* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

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Moderators:

Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Care to share any marketing lessons you learned last year?

I regsitered one of my apps using a PAD file and the service from http://submit-everywhere.com and now have many new customers.

SEO was an expensive waste of time and the 'expert' proved no better than what I had done myself.

Adwords is still king.

Looking to create an elightning blog and newsletter in 2007.
Steve
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
Hi Steve,

What category is your software in?

I have a software in the eBay Auction Template automated HTML Generation and image upload listing category and I'm having trouble with the marketing as well.  Its a very helpfull software especially with automating the image processing and upload and html generation that would simplify the whole process for new and expert ebayers but im having difficulty with getting the word out.

One thing I have not tried yet is adwords.  I'm wondering if adwords would work since there is so much advertising for ebay on adwords already.  Are there any adwords marketing analysis tools out there to figure out who bids what and how many click are comming through for keywords?

do you think my website content is a well worded marketing sales page? http://www.auctionlistingcreator.com any marketing tips would help.
Stucko
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
Whoa! Hijacking in progress!
purplecow
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
SEO isn't a waste of time!  I spent months tweaking and getting incoming links (NOT FROM FORUMS--they are ignored), and I'm now near the top of the first results page.  My organic search hits bring me way more customers than AdWords--and I'm spending a fair amount on some expensive words.  But it does take time, and you need incoming links, preferably with your keywords in the link.  (How to get them is left as an exercise for the reader)

So in Stucko's case above, he'd want people linking to him with something like "Ebay submission software" as the link text (or whatever his chosen keywords are).

Believe me, SEO makes a HUGE difference if it gets you onto page 1.
anon
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
I think Steve was saying paying for a "professional" SEO is a waste of money.  What you have done is to do the work yourself and that is great, but I know I have gotten phone calls asking for me to pay them 5-10k to optimize my site that sells a $25 product.  That to me too is a waste of money.
SteveM Send private email
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
EVERYBODY DOWN ON THE FLOOR NOW!
Stucko
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
"pay them 5-10k to optimize my site that sells a $25 product. That to me too is a waste of money."

A bottle of Coca Cola is, what, $1?  But they spend millions on advertising and PR :-)

IOW I don't see how you can compare your overall expenditure against the individual item price ...
Marcus Tettmar Send private email
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
Stucko,

I happened to clean out my home office yesterday (how did it get like that?!?  I mean, come on!) and found a few things that still work perfectly well, but for which I no longer have any use.  I figured selling them on eBay was a good way to unload them and since I had several things to sell I thought I could use some assistance in getting up and running.  Being a long-time JoS and BoS reader, I thought of your product.  So it is in the context of being a potential customer that I visited your website, although I viewed it with a critical eye because I know you're an avid seeker of advice and feedback.  If I haven't described what you view as a potential customer I'm about to waste more than a few keystrokes, but here goes anyway. 

(BTW, I went to the BoS forum and searched for "stucko" to find your website, so I can't say how effective google is for you.)

Anyway, my first impressions of your site were pretty good.  I liked the look.  I saw right away that there was a free trial.  I had to click on the Buy Now button to see what the price was.  I would rather be told right away, but it's not a deal-breaker.

Your bulleted list above the navigation buttons was of mixed use to me.  Remember, I've never sold anything on eBay before; I'm not an online retailer.  This is how I read the list:

* Create Templates in minutes - That's good.  I'm looking for quick and easy.
* Upload images free - What do you mean?  Does eBay usually charge for this?
* No HTML knowledge required - That's good.  I'm not a web designer.
* Automated image prep - I assume that means you'll make it easy to crop and size my pictures.  If so, that's a good thing.
* Store and retrieve projects - Huh?  What projects?
* Store policy and listing descriptions - I don't know what policies you're talking about but saving listing descriptions may be of some use.

Again, maybe you didn't write that list for me (1st time eBay seller).

Then I scrolled down to the sample listing.  It looked nice, so I wanted to see it closer.  The layout of http://www.auctionlistingcreator.com/examples/eBayAuctions/RainbowParrots/Index.html is totally hosed on Firefox (I'm using 2.0).  The page buttons, two row of pictures, and explanatory paragraph are all overlaid on each other.  Not good.

Then I decided to watch the tutorial to get a feel for the UI.  To put it bluntly, it was two shades shy of useless.  There's no text or audio explaining what's happening.  All I see is a (robotic looking) mouse pointer flying aroung the screen and clicking on various buttons.  I didn't learn anything from it.

I won't do a detailed analasys of the rest of the site.

Obviously, the Firefox rendering needs to be fixed.  I would strongly advise you to redo (or remove) the "tutorial".

After that: Sell your product to me.  Don't just list the features.  My next step is to take a bunch of pictures of one of my items and post it on eBay myself.  I figure that I'll at least know what to look for when evaluating your software.  It shouldn't be like that.  I _know_ that doing it manually for several items would be more work.  But I don't know what the specific problems will be.  I'm assuimg you do, since you're much more familiar with eBay than I am.  So tell me why using your product is easier than doing it myself.  Sell to me.

It looks like you get closer with the Features page, but you're still leaving it up to me to figure it out.
I'm Stucko, too
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
My little $25 app is mainly a developer / IT tech type of application and not something like Coke which is marketed to the entire world.  The market for the app is limited and my budget does not include 10k to "optimize" the website.

Plus I am not talking about marketing, I am talking about doing SEO on a page or a website.  I kinda doubt they spend millions on the SEO for the Coke website.  They might spend that much on the flash animation on there, but probably not on the SEO. 

Would I spend 5-10k on marketing?  I might do that slowly using things like Adwords and others, but not what the professional SEO people wanted to do.
SteveM Send private email
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
Why does any thread in BoS asking for serious marketing advice either gets hijacked or no relevant response from the members.

I guess it is the rookie's zen! the teacher will come when the student is ready!
Vignesh Send private email
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
I'm Stucko, too,

I think your comments and review of my site deserves a free license :)  Please contact me through the contact us form on the website and I'll send you a license with image hosting access as well.

Thank you for taking the time to post your input.  It clears up what a new users would see.

I learned the programming..  Now I gota learn marketing :)

But contact me if you would like the FREE full license.

Please provide First and Last name and email address on the contact form.  Thanx again for your input.  I tink I will work on it.  I will look into the firfox issue as well.  It looked fine when I posted it.
Stucko
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
OK, I'll post a few items I've learned:

Submit to download sites.  Even those nobody sites bring in a few downloads.  Downloads.com is obvious, but I found (through this forum) that VNU.net is apparently the equivalent in Europe.

Get on the first page of Google.  Duh.  But do everything you can to get there.  Watch your position every day.  Study your competitors pages and see what they are doing to get ranked well.  What keywords do they use?  Who is linking to them? I use the Link Popularity check to compare myself to my competitors:
http://www.marketleap.com/publinkpop

If you're B2B or tech related, don't worry about Yahoo or MSN: My traffic is 95% from Google (which scares me--single point of business failure!)

Offer a free version of your app.  It will get found and noticed.  Put an 'Upgrade' button in the Free app, and show what additional features they'd get for upgrading (NOTE: I'm doing this, but not sure how much it is helping)

Have a 404 redirector that emails you so you know about every problem on the website.  Not exactly marketing, but I've been able to improve customer experience with this (and be amused watching all of the hack attacks).

Have a big place on your site about reselling/oeming/branding/etc, and give a generous discount (40%).  Lots of little consultant companies would like to use your tools (if applicable) and resell them for a profit.
anon
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
The lesson I learned: when estimating demand for your product, don't forget to estimate the "supply" of whatever you'll need.

I found a market for a product that extended a Yahoo! service. As long as I "clean room engineered" my product, I would have legally been in the clear so that wasn't a concern. So I drew up a beautiful business plan and marketing plan where I figured out that if I sold X number of copies at a specific price point, I would raise enough money such that I could devote time to monitoring Yahoo! and creating work arounds for every change they made.

I hopped on the forums, checked in the newsgroups, visited the chat rooms and found significant interest in my product. Not overwhelming mind you, but enough to sell 200-300 copies a month for the next few years. Then I made the mistake of visiting Yahoo!'s tech support forum and found out their service had a LOT of problems that my product wouldn't address. Reading between the lines, it wasn't even clear that Yahoo! even planned to offer the service for much longer.

After "researching" what Yahoo! would provide, I had to triple my planned development time and push more of it up front i.e., do more with a version 1.0 release. This not only meant more risk than I would have liked, but I had to acknowledge the possibility Yahoo! would pull the plug on me midway through development.

When Steve Jobs announced the iPhone, I immediately thought of another product, but I'm glad I waited because the subsequent announcement of no third party development complicated things further.
TheDavid
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
> If you're B2B or tech related, don't worry about
> Yahoo or MSN

I think that depends on the B2B product. I sell to a lot of small business owners, and a decent number of them have come via Yahoo.
Nick Hebb Send private email
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
while ( in business )
{
  try stuff
  meaure result
  if ( result == favourable )
      keep doing it
}

Where stuff = adwords, SEO, print ads, download sites, OEM deals, resellers, affiliate programs, bundling deals, press releases .... etc.

As far as I can tell SEO works well for my market and print ads don't. Your mileage may vary.
Andy Brice Send private email
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
*If your software looks as good as it functions it will sell better than ugly functional software
*Worry less about how 'elegant' your solution is an more about whether it actually is a solution to someones problem
*First run tutorials in the software DO HELP
*On site FAQ's, tutorials, tips etc etc help to build confidence
*Make sure your documentation is written well in your target language of choice. 
*Put your documentation on your website, it is great search engine fodder
*Sell the business case not the technology.  Unless you're marketing to programmers no-one cares if you're using a whizz bang three pane outlook style interface with the .net 2.0 framework.
Anon for now.
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
Some good comments posted, thanks for those. I sell to system/network administrators and IT helpdesks etc. There are a few big players in my field and I would love 10% of what they have (go on then I'll settle for 5%).

I am a small fish swimming against the tide in rough waters carrying a little marketing message on my fishy t-shirt, there's a couple of sharks right behind me and to top it all once a month I hand a good portion of my earning to the whale who has a big 'G' on his back. The whale keeps the sharks away so long as I keep paying, so I keeep paying :-)

Lets hope 2007 is a successful year for the MicroISV!
Steve
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
"I have a software in the eBay Auction Template automated HTML Generation and image upload listing category and I'm having trouble with the marketing as well."

Stucko, as I see it you're having trouble with marketing because you won't follow any of the excellent advice that's been given you. You seem to just sit there wondering why you don't have a pagerank of 10 three weeks after putting your site up.

Many people on this forum have taken the time and trouble to advise you. Re-read their advice, choose something and just *do* it.

My suggestion: sell your product on eBay first. This will help you with a price point, and it will certainly provide exposure to your target market.

That's the end of my advice to you Stucko.

Byeoh ...
Craig Welch Send private email
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
"Then I scrolled down to the sample listing.  It looked nice, so I wanted to see it closer.  The layout of http://www.auctionlistingcreator.com/examples/eBayAuctions/RainbowParrots/Index.html is totally hosed on Firefox (I'm using 2.0).  The page buttons, two row of pictures, and explanatory paragraph are all overlaid on each other.  Not good."

That's not surprising. See http://tinyurl.com/yd8nqd
Craig Welch Send private email
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
Steve, completely off topic, but I sell to the same crowd.  Send me a message--maybe we can help each other?
PA Send private email
Monday, January 15, 2007
 
 
"As far as I can tell SEO works well for my market and print ads don't."

Well, looking at your algorithm, maybe the problem is the way you measure it. The response from print ads are more difficult to measure than SEO or adwords.
Mike Speranza
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
 
 
>The response from print ads are more difficult to measure than SEO or adwords.

Indeed. But I can get a rough idea from:
-post purchase surveys ('where did you first find out about is')
-have a different url for each ad and tracking hits and sales from that url
Neither give encouraging results.
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
 
 

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