Recently there was a post on on the Mozilla Add-ons Blog about Contributions. While that information was interesting, what I'd much rather see is individual developers talking about their experiences with Contributions. Hopefully my post will start a trend. (For those who don't know, Contributions is a way for people to donate to the developers of Firefox Add-ons.)
When Contributions was first made available, the mechanism was flawed. You were asking a user to contribute when first downloading an add-on (which is unlikely since they haven't actually tried the add-on), or somehow expecting the user to make it back to the add-on page to do the contribution (which is again unlikely since most users never go back to the add-on page since updates are handled through Firefox.). The AMO team tried to remedy this problem by creating a first run page, but this has the same problem - a user isn't likely to contribute money at first run because they haven't actually tried the add-on yet. But the existence of this page allows us to take advantage of displaying a request at a much better point than download or first run - upgrade.
Presenting a contribution page after an upgrade is a much more logical scenario, since your users have probably had your add-on installed for a while. I chose to use this method with the Operator add-on.
We need some numbers to put this post in context. As of today, Operator has about 160,000 downloads with around 14 to 15 thousand active daily users. (I've made my dashboard public so people can see these numbers.) That means I've had about a 10% download to user conversion rate.
As a side note, this 10% number seems to be pretty common. If you look on the AMO page today, you'll see 1,624,545,716 downloads, 170,724,304 users. This works out to about 10%. I've actually seen this number with other companies and add-ons as well. It would be interesting to see if other people see this trend as well.
I released an update to my add-on on October 12, 2009. This update contained a first run page that would be seen by all users including upgrades. This page is hosted on my website so I can easily track page views. From October 12, 2009 to October 19 ,2009 (1 week), that page has received 11,469 hits from which we can reasonably conclude that there were at least 11,000 upgrades, which is a considerable amount of my users.
I set my contribution amount at 5 dollars before I released the update. During that week I received 8 contributions of 5 dollars.
So to summarize, 1 week, 11,000 upgrades and views of the contributions page, 8 contributions. That works out to about a 0.07% conversion rate. I don't know much about advertising or these types of things in general, but my understanding is that ad conversion rates typically run anywhere from 1% to 4%, so this is extremely low.
I certainly don't have any complaints about this scenario - I'm not trying to earn a living from Operator, and any funds I receive are just extra. But I was surprised at how low it was. I pictured Operator as kind of a ""niche" add-on so I thought more people would be interested in supporting it.
Some other random observations:
- I put a picture of my family on the developer page per a recommendation early on. No idea if this influenced folks.
- More granular data from the AMO folks would be useful - in particular from which page (AMO vs. first run) contributions came from.
- I believe these numbers would be even lower if I had my developer profile as "Kaply Consulting." I believe people are far less likely to donate to a company vs. an individual.
Any other add-on authors interested in sharing their experience?