sales sites and bundles

Promoting your software through 1-day sales and bundles

Hyper Plan, my visual planning software for Windows and Mac, has now been for sale for a bit less than 2 years. Given that I am (by choice) doing all the development, marketing and support for both Hyper Plan and my other product, PerfectTablePlan, I have had a limited amount of time to promote Hyper Plan. But Hyper Plan is in a  competitive market, where it is hard to get noticed using traditional promotional techniques such as SEO and PPC. So I have been experimenting with promotion via 1-day sales sites and bundles.

I did several promotions through both bitsdujour.com and macupdate.com promo. These were 50%-off sales for 1 day (sometimes extended for another day). The site takes 50% commission on the sale, so I only got $10 of my normal $40 ticket price. But I also got exposure to a whole new audience I wouldn’t normally reach.

I also included Hyper Plan in bundlehunt.com and macupdate.com software bundles. In these bundles customers purchased some 10 items of software at a big discount. The promotions lasted for a few weeks each. I am not at liberty to divulge how much I got for each licence, but a quick calculation based on the price of the bundles and the number of items in the bundle tells you that it was a lot less than $10!

My hopes related to sales sites and bundles were:

  1. A worthwhile amount additional sales revenue.
  2. Increased feedback, giving me more insight for improving the product.
  3. Making money further down the line from major upgrades (e.g. v1 to v2).
  4. That I wouldn’t be swamped in support emails from people who were paying me a lot less than the standard price.
  5. More word-of-mouth sales after the discount has finished.

On analysing the results, the first 4 turned out to be true.

I had previously tried promoting my PerfectTablePlan table planning software on bitsdujour.com, but the results were disappointing. It just wasn’t a good match for their audience. However Hyper Plan is a more general tool and it did a lot better. The bundles also sold in impressive volumes. The source of Hyper Plan sales revenues to date after commission (but not including upgrades) is show below.

sales-revenue-source

So the extra sales were certainly significant from a revenue point of view, bearing in mind that Hyper Plan is a relatively young and unknown product.

I also got some very useful feedback from the bitsdujour comments section.

I released v2 of Hyper Plan in March 2016. I have crunched the numbers to see how many v1 customers to date have paid for upgrades to v2.

percentage upgrades

I expected that the 1-day sale customers who had paid $20 for the initial licence would be less likely to pay $16 to upgrade to v2 than those who had hadn’t purchased at a heavy discount. I was surprised that the opposite turned out to be true. I don’t have a good theory why.

I don’t have any figures for bundle customer upgrades, as the bundles happened after v2 was released. Given that bundle purchasers probably only wanted a subset of the software in the bundle, I expect the upgrade percentages to be a lot lower than above.

I wasn’t swamped in support emails. In fact things were surprisingly quiet during the bundles, which makes me wonder how many people who purchased the bundle were interested in Hyper Plan.

There were no sustained jumps in traffic or sales after the 1-day sales or bundles ended.

Best of all, the 1-day sales and bundles don’t cost anything, apart from a modest amount of time to set-up.

I know some vendors promote these 1-day sales and bundles to existing customers. But I don’t understand why you would do that. The whole point of these channels is to reach new audiences. Also you risk annoying customers who have paid list price. If you already have an audience you can promote a sale to, then you don’t need 1-day sales sites or bundles. Just email them a discount voucher.

I had one complaint from an existing customer on a forum who had paid full price and then saw Hyper Plan in a 1-day sale. I offered to refund the difference back to them, but they didn’t take me up on it.

In conclusion, the sales and bundle sites brought in useful spikes of additional sales (especially when you include upgrades later on) and feedback, without a big jump in support burden. But they didn’t lead to a noticeable long-term increase in traffic or sales. Obviously every product is different. But if you have a product that needs exposure, isn’t too niche and doesn’t require a lot of support, it may be worth giving 1-day sales and bundles a try.

7 thoughts on “Promoting your software through 1-day sales and bundles

  1. nikos

    funny I saw this today… because I have xplorer2 on BDJ today! After many years doing the 1-day sale, I am also asking myself whether you get any new “prospects” or it is just my own old customers (and thus an unnecessary share of the discounted profits with BDJ). Perhaps I’ve exhausted all the BDJ users and there’s nothing new to gain — I may not do BDJ again!

    Promoting my own new and not so widely used DeskRule I also tried these 1-day sales where you giveaway the lot, expecting publicity and future revenue. Giveaway of the day seemed better than sharewareonsale, but in both cases I got some really rancid feedback from freeloaders with attitude :)

    Reply
  2. Andy Brice Post author

    I definitely got exposure to a new audience through BDJ. Also the upgrade is cheaper than buying a new licence through BDJ, so there is no incentive for them to keep buying new licences through BDJ.

    Giveaways seem like such a bad idea that I have no even experimented with it. People tend not to value stuff they get for free. Also you are attracting the worst sort of ‘customer’.

    Reply
  3. John

    Very interesting results Andy. Thank you for your blog BTW. I also am a boostrapping developer like yourself. My app though (just 1 at this point) is a very vertical app and requires a fair amount of support to get users going. My market target is pretty small and implementations are more important to me than sales. One metric I rely on is how many customers use the system once they purchase it. Do you have a way to roughly determine something like that? If so how did bundled sales work out in that aspect.

    Reply
    1. Andy Brice Post author

      John
      I don’t have a way to log usage of the software against how they purchased. So I can’t say how much bundle purchasers are using the software against other purchasers. A lot less, I suspect.

      Reply
      1. John

        Thanks Andy. I can understand that it’s a metric that is not often used .. perhaps people are even a bit afraid to know the answer to that. I was but then decided that it was the most important metric for my little marketplace and for positive word of mouth. My app prices in the thousands though.

        Reply
        1. Andy Brice Post author

          It would be nice to have a lot more data about how my software is used. But you have to balance against that 1) the time and effort to create and analyse that data and 2) the privacy of your users. It is an area where web apps have a significant advantage.

          Reply

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