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Encourage payment without nags?

I really want my next app to be 100% DRM-free and uncrippled, but not free.  Sounds crazy, right?  Basically I expect people to be honest and pay after a 14-day trial period.  I just don't want the headache of cracks, serials, keygens, and so on.  Yes, I know it can be done "unobtrusively" and so on, but I don't care about that.  100% free of DRM is my plan.  Life is too short for me to care about protecting my app, and I know that I will lose sales from this stance.

So, bearing all that in mind, has anyone tried anything like this before?  How did you encourage people to pay?  Thanks for any advice.
PSB136 Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
Don't do it, unless your NOT in the Business of Software
NewGuyOnTheBlock Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
I tried this on a small app and got NO orders, when I added DRM sales went straight to 30 units per month.
Ducknald Don Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
Maybe it is just me but I don't undesratnd your question completely?
You say you don't wan't to protect your application but you also say that you wan't people to but it after 14 day trial period is over?
If there is 14 day trial period than it is alraedy protected, isn't it?
After 14 days just show meassage box that the application isn't working anymore and that you are sorry for that and show them link to 'buy' page.
I just don't see another way of 'encouraging' people to buy than to tell them to buy.

Maybe I just didn't  get your question quite right, I don't know.
alexandar Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
Alex, I mean people are expected to be honest and pay after 14 days. There'd be a message asking them to pay, but that's it.

Duck, thanks... that's what I assumed would happen.

What I'm considering to encourage payment is a "order custom version" approach.  For example, my app would have specific skins and functions that can't be changed, unless the user pays for it, whereupon I'd send them a custom build.  So the default would be ugly as sin but people might be encouraged to pay for their own skinned version with graphics they supply.  This should theoretically encourage other people to pay too, because the app is personalised to one person and nobody would want to use another person's prefs.
PSB136 Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
Our software shows Nag-screen only.
http://alvas.net/customers.aspx
Here's a list of our clients ;)
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
I am assuming by "no DRM" you mean the software is not locked to a specific computer?

This is a good thing from my point of view as a user. I don't think I have any piece of software that is locked to a specific machine other than one computer that has Windows 8 on it.

How do encourage users to pay for the application?

Display a screen every 3 weeks asking the user to pay and offer some extra module or something. Make the message positive instead of trying to make the user feel guilty.

This advise is based on my own views as a software user.  Our software is B2B where the dynamics are quite different. We decided from day one not to deal with DRM, serial numbers, ... etc. This works for us but may not work well for B2C.

Hope the new approach works for you.
Eugene D. Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
"I tried this on a small app and got NO orders, when I added DRM sales went straight to 30 units per month."

I must be missing something here ...

What exactly do you mean when you say - "I added DRM"?

Locking the software to specific computer?

How could this increase sales from 0 to 30?

This means before the DRM all those 30 people went to some warez site and downloaded registered copy somebody has uploaded?

I hope you will elaborate.
Eugene D. Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
"Our software shows Nag-screen only" -- So, aside from the nagging, your customers could use your software forever without paying if they wanted?  But the nagging is enough to generate sales?  Sounds good to me, and it's what I want to achieve.
PSB136 Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
Just do it! ;)
In fact, I do not know would have increased our sales if we added time-bomb, for example. In our case, whole point was to simplify the life of honest people, and not to complicate dishonest people.
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
There's too many variables to give hard and fast answers.

For example some people will happily pay to support a great product, some will pay because it's not their money anyway and they need to use up a budget, some because they value the tech support etc.

As someone recently pointed out on a different thread, most software sales with a trial period happen within the first few hours of trying it, not when the trial has ended. Those people still want the satisfaction of entering a key and a confirmation that it's a full and paid for version though.

Part of the confusion in this thread comes from your use of the term DRM (digital rights management) which typically involves locking to a single machine and in a specific region. You can still use a trial period and a registration key without going that far.

Ultimately it's a marketing decision, which means it depends on your specific market.

I have to say that for me, the odds of buying software so I can use my own skin..? Not gonna happen.  I'm sure there must be *some* circumstances where it would be relevant but to most users there's no value there.


AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
> So the default would be ugly as sin but people might be encouraged to pay for their own skinned version with graphics they supply.

For shallow people like me it needs to be either beautiful out the box or have such compelling functionality that I'm willing to get over it (& yes, I know my own software isn't the prettiest in the world ;) ).

I don't see how charging extra for makeup will help... the users already judged your app by then and uninstalled if it's a problem for them.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
I agree that making the default "skin" look "ugly as sin" is not a good approach; in fact, really bad.  People judge on first impressions and if it looks ugly, they will assume that it will always look ugly and that it *is* ugly at some deep cellular level.  It's also essentially offensive to the user, sending the message, "You pay me or you'll have to look at this ugly screen as punishment."  It's all kinds of wrong.

No, put your best foot forward.  Make it shiny, awesome, and then they will pay for it once the trial ends and they are locked out.  Like it or not, it's what's for dinner.

It's either this or try the nag approach.  But regarding nagging, despite the evidence from Alex, how many people have clicked through WinZip's nag screen for years?  For more on this from this very BOS forum, see this 20 month old thread:

http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.843493.18
Racky Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
@Racky: What is your suggestion?
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
@Alex, my only strong suggestion to the OP is to not make the UI ugly, thinking it will be a way to force people into buying.

Besides that, to either do the nag or the crippling, but to just be careful about the nag approach, since some feel that it isn't as effective (and the link provides more).  If you're happy with it, though, great.
Racky Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
>Basically I expect people to be honest and pay after a 14-day trial period.

AHAHAHA <wipes tear from eye>. Good luck with that.

Seriously, if people don't have to pay, they won't. They will say to themself "I'll pay next week". They'll still be saying that 3 years later.

If you don't believe me, see:
http://lunduke.com/?p=4581
When this guy went from paid to donation (effectively your model), his income dropped 98%.
Andy Brice Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
@Racky: I do not know this is the best option or not. I did not do research. I am interested in your opinion. Which option do you advise?
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
@Alex
I get the sense that you are being sarcastic, but I could be wrong.

In any case, I am not expressing any strong opinion on anything other than the "ugly UI" strategy the OP proposed.  I'm sure there is data out there on this.  I don't know it.  I do know firsthand how to ignore nags, though (ask my wife).
Racky Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
You are wrong. I ask you for the third time.
Which option do you consider the best?
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
There are companies that are successful with this approach.

I strongly recommend that after the trial period you have a nag screen come up showing an ad with info about how much you have been using it, and a buy link, and sit there for 2-5 seconds before it can be dismissed.

That way users still have an incentive to buy - to get rid of the start up delay. But they are also allowed to keep using it as long as they like, which means they are constantly being advertised to.
Scott Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
"effectively your model"

He hasn't established that that is his model.

DRM is bad. License keys are good. Totally enabled software including source code with a link somewhere on the bottom of a page on the site politely asking for a donation (the case you link to) doesn't work at all.
Scott Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
I think you're going to waste your time.  If you want to make money and then make your software as beautiful and useful as possible.  Have a trial period and a simple registration key system.

People WILL NOT PAY if they are not made to pay.  It's as simple as that.
Mark Nemtsas Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
>> "DRM is bad. License keys are good."

License keys are a form of DRM. It's weak DRM, sure, but it's DRM nevertheless.

Poorly designed DRM is bad -- I'll agree with you on at least that much.
Wyatt O'Day Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
@Alex, I consider crippling or fully deactivating the software best.
Racky Send private email
Sunday, September 22, 2013
 
 
7 billion people in the world and one of them just went through a life long process, perhaps 20, perhaps 50 years, which resulted in them downloading and evaluating your software.

Congratulations, the odds of this for this person, this potential customer, are less than winning the lottery. Somewhere along the line you got the word out, in some way marketing worked, and now here we have a customer who is interested in your product segment enough to check it out and he trusts you and your site enough to not be concerned it is a scam or malware.

Your software probably isn't in stores. They can't check it out at WalMart or the local drugstore. But most people won't buy it sight unseen or without a money back guarantee. So they download a trial.

Some of these folks will check it out and buy it within a day or two. It is exactly what they need! It is the best they have seen! Hopefully their purchase process was smooth.

Others will check it out and it is totally wrong. It offends them. They despise the interface and its color scheme. They delete it after trying it for only a few hours.

We aren't talking about those groups here.

A lot of evaluators aren't sure.

If a person hasn't been able to decide at the end of the trial and the trial goes to zero function, then they are going to delete it because it is totally worthless to them at that point. The developer has forced these customers into the second group - of people who delete the program, because there is absolutely no reason for them not to do so.

If they haven't decide though and there is some nominal function or above, then guess what? They aren't going to delete it. They are going to keep it around. And at some point they will decide it actually is useless for them and delete it, or they will decide it is what they really need and then they purchase it to reveal the uncrippled version.

Zero functionality at trial expire has no upside at all. Anyone implementing this is a foolish business owner.

The question is how much to cripple. That is a matter of taste and of experiment.
Scott Send private email
Monday, September 23, 2013
 
 
My product Entrian Source Search gives you a 30-individual-day trial (so a day not using it doesn't count against your 30 days) and after that it works for five minutes per day.

So you can *use* it for 30 days, and you can then continue to *evaluate* it, in a limited way, forever.
Richie Hindle Send private email
Monday, September 23, 2013
 
 
Example: I'm occasionally using an editor called Sublime Text

http://www.sublimetext.com/

It costs $70.

It is a remarkable piece of software. I'm sure if I invested more time into learning it, it would help me a lot. So far though I only scratched the surface, and fire it up may be once a week for a short one-off job.

Despite my trial long passed, all ST does is reminding me from time to time it is not free. Not limitations, no crippling. The product nevertheless is successful.

...

This thread made me wonder what would push me to buy?

Hmm... My main impediment is my lack of product knowledge. I need to learn it before its value for me will match its price.

Thus, instead of just showing me the nagging dialog, it may be better to show me a Tip Of The Day, or (it is 2013!) a short video on how to do X.

Moreover, they could track what videos I watched through and what I skip to learn my area of potential interests (mine is XML nowadays), and thus tune the tips to what's most important for me. Eventually I'd learn enough to buy.

Now is it better than a simple DRM? I don't know. It certainly not as easy to implement.
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Saturday, September 28, 2013
 
 
"Despite my trial long passed, all ST does is reminding me from time to time it is not free. Not limitations, no crippling."

So, if you pay, how does the app know to stop nagging?
PSB136 Send private email
Sunday, September 29, 2013
 
 
> So, if you pay, how does the app know to stop nagging?

It has in-app payment, why?
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Sunday, September 29, 2013
 
 
Sublime Text uses DRM. Specifically they use "serial-only licensing".
Wyatt O'Day Send private email
Sunday, September 29, 2013
 
 
If DRM is read, per EFF suggestion, as Digital Restrictions Management, then no, Sublime Text doesn't use DRM because they do not restrict users from doing anything.
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Sunday, September 29, 2013
 
 
Vladimir, didn't we just have an argument over semantics just a couple of weeks ago? If you want to do this dance again, I'll be glad to oblige. Be forewarned: I do know a thing or 2 about licensing and DRM.



>> "If DRM is read, per EFF suggestion, as Digital Restrictions Management [...]"

Yeah, except that's not what DRM means. It's "Digital Rights Management". You didn't even get the acronym right. Also, DRM wasn't coined by EFF, so their definition is about as valid as any of the other many common definitions of DRM.

If you want to take the acronym literally (which I, and many others, do) then DRM (digital rights management) is *any* effort of managing the rights of digital content (whether the content is software, movies, ebooks, t.v. broadcasts, etc., etc.).



>> "[...] doesn't use DRM because they do not restrict users from doing anything."

What do you think a "serial number" or a "product key" is? It restricts the use of the software to be used in "full mode" to those users who are in possession of this "serial number".

Don't have a serial number (or you lost it)? Then you don't get to use the "full" version of the software. Ergo the *Rights* of the (*Digital*) software are *Managed* by the serial numbers.

Does that make sense? I hope so, because I don't think I'll be able to make this any clearer without the assistance of giant blinking neon lights.

----

Serial numbers by themselves, as I said earlier in this thread, are a particularly weak form of DRM. A better form of DRM (a form that increases a company's revenue) is hardware-locked licensing (a.k.a. online activation).

Some software companies like to do mental gymnastics with the term "DRM". They read too much Hacker News or Reddit and get it into their heads that "DRM" is evil. (It's not.) That's where you get people claiming their particular use of DRM isn't really DRM.
Wyatt O'Day Send private email
Sunday, September 29, 2013
 
 
> Also, DRM wasn't coined by EFF, so their definition is about as valid as any of the other many common definitions of DRM.

Yes, and I prefer EFF definition.
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
 
 
>> "Also, DRM wasn't coined by EFF, so their definition is about as valid as any of the other many common definitions of DRM."


I guess my sarcasm was too oblique. At this stage I'd take the time to explain that words have meaning, and they can't be arbitrarily redefined. But unfortunately the EFF has arbitrarily redefined "word" to mean "Cobb salad" and redefined "meaning" to mean "cute corgi puppy".

Delusional mental gymnastics for the win?
Wyatt O'Day Send private email
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
 
 
Another thought on my original question about no nags, cripples, etc: what about only providing support to paid users (with a canned response to a FAQ for others), and only paid users getting access to new versions 3 months before non-payers?

So: Alice and Bob download v1.00 of the app.  No nags, not crippled, etc.  Alice pays to get support and early bird rights, but Bob doesn't.  Ideally, we'd really like Bob to pay too.

A month later, v1.01 is released with new features and fixes, and notifications are sent to all paid users.  Alice is able to download and enjoy it, but Bob can't.  All he sees on my website is "v1.00 - Download Now" and "v1.01 - Download Now for Paid Users", along with a list of changes and fixes that v1.01 carries as enticement.

Bob now has to decide whether to pony up and finally pay for the app (so he can download v1.01 immediately), or wait another 3 months to get it free while staying with v1.00 in the meantime.

My reasoning: why should non-payers get the latest version at the same time as paid users anyway?  Why not reward the paying users for their support first?  This is the approach I'm thinking of doing.  It's kind of like a nag screen, but not done within the app, so there's no cracking, serials, keygens, etc, needed.  Wyatt is out of business.  J/K.  :)

This all assumes that the app is good and people want it, mind you.  A popular app could definitely use this concept -- imagine if "Angry Birds 2" was only available to people who paid for "Angry Birds" before.

I think it could work.
PSB136 Send private email
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
 
 
You could also add further benefits to paid users only such as allowing suggestions.  So Bob might ask, "why can't your app do this" and let him know that only paid users get suggestions implemented.
PSB136 Send private email
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
 
 
Myself: "I think it could work."

Just to let you know, I'm putting my money where my mouth is and so I've released an app under this model to test it. I'll report back in 3 months how it went.
PSB136 Send private email
Saturday, October 12, 2013
 
 
@PSB136: Thanks for the update - I'll be interested to hear how it goes!
Richie Hindle Send private email
Saturday, October 12, 2013
 
 
I actually didn't make it a 14-day trial though... it's marked as free but with optional payment to buy personal support, early bird versions (fixed/enhanced versions made available 3 months before general public release), and some other things I've tossed in to encourage payment.

So the app itself is 100% unprotected, nagless, and uncrippled.  Nothing to crack or make a keygen for.  It's totally up to the user to decide if they like it and want to pay for the non-electronic perks.

I figure it's best to do this type of test now, while I still have a day job.  :)
PSB136 Send private email
Sunday, October 13, 2013
 
 
@PSB136: It's the pay-to-get-new-features-early idea that I find most interesting - though I guess it'll be along time before you can measure how successful that is.
Richie Hindle Send private email
Sunday, October 13, 2013
 
 
I purposely threw in a couple of bugs to be exposed in a couple of weeks or so, to see if any users suddenly decide to pay for the fixed version, instead of waiting 3 months for the public release.  :)
PSB136 Send private email
Sunday, October 13, 2013
 
 
@PSB136: Ha - cunning!  Now we know why you're anonymous on this forum.  :-)
Richie Hindle Send private email
Sunday, October 13, 2013
 
 
BTW, these planned bugs are just for this test; it's not something I do normally.
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, October 14, 2013
 
 

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