• Chris Cooke

How to grow an Atlassian App Worthy of Top Vendor status.

Updated: Oct 6, 2019

Many marketing practices are old fashioned. They're fluffy, and expensive and often don’t work. What’s more worrying is when marketing does work, we’re usually not sure why.

Credit to Watertight Marketing for their Touchpoint Leak(TM) watertight funnel analysis.


The struggle to demonstrate clear, useful metrics is real, and yet the ability to do so is vital to the success of your app’s growth.


I’ve worked with some incredibly talented marketing teams, for some fantastic products. And yet, it is shocking how often, at the end-of-quarter board meeting, whether the numbers are up or down, the marketing team starts talking about fluffy statistics that no one really believes correlates with sales.


There’s this scramble to report on what can be most easily measured.

Reporting on metrics that are irrelevant, is not cute, nor clever. It makes things more fluffy, and less transparent.

As cute as this guy is, I think fluffy reporting leads to a skepticism towards the Marketing team’s efforts, which then makes it harder for them to get the autonomy and budget they need to get results.


And that hurts what should be a productive collaboration.


This problem isn’t unique to the Atlassian space, but it’s unhealthy, and it’s putting your apps at an unfair disadvantage.


I’ve worked in product marketing departments, then as a salesman responsible for converting marketing qualified leads to enterprise sales, and lately, I’ve been working with a team of the most brilliant consultants, teaching some ridiculously smart developers how to use growth marketing successfully.


So I’ve seen the good, the bad and the fluffy.


This presentation is a starter-kit to break down growth marketing to its most basic and vital principles to get product development and marketing teams aligned for collaborative success.


This session will focus on the specific kinds of marketing that will help vendors grow, and multiply their sales.


Because although it’s useful to track:

  • Website visitors

  • Email opens

  • Social media likes

If that’s all that marketing is reporting on, then it's doing itself a disservice.


If it doesn’t make $$$ it doesn’t make sense.


So beware if a marketing manager ever tells you:


"We’re getting really good feedback and a really positive response, lots of buzz!"

Let’s stop hiding behind buzzwords, technical jargon, and spurious statistics, siloed on increasingly complex data dashboards.


Let’s collaborate, unified behind a common goal, and work on the metrics we’ll need to get us there!


For the Developers, I don’t need you to become the next Steve Jobs.


For the Marketers, I don’t need you to become Steve Wozniak.


I just need you to work together and help each other.



Marketing teams desperately need to know as much as possible about the product’s features, it’s use case and it’s value.


Product teams are the ones that most stand to benefit from the kind of feedback data that marketing should have access to.


You’d never expect marketing developed in isolation from the product, and yet I have seen product teams working in isolation from marketing metrics.


I’m tired of inferior products selling more because they have bigger marketing budgets.


I’m also tired of big marketing budgets being misspent because they don’t have proper analytics and so are left with unsupported hypotheses and superstition.


So we can’t afford to get complacent, nor proud enough to think that if we build it and they will come.


Product development can help marketing in a number of ways:


From targeting the perfect user, to helping to write content that the target user would benefit from hearing.


Done well, this will help you resonate with your perfect audience, and grow your app sales.


If you’ve made a good app, it deserves to find its audience and enjoy some hard-earned success.


My goal is to level the playing field and give an introduction to growth marketing with some clear, actionable advice, and get people excited about growing their apps effectively.

I’m here to plead with you to help us make marketing more of a science, and less of an art.


Because that is this tired old debate: Is marketing more of an art than a science?

Marketing is often portrayed as art. It’s intangible, ethereal, academic, and opaque.


And who has time to debate art?


The sort of people attending art gallery openings are not the sort of people you want bringing technological innovation and entrepreneurial flair to the Atlassian Ecosystem.


To get to the zenith of marketing best practice, what do we have to do to make scientific experimentation possible.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half”

So this is a great quote from the 1920s, and that’s where this quote belongs, let’s send it back there.


With proper metrics, you should always know what marketing is working for you, and what’s not.


That’s why we split test everything.


You should always know which half of your advertising is weaker.


Split testing has surprise added benefits too because


"A major problem for marketers is, every idiot thinks they have the right to an opinion."

Salespeople have plenty of opinions, your clients have opinions, your devs have opinions on the marketing, and then, oh shit!


Before you know it, even the CEO thinks she has the right to an opinion.


I want you to imagine how the dev team would feel, if the marketing team were second-guessing their product design, or even how they developed code!


Because without the proper metrics, we’re all left second-guessing each other.


Now don’t get me wrong, ideas are great, input is great, but not all ideas are equal, and if you represent senior management or the technical product team, the average marketing person is going to be far too awkward and eager to please to tell everyone how truly terrible some of their opinions are.


Especially when the CEO starts to share them!


"Any marketing team that isn’t recording proper metrics, or doesn’t have statistics for attribution, or return on investment, will forever be stuck debating the merits of everyone’s opinions."


This is why split testing is a gift from the gods.


Now you can put every terrible opinion forced upon your marketing team into a trial by combat!


And when those terrible ideas underperform, they can be dropped, safe in the knowledge that they were given a fair fight, and an honourable death.

This means everyone’s free to contribute their ideas, but they know they’ll have to go through a rigorous process and survive multiple iterative improvements.


And now your marketing and the ideas it uses are no longer personal, it’s not political, it’s not down to perception, nor tenure.


It’s a battle that comes down to cold hard data.

So how do you set up a marketing department founded on meritocracy, data-driven scientific experimentation, and brutal death by combat.

If you want to succeed, you should be doing all of the following, and much much more, or at least hire someone that can.


Step 1: Nail your Search Engine Optimisation.


Search Engine Optimisation is the starting point for any content strategy

If the CTO of a bank has her credit card in her hand, has heard about your product or feature, but can’t find you on the top of the first page of google, you’ve got an urgent problem that needs solving.


If you’ve taken the time to develop an app, give it a fighting chance and ensure you’ve done your keyword research.


This research will help inform what you should write about on your Atlassian Marketplace listing, your website’s your blog posts, and your documentation.


Make sure they’re all filled with useful content and relevant keywords describing your product, its features and its use cases.


It’s easy to do proper keyword research with the right tools, Google Ads has a great Keyword Planner, Moz has some great tools. Just keep an eye out for search volumes, the competition, and the difficulty for getting on the first page of Google.


Make sure the content is useful and relevant to your customers. High bounce rates will kill your reputation with Google, so optimise for your readers too!


(A quick note about Competition and Blue Ocean Strategy)


Blue Ocean strategy comes from a classic business textbook about how sharks, attracted to blood tend to churn up the same water, but there’s a whole less competitive blue ocean out there


What’s often the case in this space is that everyone’s competing for something that no one’s searching for.


So it’s entirely possible to do the opposite and get some really quick wins.

Now sometimes it’s cheaper to buy your way onto the first page of Google than earn it through best practice content strategy….

But the dream is to get to a point where you’re using a combination of both. Your ads will provide invaluable metrics and quick feedback that will inform your SEO.


You need to Set Up your Analytics


There are an abundance of analytics tools. Before you get lost in the weeds and the sales pitches, beware, you don’t want to end up with a bunch of siloed dashboards, product & marketing need to come up with a clear plan for what’s a priority for them to track.

Google Analytics & Google Data Studio are fantastic tools, easy to learn, with great onboarding.


It’s an abundant skillset that’s easy to hire for.

I’d recommend you setup your LinkedIn Insight tag, and teach your team how to UTM tag things properly. They’re both easily done, and used right can be enormously helpful for tracking conversions and remarketing.


You want clear insights on:

  1. Where your leads are coming from.

  2. Your audience demographics.

  3. The behavioral flow of visitors to your website.

  4. What’s working and what’s converting

And look, you don’t need to hire a full-time big data engineer to do this. Once you’re clear on what you want to track, we’re talking a few of days’ work by a consultant that knows what they’re doing.

Set up properly, this is a fire and forget system.


Now you’re ready to get fast feedback and continuously improve things through Split Testing iterations.


This setup can be applied to most marketing efforts, email, LinkedIn Ads, google adwords, even landing pages.


It’s very easy with the right tools to send two variations of emails enabling whoever is responsible for your email campaigns to continually learn and improve.

This setup also means you’re ready to spend money on advertising, and it won’t be wasted, because you’ll know what delivered good ROI, and when it’s time to admit your failings, and try again.


I do get asked about the most successful email campaigns ever.

So for fun, here they are:


Best Email Campaign Subject Lines. I'm so sorry got a 90% open rate.

"Do I owe you a beer?" got a 34% reply rate.


Now maybe that’s not right tone, or for the voice, of your brand,

But The point was, I was free to use my intuition and experiment, with an idea, and got the data to show it was successful. So we’ll continue taking chances and trying the unconventional.

and if someone thinks they have a better idea, that’s encouraged and it’s part of the process.

But without the data, we’re stuck in the 1920s debating which half of your advertising isn’t working.



So it doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with marketing.


Or you’ve had some success but you’re not sure why.


With this setup, everyone has the chance to learn & experiment.


A Darwinian Arena to perfect ROI, to research, and to form a meritocratic marketplace of ideas, where weekly fights to the death continually evolve your marketing into the strongest, fittest and most profitable beast that repeatedly emerges triumphant from combat!

So I work with a lot of vendors and they follow this advice, they start seeing a lot more traffic to their website, and then they’ll ask me. Why aren’t more visitors converting? And here’s is an obvious area for product and marketing to work together.


So let’s walk through a typical Atlassian App customer’s journey:

Atlassian App Clients Journey to Purchase on the Atlassian Marketplace Find out more about leaky funnels at Watertight Marketing

These are just some of the hoops your prospective customers have to go through before they get to try your app out.


I think part of the problem is a lot of the people in this room are quite senior in small companies. They have all the access and all the permissions they could ever want, so they forget about this pain for the average end-user.


So if you met a project manager from a bank yesterday, and you persuaded him that your app solves all his problems, and has all the features he’s looking for.


How long before he gets to try the app out?


What’s the justification for this nonsense? What other sector would accept it? It’s not like I’m trying to buy enriched Uranium, I just want to add a few features to my Jira or Confluence!


No matter how good your marketing is, until we smash through these barriers, purchasing your app is going to be a resented chore.


So what’s the answer? A Self-Serve Live Demo Playground!


Automation for Jira Rule Playground let's customers try before they buy!

We were really proud to work with the Automation for Jira team on this. They’ve made A rule playground that anyone can use, get a feel for the app, and understand it’s function and value.


Most of you should be familiar with A4J, it’s a really great app, made by a fantastic team. They make automating tasks in Jira and JSD, easy for non-technical users can set up easy to maintain automations.


So this playground is a continuation of that philosophy, they made life much easier for themselves and for their prospective clients.


The challenge they face is that they don’t have a big sales & marketing team, and they’re all the way down under in Australia. As their app keeps growing, they were really struggling to keep up with the volume of requests for demos that their development and even senior management teams were having to manually do.


Unless you have a team of technical account managers, ready to drop tools to give demos in potentially any timezone at a prospective clients’ convenience, you’re going to want your product team collaborating with your marketing team to automate things like this as much as possible.


If your marketing is working, there should be a growing number of people that want to discover how your app works.


A good problem to have, but don’t forget, your website isn’t a static brochure any more. These days it can be so much more interactive.


I sincerely recommend you set up a playground environment that lets potential customers see some of your app’s features for themselves without having to jump over any hurdles.

This isn’t just a useful advert and sales enablement piece.


Set up correctly, it can also provide fantastically helpful data for your product development teams. The other thing the Automation for Jira team do is use tools such as HotJar to analyse user data and get feedback on how new users approach their apps.

Tools such as HotJar analyze user data and get feedback on UX and how new users approach their apps.

And once this is setup you can know how easy your onboarding is for the uninitiated.


Is your UX clear? Are users finding and using your new features properly?


It’s never been easier, cheaper or quicker to get direct feedback on how people use your apps.


You can literally capture recordings of how people are using your apps. It’s game changing, you don’t need to host focus groups, every single user interaction has become an opportunity for feedback.


We need to talk about remarketing.


You will never send a silver bullet email that gets people to buy your app tomorrow.

You know when you nearly make a stupid impulse purchase, and you’ve left an item in your shopping cart, and all you see for a week is adverts on that very t-shirt you nearly bought?

Sometimes you bought it and still get ads for it, but the point is, you know the technology exists and we see those ads because they work.


You could keep trying to find new potential clients, starting from scratch, or you could focus on those that are clearly interested but need a bit more of a push over the edge.


If companies selling $20 t-shirts can make a profit on top of remarketing, why wouldn’t you do it for a piece of software that makes $8,000 of recurring yearly revenue?


I challenge you to explain to me how a company making $7 profit on a t-shirt can afford to do it, but you can’t.


The reason it’s so worthwhile is that people need more than one nudge to convert to a sale.

And this is just another reason for Product and Marketing to continually work together.


The key to this collaboration working successfully is to understand that there is no Handover. Each line represents a conversion step down the funnel at the start of the journey it’s mostly Marketing’s domain, and by the end it’s Product.

George Baily beautifully illustrates how product collaborates successfully with marketing.

The point is, there are many conversions stages for your prospects that are each more likely to happen if you have input from both product and marketing teams.


This is why we need to collaborate, because Marketing has the tools, and the skills to provide Product development with a lot of useful data.


Marketing has the know-how to present things well and explain things clearly. Only as a collaborative team, are you going to be best positioned to maximise your conversions from visitors to, trials to evaluations to sales and then keep those customers happy once you’ve got them.


Marketing’s fluency with data, design, and psychology makes marketers a very valuable partner for product builders & improvers as they help optimise conversion and customer success.


Once you have a collaboration between your product and marketing teams you will continually get clear insights for marketing on who the product is for, and the use cases it’s solving for each target persona.


This, in turn, will provide the perfect content for SEO.


This content collaboration produces a growing knowledge base of support documentation, which reduces manual customer support and increases customer engagement & autonomy.

You then get both product and marketing being developed with a clear audience in mind.

Making, adoption, conversion and retention easier and easier.


I’m excited by the amount of opportunities you all have to grow and improve.


I’ll leave you with a final thought.

Marketing needs you.


Marketing needs to be a data-driven science


Marketing & Sales deserve Their own agile & DevOps revolution to sweep through and revolutionise them.


Because Marketing is broken, but together we can fix it.


Your clients want to hear from you, in your authentic voice, as do I. So if you have any questions, ideas, or feedback, please reach out to me.

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