* 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.

We're closed, folks!


» Business of Software FAQ
» The Business of Software Conference (held every fall, usually in Boston)
» Forum guidelines (Please read before posting!)


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

Need advice on major update

Hi group!

A year ago, I launched my first paid app and now a year later, I've just added a feature that would justify a jump from v2 to v3.  My policy has always stated that minor updates are free (v2.0, v2.1, etc) but major updates incur a new (discounted) fee.

But... I'm kind of scared to do it.  What type of objections did you guys have when doing this?  What's a good canned response to anyone that might get p*ssed with having to pay again (even though it's at a discount)?

I've only got 35 paid users (yes, not much, but if they all choose to upgrade then it's $9 x 35 = $315 new profit, as opposed to just keeping the app at v2.2 and getting $0 profit from them.

I sort of want to do it also for the exercise, to see how this type of upgrade works.

PSB136 Send private email
Sunday, January 31, 2016
1.) From my experience not a lot will update.
2.) You might want to send them a discount coupon code where they can upgrade during a limited time.
xmlbuddy Send private email
Sunday, January 31, 2016
3.) They don't have to pay. Actually they made a decision to buy the software as it is some time ago and most of them are satisfied (I guess).
4.) If you try to do it right for everybody, you do it right for nobody.
xmlbuddy Send private email
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Thanks for replying, xmlbuddy.  I like the idea of sending out coupon codes.  I'll do that.
PSB136 Send private email
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Make sure you sent out a nicely formatted email that clearly explains the benefits that the new version offers over the old. This needs to be somewhat sales orientated to try and convince the customers to upgrade.
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Monday, February 01, 2016
Thanks Andrew.  I will.  Also, the GUI of the app has changed majorly too to accommodate the new feature, so someone looking at screenshots of v2 and now v3 will clearly see the difference.
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, February 01, 2016
BTW, as mentioned I have only 35 customers, and I was planning on emailing my own way to reach them; but do you guys have a recommended (free) bulk-mail app for this sort of announcement?
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, February 01, 2016
I use MailChimp. It's not free, but it's not very expensive for small volume mailings.
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Monday, February 01, 2016
"From my experience not a lot will update."

This is an issue.

- Most skip version upgrades unless there's a compelling must-have feature worth the upgrade cost to them.

- If you fix bugs on v3 and stop fixing bugs on v2, v2 users who don't want the v3 new features will see this as you charging them for bug fixes, which they reasonably expect to get for free since you are addressing problems with a faulty product in bug fixes.

- If you have few customers then maintaining a bugfix branch of v2 rapidly becomes a big hassle where you are spending thousands in labor on this v2 bug branch, more than you earned from the $27 in upgrades you got from the 9 people who upgraded.

Solutions? Some possibilities, there are probably others. A key is none of these should be written or official policies but happening behind the scenes.

1. In early days, have a price for the v3 upgrade, then figure out a way to get free (via "loyalty program" coupon) or accidental upgrades (oops, upgrade server is 'broken' and giving free upgrades) to those who skip the upgrade. Your goal should be to have only one version to maintain with such a small number of customers.

2. Anyone v2 person complaining about or reporting a bug should be given a free v3 upgrade. Problem here is few angry people complain, most just wander off in disgust.

3. Have the upgrade price, but send free licenses to all customers as a reward for being an early adopter.

What you want to think about is getting LOYAL customers who see VALUE from your upgrades and will be more likely to pay for an upgrade in the future.
Scott Send private email
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
From my experience you can achieve very good upgrade conversions, things to consider:

•    There must be a compelling reason for the upgrade
•    You should offer a significant discount 
•    Announce the upgrade via a personalised email making sure there are no mistakes in the copywriting
•    The upgrade should be optional
•    There must be a compelling reason for the upgrade – I said this twice cos this is the most important bit

We typically have a conversion rate of 35% during the first week and still see upgrades over a year later.

Not charging customers for major upgrades is one of the biggest mistakes you can make for perpetually licenced software. Give it a shot and see what happens.
steve beckett Send private email
Thursday, February 04, 2016
You don't get new versions of Word or Windows (well, until Windows 10) without paying again, so people are used to it.

Your price point is perhaps too low, but having yearly support and maintenance (which means they get major upgrades too as part of the price) is a huge money maker after a few years.  I'd guess our yearly recurring revenue is 30-40% support and maintenance from people that have purchased in years past.
Doug Send private email
Thursday, February 04, 2016
Can offer discount on special day and can create events to promote this offer to different social media platform.
Ellie Wilkinson Send private email
Monday, February 08, 2016
Hello mates,

My experience in the shareware industry, shows that is correct to sell the upgrades, so users will decide if upgrade or not.

The question is at the registration time; users were informed about the upgrade policy.

I hope it helps.
SharewarePros Editor Send private email
Friday, February 12, 2016

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz