On Tuesday last week I casually tweeted about my new Forecast Forge project.
I was hoping to line up a few beta testers to kick the tires and break the addon in new and unexpected ways.
It didn’t quite work out like that.
This is starting to sound like the kind of update where I revel stellar signup numbers off the back of going viral. Spoiler Alert that isn’t what happened.
I’ve been a fairly heavy Twitter user since late 2008 and the above launch tweet is by far the most popular one I’ve ever had on the platform.
Which is pretty cool.
The idea of a quicker and easier way to produce high quality forecasts seems to resonate with people. I’d be a fool to work on this project without thinking this would happen, but the excitement people showed when seeing an animated gif of me typing in a formula and then seeing a forecast did surprise me.
Off the back of this enthusiasm I’ve been able to setup calls and virtual meetings with a whole host of people whom I’ve always wanted to have more of a connection with. I think a big chunk of my audience on Twitter has always kept a curious eye on what I’m up to without ever trying to have a more in depth conversation about it. I’ve always been quite vague about what it is I actually do for clients and how it helps them; with Forecast Forge it is much clearer what I’m proposing to help with and, although the scope is much narrower (if you aren’t doing forecasting it won’t help), this actually helps make a much clearer and concise explanation of value.
The conversion rate is extremely low; well under 1%.
This would be fine if I was pumping money into display ads or if I’d setup the site to work better for a longer conversion process - I didn’t (and don’t at the time of writing) even have any kind of email capture setup.
But my Twitter followers and their immediate connections should be a pretty well targeted audience for this kind of thing so a low conversion rate here is concerning. If I can’t use signups from my existing audience to bootstrap then it might never make monetary sense for me to go through the expense of experimentation with new channels.
More constructively, I’ve been told I need to be much clearer around use cases and more transparent about how it all works. Neither of these will be that easy for me to fix; I’ve designed this as a tool that I hope can be used in sooooo many ways so picking out a few narrow use cases will be hard. And whilst I can be totally transparent about how the forecast works the kind of explanation that involves hundreds of lines of code and a good chunk of probability theory is not actually what most people want.
I’m going to assume, for the time being, that the conversion rate will improve as I work on the issues mentioned above rather than concluding that this is just not the kind of thing that people will pay for.