This guide is written for technology companies (typically SaaS providers) trying to decide whether or not to build a WordPress plugin.
You’ve been thinking about the idea of integrating your product with WordPress for awhile or perhaps it’s just come up on your radar. That’s great!
WordPress is an Operating System for the Open Web and it’s growing fast. On Windows or MacOS you might build a program. For iOS or Android you’d call it an app. For WordPress, we call them plugins.
I’ve written this guide to help you figure out whether or not you should bring your product offering to WordPress.
You have a vision for the product, an audience using your product, business goals, and a business model that encompasses competitors, revenue sources, costs, and acquisition channels. You’ve also worked out key performance metrics that include an appropriate mix of qualitative and quantitive measures combined with leading and lagging indicators.
By the way, if you’re feeling fuzzy on the details (e.g. who’s the right audience?) then this guide may still be helpful, but it won’t be as effective. Want to brush up? I highly recommend the book Strategize by Roman Pichlar. Also, I love talking product strategy in general. Reach out anytime.
Now, if you’ve done all that, there’s a good chance you’re already thinking a WordPress plugin is a good idea because you know that many of your current and future customers are using WordPress. You’re probably right. But let’s dig in.
The WordPress Overlap
An important step in the decision process is evaluating how (and how much) WordPress is used by your existing customer base.
More than a third of all websites today run on WordPress1. Accordingly, there’s a good chance at least a third of your customers use WordPress and for many of you it will be higher.
How high, though? Look at the data and talk to your customers to answer a few key questions:
- What percentage of your current customers use WordPress today?
- What is the likelihood that your future customers are already using WordPress or will use WordPress?
- For your customers on WordPress, what do most of them use WordPress for?
- How do your customers currently use your product with WordPress?
- What questions or suggestions, if any, have you been hearing from your customers about WordPress so far?
With answers to those questions, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the overlap between your customers and WordPress.
With that understanding, let’s move on to defining success.
At this point, you probably have an instinct about whether or not a plugin is a good idea. Now we want to test that instinct by defining success.
What will a successful plugin look like for your product? Will it help retain existing customers by providing them with a better experience? Will it help you attract new customers?
Here are the questions to ask:
- What do you want this plugin to accomplish? (What would its purpose be?)
- What difference could this plugin make for existing and future customers? (How important is it?)
- What does the completed plugin achieve for your business? (What’s the ideal outcome?)
- What has to be true when the plugin is completed? (What are the success criteria?)
- What are the best and worst case results if you take action?
I’ve created a Decision Worksheet in Google Docs you can use to work through these questions, with example language in place. You can view the Decision Worksheet and duplicate it here.
Once you’ve answered those questions, you’re ready to make a decision.
Making The Decision
Now, with all the above in mind, let’s move forward and make a decision.
The first factor is overlap, which we can sum up in two questions:
- Are 30% or more of your customers using WordPress today?
- Are 30% or more of the customers you want to attract using WordPress?
If you answered yes to either of those, then proceed. (If you answered no, it could still be a fit – but maybe you’re too early)
Next, let’s look at the primary product categories.
- Creation – Your product offers clear value to the “creation” experience in WordPress. Examples include enriching content, assisting the writer, facilitating collaboration, etc.
- Revenue – Your product helps the WordPress user generate revenue.? Examples include ad technology, subscriptions, ecommerce, etc.
- Insights – Your product provide the WordPress user with insights. Examples include analytics, dashboards, systems integrations, etc.
- Optimization – Your product helps the WordPress user reduce costs. Examples include consolidating tools, improving performance, etc.
Last, consider whether it makes the most sense for your business strategy to create a direct integration via your own plugin or to integrate through another plugin provider. For some SaaS companies, the answer isn’t mutually exclusive.
If your product fits within one or more of the above categories and offering a direct integration aligns with your business strategy then I suggest you have a winner. Go build a plugin!
(If your product doesn’t fit within one of those primary categories and the WordPress overlap exists, I’d love to talk!)
If you’ve decided to build a plugin it’s time to develop the plugin roadmap. My next guide is just for you: Developing a Plugin Roadmap
If you decided to work with an existing plugin, the next step is finding the right one. (I’ll be writing more guides on this in the future).
Still have questions or want help working through these steps? Review the ways I can help and let’s talk.
- 1.Usage Statistics and Market Share of Content Management Systems for Websites, March 2019. W3Techs. https://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_management/all. Accessed March 11, 2019.