Monthly Archives: February 2011

TestRail

The guys at Gurock Software were kind enough to send me this testimonial after I did some consulting on TestRail, their web based test management software.

After launching our new test management software TestRail early last year, we recently contacted Andy to help us increase the visibility of our product. Based on customer feedback and reviews, we knew that many software development teams prefer TestRail over legacy solutions that are difficult to use. But we also knew that most teams weren’t aware of our new product, so we wanted to improve this situation.

The first thing Andy did was to try and test the application as a normal user would use it. While he walked through the application and briefly tested its major features, he recorded a video of this experience and narrated the video with comments and suggestions. Seeing how a first-time user uses your application can be very useful and it definitely showed us a few things that we could improve.

Learning more about the application was also important for the next step: Andy interviewed us to learn more about our goals, marketing methods and many other things. He then prepared a detailed and thorough report with many suggestions, comments and recommendations. Implementing all those suggestions will take time but we are already seeing first positive results of the short-term improvements that we’ve implemented. If you want to bring your product (or product marketing) to the next level, Andy’s consulting service is highly recommended.

Dennis Gurock, http://www.gurock.com

Although only launched last year, TestRail is already a polished product with an impressive customer list. If you have a suite of test cases you need to manage, I suggest you take a look.

After launching our new test management software TestRail early last
year, we recently contacted Andy to help us increase the visibility of
our product. Based on customer feedback and reviews, we knew that many
software development teams prefer TestRail over legacy solutions that
are difficult to use. But we also knew that most teams weren’t aware of
our new product, so we wanted to improve this situation.

The first thing Andy did was to try and test the application as a normal
user would use it. While he walked through the application and briefly
tested its major features, he recorded a video of this experience and
narrated the video with comments and suggestions. Seeing how a
first-time user uses your application can be very useful and it
definitely showed us a few things that we could improve.

Learning more about the application was also important for the next
step: Andy interviewed us to learn more about our goals, marketing
methods and many other things. He then prepared a detailed and thorough
report with many suggestions, comments and recommendations. Implementing
all those suggestions will take time but we are already seeing first
positive results of the short-term improvements that we’ve implemented.

If you want to bring your product (or product marketing) to the next
level, Andy’s consulting service is highly recommended.

A small experiment with LinkedIn ads

LinkedIn.com (the B2B equivalent of Facebook) supports Google style pay per click ads. So I decided to run some ads for my seating planner software as an experiment. Here is a brief summary of my (very brief) experiences.

The good news

LinkedIn ads can be laser targeted. You can specify who you want to see your ad based on their job function, company, gender, age group, country and (best of all) the LinkedIn groups they belong to. I targeted 10,102 LinkedIn members who live in wealthy English speaking countries, belong to various LinkedIn groups related to event planning and have appropriate job titles. The campaign was quite painless to set up. It probably took me less than 10 minutes in total and I started getting impressions within an hour or so.

The bad news

The minimum allowed CPC (cost per click) was $2. Ouch. I know from extensive experience with Google Adwords that there is no way I can get a return on that.

The minimum allow CPM (cost per thousand impressions) was $3. If the CTR (click through rate) is around 1% (about what you might expect from Google search ads) this is $0.30 per click. Possibly profitable. If the CTR is around 0.1% (about what you might expect from Facebook ads) this is $3 per click. No better than the CPC bidding. Given that LinkedIn is more similar to Facebook than Google search, I expected the latter. I decided to spend a few dollars to find out. The results are below (click to enlarge):

So, with an average 0.17% CTR, I ended up spending $1.76 per click. Given my average transaction value and a realistic conversion rate I know that I can’t make any return on this. Also the CTR is likely to drop the more often people see the ad. So I stopped the experiment after less than 24 hours, before I wasted any more time or money. As far as I can tell (based on my own cookie tracking - LinkedIn ads don’t have their own conversion tracking) I didn’t make any sales. But that is hardly surprising given the small number of clicks.

Summary

Obviously $19.38 is a tiny amount to spend, but I think it told me what I needed to know about LinkedIn ads. Unless they reduce their CPC or CPM bid prices by an order of magnitude there is no way I can make a return. Of course, if you are selling a product where the average lifetime value of a customer is hundreds or thousands of dollars, the numbers might work out quite differently for you.

Related posts:

Advertising your software on Facebook (=Fail)

Does the world *really* need yet another Twitter client, RSS reader, ToDo list or backup application?

My heart sinks every time I hear a would-be-entrepreneur announcing they have written yet another Twitter client, RSS reader, ToDo list or backup application. Haven’t we got enough of those already? There are more than 1,900 Twitter apps already (possibly a lot more). Somebody probably released another one while I was writing this post. We have passed the Twitter app event horizon, where it is probably quicker to write your own custom app than it is to try and work out if any of the existing apps fulfils your requirements.

Even if you have done something radically new, interesting and different in one of these markets, how are you ever going to get noticed amongst thousands of more established competitors? Wouldn’t it be better to find a market that is currently under-served by software? It may be less fashionable than writing software for other techies, but it will probably contribute more to the sum of human happiness and be a lot more profitable.

There must be thousands of niches where there is a real need for software, but limited competition. You just need to open your eyes to the bigger world around you. It may mean having to learn about an unfamiliar domain. But it is generally much easier for a software developer to learn some domain knowledge about, say, butterfly collecting, than it is for the average butterfly collector to learn to create a software product. Next time you are talking to a non-techie about their job or hobbies, just ask them “Do you use software for that?” and “Is it any good?”. The ideal answers you are looking for are “Yes” (if there are existing software packages, there is probably a market) and “No” (maybe you can do better).