of the actual emails sent

Takeaways

  • Finding emails for each agencies are harder than I thought. I mostly had to send these emails to their generic email addresses like hello@company.com, etc. This might also be the reason why no one ever responded.
  • It's really tedious to write personalized email.
  • It's emotionally draining knowing that a lot of efforts are put without seeing any result.

My initial plan with Google ads was to run it for a month but I cut it short to just two weeks after a disappointing result. I had high hope for Google ads to bring more traffics but that didn't happen.

Very low clicks and most of these clicks don't translate to sign up

Takeaways

  • Very low leads and leads that I got were of very low quality.
  • The ads were displayed to non-Stencil related business.
Irrelevant search terms

I was not sure if I should continue with the ads and continue tweaking the settings to optimize the ads performance better but the early result was discouraging. So, I decided to try a different distribution channel.

Facebook Groups

I joined several digital marketing groups and started interacting with the communities, and obviously planting the link to Stencil here and there 🤫

Takeaways

  • Posting in FB groups feels like IRC all over again where conversations are ephemeral and it's really hard to keep track of anything.
  • Too much and too frequent posts from other group members that make it feel impossible for your posts and comments to be noticed.
  • Very low quality content where everyone is trying to sell. It almost feels like spam.

This leads me to thinking whether I should be bothered to do Facebook Ads. I haven't decided on this yet. While the quantity is there, I am not sure about the quality.

SEO

The holy grail of all marketing strategies. I have moved my focus on this for long term strategy. This is going to take a while before I can see the result. At least that's what I have been told/read.

Takeaways

  • Made a new blog to write more marketing related contents, https://blog.usestencil.com. Previously everything is written in the documentation site but I feel this sort of content doesn't belong there.
  • Writing more blog posts, guides, etc on weekly basis.
  • Subscribed to https://katlinks.io/ to see where I can improve my SEO. Still learning the rope.

Twitter

In one of the No-Code Asia meetup, we were discussing about building audience in Twitter by tweeting daily. There's even a challenge called #Tweet100 for this.

I didn't join the challenge because I wanted to focus on quality tweet rather than just a random thought for the sake of tweeting. Instead, I decided not to tweet at all for the past 2-3 weeks to see how it will affect my traffics.

Frankly, I wasn't convinced that tweeting a lot can help with building audience or even help with marketing Stencil. Twitter can also feel like everyone is trying to sell you something.

As a result, there seems to be less traffic from Twitter based on analytics and my followers count are stagnating. So I guess there's some truth to that.

Takeaways

  • Twitter can actually help drive traffics to your site (obviously).
  • Building audience on Twitter might be a good strategy to focus on.

Built Interactive Demos

Talking to few friends who were checking out the site convinced me that,

  1. They weren't sure what the product is about.
  2. It focused too much on the features instead of the benefits.

With those two points in mind, I revamped the main landing page of Stencil to focus more on the use cases.

I also added few demos to showcase how Stencil can be used so visitors will have better grasp what the product is all about.

Image generation demo

Takeaways

  • Focusing too much on the product features might be the wrong approach - visitors are interested in solving problems so focusing on benefits might make more sense.
  • Demos are a great way to engage with the visitors - time spent on landing page actually increases although it doesn't correlate with sign up rate.

What's exactly is the problem?

I feel like I did a lot to attract visitors but the effort and the strategies did not come into fruition.

I feel like I have a really good product (I'm biased of course) and there are paying users. That surely validates the market. What is lacking is product exposure to the masses - the correct audience.

My site doesn't have enough traffics, that leads to very low sign up rate and thus lesser conversion.

What am I going to do?

The focus is to bring more traffics to the site and let probability handles the rest. My conversion rate is pretty decent around 4-5% and with enough sign ups there bounds to be conversion.

Here are what I am planning to do more:

  • Increase Twitter audience through personal/business account.
  • Improve SEO by pushing more tutorials, guides and other marketing related information.
  • Maybe try either Twitter or Facebook ads.
  • Build free tools and start marketing them too.
  • Implement "Sign in with Google account" to allow for visitors to try the product seamlessly. This is low on priority because I don't have enough traffics to warrant this.

Anyway, this is all I have and hopefully things are improving soon. I hope you learn something from this too.

If you haven't read the previous newsletter, you can find them here.

👉 Issue #1 - The Launch

👉 Issue #2 - A Parent's Guide

I'll see you soon in the next issue! 👋

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