Last updated - February 24, 2020
One of the most preferred aspects of the WordPress platform is the large number of plugins available in the WordPress plugin repository. These plugins are really helpful for website and eCommerce store owners as they are free and helps to extend features and functionality. Now, when site owners look at plugins to download from the repository, one consideration will be the number of active installs. In this article, we will explore and try to understand how active installs are calculated for WordPress plugins. We will also look into some tips to improve downloads and the number of active installs for a plugin.
How active installs are calculated?
The number of active installs for a plugin will give you an idea on how many WordPress websites are actively using a particular plugin. This is a definitive indicator for a plugin’s popularity more than the number of installs. Many users consider the number of active installs before deciding to download a plugin on WordPress.
Now, let us try and see how WordPress calculates the number of active installs for a plugin. When a website is active, it makes a request to the WordPress database to see if there are any updates available for any of the installed plugins. The result will be the update message that you often see on the Plugins section.
Through this update check process, WordPress will collect the number of active installs for each plugins and display on the respective plugin pages. The displayed number will be rounded to mostly thousands and will be updated every 24 hours.
Why active installs are a better way to measure popularity?
When you look at a plugin in the WordPress plugin repository, you can see there is information on number of downloads as well as active installs. You might be wondering if the download number can also be a good option to determine the popularity of a plugin. However, the download count is not a good option in this regard according to experts. that is because every update of the plugin is considered as a new download. For example, if a plugin has three version updates and a customer has done all three updates, the download number will be shown as three. This means the download number will grow exponentially depending on the number of versions available for a plugin.
Due to this reason, active installs are a better option to measure the popularity of a WordPress plugin.
The importance of download count
Though download numbers do not give a realistic idea on the popularity of a plugin, compared to active installs, it has some other advantages. Let us take a quick look at these as well.
It helps you check the popularity of updates
When you roll out a new update, you want it to reach to most users. The download number is a good indicator to understand whether users are really excited with your plugin’s updates. If existing users are really interested in your plugin, most likely you will see a spike in the download number around the days when you release an update. If the growth in download numbers is sluggish around this time, you can assume that the updates are not received well.
It will help you measure content marketing efforts
You will be employing content marketing strategies to promote your plugin. The download number can be a good tool to understand the effectiveness of a particular content. For example, consider a scenario where your plugin is mentioned by a popular blog in your domain. You can check for surges in download number after this post is published. So, it can help you find effective channels for content marketing as well.
How to effectively market your WordPress plugin?
When you feature a plugin on the WordPress plugin repository, it is important to market it properly as well. This should help new people find your plugin and install it on their sites. Let us look at some of the useful strategies to market a plugin featured on the WordPress plugin repository.
Identify your plugin’s USP
Before publishing the plugin itself, you should have a clear understanding of the marketing potential of the plugin. Have a clear picture of the most important problem that the plugin resolves. This will help you have clear perspective while creating several innovative ideas for marketing communication.
Leverage content marketing
Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote digital products like WordPress plugins. You can reach a broad range of audience with the help of targeted content marketing campaigns.
Blog posts, video tutorials, case studies
You can create a blog post to introduce your plugin to your target audience. It is important that you make sure this post reaches the right audience.
You can follow it up with regular posting of articles listing the top 5 or top 10 plugins in that particular domain. This will help your audience to have a better understanding of your plugin and know where it stands among the competition. Similarly, video demonstrations have a lot of takers in the WordPress ecosystem. This will help customers to actually see how a plugin is working and thereby get a better understanding of the plugin. You can create short videos to provide a walk-through to users on its different use scenarios.
You can also create case studies that provides the detailed functioning of the plugin. When you incorporate real life scenarios of how users find the plugin, new users will be more willing to try out the plugin. You may need to connect with some of the satisfied users of your plugin and encourage them to share their experience.
Guest posting is another effective content marketing strategy that you can try out. There are several websites that publish articles related to WordPress and associated tools. Getting a mention on such sites would add a lot of value to your marketing efforts. This is because such sites will have a broader reach to the target audience.
Social media plays an active role in executing marketing strategies for your WordPress plugins. You can share the plugin on all your different social media accounts. However, simply posting on your Facebook page or Twitter handle won’t help you find new users consistently. For a day or two, it might bring in some users, but after that there won’t be much traffic driven through that.
You can find social groups and sites that deals with your niche and post information about your plugins. If your plugin directly resolves any of the problems discussed in the social forums, a mention will help a lot to popularize the plugin. You can also explore possibilities of Facebook ads, even though it is more suited for premium plugins.
Comments and Quora posts
You can post comments on related blog posts informing their readers about your plugin. This is another useful strategy applied by several WordPress marketers. Similarly, answering questions on sites like Quora or Reddit opens a lot of scope to improve the reach of your plugin.
Explore email marketing too
When you try different marketing strategies for your plugin, you can also try and build an email list. It will help you with email marketing campaigns that are considered really effective by marketing experts. You can even think of featuring opt-in forms on your website to get customers to subscribe to your mailing list. The advantage of having an email list will be that every time you publish a new post on the plugin, you can send an email to subscribers. This has the potential to regularly boost your download numbers.
Optimize the plugin page
WordPress.org is one of the most authoritative websites on the internet. You can use this to your advantage by good optimization strategies on your product page. You will have to do a thorough keyword research and identify the most searchable terms related to your plugin. Now, you can ensure that your product description includes all these several keywords. That means you are preparing your page to show up for all those diverse queries on search engines.
Create an informative product page
You have to create a product page that will inform the users on its usefulness. An easy-to-understand description detailing the primary feature of the plugin is an absolute must. You also need to include screenshots depicting the working of the plugin. This way users will have a clearer understanding of the front end as well as the admin side of the plugin. If you have detailed documentation on the plugin, provide a link to direct customers to that page.
Customers would also appreciate if you have a live demo or video tutorials. A brief walk-through video can be included in the WordPress plugin page as well. A lot of plugin developers also add a list of frequently asked questions on the plugin page. In addition, you also need to clearly communicate how users can get support for the plugin.
Active installs as a valid measure of popularity
As discussed above, active installs give a clear understanding on the popularity of a WordPress plugin. Hope this article has provided you with an idea on how active installs are calculated for WordPress.org plugins. Leave us a comment if you want to share an insight.