Website Grader has grown a lot since it launched it 8 months ago, and it recently reached a total of over 100,000 websites graded. As of this week, Website Grader has over 15,000 inbound links, 1,500 bookmarks on Del.icio.us and an Alexa rank of under 24,000.
What are the key takeaways you can use to achieve the same results? You both need to get a little lucky and also build something remarkable. (OK, so I stole this from Seth Godin. But that doesn't make it less true.) Here are some of the reasons why I think people like to talk and blog about Website Grader so much.
1) Make the "Time To Enjoyment" (TTE) short. We use the acronym TTE within HubSpot to talk about the amount of time it takes for someone to get value out of a product. For buying enterprise software, the TTE is long, usually months or years. For buying a cup of coffee it is really short, usually a few seconds. We try our best with all of our products to have the customer get something useful as quickly as possible, and then also have that value increase over time. But, the faster someone says "oh cool, that's valuable" the happier your customers will be. And the more they will tell others.
2) Make it free. We could have charged for Website Grader. We have had SEO consultants tell us they charge anywhere from $1500 to $5000 for a very similar report that they call an "initial assessment". We could have easily charged $99 and sold tons of reports and made a lot of money. But our goal was to build something remarkable, not make money right away. So Website Grader is a free SEO Tool, and we plan to keep it free.
3) Don't require registration. Sure, we could make Website Grader more valuable to HubSpot if we required you to tell us your name, title, company, phone number, annual sales, number of employees, annual marketing budget and a good time of day to call you. But you wouldn't like it as much and we probably would never get to the point of having evaluated 100,000 URLs.
4) Ask for feedback and listen. We're always asking people what they think about it and what they would change. We actually found about 50 bloggers that seemed like they knew what they were talking about and emailed them asking them to use it and give us feedback to make it better. A lot of them responded, and some actually wrote a review and linked to Website Grader. We didn't ask for it or plan on it. We really did want their feedback (and we still do), but this shows that people are much more likely to promote something if you are not asking them to promote it in your first conversation with them. In fact, there have been dozens of enhancements made to Website Grader since it first launched. This has two effects. First, it makes the product better so more people will like it. Second, the person who gave us the feedback feels like we listened to them and value their input so now they love Website Grader even more since they feel like it is something they helped create (in fact, it's true!).
If you have other ideas why Website Grader has grown so much, leave a comment so the community can learn from your insight.