Software Marketing Resource Articles: January 2005

You wrote the code, now how do you sell it?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Tools for Online Tracking

In order to determine which advertising and marketing efforts are effective you must have ways to measure the results of those efforts. Alerts and instant notifications can be instrumental in monitoring search engine position, trademarked terms, monitoring competitors and staying abreast of online occurrences. And, of course, the notification can be used for "ego searches".

Ego Searches
What is an ego search? Find out where your name or company is mentioned, view forum posts or online articles that mention your name or company.

The best offense is a good defense. By monitoring newsgroups or search engines for trademarked terms, you often head off a future conflict. As a trademark owner, it is your responsibility to actively protect your mark. Otherwise, you could lose your trademark rights. Monitoring tools send immediate notification should any suspected trademark infringements occur.

Search Position
Statistics show that more than 85% of Internet users find web sites with the help of the search engines. Therefore, a website's search engine position is crucial to its success. Prudent webmasters regularly check their search engine position. Monitoring fluctuations and re-indexing of major search engines affects keyword terms and phrases. Monitoring of positions will alert webmasters to any shifts before sales decline.

Competitor Watch
Monitoring newsgroups for mentions of competitors may allow you opportunities to chime in and offer an alternative solution in a helpful, friendly way. Knowing exactly what your online competitors are doing provides a competitive edge that can be used to your advantage.

Website Downtime
Accessibility is the most critical measure of your website's performance. If customers can't access your site, they can't shop; and if they can't shop, they can't buy. More important, your business could gain a bad reputation among your customers, which translates into negative word of mouth and even worse, if you're highly visible, negative press. So regardless of what else you monitor, you want to monitor websites for downtime.

Take a look at the various tools available and how they can be used to keep you current on relevant issues.

WebAlerts - Recieve email updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your choice of query or topic. Alerts can be sent based on information in Google News, Google Searches or both.

PubSub - PubSub matches your requests against new information as it appears real time. Searches can be categorized to search, blog entries, SEC/EDGAR Filings, press releases, news group posts or flight delays.

Ego Alerts - Google news search turned into an RSS feed.

Ebay Alerts - Ebay Alerts monitoring will create an RSS feed to monitor Ebay auctions for specific keywords or phrases. When a new item that contains those keywords is added to Ebay you will receive notification via your RSS feed!

Amazon Alerts - Generate a URL which you can use to automatically search with your favorite RSS news reader. It will automatically update you when new items meet your search criteria. I personally use it to look for new books on topics I'm interested in, and I have the defaults set to do the same, but you can adjust it to search any of Amazon's stores. You can also adjust the search order and what kind of items you wish to search.

Internet Seer - InternetSeer remotely monitors your website to insure that your site is available 24/7. If InternetSeer is unable to reach your site, we will send you an immediate e-mail alert that your site is unreachable.

NetNewsTracker - NetNews Tracker is a clipping service for Usenet newsgroups. Newstracker searches newsgroups twice daily for any specified words or phrases and delivers alerts via e-mail. Newstracker can be used to monitor newsgroups for names, company names, products, URLs, or any other topic of interest.

Other Suggested Resources
Monitoring Tools - Monitoring Tools is a directory of online monitoring tools and applications

Monitoring Software - Monitoring Software is a collection of downloadable monitoring software solutions.
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Why Understanding Web Logs Matters

General web statistics give pertinent information about website visitors. Webmasters analyzing these statistics have a better understanding of who their website visitors are and how they perceive the website. A lot can be learned by evaluating navigation patterns, most-viewed pages and exit pages. Deciphering web logs could easily become a full-time job. The information that can be gleaned from close log scrutiny is extremely valuable.

When a visitor comes to a website, the site has just a few seconds to grab the visitor's interest. Slow-loading pages or broken graphics will send visitors and potential customers looking elsewhere. In order to make sense of web statistics, consider using a log analysis program. These programs tend to format the information in an easy-to-understand way, often providing graphs or visual representations that make understanding and seeing patterns that much easier. The downside to using software for web log analysis is that webmasters can easily be confused about what the actual results mean and which results matter the most. The information contained in the log file should be analyzed in conjunction with other information.

Let's take a look at some of the critical areas. How many unique visitors visit the site each day? This statistic, by itself, is not terribly important, but when compared to a previous week's or month's logs, patterns will generally emerge. Sudden declines in site visitors might be indicative of downtime or dropped links, while sudden increases might be indicative of a successful ad campaign or improved search engine ranking. This assumption can only be made if sales for the corresponding time period have increased as well. Traffic alone is not the goal; qualified website traffic that converts a visitor into a buyer is generally the goal of most webmasters. Web statistics on their own do not always paint a true picture. Webmasters need to use logs to validate advertising campaigns and track where traffic is coming from. While details in a log file alone are not conclusive proof of an ad campaign’s success or failure, general assumptions can be made based on the patterns. General statistics will help determine who your visitors are and what habits they have.

Specific areas to take a close look at:

How long are users staying on the website or a specific page?
This question addresses a website's "stickiness". Stickiness gives webmasters an indication of how important their content is. If users return on a regular basis or remain on a specific page for an extended period of time, generally the content is considered valuable.

Site entry pages?
What pages in a website are visitors coming into? Is a specific page on the site drawing an unusually high amount of traffic? Do users come back to the website? Is there a reason for a visitor to come back to the website? Generally, content that is refreshed often will attract return visitors. What specific areas on the site are of interest to web visitors, and can those content sections be expanded to increase the overall value of the website?

Site exit pages?
What pages in a website are visitors leaving from? If a specific page has a large number of visitors leaving the site, perhaps the content needs updating. It is critical that you consider the source of the traffic. Are visitors coming to the website through a pay-per-click campaign with a landing page that does not relate to the initial search terms? Directing visitors to content-specific landing pages will help reduce quick site exits.

Who is making the referral?
What kind of website is sending traffic to your website? Assumptions can be made based on the quality of the referral source. Let’s face it, if a crack site is the leading referral generator to a software site, it is unlikely that the bulk of visitors will be interested in purchasing.

Bad requests?
Are visitors attempting to access pages on your website that are no longer active? Be sure to check logs for any pages or graphics that are generating errors for visitors.

Number of unique visitors?
Don't get too hung up on the number of "hits" a website has, as this can be interpreted differently. Sometimes logs interpret graphic access as a hit. A more accurate reflection of traffic can be seen by tracking unique visitors.

There are a number of inexpensive yet quality log analysis applications available for download from: and

By evaluating web logs webmasters can continuously improve their site and measure their success. Online or off, tracking results is critical to achieving success. If you don't track, you don't know what works. How can you improve what you don't measure?
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Software Marketing Resource News, has launched its free Software Marketings pages. The resource contains a repository of targeted, current, actionable resources for software authors along with a number of software marketing articles.

As part of its one-stop shopping approach to software developer resources, and its emphasis on software marketing tools, the Software Marketing Resource includes hyperlinks to almost 250 software sites that consumers visit to download the latest software trial versions. There's a listing of newsgroups, e-mail newsletters, and discussion groups targeted at software authors, as well as announcement groups for new software. The site includes links to more than 40 local and international software trade organizations. There is a list of software publishers who print, box, and market independent developers' programs, including a list of game publishers. For those developers who prefer to self publish, there's a list of marketing companies that specialize in promoting software from independent developers, as well as a list of conferences and schmoozes targeted at independent software developers. There are even links to retailers, and distributors who are interested in reselling applications.

To help developers create and send press releases, there is a listing of press release resources, including information on how to write and distribute them, as well as links to international databases of relevant address formats, telephone codes, and localization and translation resources.

The site contains a directory of more than two dozen shareware registration services, online stores, wrapper technology companies, and electronic payment firms, as well as links to international currency conversion sites. There's a resource guide to CD replication companies, CD fulfillment firms, CD manufacturers, makers of CD labeling software, and sources for CD labels and packaging.

The Software Marketing Resource offers a free user group matchmaking database facility that allows computer user groups to state the kinds of software that they'd like to demonstrate at their monthly meetings, review on their web sites, and include in their monthly newsletters. This facility also makes it easy for software developers to post the types of software that they'd like to donate as door prizes at local user group meetings.

The site includes a list of more than a dozen sources of reliable beta testers. There is an explanation of software piracy that software developers can use on their own web sites.

Software developers who are trying to reach highly-targeted vertical markets will find a listing of dozens of trade magazines that list specialty software - for free - in their annual "buyers guide" issue. In addition to these print directories, there is a long list of vertical market sites that will list specialty software on topics ranging from adhesives to wireless networks.

There is a guide to software (and other) affiliate programs for software authors who want to recruit resellers and form relationships with other developers and distributors. The resource includes affiliate newsletters, forums, magazines, and promotion sites.

The Software Marketing Resources page includes a guide to software submission tools to make it easier for authors to find the Internet software download sites, as well as search engine submission tools designed to increase their visibility in the Internet's search engines. Search engine resources include information repositories about effective search engine strategies, search engine newsgroups and forums, site optimization resources, and tools to increase software developers' link popularity.

Software authors looking for development tools will find an extensive list of demo builders, installation programs, help file builders, and other essential programs. There are also links to translation services, proofreaders, documentation writers, anti-crack articles, and programming knowledge bases.

Developers looking to move their sites from their ISP to a web host will find a list of web hosts who are sensitive to the special high-volume needs of those software developers who offer free trial versions of their software for downloading. All of the information on the Software Marketing Resource is freely available to all software developers, and may be found by visiting
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