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"Forgetmenot" application - any thoughts on this?

Hello

I'm selling a shareware Windows application with success so far. I'm trying to increase conversion rates even further and I have an idea that sounds a bit risky to me.
I suspect that about half of my downloads are being forgotten. I'm planning to install a background program that runs with each Windows startup and sits silently in the background then sometimes pops up to remind the user. Of course that doesn't help kits that never get installed, but that's not the goal.

I want to show reminders in a non-obtrusive way, once a day 5 minutes after booting up, and only if the software isn't purchased or uninstalled in 3 days. So in the first few days I'd show nothing. The reminder would be a standard balloon popup at the tray area telling that "Don't forget to try XY software" and/or some marketing blurb and if you click it, the software would start. That's all.

Some factors to consider: my product is a utility for household use, most users are 50+ and the application is typically not used for more than a couple of days. Vast majority of my sales happen within 60 minutes of download.

What are your thoughts about this? Have you tried something like this and how it worked out? Did anyone complain? Would you personally be annoyed by such a reminder?

Thanks
Zka Send private email
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
 
 
This approach sounds a bit like spyware. I'd suggest you make your program auto-start with an icon on the tray, and show a popup balloon over the icon if the user forgets you after a few days.

You may have a different problem, users that do not install your application. I suggest you name your setup as Install_[AppName].exe where [AppName] is your application's name. Then when the user starts the install, after finishing it jump directly to the application's main window with a starting up guide, you can also open a "success/install/tips/getting started" page on the browser, that will also give you metrics on how many people install after downloading it.

Another thing, browsers act differently when users download and install sofware, it'd be nice to give the user an install guide with screenshots based on the browser used. Check out the download pages for Skype or Adobe Flash for inspiration.
Mauricio Macedo Send private email
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
 
 
Bad idea. I would uninstall your software instantly, if I realized that is what it was doing.

A better approach would be to require the user to give an email address before downloading. Then drip feed them emails about your software every few days until they buy or unsub (1 click unsub).
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
 
 
Thanks for the reactions so far.

Comments on my part:

- My installer is called (productname)_trial_setup.exe at the moment. Doesn't seem so bad to me, but I'll try the install_(productname) version.

- The suggestion about download instructions sounds good, no doubts about it, added to the todo list.

- Welcome page after install: would indeed help with install tracking, but I feel it's a bit pushy

- Actually this is my second venture into shareware authoring. My first one happened around 2004 and I remember heated debates about the asking email address thing. I for one, would not enter my real email address when prompted for a download.

Meanwhile, another thing popped into my mind: code signing. My code is not signed yet as I have read on some mISV blog that it's not really effective, because users will ignore warnings anyway. What's your stance on this? I'm sure it's better to have code signing, but how many % of downloads am I losing without it? Got to make some ROI napkin math to make a decision.
Zka Send private email
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
 
 
> Bad idea. I would uninstall your software instantly, if I realized that is what it was doing.

Please don't just to the conclusions.

How's it different from SaaS's send out emails when you stop using their services?

The users who are 50+ can easily forget to install it. A little reminder can be in fact appreciated.

Once a day though is a bad idea. Once a week is probably OK. Then if installation still doesn't happen in say 4 weeks, uninstall the reminder utility.

The popup by the way should contain a button to start installation right away. The biggest issue people may have is to remember where that installation file might be.
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
 
 
> Please don't just to the conclusions.

Please don't jump to the conclusions.  :D
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
 
 
You can put a simple message that does not look like a spyware. But this message should appear once and only once. After which you must delete yourself.

The message would be:

"Sometime back you downloaded the program 'XYZ' but haven't yet installed it. Would you like to install it now?"
Gautam Jain Send private email
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
 
Maybe there is a misunderstanding here. This reminder app would be installed with the application. I can't install it before the user decides to install the app. So I will remind to TRY the software, not to install it. I wish I could remind about installation :)

Quick overnight results of the welcome page: around 40% have arrived. That's horrible, even considering you can uncheck the "open the welcome page" checkbox at the last step of installation. So a considerable amount of users download but does not install it right away (and maybe never). How could I improve that?
Zka Send private email
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
 
Don't depend solely on advice you receive from fellow developers here.

What is a no-no to them, may be perfectly acceptable for your type of user.

Try the pop-up reminder and see how it goes. If you want to "play nice", add a "Don't remind me again" option on the pop-up.

Just do it.
Jaywalker Send private email
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
 
> "Sometime back you downloaded the program 'XYZ' but haven't
> yet installed it. Would you like to install it now?"

I would *so* uninstall that faster than I could spell SpyWare! And then I'd rate your website as spyware at Web Of Trust and McAfee SiteAdvisor, to warn others.  Because once you see a message that, it makes you wonder what the hell it's watching on your PC.  Don't do it.
PSB136 Send private email
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
 
If people want your app, they'll install and/or pay for it.  Reminding them is just proving you're desperate and/or your app is rubbish.  Good software sells itself.
PSB136 Send private email
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
 
"Good Software Sells Itself". Sorry. No it doesn't. This is about the most stupid comment I've seen on here for a while. Good software needs good marketing to sell.
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
 
If developers aren't your target market then what they would do in response to this on their machine may not be very relevant.

I instinctively think this would irritate the living **** out of me but when I look at my dads browser the 3rd party tool bars take up nearly as much screen real-estate as the page he's looking at. That didn't seem to bother him (seems bizarre to me). What you're suggesting (if it automatically stops after a period of time and takes up no system resources afterwards) is far less shady than those toolbars imo.

You could try it but if you do I'd A/B test it. On installation randomly choose whether to use the reminder or not, then when a license key is used for the first time phone home and report (only) whether the trial was using this technique or not. Compile those statistics and that's your answer.

Well... it's a large part of the answer, I might have some longer term repetitional concerns as others have pointed out.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
 
And yes, I agree with Andrew, "Good Software Sells Itself" is rarely true when we're talking about productivity apps, tools etc.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
 
When I say "good software sells itself" I don't mean without marketing etc.  Of course I mean that too.  What I mean is, as long as marketing and advertising and promotions exist, a good app will sell -- it "sells itself" without relying on gimmicks or reminders or spying, etc.
PSB136 Send private email
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
 
Well I'm not sure how good is my app, but the current conversion ratio is about 10% which is very high afaik and I could live on the income.

But I can't help noticing the ~70% gap between downloads and uninstall feedbacks+sales. Lots of kits don't get installed or uninstalled and I wonder how can I improve that.

Maybe I shall offer a 20% off coupon if you install the stuff right away? (and of course then I'll be bumping the base price by 25%)
Zka Send private email
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
 
PSB136: 'When I say "good software sells itself" I don't mean without marketing etc.  Of course I mean that too.  What I mean is, as long as marketing and advertising and promotions exist, a good app will sell -- it "sells itself" without relying on gimmicks or reminders or spying, etc.'

No, it is just one factor in the marketing/sales.  Gimmicks can be of value, too.  Having a offer (limited-time or not) of charging upgrade price only for users of similar software is a gimmick.  It is also marketing.

Sincerely,

Gene  Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
 
When I say gimmick, I mean sneaky or underhanded. Not a sales promo at a discounted rate, which is a legit marketing practice.
PSB136 Send private email
Thursday, August 01, 2013
 
 
Like this example from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gimmick : "The proposal to cut taxes was just an election gimmick to win votes."
PSB136 Send private email
Thursday, August 01, 2013
 
 
Though I would +1 the comment that what is unacceptable to this audience wouldn't raise an eyebrow for others - I think that another, perhaps less controversial, tactic could be to try collecting emails on a download signup.

You could even have a small "download without registering" button to those that guard their email addresses like their first born child.

The advantages this gives over the ForgetMeNot service is that

* Less likely to creep people out
* It doesn't have to be installed at all
* You can setup autoresponders for 1, 3, 5 days etc with helpful tips "On boarding" in the jargon which as well as reminding them you're there to be looked at may cut down your support costs.
* You can even have a discount coupon at X days - at this point you know if they were interested they probably would have purchased already so you're not leaving much 'on the table'.

I know the argument about email reg decreasing download rates and its always going to be true - but the real variable is how many of those that were scared off would ever have become customers anyway? For my niche it was not much and if you think about it installing desktop software is already quite a commitment.

If you do either of these you could write up your results for fame if not fortune.
Ryan Wheeler Send private email
Thursday, August 01, 2013
 
 
PSB136, there are other defintions for gimmick.  This one is one at dictionary.reference.com: "an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, especially one designed to attract attention or increase appeal."

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Thursday, August 01, 2013
 
 
Gene, I know, but I wanted to clarify which version I was using. :)
PSB136 Send private email
Thursday, August 01, 2013
 
 
Thank you Ryan, I'll likely try to collect the email address.

I'm also pondering code signing to increase install rates. I'm not sure which provider to choose and it looks pretty expensive, on top of that I'm not sure if it's useful at all.
Zka Send private email
Friday, August 02, 2013
 
 
re: Code signing - you do get some pretty nasty warning boxes without it.

I am a customer of these chaps http://codesigning.ksoftware.net/

Be aware that code signing certificates are NOT the same as SSL certificates for websites. Also - there are many issues out there but you've got to check that they validate on your typical customers PC - some are only recognised if later added to a PC's root certificates list - all in all its a bit messy.
Ryan Wheeler Send private email
Friday, August 02, 2013
 
 
Those warning boxes are only for IE users anyway... so why pay a fee for such users benefit? Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari (yes) users will never even know you signed the app when they download it.
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, August 02, 2013
 
 
I just noticed this at your link:

"Use the same computer, same OS, and same browser (preferably IE, for this, no joke) when you sign up for the certificate."

So, certs are TIED to the OS upon which you bought them? WTF? I literally just replaced my PC two days ago, so if I had bought a cert a week ago, it'd be useless now? That's awesome!
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, August 02, 2013
 
 
> Those warning boxes are only for IE users anyway... so why pay a fee for such users benefit?

There will still be a warning when the installer is run, what later versions of IE does is just an extra layer.

> So, certs are TIED to the OS upon which you bought them?

No, once you take delivery & export the key you can move it to anywhere you like.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Saturday, August 03, 2013
 
 
For many users it's a real no-no, because you're installing something other than just the app.

That would trigger my Anvir antivirus, which would immediately tell me you were trying to add something to my start-up routine and bring everything to a screeching halt, followed by an uninstall.

Someone suggested making it self-uninstall. That would be even worse, if I tried to find and uninstall it yet couldn't find it. I'd probably waste a couple of hours scanning my entire drive/s trying to find and remove 'the virus".

However marketing ("good software sells itself" hahahaha!) is about pitching *to your ideal market*, and if your market is older people who are not so IT literate..? For those, such a reminder might be ideal.

I think a happy compromise could be an installation tick-box, large and noticeable, defaulted to NOT ticked, saying:

"Automatic Updates and Reminders?"

If they tick it they've given you permission for reminders - just make sure the start-up app is called 'App-name-reminder' or something obvious and that it uninstalls cleanly along with your app.

It's not just the permission thing; if they've ticked that then they're probably serious about keeping the software. If they're just comparing with others then an automatic reminder would be pointless as it'll be uninstalled anyway, yet still have the "spyware virus!" issue.

My 2 cents anyway.




AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Sunday, August 04, 2013
 
 

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