How Automattic can Grow to 51% Market Share and Beyond
There is no denying that WordPress remains exceedingly popular – talk to the average user and you will find that they have an almost limitless amount of respect and passion for the work that goes on behind the software. Given WordPress continues its growth despite new entrants to the market, it’s time for Automattic to consider new strategies. This article proposes numerous techniques that can help the company defend its market share while positioning itself for a push into a broader market share expansion.
Mixed reality (AR/VR) caught huge momentum in the last few years. These are changes in technology that could prove detrimental to Automattic’s market share if the company does not actively pay attention to this wave of change.
We already know of companies that are developing content management systems that actively target the development of VR/AR/Holograms. One such example is the Israeli company WakingApp, which has developed the ENTiTi software. The company caught the attention of investors and it has already received $7.8M to establish itself as the dominant player on the market.
When looking at their “Crunchbase webpage” it is clear they have a mission that is similar to Automattic’s.
Automattic: “Democratize publishing”
WakingApp: “Democratize mixed reality (augmented reality, virtual reality, and holograms) content creation”
To stay ahead of the market, Automattic should move into this space and use its available internal resources to facilitate partnerships with and/or acquire companies such as WakingApp.
Shift to the Future Landscape
There are two primary reasons for this:
Customer adoption – Customers are going to take a bit of time before they adopt something new. Technology advancements often move much faster than consumer adoption.
Associated costs – The adoption of AR/VR is quite expensive, and low cost affordable options are likely at least two years away.
Considering the two factors mentioned above, mass consumer adoption is going to take at least four years. This gives Automattic sufficient time to learn how to crawl before it can walk and then run, dominating the Content Management System’s market of mixed reality. Today is the right time to start taking those first steps.
The good news here is the fact that you only need a few experienced Mixed Reality developers to make this happen. An affordable way that Mr. Mullenweg can achieve this is to use Treehouse’s platform to train Automattic’s software engineers in VR/AR. Given Mr. Mullenweg’s position on the Treehouse board, he could get free (or severely discounted) access to their educational solutions. This is especially promising because Treehouse already plans to launch a related Techdegree.
Automattic’s Most Defendable Competitive Advantage
When comparing Automattic to its competitors, its primary and most significant competitive advantage is its community. This is why the recent integration of a News Section related to community events into the WordPress Dashboard was a step in the right direction.
Having a team responsible for community development is going to help Automattic be more competitive. Their primary focus should be on building more of a sense of community and integrating this into the pursuit of the business objectives of the company. This team should examine all the related metrics and implement continuous improvements. The network effect that Automattic has developed is of vital importance for the company’s long-term existence. It is nearly impossible for any competitive company to recreate something similar in a short time.
One large scale improvement of the community can be done by creating a reputation system with all people that contribute to the WordPress ecosystem. It should have 2 versions. One for individual contributions and one for company contributions. It should be specific and should show exact information on what they have contributed. If a company sponsors a WordPress event it should show the exact amount of money. As a result, Automattic will receive more contributions. The reputation system can be included in the WordPress’ dashboard to reinforce its importance.
Improving Market Positioning
A second (smaller) team should focus on the market, consumer behavior, and WordPress competitors. They should create a 7-page report for every 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 12-month period. The report should be available for all employees to see. Amazon uses a similar system and it has benefited tremendously.
There is huge potential for Automattic to create synergies between their WordPress community and their WordPress.com offers. It seems that management has this on their radar. Recently, the option of installing community-developed plugins and themes for the WordPress.com business solution became available. More initiatives like this should happen.
Increasing WordPress.com User Acquisition and Retention
The freemium model that WordPress.com offers can be further improved to increase user acquisition and retention:
It should be considered to enable advanced customization and premium themes for all packages, even to the free ones. The more time users spend on customizing their websites, the bigger the sunk cost to leave for a competitor. This will result in increases in retention and the customer’s lifetime value.
If offering full customization capabilities to the free version is not financially viable for Automattic there is another way to achieve a similar effect. They could offer customers a chance to use the Premium plan (but with a .wordpress subdomain) free of charge for 60 days. At the end of 60 days, users will have the option to either pay and continue with the plan or their account will automatically downgrade to the free version. Because users now have spent significant time customizing their website, there will be a large number of them who won’t let their extra customizations go away. This method is a win-win for both Automattic and consumers because the latter can now have “free” time to see for themselves if wordpress.com is truly the right solution for their needs.
Automattic offers refunds for a period of 30 days from the date of purchase, but the option is buried at the bottom of this webpage. This should be in a prominent position on the pricing page and it should be changed to a more powerful (in marketing terms) word such as “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” A phrase such as “refund policy” may sound alarm bells in users’ minds. It may give the impression of a complex process or be unconsciously associated with past negative experiences from other companies. The “Satisfaction Guaranteed” notice should be placed on other pages as well such as on the Homepage and the About page.
Following the above will increase the conversion rate and the overall perceived value of what Automattic offers. This can give the flexibility to implement slight price increases without having a negative effect on sales.
Acquiring Competitor’s Users
Furthermore, a huge opportunity exists within market segments that use competitive solutions. There should be a clear and concise guide on how these users can do a simple turn-key migration from their current platform to wordpress.com. There is currently nothing of the sort leaving these prospects without an option to know if migration is possible or to ask pre-sales questions. They have already spent time customizing their websites, so if an easy migration is not provided, they won’t bother to switch. Automattic has created some processes to help with the migration process; however, there is a lot more to be done there.
This goes for marketing as well. Dedicated sales pages and FAQs for users of each competitor will work really well. Other options are targeted coupons, marketing materials, and landing pages.
I believe that Automattic already has the required resources to increase the market share of WordPress to 51% and beyond. By using just a handful of the options that have been discussed above, I know that Automattic can offer WordPress an advantage that their competitors are unable to match.
What do you think? Please join the conversation by leaving a comment below.
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