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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

Free lite version to promote Pro version

Did you have experience with creating of a Lite version of your product for home users to promote main commercial version?

Lite version doesn't compete with a main commercial product, because it has a limited number of features. Side effect - it helps to quickly learn Lite version.

My idea - wait when users will ready to try more advanced commercial version. Lite version will be a transition to the main commercial version and free source of targeted traffic.
Igor Kokarev Send private email
Sunday, July 07, 2013
 
 
2 quick points to bear in mind:

1. Free to the user doesn't mean free traffic for you. You still need to market and/or perform SEO etc. Yes, a free 'lite' version is part of such efforts but it doesn't guarantee traffic by itself.

2. Even when something is free you still need to sell it. There ARE costs involved, including time and the risk of a virus or malware, so following on from point 1, don't presume "free" means lots of traffic and users.

Actually I'll throw in a 3rd point, free users still make support requests and bad-mouth you for bugs, you just don't make any money from them.

I don't wish to put you off and a lite version can be an effective technique, just don't expect anything magical "because it's free".




AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Sunday, July 07, 2013
 
 
Thanks for your response!

I understand these difficulties.

Also I forgot to say that for a free Lite version I would prefer a new website and a new name of this product to make sure that it doesn't cause any risk to current sales. Existing customers will not see this product.

Users who are looing for a free software don't like to pay for commercial product in same niche. But I'm going to be patient - this group of users will try a free product, some of them will be happy. Then they will realize that they like my product but they need more features and at this moment my Lite version will show a suggestion to try commercial Pro version. Both versions have many common points terms of user interface.

I really don't know will it work or not. Just I like this idea.
Igor Kokarev Send private email
Sunday, July 07, 2013
 
 
The question is how many extra people are you going to convert because of the free version. Is it going to be enough to justify:
-a second website
-a second product
-all the unpaid support

It is possible that some people who might have purchased the paid version of your software will instead be happy with the free version. So the free version might actually hurt your sales. You could also end up with 1000s of cheapskate entitled customers using up your time with no intention of ever paying you a penny.

Personally I think this 'freemium' approach is rarely a good idea, especially for small companies with limited resources.

See also:
http://www.softwarebyrob.com/2010/08/18/why-free-plans-dont-work/
http://blog.asp-software.org/the_freemium_model/
Andy Brice Send private email
Sunday, July 07, 2013
 
 
"Even when something is free you still need to sell it"
Go figure! Sad but true.
codingreal Send private email
Sunday, July 07, 2013
 
 
Andy,

I'm grateful for your comment!

I understand a risk of a free version (including waste of time).

Indeed I had not experience with a free product. It's interesting, but it doesn't require any technical support. Users were happy with this product (comments on the forum). A free product was designed for another niche, but it could be used as a complementary tool for our paid product. This free product had 100 downloads daily from our website but regrettably the conversion ratio is 0.015% to our main commercial product. One reason of this low conversion - both products are placed in different niches. My new idea about free product in same niche as paid product.

To avoid competion with paid version I suggested an idea to run it on a new website and with another name. So visitors of the main website will NOT learn about the second website with a free product.

My paid product is mainly intended for a niche of enthusiasts and professional users with a lot of features and functions. A free product will have only basic features. So they both should be well separated. Of course, it's theory.
Igor Kokarev Send private email
Monday, July 08, 2013
 
 
Note. Sorry for misprint:

"I had experience with a free product".

Andy,
Also thanks for the links.
Igor Kokarev Send private email
Monday, July 08, 2013
 
 
Andy,

Some thoughts on two articles which you pointed above.

SaaS requires more expensive web hosting than desktop software.

For SaaS 1% of conversion from free users to paid plans probably is bad result.

But for desktop software 1% is a good result.
Igor Kokarev Send private email
Monday, July 08, 2013
 
 
Igor,

Don't waste your time with free version. Have some dignity and confidence to sell. All the time you invest into developing, debugging and supporting free app can me used to make paid app so much better.

And since that is what you want to sell you should focus on it. Make it the best you can make and listen to any feedback you get from your paid customers on how to improve app. Relentlessly and shamelessly promote your paid app.

Forget about free app. Focus on your paid product!
Blocky Send private email
Monday, July 08, 2013
 
 
Blocky,

Many thanks for your warm words!

The problem in a fact that I can't increase a profit already several years. Users like my product, but it seems that it's intended for a small niche with a limited number of users.

I feel that I can modify original paid product to a Lite version just in 1-2 weeks.

All free products in this niche are very primitive. But there are 100-200 products ($30-50) with simple features. My paid product ($80) is mainly intended for advanced users it suggest nice features. So I can simply cut off Pro features and provide simple access to main functions.
Igor Kokarev Send private email
Monday, July 08, 2013
 
 
>To avoid competion with paid version I suggested an idea to run it on a new website and with another name.

They will compete, whether you like it or not. If they are targetting the same niche, they will appear in the same searches. The free version will probably have more backlinks and could easily appear higher in the results.
Andy Brice Send private email
Monday, July 08, 2013
 
 
Igor, if your product already targets small niche of users why do you think having free version will help at all? That small niche ain't going to grow suddenly now that you have free version.

Essentially what you are creating is a gimmick free version if you remove all useful features. Its like "free trial"...

I have tried myself free product idea which is designed to boost the main product... It did not work... It attracts wrong kind of customer, the kind that is looking for free and ain't opening wallet :-)
Blocky Send private email
Monday, July 08, 2013
 
 
Igor,

I tried myself with a freeware for a small niche.

Surprisingly I've got almost the same number of downloads in compare with paid version.
MatrixFailure Send private email
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
 
 
Small niche, no profit? I think free version would be a total disaster. Consider raising your prices instead.
Dmitry Leskov @Home Send private email
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
 
 
Thanks again for all replies!

However this idea is completely captured me and I can not give up without trying. I'll try on my own risk.

In fact I finished Lite version in 2 days - just because I simply modified the paid version. I considered this idea already a year. This free product suggests nice features - much more than any free competitors. 

Regarding prices - yes, I plan to add a new paid edition and increase prices for paid versions. Also we will stop lifetime upgrades for main edition (a big old mistake!).

Why I considered a a free Lite version? I have my product on download sites and it has poor downloads. I hope that a good and free product will drive downloads and will give targeted traffic.
Igor Kokarev Send private email
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
 
 
Just make sure you can cleanly withdraw it if it doesn't work for you - & it would be good to hear how it goes.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
 
 
Let us know how it goes.
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
 
 
Yes, I'll report about result.
Igor Kokarev Send private email
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
 
 
Some encouragement from me - our most successful products have their sales driven by free lite versions.

It's true that free also needs to be marketed, but it's much easier to market the free for us. We wouldn't have half of the current success without the free versions.
handzhiev Send private email
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
 
 
handzhiev,

It sounds inspiring! Thanks.

My paid product was published in years before any of my existing competitors. So I feel that I have right to fight to keep my market share :)

P.S. Today I finished the code of free Lite version and registered a web domain. Tomorrow I'll work on the installer and text descriptions for website and download sites.
Igor Kokarev Send private email
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
 
 
IF (and only if?) you are a market leader, then a low cost or free lite version is a fantastic anti-competitive way to destroy up and coming competitors by feature matching them and giving it away for free, or for $1 less than their price, whatever it is. Since you are the brand leader, everyone gets yours because it must be better, and your competitors die.

Adobe does a great job of these with Photoshop Elements, which only exists to make sure competitors don't arise.

If you are not the market leader there is much less of a reason to do this. In general people won't upgrade as imagined.
Scott Send private email
Thursday, July 11, 2013
 
 
I published a free version of my paid product. What I currently did for promotion:

1. New website for this product.

1. Manual submit to 21 download sites, including CNET and Softpedia.

2. I orgered writing and mailing press-release on English, German and Italian languages.

I think that's all I can do now to promote a free product.
Igor Kokarev Send private email
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
 
 

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