Every software should have a story.
The story of why it exists in the first place.
I plan to tell the story of NinjaOutreach today, including
- Where did the idea come from?
- Who are we?
- How did we all get together in the first place?
- What are we looking to achieve?
The Inception Of NinjaOutreach - April 2014
Rewind about 4 months back to April 2014.
I am finishing up my world travels and thinking about my next big business move.
I was pretty focused on building software and considering the different spaces that I had access to. My naturally tendency was towards bloggers and digital marketers, as this has been my major area of expertise for the last 3 or so years, and it is where most of my network operates.
The digital marketing space might be new relative to most marketing, but it is growing and evolving at an incredible pace. More than ever before, businesses are implementing content marketing and thinking about SEO.
And yet despite the plethora of tools available, there are still a lot of deficiencies. One area I believe could be improved was around Influencer Outreach.
As someone who just recently launched a blog in March of this year, connecting with influencers and having them help me promote it has been absolutely critical for its early successes. Without them, there is no way I could have gotten noticed early on and found myself writing in front of thousands of visitors, being featured on Business Insider, and contributing to Digital Marketing magazines after only a few months of writing.
Influencer outreach has been around for decades in the form of contacting journalists to provide exposure, but it's only recently taken off in the online space, say in the last 10 years or so, as individual bloggers and outlets have shifted online and grown large audiences that are attractive to businesses large and small.
Now you would expect that a concept that dates back decades, and is now showing a lot of promise in the online marketing world, would already have all of the necessary tools in place.
Yet from my experience, every influencer outreach tool I used fell short on at least one of the following
- It was way too expensive (like $1k/month or more)
- It did not have email integration
- It was lacking other key features and data, that required other tools to get
- It was confusing to navigate
Many people I talked to expressed a similar sentiment, and lamented at having to use 5 or more tools to achieve the one goal.
I thought to myself - we can do better.
So I set out to design and develop such a tool.
A Partnership Forms - May 2014
The funny thing about NinjaOutreach is it is the result of two parties individually thinking up the same idea and then colliding head on purely coincidentally.
It just so happens one day I get an email from Mark Samms, who I had done a podcast with a few months earlier.
Among other things, Mark mentioned they were working on a blogger outreach and social analytics tool.
For me, this was too much of a coincidence to pass up - we hopped on a call later that week and a partnership was formed.
Although we've never meant (Mark lives in the UK, our developer Gurpal lives in Moldova, and I live in the US) we've managed to overcome this and form a stable partnership.
Design and Development - June - Septemeber 2014
Mark and Gurpal had been working on the project for a few months before I got on board, but there was still a lot of design and development work that had to be done before we were ready to launch.
We sat down and mapped out everything that we wanted.
This included a list of over 100 features that we felt would be necessary for the product, and we mapped each of them to the competitor's products to see what they were offering and how we could differentiate ourselves.
Additionally we've put a lot of thought not just into the features, but how we can excel in everything that matters, like
- Having great, personal customer service -If you are one of our first customers expect to have some heart to heart phone calls from yours truly! We've also set up a live customer service chat on this website, that will be ready to go at launch.
- Designing a more intuitive UI - We mapped out the three main processes that we feel makes for a complete workflow and integrated them into the UI in a linear, page by page way so it makes sense.
- More compelling marketing - a lot of the competition has very stale, unexciting content marketing. We're changing that with a blog that actually matters and a podcast, both of which are run by the founders.
And of course this is just the beginning!
This is how NinjaOutreach looks like
The Future of NinjaOutreach
We've come a long way in a short time to getting a pretty beefy software product just about ready to launch.
Everyday is bringing changes in our product, our marketing, and our outlook. The NinjaOutreach of today is already better than the NinjaOutreach of last week and far superior to the NinjaOutreach of one month ago.
We're looking to launch in early September and will keep you informed of our progress!