Over 1500 Building A Free Chrome Extension
Strategy

When and How to Build a Chrome Extension Plugin for Your Business

A few days ago Ninja Outreach launched its Chrome Extension - Ninja Outreach Lite. This is a guide on how to build chrome extension plugin.

Download it here (it's free, even if you don't use NinjaOutreach). 

This extension has been months in the making and has cost over $1,500 to build - all for a little button that sits at the top right of your Chrome browser.

Wondering why I thought it was worth spending all that moola? Here's an in-depth case study:

What Is The Chrome Extension?

The Chrome Extension is a free add-on to Chrome that also syncs with your NinjaOutreach account, should you have one.

It's an excellent tool for prospecting and outreach. You can read the full feature list in this article.

Or you could just watch this 3-minute video.

Or better yet, download it yourself, create an account, and use it!

How Many Resources Did It Take?

So how much does it cost to build one of these things?

Naturally, that depends on what you're building and who you're hiring.

We hired a developer back in late October to get started on this Chrome Extension, at a rate of around $13/hour (recently that got bumped up to $20).

In total, we have spent over $1,500 on development, and there is strong possibility that the lifetime cost of the extension will be over $2k.

This equates to about 100 hours in development time, spread across 5 months. We had some delays as the developer we are working with had a death in the family back in November.

But the total time investment is misleading for the following reasons:

  1. There was quite a bit of time spent with the time tracker off. Usually communicating with each other and debugging.
  2. There was additional help from myself and my developer, who created APIs for this extension and did a lot of testing along the way. We have over 20 versions of the extension as it has developed over the past few months.

I would estimate the total time at closer to 150 hours in terms of just general man hours.

Why Did We Splurge For It?

So why spend so much time and money to create this add-on?

Competition

First and foremost the add-on is there to compete with BuzzStream's Buzzmarker, which is a chrome extension that they have solely for users of their software.

We have spoken with many BuzzStream users and the Chrome extension is frequently cited as one of the most favorite features. It just seemed like a must have.

Although the big thing missing from ours right now is email capability - it does include A LOT more data. Oh, and it's free even for non-users.

Engagement

Ninja Outreach is a blogger outreach software. Most people are not doing blogger outreach daily, but they are surfing the web daily and are generally curious about a lot of the metrics and results that our Chrome extension harvests.

For us, this seems like a way to keep our customers engaged with the product even when they are not connected with the main software.

And this has been validated by none other than Buffer in an AMA Leo did on Inbound.

buffer

Freemium

One of the smart things I think we did was to not make this JUST for NinjaOutreach users, but to allow all people to use it while just locking a few key features.

NinjaOutreach doesn't have a freemium version (yet) but this is the closet thing to it. This makes it a lead generation tool  as well, so we can hopefully build up a large base of chrome extension users who we can engage with through email and our tool and convert them later on.

Plus, now that we're in the Chrome web store, we have another channel through which people can find us!

Re-Using Code/Developer

There is definitely a substantial part of the code that can be leveraged for the Web App that we are currently building, so it's not going to go to waste!

Additionally, having worked with this developer for the past few months we feel he is a great fit for the team, and are excited about building a long term relationship with him. Basically, the extension has been a vetting process.

What Was The Development Process Like?

Developing a Chrome extension is a bit different from a standard web development job, and the developer we worked with has built a chrome extension before.

There are just certain restrictions that come from being confined to that console space. For example, while I wanted to add follow buttons to allow users to follow the blogger on social media, we could not put that in the extension window for technical reasons (can't remember why).

Additionally, and perhaps surprisingly, it is not easy at all to implement this in another browser, like Firefox. In fact, it is a very different system altogether, and it would be a bit like starting from scratch.

Plans For The Future?

We're not done with the Chrome Extension yet, we still have a lot of features we're interested in adding, such as:

  • The ability to send emails (right now it is just for contact form submitting).
  • Adding more RSS feeds like latest Tweets and Instagram posts.
  • Implementing a referral system, so if you refer people you can actually get access to Pro features.
  • Allowing you to store some contacts, even if you don't have a NinjaOutreach account.

Try it out, and let us know what you think should be added!

How Can You Help Me?

Thanks for asking!

Of course we would love it if you would test out our new release.

Then, if you know of anyone else you think you could share it with, please do.

Lastly, if you can leave us a 5-star review in the Chrome store - that goes a long way.

If you do, be sure to let me know so I can say thank you!

David Schneider

Dave is an author at Ninja Outreach and has a passion for digital marketing and travel. You can find him at @ninjaoutreach and [email protected]

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