* 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

First Sale.  Marketing is hard.

So it looks like someone tried my new product out and didn't hate it.  They used it for about 2 days of the 30 day trial, asked a few questions, and then purchased a subscription (though they get to finish the trial before they are billed the first time).

I've been working on the marketing page, to include adding an introductory screencast.  I've also added an 'annual' subscription price which offers a discount over paying month-to-month (though customer #1 opted for the monthly subscription):

http://www.caffeinatedrhino.com/rhino_school_tracker.php

As best I can tell, I got this customer via advertisements I've been running on Bing.  I've only had maybe 20-30 unique visitors since I launched this thing, so I'm wondering if there is a more effective way to do this whole online marketing thing?

Bing ads are cheap (I think I've spent something like 60 cents to get about 7-8 clicks), so I don't see an issue in continuing to run them, but bing just doesn't have the audience to bring a lot of traffic.  Google adwords is insanely expensive.  Facebook ads seem to be pretty much useless.  In the past I've tried StumbleUpon's paid stumbles, but that just seems to generate high-volume, extremely low-quality traffic.

At the moment I'm attempting to get some bloggers in my niche to review my product... are there any obvious online advertising/marketing tactics that I'm missing here?  At this rate it will take quite a while to get a reasonable number of users.
James A. Send private email
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
 
 
Congrats man you're now officially a pro.

Just keep slogging along and trying things. It takes a long time to build up and you have to work at it just as you're doing.
Scott Send private email
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
 
 
Go to the homeschool conventions. My friend's wife buys so much shit from there. Holy shit.

The cross-selling potential is HUGE, btw.
Bring back anon Send private email
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
 
 
>Marketing is hard

Yes it is! Hard to do well, anyway.

>bing just doesn't have the audience to bring a lot of traffic. 

Check.

>Google adwords is insanely expensive. 

Depends. The PPC has certainly risen over the years. But it is still often possible to get a decent return if you know what you are doing (most people don't).

>Facebook ads seem to be pretty much useless.

Check.

> In the past I've tried StumbleUpon's paid stumbles, but that just seems to generate high-volume, extremely low-quality traffic.

Check.

>are there any obvious online advertising/marketing tactics that I'm missing here

Writing content to bring in free search traffic?

There are just so many other different things you can try. You might get a few ideas here:
http://successfulsoftware.net/2007/05/07/promoting-your-software-part-1/
(6 parts, quite old, but still mostly relevant I think)
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
 
 
Anon is totally correct here about conventions, those things are probably very inexpensive to display at. You can do demos, set people up with free trial semester long accounts, pass out installer CDs and pamphlets.

Your price per click for that is going to be a lot better and the people there are going to go and tell their friends on mailing lists about your software if they think it's great.
Scott Send private email
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
 
 
Do check Andy's posts linked above, he has covered plenty of different promotion methods. I was actually looking for that post to give the link here but couldn't find it. (So Andy, perhaps you can put that also in your sidebar links, it's one of the most important series)
handzhiev Send private email
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
 
 
Andy,

Thanks for the link -- some good advice in there.  So far this project has cost me time more than anything else, and now I'm at the point of having to invest some cash to advertise my product.  There seem to be quite a few ways to waste a lot of money on marketing without seeing any results.
James A. Send private email
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
 
 
> without seeing any results

Well, the results are that you learn what doesn't work. Through the (time and money intensive) process of trial and elimination you hope to eventually find approaches that work. Advertising definitely doesn't work though if you just spend money and hope some of it does something since very little of it does.
Scott Send private email
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
 
 
Try to do lots of small experiments. Often you only need to spend $50-100 and a few hours to get an idea of whether something is likely to work, e.g.:

http://successfulsoftware.net/2011/02/23/linkedin-advertising-experiment/

http://successfulsoftware.net/2012/05/07/an-experiment-with-pinterest/

http://successfulsoftware.net/2010/11/12/advertising-your-software-on-facebook-fail/

Also remember that paid advertising is not the only form of promotion.I would be wary of spending heavily on paid ads until you are sure your site converts traffic to sales.
Andy Brice Send private email
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
 
 
Just went over your site, looks polished, tried looking up your site on google and bing with a couple of keywords I am familiar with, but yours didn't come up.
Couple of suggestions:
1. Offer a online demo / more screenshots of what the reports or screens look like
2. If you are looking for cheaper alternatives to doing PPC, do minimal SEO, I recommend doing forum back links. Give some thought to affiliate channel as well.
3. You are in a bit of a crowded market, so offer some features that doesn't exist in competitors and do some PPC with those feature keywords.
AnilX Send private email
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
 
 
>Well, the results are that you learn what doesn't work.

Indeed.

"Success is 99% failure". (from the guy who founded Honda)
Andy Brice Send private email
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
 
 
>Andy, perhaps you can put that also in your sidebar links, it's one of the most important series

It is hard to pick the top posts out of 271 posts. But it probably wouldn't be those - they are now a bit dated and incomplete.
Andy Brice Send private email
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
 
 
James, the screenshots on your product page are quite blurry. I expected them to enlarge or zoom on click/hover, to no avail.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so how about making those screenshots bigger and/or zoomed out to the most interesting fragments so as to make them more legible? Alternatively, you can add one of those lightbox scripts to your page.
Dmitry Leskov @Home Send private email
Thursday, February 07, 2013
 
 
Dmitry,

That's a good idea and I've added it to my to-do list. 

Seems like I'm constantly getting torn between improving/polishing the application itself, working on the marketing web site, and doing all of the non-technical marketing and general 'business' work.

I've also got other product ideas floating around in my head (other apps that may be of use to home educators and/or schools), but I'd like to see some traction with this thing before I explore those.
James A. Send private email
Thursday, February 07, 2013
 
 
It is always going to be like that. Outsource what is less important at the moment.
Dmitry Leskov @Home Send private email
Thursday, February 07, 2013
 
 
>Seems like I'm constantly getting torn between improving/polishing the application itself, working on the marketing web site, and doing all of the non-technical marketing and general 'business' work.

Get used to it. ;0)
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, February 07, 2013
 
 
Andy is right. You got to do all this stuff and do it continually, and often for many years  before seeing a reasonable income. Some guys are lucky and do well right off the bat, but everybody has to do the legwork to be sustainable.

It's definitely less work to take on a 40 hr a week corporate job.
Scott Send private email
Thursday, February 07, 2013
 
 
Scott,
I also have a full-time corporate job.  My dream is, of course, to work for myself some day :)
James A. Send private email
Thursday, February 07, 2013
 
 
> but I'd like to see some traction with this thing before I explore those.

I think that's wise; for now. It's really easy to get distracted by other projects instead of market the asset you already have.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Thursday, February 07, 2013
 
 
btw, congratulations - first sale is an amazing milestone!
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Thursday, February 07, 2013
 
 

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