Monthly Archives: December 2008

100 ways to increase your software sales

Increase targeted traffic to your website:

  1. SEO your website.
  2. Write a blog or newsletter of interest to the sort of people who might buy your software.
  3. Get more links to your website.
  4. Try Google Adwords Pay Per Click (PPC) ads.
  5. Write a guest post on someone else’s blog.
  6. Try CNet Pay Per Download ads.
  7. Promote your software through download sites using the ASP PAD repository, a paid submission tool or free submission tool.
  8. Promote your software through platform sites e.g. Apple downloads or Office online.
  9. Start an affiliate program.
  10. Try Microsoft Adcentre PPC ads.
  11. Bid higher for your PPC phrases.
  12. Advertise on stumbleupon.
  13. Write additional content for your site.
  14. Give away a ‘lite’ version of your software.
  15. Offer discount coupons.
  16. Add a forum to your website.
  17. Offer free review copies of your software to bloggers.
  18. Do a press release.
  19. Run a competition.
  20. Write better ads for your PPC campaign.
  21. Direct (snail) mail.
  22. Run ads in print magazines.
  23. Include your URL when posting on relevant forums.
  24. Try Yahoo Search Marketing PPC ads.
  25. Buy banner ads on targeted blogs, forums and other websites.
  26. Add extra keywords to your PPC campaigns.
  27. Talk about your software on a podcast.
  28. Add a viral element to your software.
  29. Do a publicity stunt.
  30. Get word of mouth recommendations by giving great support.
  31. Get listed in online directories such as DMOZ.
  32. Post a screencast on YouTube.

Increase your visitor->download rate:

  1. Have an online demo movie.
  2. Offer a free trial.
  3. Offer a money back guarantee.
  4. Port your software to additional platforms e.g. iPhone.
  5. Have a clean and professional website.
  6. Add case studies to your website.
  7. Make sure your website functions with all the major browsers.
  8. Get someone else to proof read the copy on your website.
  9. Talk to visitors in a language they understand i.e. not technical jargon, unless they are techies.
  10. Reduce the number of barriers to downloading the trial (don’t require an email address).
  11. Add a product FAQ to your website.
  12. Show your price prominently.
  13. Improve the usability of your website.
  14. Include your contact details on the website.
  15. Make sure the people can understand what your software does within 2 seconds of arriving at your site.
  16. Make the ‘download’ button more prominent on your website.
  17. Fix any errors in your website.
  18. Include screenshots on your home page.
  19. Add a list of famous customers to your website.
  20. Use a digital certificate for your installer and executable.
  21. Add (genuine!) testimonials to your website.
  22. Create better landing pages for your PPC campaigns.
  23. Add a privacy policy to your website.
  24. Add live online support to your website.
  25. Check your web logs/analytics to find out why/where visitors are leaving your website.

Increase your download->sale rate:

  1. Offer more than one payment processor.
  2. Improve the usability of your software.
  3. Accept purchase orders.
  4. Offer Trialpay as an alternative payment method.
  5. Offer sensible prices in additional currencies.
  6. Require an email address to download your software and follow-up with marketing emails.
  7. Increase or reduce the price of your software.
  8. Fix bugs in your software.
  9. Lengthen or shorten the trial period.
  10. Offer bulk purchase discounts.
  11. Improve your installer.
  12. Make the ‘buy’ button more prominent on your website.
  13. Make your software more beautiful.
  14. Allow users to buy your product easily from within the software itself.
  15. Localize your software into another language.
  16. Offer organizational licences.
  17. Try limiting your trial by features instead of time (or vice versa).
  18. Improve the speed/memory performance of your software.
  19. Improve your product documentation.
  20. Offer alternative payment models (e.g. an annual subscription instead of a one-off fee).
  21. Offer alternative licensing models (e.g. per site instead of per user).
  22. Write an introductory tutorial.
  23. Reduce the number of clicks and key presses required to make a sale.
  24. Add that new feature that people keep asking for.

Increase the value of each sale:

  1. Increase the price of your software.
  2. Charge extra for optional modules.
  3. Upsell additional products and services of your own or as an affiliate.
  4. Charge for major upgrades.
  5. Offer multiple versions at different price points e.g. standard/business/enterprise.
  6. Offer an optional CD.
  7. Charge an annual maintenance fee.
  8. Charge for support.
  9. Offer a premium support plan.

Explore alternative sales channels:

  1. Sell through resellers.
  2. Exhibit at tradeshows.
  3. Cold call prospects.
  4. Allow other companies to sell white label versions of your software.
  5. Include your software on cover-mounted magazine CDs.
  6. Sell through retail stores.
  7. Sell on Ebay.
  8. Sell on Amazon.
  9. Promote your software on one day sale sites, such as BitsDuJour or GiveAwayOfTheDay.
  10. Create a new product.

Notes:

  • Items are in no particular order in each category.
  • Some of the items are mutually exclusive.
  • I have tried about 80% of the above. Some worked, some didn’t. In fact, many of them were a total waste of time and money. But the ones that didn’t work for me might work great in a different market (and vice versa). I discuss my experiences with some of them in more detail here: Promoting your software part1, part2, part3, part4, part5, part6.
  • This is by no means an exhaustive list. Feel free to suggest more in the comments.
  • Don’t know where to start? Perhaps you need a fresh pair of eyes.

Thanks to Stuart Prestedge of Softalk for suggesting some of the above.

programmer-tshirts.com

programmer-tshirtMany thanks to all the bloggers who linked to my programmer T-shirts for charity project. Patrick McKenzie has very generously donated his time[1] and some space on his server to set-up a dedicated website at programmer-tshirts.com. If any of you feel like promoting the new website you could put a small ad on the side of your blog (see right) or display the flash panel shown on the new website (wordpress.com apparently doesn’t allow embedded flash).

The HTML for the ad is:

<table style="text-align:left;width:200px;"
       border="1" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0">
  <tbody>
    <tr>
      <td>
      <table style="text-align:left;width:200px;"
             border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2">
        <tbody>
          <tr align="center">
            <td>
              <big><a href="http://www.programmer-tshirts.com/">
              T-shirts for programmers</a></big>
            </td>
          </tr>
          <tr align="center">
            <td>
                 <a href="http://www.programmer-tshirts.com/">
                 <img style="border:0 solid;width:172px;height:175px;"
                 alt="programmer t-shirts"
                 src="http://successfulsoftware.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/programmer-tshirt.png"></a>
            </td>
          </tr>
          <tr align="center">
            <td>All proceeds to charity</td>
          </tr>
        </tbody>
      </table>
      </td>
    </tr>
  </tbody>
</table>

In WordPress you can just add it as a text widget (Dashboard>Appearance>Widgets).

The source for the flash panel is:

<embed wmode="transparent"
   src="http://www.zazzle.com/utl/getpanel?zp=117873325148652352"
   FlashVars="feedId=117873325148652352&path=http://www.zazzle.com/assets/swf/zp/skins"
   width="450" height="300" TYPE="application/x-shockwave-flash">
</embed>

Even if you just run it for a week or two before Xmas that would be great.

[1]A resource in short supply for a salaryman in Japan. Especially one that commutes in from a rice field and runs his own microISV.

Programming with your feet

footI started feeling a mild burning sensation in my left wrist a few weeks ago. This is a classic early sign of Repetitive Strain Injury.  Uh-oh. I had an email exchange not long ago with someone who now has to use voice activation because typing is too painful. I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be. I decided to ignore Jane Fonda’s advice to “feel the burn” and looked for a way to alleviate the problem.

One approach is to reduce the amount of typing I do. But that is tough when you are running a microISV and writing a blog. I already use the text expander capabilities of the excellent Direct Access software to save a lot of typing (it tells me that it has saved me 51 hours of typing so far). I decided to try an ergonomic keyboard.

I bought myself a Microsoft 4000 Ergonomic keyboard. This is shaped to allow more natural positioning of the forearms and elbows.

microsoft_natural_keyboard_4000

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

For more comfortable wrist positioning it also has a built-in wrist rest and the front of the keyboard is higher than the back.

microsoft_natural_keyboard_4000

Note the front of the keyboard (right) is higher than the back (left)

I was quite surprised how physically large it was when it turned up. The shape of the keyboard felt very strange to start with and it took me a few days of slow typing to get used it. The feel of the keys is nothing special and I haven’t yet used the extra gizmos, such as the integral zoom button. But I feel it is an improvement in comfort over the conventional keyboard I had before.

An unexpected advantage of the new keyboard is that it has improved my typing. If you watch a good touch typist, their hands hardly move. I (unfortunately) never learnt to touch type, I just didn’t have the patience. The clearer separation between keys for the left hand and keys for the right hand on the new keyboard made me realise that I was moving both hands left and right, more like a concert pianist than a touch typist. I am now moving my hands less and I think my typing speed has improved as a consequence.

I didn’t feel the new keyboard on it’s own was going to solve my impending RSI problems though. The major problem seems to be the continual Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, Ctrl-A, Windows-D, Windows-E and Alt-Tab key combinations I do with my left hand, hundreds of times a day. Using the right hand Ctrl key instead of the left one helped a bit. But it occurred to me – why are my hands doing all the work? My legs are doing so little that I often feel stiff when I stand up from a long programming session. Why not put them to use?

I Googled for foot pedals for computers. After wading through lots of hits for music and dictation foot pedals I finally found the Savant Elite Triple Foot Switch. This is a programmable 3-pedal foot-switch that plugs into a USB port.

savant_elite_foot_switch

Savant Elite Triple Foot Switch

At £86.00+VAT it isn’t cheap. But what price do you put on your health? I ordered one.

When it arrived I wanted to program the pedals to map to the Ctrl, Shift and Windows keys. But I couldn’t install the device driver to program the pedals. After a call to the retailer it turns out the device driver doesn’t work on Vista, despite assurance on the website that the pedals could be used with “virtually any computer”[1]. Grrrrr. How long has Vista been out? I finally managed to program the pedals using my wife’s laptop – my last remaining XP box.

So now I can type using my feet for most of the modifier keys. I am using the pedals as I type this. I am still getting used to them, but the burning in my left wrist has definitely reduced. I think I can also type a little faster, but I am too lazy to do the speed tests with and without the pedals to verify this.  On the negative side:

  • Working out where to put your feet when you aren’t typing can be a little awkward.
  • The pedals tend to move around the carpet, despite being metal and quite heavy. Some small spikes might have helped.
  • Although the travel on the pedals is small, they are surprisingly stiff.

When I told a friend about the pedals he asked – why stop there? I could also be using my elbows, knees and head like a one-man-band. I could be working-out and typing at the same time. It is an intriguing prospect.

I just hope I don’t end up with burning ankles.

[1] System requirements have since been added to the website.