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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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
I am currently selling my first piece of commercial software. It is a recommendation system for Shopify stores. It's doing ok, but I''m not making enough to live on. It's just a nice bit on the side at the moment.
I have found that selling and promoting a product is really difficult. I basically have no idea what I'm doing and I feel like the only sales I make are accidental.
Now I'm developing a SaaS staff performance management application (think performance reviews, 360 degree feedback, staff surveys, etc). In my work, I have seen that there is quite a big demand for this kind of thing in medium to larger companies and I reckon it could be lucrative. I want to pitch mine at business on the smaller end because I think I can provide a better experience than, for instance, SuccessFactors (and at a better price point - I have seen companies going away from SuccessFactors because of the cost, even though they like it). My fear is just that nobody will know about my offering when it arrives.
Does anybody have any tips on specific actions I can take to increase my success marketing my software (either my current app or the system I am building)? I need to get the right people to look at it and I don't have a massive amount of money to spend on paid advertising. I read the Marketing for Geeks guide, and, although I liked it, I found it more focused on dispelling common false beliefs technical people have about marketing than giving actionable advice.
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Read up on SEO. That's the best way to get traffic without paying. You can start a blog and talk about the industry, problems and solutions, software solutions (yours!), etc. This will get you some exposure and your site will start climbing with Google.
Google likes older sites, so get your site up ASAP. Register your domain for a long time.
Use good web design (H1 tags, img alt tags, etc).
Ask for feedback when people uninstall/cancel/etc -- that is always useful.
Doug's absolutely right that you should focus on getting organic search traffic. That means having a good informational site, with plenty of pages focused on bringing in strong long-tail keyword traffic. That will get things rolling to start. Get the site up as early as possible with just informational content to start with - then you can add pages on your product once it's ready. Think about the types of information that your target customer may be searching for, find strong keywords and write about that. If you don't write well then you can always outsource that once you've identified the content you need.
Also, start building an opt-in mailing list as soon as you have the website up. It will be valuable later.
Joanna Lees Castro
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
the screenshots in the features section need a bit of work.
The laptop image is not neccesary, as it takes up too much pace on screen, therefore ur having to put in a smaller screenshot, that cant be legible.
I would also suggest putting in a lightbox popup for the screenshots to show larger version on click.
and please remove the laptop images in the features section, it seems redundent to have 7 laptop images on 1 page.
Some good advice above. Getting targeted traffic to your website at an affordable price (in terms of time and/or money) is hard, no two ways about it. Welcome to the world of commercial software!
If your software has a reasonable ticket price (i.e. not a $20 impulse purchase) then Adwords can be a good way to get targetted traffic. *But* you need to spend time learning the ropes and experimenting. Too many people throw money at AdWords without knowing what they are doing and then say "it doesn't work".
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
I'm impressed with your website. You seem to have a great product and are displaying it very well. The above information is correct, your on the right track, follow your intuition. It has lead you to approach a community which is great - you cannot do this stuff alone.
A lot of the information above is focused on SEO and search engine rankings. Before you jump into that deep pool know what your getting into. An Alexa search of any significant blog or webpage will show only 15-20% of their traffic comes from search engines.
A far more fruitful method is to target your customers directly, find out who they are, where they spend time online, etc. For example, I have a site at
that generates significant revenue and well over 75% of my traffic comes from Kijiji (CAN version of Craigslist). Why ? Customers are looking for the textbooks required for an exam and then see my product.
Feel free to contact me directly, I breath this sort of thing and super enjoy it. I wouldn't hesitate to help out or bounce ideas back and forth.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
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