This post is to address two questions:
1. Why is HitTail free?
2. How long will HitTail remain free?
Let’s jump right to the bottom line. HitTail will remain free for sites whose traffic remains under a yet-undetermined traffic level. We are still determining what that level will be. And as you come near that level, you will get plenty of warning. And even once you reach that level, if you are not paying, the tracking gif will continue to be served as normal. It will simply stop collecting data. So, there is no downside AT ALL of giving HitTail a try.
The reasoning goes: low traffic sites don’t stress our systems. So it’s easy for us to provide it free. But once your site really takes off, and we’re talking to about “getting SlashDotted” levels, then it costs us, and we will have to figure out what to charge.
But that won’t occur until the beta program is over, and it won’t occur without plenty of warning. In the rare instance, we have a massive volume user, I’ll contact them directly to discuss. So, install that tracking code with the confidence that you will have the benefit for plenty of time to make it worth it.
Next, WHY is Connors Communications providing this service free?
Connors Communications developed HitTail for a variety of reasons, including our own public relations. Before, you didn’t know us. Now, you do.
The PR industry as a whole has always been quick to identify and embrace new technology: blogging, for example. Connors Communications also has a knack to identify and bring to market the next big thing–we launched Amazon.com, Priceline and Vonage. Using this knack, we decided it was time to practice what we preached. So we identified one of our own under-serviced needs (mining log files), developed a product (in-house SEO tools), test marketed it, refined it, and packaged it for the mainstream.
Being a smaller boutique New York PR agency, Connors Communications doesn’t get the same press as an Edelman, Ogilvy or Fleishman-Hillard. But now, with developing a new public relations technology, I expect we will be remedying that situation. The Internet is truly democratizing. Distributing information doesn’t cost much, so one person can have the same influence as whole marketing department. So, the trick is in starting with valuable information, worth propagating. If there’s no self-evident value to the message, the message cannot propagate of its own accord. This is what makes a viral campaign viral.
HitTailing is about making valuable information worth propagating… on many levels. First, HitTail is a unique and differentiated competitive intelligence product for the hot field of natural search optimization. And we’re giving it away free. The information could propagate on this basis alone.
Second, we’re starting what we feel will be a revolution in marketing by creating a systematic methodology that applies pure hit tail theory as laid out by a rapidly rising business concept: the long tail. The information here could propagate on this basis alone.
Third, we’re providing what is finally a mainstream, reputable product in a space that has previously been dominated by shadowy and controversial products. This kept everyone away but the early adopters. We’ve articulated a “safe” value proposition for natural search that is ready for the more pragmatic early majority. The information here could propagate on this basis alone.
Fourth and last, we’re solving a sorely felt pain-point in marketing today. The cost of online advertising is being driven up, right as managing such campaigns is becoming more difficult. Everyone craves those natural search positions, because it lowers your own spending while forcing your competitors to spend more. But the path to getting those coveted natural search positions is not always clear. We illuminate that path with a method that we’re proud to discuss publicly. The information here could propagate on this basis alone.
For these reasons and more, we made HitTail free, trying to give it that extra little boost that a free Web 2.0 beta gets these days. We’re putting it through rigorous real-world testing, listening to our users, and applying agile spiral development techniques, so that what we create is as cool as it is useful. And we respect you, the user. You will notice that our tracking gif is invisible (unlike some other free services). We are not begging for links, or littering the site with every social bookmarking shortcut.
So instead, we rely on YOU, the HitTailer to spread the word. Spreading the word of HitTailing will also spread the word of Connors Communications. And on occasion, we will meet someone with a snazzy new technology that we believe in well enough to take onboard as a member of our elite club of Clients.
But for all the rest who will never be in Connors’ office, we still like to think we have a relationship with you. Perhaps we helped you improve your business, or further your social cause. And that makes us feel good.
And if you still think this is just too valuable to give away for free, then consider it word-of-mouth-ware, and go pay. We won’t mind.