If you haven’t heard the announcement yet, here you go: OptinMonster has now moved from a WordPress-only plugin to a hosted platform solution.
I’ve heard more than a few people surprised by this decision, but this decision should come as no surprise to most people. After all, OptinMonster was intended to be a SaaS application in the first place but it failed miserably.
So instead, we pivoted and turned OptinMonster into a WordPress plugin. OptinMonster grew to be incredibly popular over a relatively short period of time, even with it being just a WordPress-only product. We quickly gathered tens of thousands of people using the plugin and built a solid reputation for a good product with even better support.
With that said, we noticed an unnerving trend of turning away potential customers because our product could not be used on non-WordPress sites. As the popularity of OptinMonster grew, so did our number of inquiries about non-WordPress platforms.
So back in October of 2014, we made the tough decision to go ahead and pursue a completely website agnostic approach to OptinMonster and build it as a SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform.
This was a really tough decision to make. You’ve got to understand that at this point, OptinMonster was an incredibly stable and mature product. That made our decision even more risky because it threatened an already successful business model.
With all that in mind, we came to grips that we would stagnate in our particular niche if we just remained a WordPress plugin. There is no shortage of WordPress-specific popup and lead generation plugins on the market, so we wanted a way to continue to position ourselves as the premier lead generation solutions provider and pull ahead of all the other “competitors” in the WordPress space.
Hence, on May 5, 2015, we launched the OptinMonster hosted platform!
Now that we have moved back to a hosted application, many people have been left puzzled by our (Syed and myself) decision. There were many factors influencing our decision, but there are a few key factors that I think made the most sense with our decision to switch business models.
Our Would-Be Customers Constantly Asked for It
This was the #1 reason why we switched to a hosted solution that could be used on any website. When around 1/3 of your support tickets are people asking if your product can be used on sites other than WordPress, you know you are missing a gigantic market.
To be sure, we serve the WordPress market incredibly well, and we will continue to do that with our improved OptinMonster WordPress plugin integration. Our targeting features will continue to improve as well as the experience from editing on our site to integrating it into your WordPress site.
But beyond this, 1/3 of your tickets is a lot of potential customers that you are missing out on. In fact, we’ve already started converting those folks who asked previously about a non-WordPress solution at rapid rates. We’ve built an awesome product, and I’m so excited that now anyone and everyone has the opportunity to use it.
Consistently Better Experience
It is so tough to provide a consistent experience with a WordPress plugin. There are more funky setups and hosting environments than imaginable, so making a consistent experience for every customer was incredibly tough. I care deeply about the experience people have with OptinMonster, and by moving over to a hosted service, I could curate the exact experience I wanted our customers to have.
We constantly ran into issues with poorly coded plugins, class conflicts with email service providers, shared hosting performance nightmares – just to name a few. We very quickly had to drop detailed conversion analytics from our plugin because of issues with hosting providers. We were all the time fixing site-specific integration problems with our ESPs like MailChimp and Constant Contact. Some hosts have completely custom admin areas separated from the rest of the site, which threw off our live preview efforts.
Now that we have moved to a hosted platform, I have complete control over the experience our customers have with our product. We have completely nixed any issues integrating with your email service provider of choice. We now have incredibly detailed conversion analytics with our Google Analytics integration.
Bug fixes and updates are pushed out immediately. To everyone. Without them ever having to lift a finger. That’s a big value add to both our customers and our team.
Better Fit for Clientele
The transition to a hosted platform is just a better overall fit for our clientele. The majority of our customers are digital marketers and business owners. Infusionsoft is one our most popular integrations, and Infusionsoft is not cheap. Infusionsoft is used by people that are very serious about their lead generation strategies.
This says a lot about our customer base, and this type of customer base is used to using platform services. Beyond this, while WordPress is popular now, that doesn’t ensure its continued popularity in the future. This type of customer has more tightly defined workflows which don’t always fit into the WordPress model, and our switch allows us to easily pivot with their business decisions should they not include WordPress in the equation.
All in all, I believe we made the best decision for our product and our company.
I think this move will be huge for OptinMonster. If the early response and sales jumps are any indication of future success, the time and effort into building the platform is already paying incredible dividends.
We’ve got some exciting new features planned for the platform as well, so here’s to the start of a completely new venture with a familiar face!
If you have any questions about our new platform or the development behind it, I’d love to answer them in the comments below!