Friday, May 20, 2011

More to expand

Feel like your bot is competitive, yet isn't getting as much traffic as you'd expect? This week I'd like to go over a couple tricks for drawing more customers to your bots without changing a single price.

The most obvious way to get more people to your bot is through your classifieds advertisement. This is the number one way people find the bots they use, and is thus one of the most important factors in your bot's success. I've already written about improving the quality of your advertisement, so I won't bore you with that again.

Instead I'd like to present the idea of running additional advertisements for your bots. You can create additional MTGO accounts, name them something that sorts alphabetically near your bot in the classifieds, and let them help out with your advertising. You can say something direct like ''Search Spazbot to find an open Spazbot'' in all of your classifieds advertisements, and set all the non-bot advertisements to always say “BUSY” so that people will go looking for the actual bot you're trying to direct traffic to. If you use names like CardSeller1, CardSeller2, CardSeller3, you might not even have to waste advertising space directing people to look for an open bot: simply seeing that CardSeller3 is busy will prompt many people to search for other CardSeller bots, since the ''3'' implies there are others.

Everybody loves free stuff right? There are a handful of bots on MTGO which give away 32-64 free cards per month to anyone who wants them. While ML Bot does not currently support giving away a limited amount of free cards to customers, you can do something similar to draw attention and respect to your bots. When you have some free time to burn, you can make a classifieds posting, or simply run a message in the auction room stating that you are willing to give away some free cards to anyone who'd like to check out your bots. They can send you a private message once done, at which point you can pause the bot and confirm the trade. As an example, you could offer anyone 0.25 in free cards from your bots, excluding rares. You can be as specific as you want, perhaps offering one rare and up to ten uncommons/commons, no cards exceeding 0.10 in value, total value under 0.50. If your prices are competitive, the amount that can be obtained within these limitations should encourage anyone to try your bot for any future needs. Even if your prices aren't that amazing, the gesture can go a long way with people.

If you don't feel like sitting around, you can even offer a small amount of free bot credit to anyone who replies to your post, but you'll have no control over what they're getting with that credit, unless you were to setup a separate bot with limited inventory entirely for this purpose.

Another way to get your bot into some new people's buddylists is by sponsoring player-run tournaments. Everything is up to you, from format to prize payout. You can even outsource the running of the events to someone for a small fee, which I've done in the past. Some people would even be happy to organize your events for you for free, just to help improve the community and participate. Pauper is a popular format for these events, but as the point is to draw in new paying customers, you may opt for a block, standard or extended event.

Paying out in cards or tickets works fine as long as everyone participating knows whose bot is responsible for the free event with prizes, but you may prefer to award prizes in the form of bot credit, as this ensures everyone who won anything from your event visits your bot at least once. Sponsoring events can go even further towards charming people into choosing your bots than simply giving away free cards. It may feel less like a bribe, or maybe it makes the bot seem more like the human operating it than a cold steely money-hungry machine. People really love free event sponsors.

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