With nearly 60,000 plugins on WordPress.org alone, plugin developers need to think beyond features to get a foothold in the market. But what exactly do I mean by ‘thinking beyond features’, and how can it help you generate the traction and recognition your plugin deserves in an increasingly competitive ecosystem?
The first steps start here as we explore effective product positioning and how it can help your plugin outshine competing alternatives and resonate with your target audience.
Understanding the Competitive WordPress Product Market…
What Is Product Positioning?
Winning the hearts and minds of your target audience starts with deliberate, well-considered product positioning. You must think about:
- What does your product do?
- Who is it for?
- What features set it apart from the competition, and how will these features benefit your audience?
Apart from the above, configuring a demo that your prospects can use to try your product can act as a deal-breaker.
The harsh truth is that no WordPress plugin developer is going to succeed if they can’t position their product in a way that connects with consumers. It goes beyond the customary sales pitch and presents the product as a viable, authentic solution to pain points.
Though they go hand-in-hand 🤝, product positioning is not brand positioning 👀 With brand positioning, the focus is on building a positive overall brand/business image. Product positioning, however, aims to uplift a specific product, its features, and how it meets an audience’s needs and solves their problems.
But before your product can swoop in and save the day, you, as the developer, need to:
Define Your WordPress Plugin’s Niche
You can’t just put your product on the repo and expect it to get traction when there is a sea of alternatives in an increasingly saturated market. Today, marketing without a clear strategy is like sailing without a compass — you might wander, but you won’t reach your destination.
You have to define your plugin’s niche from the outset, and the easiest way to do this is by defining the categories of the plugin. For example, if you’re releasing a table plugin, you really should choose a name that reflects this and categorize it accordingly.
Clear naming conventions and categorization will increase the chances that your plugin gets the attention it needs from your defined target audience.
And to truly understand your future customer’s wants and needs, you need to:
Carry Out Extensive Market Research
If you want to create a product positioning strategy that will bring in optimal results (read: sales and revenue 😉), start with conducting broad market research before drilling down into the specifics of your target market and niche.
By this, we mean gaining insights about what the ecosystem is experiencing and where the opportunities are. Once you’ve got a good idea, you can ‘zoom in’ to understand what your customers want, how your competitors are catering to your targeted audiences, what the current marketing trends of your niche are, and other aspects.
Once you’ve got this information in place, you’ll be better positioned (see what I did there 😆) to:
Implement the Right Product Positioning Strategy for Your Plugin
When a developer starts their product positioning journey, there are multiple aspects they can choose to focus on and incorporate. These include:
- Attribute positioning: Developing product features that meet the needs/requirements of customers in specific market segments.
- Price positioning: This involves setting the price of a product relative to the prices of competing offerings in the market, while taking into account factors like customer demand, market positioning, and competition.
- Quality positioning: Emphasizes the perception of a product as being of high quality compared to competitors in the market. It involves focusing on delivering superior quality and features to create a positive image and reputation among customers.
- Competitor positioning: This strategy aims to differentiate a plugin based on specific attributes, features, or price points, relative to what competitors are offering in the niche or market.
- Usage positioning: Focuses on aligning the product with specific use cases, occasions, or consumer needs to create a clear and relatable value proposition.
Given the above, you’d be forgiven for thinking product positioning was all about how the market perceives your product and how your product can solve customer pain points. Not so! There are also several product development and maintenance practices that can set your product up for success in the positioning department.
Essential Plugin Practices for Effective Product Positioning
Code quality is crucial for ensuring your plugin’s reliability, maintainability, compatibility, performance, security, and overall user satisfaction. Every software product maker should commit to producing high-quality, crisp code for development. Here’s why:
- Reliability: High-quality code is less prone to bugs and errors, which means the plugin is more reliable and less likely to cause issues or crashes in the host application. This reliability can instill trust in your user base.
- Maintainability: Well-structured, clean code is easier to maintain and update. It allows you to make changes, fix bugs, and add new features more efficiently, saving time and effort in the long run.
- Compatibility: Code quality ensures that the plugin works well with the host application and other plugins. Poorly written code can lead to conflicts and compatibility issues, which can be frustrating for users.
- Performance: Efficient code can lead to better performance. A well-written plugin is optimized for speed and resource usage, which is crucial for ensuring a smooth experience for users.
- Security: Code quality is closely linked to security. Vulnerabilities in poorly written code can be exploited by malicious hackers. High-quality code is less susceptible to security breaches and vulnerabilities.
Ultimately, the quality of your code is a reflection of you as a developer, and users are more likely to trust and recommend plugins from developers known for their code quality. In some ways, high-quality code is also a sign of respect for your customers 😉
Plugin Testing — A Non-Negotiable Before Launching Your Product
You simply cannot compromise on plugin testing before releasing your product into the WordPress wild. You can’t phone it in either — shoddy testing will set an under-construction plugin up for disasters, such as:
- Bugs and errors
- Compatibility issues and conflicts
- Security vulnerabilities
- Poor performance
- Increased support and maintenance costs
- Loss of users and revenue
Nobody likes bugs 🐛
So, how can you foolproof your offering before you launch? The most effective way is to use a staging environment to check your plugin’s compatibility, performance, and user experience.
As a staging site is a replica of a real-time WordPress site, you can learn how the plugin is performing in real-time and push any fixes you need before it reaches users. To help you expedite the process and avoid the hassle of creating a staging site from scratch, there are tools like InstaWP that can help you create one with a few clicks.
From testing before release to ensuring it’s well-oiled post-launch:
Your job as a software product maker doesn’t end after developing and launching your plugin (far from it!). It’s up to you to show good faith to your customers by committing to continuous maintenance.
Users expect a well-maintained plugin to work smoothly, remain secure from vulnerabilities, and deliver consistent performance. Failing to maintain a plugin can result in frustrated customers, more support requests, decreased trust, and — in worst cases — security breaches. In essence, plugin maintenance is essential for long-term usability, product growth, and user satisfaction.
With all of the above implemented and in place, it’s time to spread the word…
Tips and Tactics to Market Your WordPress Plugin
Someone once said, ‘Marketing is tougher than manufacturing’ and if you had to ask the WP community, the majority would probably agree with that statement. Nonetheless, a WordPress plugin developer can still make big strides in WordPress’s competitive environment by employing some savvy product marketing tactics.
Define Your UVP (Unique Value Proposition)
To achieve any level of success, you have to differentiate your plugin from the crowd. This will only happen if you highlight the unique, compelling benefits it offers to your target audience.
It’s not an easy process and nor should it be — your UVP is one of the most important, up-front pieces of information to convince prospects that their search for solutions is over.
Identify key features and functionalities, connect them to an identified problem/need, and then establish (with certainty) how your product solves and addresses it. Go the extra mile here and motivate:
- how your plugin saves time, increases efficiency, enhances performance, or helps to achieve specific goals.
- the positive difference the plugin makes to customers’ lives.
- which issues it solves, and how/why.
You need to translate features into tangible outcomes so that your prospective users can make the connection between themselves, their problems, and your solution. Once you’ve clarified your plugin’s UVP, ensure it’s concise and easy to understand so that your audience can quickly grasp the value and outcomes of using your product. Don’t make it complicated, make it accessible, which feeds into:
Creating a User-Centric Approach
An exceptional user experience with a user-centric product is the North Star guiding your plugin towards a loyal user base and sustained growth ⭐
To achieve this with any measure of success, you need to keep your primary focus on the needs, preferences, and experiences of your target users. By prioritizing their needs throughout the marketing process, you can make your plugin’s messaging resonate with your intended audience.
Create detailed user personas that represent different segments of your target audience and tailor your market strategies to the ‘characters’ you’ve created. Here’s an example:
If your plugin optimizes code, potential users will be interested in how your product can help them with automated code reviews, performance profiling, and suggestions for code refactoring. A WordPress website administrator, on the other hand, will look forward to using your plugin to clean the code so that website speed and performance can be optimized.
Remember to filter your audiences based on their needs and your plugin’s offering(s), and market the plugin accordingly — a successful WordPress entrepreneur is one who doesn’t use identical marketing tactics for all of their product’s personas.
Craft Compelling Content
What would marketing be without value-driven content?
Even if your plugin is easy to use and requires basic training or set-up guidance to install, you simply can’t neglect the importance of content — it’s the key to connecting with new and existing users while conveying the benefits of your plugin.
- Educational Content: Make sure to have detailed support documentation in place.
- Marketing Content: Create engaging blog posts, tutorials, videos, and case studies that provide real value, advice, and insights to readers. If the topic is a natural fit, convey the real-world applications and benefits of using your plugin, but avoid being overly promotional. People can sniff a promo from a mile away these days 👃 (especially WP devs!)
Building an Authentic Brand Image
If branding were an orchestra, every note should harmonize to create a symphony of trust and recognition 🎵
Nowadays, consumers are so brand-focused that they rarely cross-check things when they purchase from a reputable source like Amazon or Shopify. Another example: many will see an Apple product and immediately believe it to be of higher quality than alternatives.
It’s shocking that nearly 46% of consumers are ready to pay extra for a brand because they trust it.
Prioritize building your brand image and establishing an identity that resonates with your target audience. Here’s how:
- Create a memorable logo.
- Use consistent visual elements
- Tell a unique, engaging brand story
- Develop a consistent tone of voice and use it across all platforms and channels
- Create key messages communicating your brand’s value, benefits, and why your business will meet your target market’s needs.
Track Market Share 🕵️ and Analyze Sales Performance 🤖
Your product positioning responsibilities don’t end with implementation. To ensure the moving pieces are well-oiled and working towards the continued success of your plugin, you need to analyze a lot of things.
You can track your plugin’s sales and market share by using analytics tools (like Google Analytics) and monitoring usage metrics (on sites like GitHub). Additionally, you can embed tracking codes or APIs to collect data on the number of installations, active users, and user interactions.
You can also analyze user reviews and feedback on plugin marketplaces, conduct surveys, and compare your plugin’s performance with competitors to gain insights into their market share and identify areas for improvement and growth.
Are You Ready to Take Your Plugin to Market?
You best believe you are 🦾
But before you start getting into the nitty gritty, remember that positioning your plugin in the expanding WordPress space demands a strategic approach that combines innovation, user-centricity, and effective marketing. By identifying and addressing specific user needs or pain points, you can carve out a niche for your plugin to make it stand out in the vast sea of options.
Staying agile and responsive to user feedback and trends in the WordPress ecosystem is crucial for long-term success — keep refining your plugin and offering excellent support to create a loyal user base. With the right mix of technical prowess and market positioning, your plugin will not just thrive, but it will also play a vital role in enhancing the WordPress experience for users worldwide.