CommonLounge Archive

Making widgets, tools and micro-sites — engineering as marketing

December 23, 2017

If you can code or have a great developer on your team, you can use engineering as an effective marketing tool.

Engineering as marketing means building tools and resources that solve your target customer’s problems. Users will share your resources with their friends, winning you new customers.

The great thing about engineering as marketing is that it takes only one small investment, but provides a high return for a long time.

What to build

  • Calculators: 401k calculator, website speed measuring tool, etc.
  • Widgets: Video widget, sharing buttons, media player, etc.
  • Educational microsites: An interactive or entertaining presentation that will show potential customers their need for your product. Make sure to give the microsite its own easy-to-remember domain name to make it shareable and help it to rank higher in search engines.

Case Studies: HubSpot, Moz, WP Engine, and more

HubSpot created a free tool called Marketing Grader that evaluates a company’s current marketing tactics. The tool gives free information to the user and also sends helpful stats to HubSpot. At the same time, it introduces potential customers to HubSpot and gives them a positive opinion of the company.

Moz offers free SEO tools like Followerwonk and Open Site Explorer. These tools attract people who need help with SEO, which is the perfect customer for Moz’s services.

WP Engine offers a free tool to check the loading speed of a user’s WordPress site. When someone uses the tool, they’re offered a free course from WP Engine about improving their website speed, which concludes with a sales pitch for WP Engine’s hosting service.

Codecademy takes advantage of the human tendency to make goals at the beginning of the year by offering a free year of coding lessons at<a href = target=“_blank”> The site is open year-round, but is especially popular in January.

DuckDuckGo created a website called that educates readers about Google’s tracking policies and shows them how DuckDuckGo doesn’t track its users.

One well-known example is the social sharing buttons provided by Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other major social networks. These are engineered by social media giants so that blogs and publishers can include them in their posts, encouraging users to share articles on the social media sites.

Keep in mind

It’s important that the tool you make is easy to use. If not, these tactics won’t work. The key is to provide something that has a very high value for the user and is 100% free (no strings attached).

If strapped for ideas, you can find candidates among your already-existing content or internal tools. You can also think of turning a blog post into a micro-site.

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