Monthly Archives: May 2009

TrialPay results

trialpayTrialPay is an interesting idea. In basic terms:

  • merchants (e.g. microISVs like me) want to sell products, such as software
  • customers want to get a product without paying for it
  • advertisers (such as Netflix and Gap) want to sell their goods

TrialPay brings the 3 together by letting the customer get the merchant’s product for ‘free’ by buying something from the advertiser. The advertiser then pays the merchant, with TrialPay taking a cut. The merchant gets paid, even though the customer might not have been prepared to pay the price of their product. The customer gets your product ‘free’ by buying something else, which they might have wanted anyway. The advertiser gets a new customer. TrialPay get some commission. Everyone is happy. I decided to give it a try and signed up in October last year.

get_it_free

I decided not to mention the TrialPay offer on my main payment page. I could visualise eager potential buyers of my table plan software, credit card in hand, being distracted by the TrialPay ‘Get it free’ logo. Off they would wander to the TrialPay pages and become so engrossed/confused/distracted by the offers there, they would forget all about my product. Sale lost. Instead I modified my Inno setup Windows installer to pop up the following dialog when someone uninstalls the free trial without ever adding a licence key:

trialpay_uninstall

If they click ‘No’ the software uninstalls. If they click ‘Yes’ they are taken to the PerfectTablePlan TrialPay page. I hoped that this would entice some of those who had decided not to part with $29.95 to ‘buy’ PerfectTablePlan anyway through TrialPay.

TrialPay allows you to set the mimum payout to any level you like. You can also vary the payout by customer country (e.g. less for poorer countres). The lower the minimum payout you set, the more advertisers deals are available to customers (and presumably the higher the chance of a conversion).

The Minimum Acceptable Payout (or MAP) is the lowest amount you are willing to accept per transaction and determines which advertiser offers are available to your customers. The lower the minimum, the more offers that will appear for your product and the more likely a user is to find an offer that compels him to complete his transaction. While you may set a low MAP, your average payout will greatly exceed the minimums you set. (from the TrialPay website)

It quickly became apparent that very few advertisers offer deals that pay the $29.95 I charge for my product (possibly none, in some countries).

trialpay map

I set a minimum payout of $25 in rich countries and $20 in poorer ones. After a few weeks with no TrialPay conversion I reduced the mimum payout to $20 in rich countries and $15 in poorer ones. TrialPay suggested that a $2 minimum payout was optimal in Africa and Central America if I was accepting $20 in the USA. $2? I don’t think so. That doesn’t even cover the cost of answering a support email. Especially if they aren’t a native English speaker.

I also gave the TrialPay option a mention in my PerfectTablePlan newsletter. Most of the recipients already have licences, but I hoped that that they might forward it to friends and colleagues.

The results to date have not been encouraging. Lots of people have gone to the PerfectTablePlan TrialPay page (approximately 1 for every 10 downloads), but the conversion rate has been dismal. The total number of TrialPay sales since I signed up over 7 months ago is two, for a total of $43.60. That certainly isn’t worth the time it took me to sign up, modify the installer and test the ecommerce integration with e-junkie. I am not sure why the conversion rate was so poor:

  • The TrialPay landing page isn’t compelling enough?
  • The advertiser offers aren’t attractive enough?
  • The concept of TrialPay is too complicated?
  • People are suspicious of ‘free’?

TrialPay’s poster child LavaSoft claim an impressive  5,000 additional sales per month through TrialPay. At $26.95 per licence this is an additional $1.6 million per year. But the numbers look a bit less impressive on closer inspection. 5,000 additional sales/month from 10 million visitors/month is only an extra +0.05% conversion rate[1]. And TrialPay probably didn’t pay out the $26.95 per licence Lavasoft normally charge. It is also noticeable that TrialPay only seems to get a mention on the download page of their free product, not the products they charge for.

Obviously the only way to know for sure whether TrialPay will work for you, is to try it. Your results might be very different from mine. If you do still want to try TrialPay, you can find out some details of how to integrate it here [2].

[1]I am being a little unfair here, as the quoted 10 million visitors probably aren’t just for Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware product.

[2]Note there is a bug in some older versions of Inno setup which means you can’t continue with the uninstall if they click “No” when you display a dialog, as shown above. So, if you are using Inno setup (which I recommend highly), make sure you are using v5.2.3 or later.

Interviewed on the Startup Success Podcast

startup-success-podcastI was recently interviewed by Bob Walsh and Patrick Foley for The Startup Success Podcast, episode 25. We cover a wide ange of topics including: microISVs, conversion ratios, being specific, PerfectTablePlan, usability, the global recession, software award scams, ‘works with vista’ certification, stackoverflow.com and twitter. I wonder how much I have to pay them to edit out the ‘ums’?

Download the MP3

Consulting testimonial: Reserviz

Working as a micro-ISV needs lots of different skills, but no-one can have all of them. When you’re developing a software product for your independent venture, it’s easy to lose sight of some issues, just because there are so many of them to cover, and so few hours in a day. I realised that to help me re-focus and prioritise the key tasks after the code was complete needed the catalyst of a fresh pair of eyes, to verify or change the plans I had. Simply chatting to a knowledgeable professional made all the difference to perspective and priorities. I was expecting that from Andy Brice, as I’d read about his work with other micro-ISVs. What I wasn’t expecting was his breadth of business knowledge as well as his technical knowledge. Being able to discuss business objectives, markets, pricing, promotion as well as SEO and coding was a great punctuation point in the development of the Reserviz online service, and it helped me develop a much more focussed set of priorities to complete the initial launch period. Don’t expect from Andy a glib confirmation that everything you’ve done is fine – he’ll give you an honest assessment, and then help you work out a plan. Think of Andy as the Swiss Army Knife you need in your toolbox!

Mike Gorman, www.Reserviz.com

reserviz appointment and room booking

I have been doing some consulting for Mike Gorman of Quartile Software on Reserviz. Reserviz is an online service for booking rooms, people and other resources. I have primarily been helping Mike with positioning (deciding which vertical markets to focus on), online marketing (including SEO and Google Adwords) and testing the usability of the website. It was a slight departure for me, as most of my experience is with desktop apps. But it just proved that the vast majority of what is true for the marketing and usability of desktop apps also applies to web apps.

I think Reserviz has a very attractive website with a nice balance between simplicity and flexibility. If you know anyone who is still using a tatty old appointment book? Tell them to checkout Reserviz for simple online appointment and resource booking (first month free!).

Getting ready for Windows 7

windows-7I am currently downloading the new Windows 7 release candiate. It is 2.36 GB and the ActiveX download control predicts it will take around 10 hours in total (NB I am also doing a large FTP upload, which is probably slowing it down considerably). Once the download is complete I intend to install it in a VM to test my table planning software.

You can download the latest Windows 7 release candidate here. It is free to download and use, but  it expires on 01-June-2010 and will shutdown every 2 hours starting on 01-March-2010 (insert your own joke here). A couple of points to note from the Windows 7 FAQ:

While the RC is stable and has been thoroughly tested, it’s not the finished product. Your computer could crash and you could lose important files. So please back up your data and please don’t test the RC on your primary home or business PC.

When you use the RC, your PC sends information to our engineers to help them check the fixes and changes they made based on Beta tests.

Microsoft hasn’t officially announced when Windows 7 will be for sale. But there are rumours that it is planned for October 2009. Will you be ready?