April 20, 2017   by

How did you find out about us? We almost always ask customers upon chatting with them. The most likely answer, most of the time is that they found us when they were doing an online search, on groups and investment related information.And they normally land on our blog, before branching out to the sign up page. We want to share  how blogging has helped us get the word out about Chamasoft, and led to real conversions and ka-ching :).

We ‘happened’ on this idea when we realized that we needed to drive traffic otherwise, called generating long term clicks on our website, at least to give people a chance to know about us.

During our unstructured discussion sessions, which normally involve MBWA(Management by Walking around), interrupting developers as they work on some shiny piece of code that would make chamasoft ‘sing’, I would normally ask ; howdy?’, followed by a matter-of-fact question on ‘what was the best way to drive traffic to our website today’ at the least of monetary cost.

And I would draw a blank.

Everyone seemed to think that ‘we should just build it’ and ‘they would come’. And if only they could work on the next module, release the next design, we were good to go. In fact, customers would beat a path to our door literally!

Figure:Build it and they will come? Not really, you may have to blow your own horn…..subtly 🙂

This never seemed to ever happen. We built it and they never came. We built a better mousetrap for anyone who needed group financial management and we never had the anticipated  ‘server floods’ and crashes due to too many visitors. Our website remained a lonely boat on the sea of the internet. We would occasionally get a customer to sign up but when we followed up, we would  always find a way of attributing the sign up to either an email or a business card that had been handed down in some pretentious dinner or meetup.

There had to be a better way.

Problem was, we did not have money to invest in a major marketing campaign with touched-up models and photo-shopped-faces selling our ‘brand’ to the masses. We were unknowns.

What to do, Jimmy?

We had to think. Fast.

Enter Social Media

This social media thing should do it for us, or so we thought! I mean, there are many people out there who are on facebook and other platforms. Its just creating a page and then voila! And we did that.

Facebook

Our facebook experiment to date has been dismal. Many people are not on facebook to purchase a product. They are there to post their meal photos, since they are ‘foodies’, not humans or they are there to post real or imaginary photos of themselves in new and cool places, but who cares? Social media has capitalized on the ‘me me me and see see see‘, who-is-the-fairest-of-them-all phenomenon. Our facebook page started getting all manner of likes and we started posting updates on what we were doing. Getting a like here and there, a random comment etc also fed into the  frenzy of posting more and more. However, the traffic and likes to our facebook page, did not necessarily lead to traffic to our website.  Thats where the facebook bot checked in!

The Facebook Bot, Usually strikes when the Iron is red hot!

In a manner of speaking   Zuck and his team strike the iron when its red hot. They suggested that we could drive more traffic by having sponsored posts! So we got ourselves a prepaid debit card to pay Zuck and team!

We also went ahead, like good people to create landing pages  which had  an explainer video and a sign up form. Did we get signups? Yes. Were these valid signups that were real customers? Nope, they did not even have a group but wanted to ‘see around!’, sort of a free walking tour. Thus, our traffic was not fully optimized or we did the wrong targeting. No matter how we tweaked our ads, we still got alot of people signing up for trials but not converting to paying customers. In this case, we succeeded in getting the word out about our web app, but we did not succeed in converting those to paying customers. Lessons learnt (and money earned by FB), Always have a goal in your marketing experiments. We were ok with getting the word out about Chamasoft , but we were not successful in converting them to paying customers.

Twitter

Next, we jumped to twitter baby!

Twitter experiment has been going on and we like it! We craft our ads for the greatest reach using the following formula

  1. Select focus country for the advert eg Kenya
  2. Add keywords for our app eg Chama, accounting software, management of chama, chama membership, constitution of a chama, leadership, BUT
  3. Add other keywords based on current trends eg as at now April 2017, some keywords we are using include  : nominations, elections, etc . Change this as the trend changes
  4. Run small daily experiments in our case 5-10 usd per day

Twitter has not brought us alot of traffic but the few trickles of signups we get from twitter go on and convert to paying subcribers.

Blogging

I learnt about blogging after being an ardent follower of Yaro Starak of Entrepreneurs Journey Blog. He even began a course showcasing how he was making alot of money blogging by including some affiliate links and selling some ebooks on the blog. I learnt about wordpress from him and established my own blog which has since died. I looked at how I stumbled upon some great software products including SEOMOZ,  when I was searching about Optimizing online SEO, Neil patel blog, when I again searched on online marketing and seo, I also landed on Hubspot when I was searching for Free CRMs.

All these websites had some things in common.

  • They had  well researched and well written content
  • They were not trying to sell me anyting
  • They provided educative content.

After learning so much from such websitess and their blogs, one feels that  you owe them!This is the pricinple of  Reciprocity in action . Thus, we decided to begin our blogging experiment to provide some value for free with no expectations.

Early Blog Beginnings

WordPress

We downloaded wordpress and installed it on our site. Then we began blogging ,right from our first article. Did we get the results we wanted immediately? No. Think about how farmers plant seeds. They plant and wait. And eventually the bounty comes along.

Keyword Research

So we began with just a bit of keyword research. And this was guided by our own questions  like: How do you write a chama constitution? What are banks offerings with their Chama accounts? How do you select leaders in your group? How do you deal with conflict in your group? I did some writing but we also got alot of articles written by Maryanne Zita, who did alot of factual pieces early on and interviews.

Did we get traffic immediately? No. We focused on things which users will look for again and again, otherwise called evergreen content.  We have seen articles written 3 years ago still bringing people to the blog and leading to actual conversions! I believe we should even do more.

Our next goal will be to invest in more structured research, sharing some statistics and developing some guidebooks.

We also need to invest in better ways to follow up with our readers and also a real content team.

We will  also continue experimenting on different platforms and we hope to learn more and share our lessons as we go.

Thanks for reading.

Ps: If you know of someone interested in working with us, kindly let them write to us on info @ chamasoft . com with a sample article of about 700 words.

 

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This post was written by Martin Njuguna

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3 Comments

    Maish
    on May 15, 2017, 12:17 PM

    Very informative blog about chamas. Was researching about table banking and came across your blog. Keep it up


    James
    on April 17, 2018, 8:27 PM

    The App on Play Store is conspicuous, anyone who wants to automate Chama functions gets attracted to it.

    I kinda enrolled late but reading through your journey and the progress so far, you have achieved much.

    I like your support team and the speedy responses from them and their willingness to assist.

    In your description of strategies to deepen your customer base and partnerships, I pray that you manage to make deals with banks and microfinance.

    However, you still have a lot of work to do in refining the processes of the App and the Web. I have already shared specifics with your support team.

    Regards,
    New User


      Martin Njuguna
      on April 26, 2018, 9:10 PM

      Ahoy James, Thanks alot for your comment and for your suggestions. I will review the same with the support team and reach out to you to see how we can improve on the same. Again, thanks for reading and thanks for testing our app.


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