Another Milestone Moment

This week we had our 6th release of Grouvia Beta.  This release marked another major milestone for us – all the 1.0 features are implemented.

That’s not to say they are all implemented perfectly, or even completely.  We still have some missing pieces and a few hundred bugs.

But I’m just sayin’…

For the next two and a half weeks we have to focus very clearly on launching http://www.  This means we will…

  1. FIX BUGS.
  2. Work on the SEO strategy.
  3. Fix more bugs.
  4. Post as many free ads and links as possible.
  5. Test bug fixes.
  6. Improve the site’s marketing copy and landing pages.
  7. Fix more bugs.
  8. Convert the static  marketing pages to Drupal content.
  9. Fix… etc.
  10. Build demos and how-to articles.
  11. LAUNCH.

I’m torn between having one more bug fix release to beta before the production launch.  But honestly I just want this thing in production.

I mean, Facebook has tons of bugs, and people keep using it!

I’m really excited.  We’re turning a corner.  And getting to the next phase is always fun.

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How to Increase Adoption Rates

I wrote the headline for this article hoping that it would inspire me somehow.

The signups for Grouvia Beta have been slower than I had hoped.  If I sit down and think about all the reasons this could be, here’s the list I come up with.

  1. Hello?  It’s Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa, and people are distracted by many other obligations.  How many times have you said “I’ll do that after the holidays” in the past two weeks?
  2. The month-long break I took from marketing to do design and programming was a bad move.
  3. People can’t see Grouvia’s value from reading the marketing materials or looking at the web site’s front pages.
  4. People don’t trust beta software.
  5. People are wary of brands they’ve never heard of.
  6. The SEO for the site is bad and we’re not getting in front of our target audience.

This list is not in any particular order.  But it seems to logically break down into things I can (3, 5, & 6) and can’t (1, 2, & 4) do something about.  So let’s just ignore the latter ones and focus on the former.

People can’t see Grouvia’s value.

Starting next week I will review all of Grouvia’s marketing content that exists out on the Internet (or as much of it as I can find).

I’ll look at everything from the Groove blog posts to the emails I send out and the status updates on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ll make an attempt to look at it critically and take notes about anything that someone might not understand or care about.

Also, I’ll try to find someone to sit down with me and just walk through the web site and help me figure out where the communications need improvement.

People are wary of brands they don’t know.

I’ve heard that people won’t recognize your brand name until they’ve seen it at least seven times.

Someone told me recently that they advertised their product on Facebook and wrote the ad in such a way that people wouldn’t click on it.  When I first heard it I thought it was stupid.

But the point here is that if nobody clicks on your ad you don’t pay anything.  So without much effort I could throw together a Facebook ad without a call to action, just to start getting the Grouvia brand some cheap exposure. OK, so maybe it’s not so stupid after all.

The SEO is bad.

I did some Google AdWords testing a couple months ago with decent results.  I wrote about it in a blog post at the time.  I decided after a few weeks to put it on hold because although people were clicking the ad they weren’t signing up.

I decided back then that it was just too soon to advertise, because technically Grouvia didn’t even exist yet.  It’s possible that it’s still too soon to advertise.  I won’t know until I do another test.

An alternative approach is to try to improve Grouvia’s organic search rankings.  I may need to pay somebody to do this.  I don’t have the knowledge and I think it will take a good deal of time for me to learn how to do it and then craft and execute a plan.

So I think the bottom line is that both of these approaches (paid vs. organic search results) take either too much time or money.  The unfortunate result is that this particular item falls to the bottom of the list for now.

I’ll do it after the holidays.

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Countdown to Public Exposure

Next Tuesday is the public beta launch of Grouvia 1.0, and the anxiety is building in a big way.

Development is behind, and I am pushing them really hard.  I made the decision to descope some of the features temporarily, because I really want to make this date.  What that means is that the “official” beta launch will still be November 17th, but we will follow it with a 2nd beta release a few weeks later to implement the final features.

I’m concerned about bugs.  They’re bad.  They’re everywhere.  They’re multiplying.  I hate bugs.  Where the hell is my flyswatter?

No seriously.  There are a LOT of bugs.  The new project manager (oh, did I mention that my development team got a new project manager this week?  sheesh, what bad timing.) has assured me that all the major bugs will be fixed by Friday.

Now that would be a miracle.

I’m also getting my hands into the code now.  I am a stickler for things that look nice and organized and line up properly and are symmetrical.  So every day after the developers leave for the day (mid-morning here on the East coast) I go into the code and start fixing things.  I fix images, line up form fields, and correct unbalanced drop shadows.  I test things and put in bug reports for stuff I can’t fix.  I correct typos and fix paragraph alignments and line spacing.  It’s tedious and it’s fun.

It helps my stress level.

On a more positive note, I have two groups who are literally waiting for Grouvia to come out so they can get their sites up.  One is a small local girl scout troop and the other is my weekly networking group.  Actually the latter is one I’m pushing to happen, and I’ll be giving the group a demo of it a few weeks after launch.

Still… I’m just sayin’.

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