What I Learned While Growing A WordPress Plugin Which has Over 50K Active Installations

Jun 28, 2018

easysocialicons growth marketing

This post is about increasing traffic and growth marketing of a WordPress plugin called “Easy Social Icons.” It was a custom plugin to add social media icons which we developed in my previous agency while working on a WordPress website.

The developer already knew that I was looking for options to build some online products. So, he informed us of the potential of getting this snippet out as a WordPress plugin.

We did some research together with other team members and found out that WordPress is one of the fastest growing content management system. The growth opportunity was clear, so we decided to release it as a plugin.

My goal was to drive more traffic to the agency website, prove our excellent web development skill, and acquire new clients through those products. Eventually, we built and released 6 WordPress plugins.

As of today according to WordPress, Easy Social Icons has 50,000+ active installations.

easysocialicons active installations

And according to Builtwith.com, a tool to find out what a website is built with, 88,664 sites have used this plugin.

easysocialicons stats

The user numbers are varied across different countries.

easysocialicons users

We never thought of it as a popular plugin, but the growth was decent. Also, we were a bit surprised to get an acquiring offer from the reputed entrepreneur Noah Kagan.

noah kagan acquiring offer email

Two other offers came from different companies, but none of them agreed with the amount we asked, so the acquisition never happened. Here is one of the emails

easysocialicons wpplugin purchase offer

And, here is the other offer email

easysocialicons wpplugin acquisition offer

We planned, studied and implemented various growth techniques to increase the plugin users, but the following points probably helped it to grow most.

  1. Free Icons: Popular social media icons were illustrated and added to the landing page to download for free.

free socialicons

  1. Font Awesome, Icon Settings, and Social Profile Markup: Font Awesome is popular among the website developers and owners to quickly add icons. So, we integrated it into the plugin. Google suggested markup is added so that social profile information is easily displayed on Google search results. We believe these features attract a significant number of users. Please, watch the video below to know all functions associated with it.

  1. Live Chat Software: We were getting lots of requests through the WordPress support forum. So, we used Olark, a live chat tool, to provide faster customer support straight from the website.
  2. Videos: We created a couple of instructional videos to spread the plugin. Plugin users uploaded videos like this one which also helped us.
  3. Disqus Comment System: Easy Social Icons is a Free plugin, and the live chat tool was bringing an overwhelming number of users. We didn’t have any dedicated support team to address this number. So, we replaced the live chat with Disqus comment plugin. It not only allowed us more time to reply the users but also became an excellent source of user-generated contents in our site.
  4. User-Friendly Landing Page and Nice Graphic Elements: We built a conversion friendly landing page and various size banners & icons to spread the plugin in different channels.

easy social icons
This plugin drove a significant amount of traffic and helped us acquiring some clients. Most of the clients asked for custom features of Easy Social Icons.

It is still growing but could grow faster or even become a premium plugin. For that to happen, the current team could consider the features which I am going to mention below. These are my suggestions based on the experiences overseeing its growth.

  1. Translate the Plugin: It must be translated into top languages immediately. A lot of users already asked about it, some of the users wanted to volunteer as well.
  2. Create Mention Alert: It’s clear from Ahrefs.com that a lot of expert individuals and reputed companies are mentioning Easy Social Icons plugin. An alert should be setup instantly to get notified on those mentions. And then, thank those individuals and businesses on relevant social media for their remarks. It should be included in the social media marketing plan.

ahrefs referring domains

  1. Link Building: Also, those influential mentions of Themeforest.net, Sitepoint.com, Builtwith.com, Neilpatel.com, Wpmudev.org, Idxbroker.com, etc. should be considered as a great link building opportunity. Please reach out to those influencers, express your gratitude and request them to mention the landing page as well. But before asking that favor, the product manager must spruce up the landing page. So that, those influencers feel convinced at a glance.
  2. Platform Agnostic: This plugin should not be limited to WordPress only. Popular CMS and programming languages like Drupal, Magento, Shopify, Squarespace, PHP, ASP.net, Java, etc. should be targeted to give it a tremendous growth.
  3.  Split Testing: Users might find A/B testing feature a handy one. Individual users and e-commerce stores are always experimenting with their social media presence. So, an option to A/B test the look and feel of their social media icons would be helpful for their social media marketing. And if this new feature turns out to be excellent, users likely won’t mind paying a small fee for this.
  4. Schedule Holiday Icons: It could be a premium feature. Users always like to display holiday icons. If there is an option to set holiday icons and schedule them in advance, users might like it.
  5. Icon Click Statistics: Which social media icons are getting most of the clicks, those clicks are from which device desktop/mobile/tablet, users from which country/state are clicking on those icons, which specific page is driving most of the clicks on those icons, stats like that probably would attract more users.
  6. Weekly Social Media News Notifications: Selected top weekly social media news notification would increase the trust of this plugin.
  7. Browser Extension: I believe there are options to release it as a browser extension. Thus,  it’ll worth it to do proper research and target the top browsers.
  8. Push Notification: This plugin should be open to adopting popular latest technologies like the Progressive Web App (PWA). PWA could be utilized to offer notification for specific social media updates. It can also be used along with email newsletter to notify the latest features of this plugin. Chromestatus.com user interface is the ideal one in this case to imitate.
  9. Advanced SEO and Competitive Analysis: Top search engines like Google and Bing are continually updating their algorithms. It’s a must to follow their suggestions and guidelines while growing a product. And, the competitive analysis should be a routine task. It always provides us with insights and ways to get a leg up.

We can also consider creating API, research and find options to integrate this plugin into major opensource software, turning it into a social media platform, etc. The growth options have no boundaries.

I am not with this agency anymore, but through the whole process, I gained some growth marketing experiences. Also, many thanks to Hiten Shah, Tomasz Tunguz, Brian Balfour, Andrew Chen, Rand Fishkin, Dharmesh Shah, and Avinash Kaushik for sharing their knowledge with the growth marketing community. My role was cross-functional and what I learned from these fantastic professionals came in handy for managing the small team who were building this plugin.

Finally, I suggest the following points as vital to have a successful online or SaaS (software as a service) product:

  1. It must be a product which has a demand in the market and is not going to wither away very soon
  2. It should have a dedicated team of designers, developers, and digital marketers
  3. It needs a skilled customer support team
  4. It requires a like-minded supervising squad

In our case, one of the biggest mistakes was building too many products and not having enough people to support their growth phase. So, please, don’t fall into this situation. A smart decision would be resisting the urge to develop too many products. Instead, build few and grow them top-notch.

Thank you!