Software Marketing Resource Articles: April 2009

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How to Use Twitter to Effectively Market Your Software Application

You've worked hard to perfect your application - it represents the end result of hours of planning, coding, debugging, and polishing. Now that it's done, you need to get the word out on the street about your fantastic product, especially if there are other competing apps that aim to serve the same audience.

For many developers, the only marketing effort that they will ever undertake is the development of a website that showcases their software application. This approach, however, is less than ideal because websites take a while to become established on the internet - web traffic in those first few weeks of existence will be very low, almost nonexistent, and small developers need to start making sales immediately if they are to survive to fight another day. Those sales will not be forthcoming if you're waiting for Google to index your site (it can take a while). And no matter how well-designed, your site won't have a very high search index ranking if no other sites link to it, which is highly likely since no one knows about it.

Twitter represents a real opportunity for small shop developers to promote their software, but only if your relationship with the Twitterverse is carefully established and cultivated. There is a world of difference between "marketing on Twitter" and "effective marketing on Twitter". Here are some tips on doing it the right way.

1. Register, then Follow Your Key Demographic

Your journey through the Twitterverse starts, naturally, with registering an account and profile name. Try not to pick a profile name that's overly cold and corporate, but do try to tie your profile name back to your company or the product that you're developing, so folks will associate your Twitter account with your product or service. Be sure to fill out your Twitter profile with a brief description of yourself, your product, and a link to your website.

After you've endured the arduous process of selecting your Twitter name, do a quick keyword search across the Twitter service and start following other Twitter users who do what you do, or are otherwise part of your target demographic for your software. Developing graphics software? Follow folks who are employed as graphic designers, or who design graphics software. By following their tweets, you may just learn a thing or two that makes your software even better. When you start following someone, they'll be notified, and, after sizing you up, may start following you as well. This is how you build your Twitter audience. The best Twitter networks focus on a core group of people allied together around a common theme.

2. Be Open, Be Yourself, and Use Twitter as a Sounding Board

Not counting the Twitter accounts of sites that offer breaking news, daily discount offers, and other "in-the-moment" opportunities, businesses that view Twitter as just another electronic billboard are missing the point and are often puzzled when they don't attract many followers. Successful users of Twitter attract followers because they do and tweet things that interest people, or otherwise offer a peek into a lifestyle that others may not see everyday.

You should start your Twitter account well before you plan to launch your software application, keeping your tweets professional (no vulgarity, for example) but personable, dropping hints about yourself in ways that demonstrate that you have quirks like everyone else. In other words, be a person on Twitter, and not a corporate presence or a PR intern or a robot that spews status reports about the latest build. When you reach a level of comfort with Twitter, and have developed some followers, start tweeting about your application, and how its development is progressing. It even helps to tweet about drawbacks, hurdles, and disappointments in your software development. The point is this - get people interested in you, and they will also become interested in what you do.

Keep tweeting about the progress of your application (along with the usual quirky details about your life), and you will build buzz for the application's release. If you run into a coding problem, ask Twitter! Inviting the counsel of others makes them more likely to be personally invested in your success. It also helps you to build a better network by connecting with others who may be running into the same issues.

3. Promote Your Launch and Encourage Feedback

This is where a lot of companies start on Twitter, and this is where they fail. A company will register a Twitter account, and within an update or two, they're literally screaming at people to buy their product. Since no one knows who they are, and it's obvious that they've created a Twitter presence just to sell things, they get no takers. But you, having built up a measure of credibility on Twitter, now have an audience of followers who've followed the evolution of your project from drawing board, to coding, to debugging, and now - at long last- to launch day. You may want to consider offering a discount to customers that purchase your software using a link that you post to Twitter, or holding a contest to give a free copy of the app away to your 500th follower. No matter what, it's your launch day and you should have fun with it.

Recruit your Twitter followers to help you spread the word of your launch by re-tweeting your launch announcement, and keep them updated throughout your first few days with tweets reporting how well your sales are progressing. You don't have to divulge specific numbers, but something along the lines of "Incredible first day sales! Thanks to everyone" will be appreciated, and further help to put yourself out there as a real, live person behind the Twitter account. Solicit advice and questions from those who buy your app, and be sure to respond promptly - you can use their suggestions as a starting point for the next version, which will give you even more to tweet about after the launch!

Using these tips, you can continue to accumulate greater numbers of followers, keep your existing customer base updated on your progress, provide immediate customer service, and generate buzz leading up to the release of each new version of your application.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Ad-supported Software, the MediaCell Interview

We spoke to Josh Fox, marketing professional and founder of MediaCell about an alternative way to make your money from software sales: Ad-supported Software.

1. Tell us about MediaCell and what you do?
Media-Cell matches software publishers and developers with companies looking to distribute their marketing and research applications. This is accomplished via bundling, where the bundled applications are offered during the download/install process. Many factors are taken into account when matching up entities, including but not limited to type of applications offered, geographic distribution and volume of the publisher's download activity. We also act as coaches and consultants, as we have a vested interest in our partners' ongoing success.

2. How does ad-supported software work as a business model?
What's nice is that ad-supported software does not necessarily cannibalize shareware sales. What it does do is virtually guarantee that each download will be worth something. End users who are averse to the idea of ad-supported software may in fact be driven to purchase shareware versions of the software. The publisher can therefore, "Have their cake and eat it too." Another point to note is that software advertised as "FREE" tend to be downloaded several times more often than trial versions, so this should be taken into account as well.

3. What's the bottom line, are people making money with ad-supported software?

4. Lots of companies are experimenting with bundling software, as an Independent Software Vendor how would I go about doing this?
Provide as much accurate information about download activity as possible before getting started (volume and top 5 countries especially), as well as marketing methods currently employed or planned. A company such as Media-Cell will be able to determine the best fit for the publishers with this data, as well as give free advice for marketing and distribution based on a wealth of experience. We can also provide boilerplate scripts so the bundles can be built and approved quickly.

5. There are several companies who offer toolbars that you can bundle with your software, can you tell us about them and how that works?
I'd prefer not to mention any companies by name, but I can certainly share my general observations. Those who are willing to pay a bounty as opposed to a rev-share tend to be the more robust partners, who are confident in their business model. Rev-share = zero risk, and typically the rewards are far less predictable. Another important thing to take into consideration is that, to my knowledge, any and all of these companies are only going to pay for new installs. So if, for example, XYZ toolbar is already present on the end-user's machine, the publisher will not get credit for a new install. One can read into that what they wish, but those considering working with the widely known and distributed toolbars, etc. might wish to consider bundling applications that aren't as popular (so long as they pay well, of course).

6. How do you see the online software sales landscape changing, especially given the economic crisis?
There has been a steady migration toward the ad-supported freeware model. Many folks just aren't willing or able to pay for software any more unless they absolutely must have it, and publishers who used to be dead-set against this model are coming around to the idea.

7. How does software bundling play into international sales, does it work well in emerging markets?
Publishers in emerging markets have shown by far the most enthusiasm for this model, particularly those with applications that are popular in the countries that pay well, typically US, Canada & EU.

8. Ad-supported software clearly works well for online software as a service, do you see it working inherently better for that model?
I would say yes, but some hardware companies have been getting into a similar model for quite some time now. An example would be new, brand-name PCs being distributed with trial or lite versions of software titles.

9. Some people may view using ads as a turn-off to customers, what rules can you tell us for getting it right?
Be up front with your customers and offer the free, bundled versions alongside the shareware. Also, though many bundled applications are allowed to be required installs, the best advice is to make them optional during the install, keeping in mind that most people will accept and click NEXT anyhow. Choose bundled applications that are easily removed via the add/remove programs menu, and those that follow TRUSTe guidelines are a safe bet. There will always be a certain amount of false-flaggings by some AV software, so it's important to make sure that they are actually false and you aren't distributing nasty applications.

10. Do you see ad-supported sales superseding regular software sales any time soon?
From what many publishers have told me personally, this has already happened. However, this may depend greatly on the type of software being offered.

Josh Fox works for He adds: Please feel free to contact us directly via our website, if you'd like to partner with us.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Faces of Technology Journalism

By Evgenia Kolobukhova, SoftPressRelease

For a long time I have wanted to share my idea of a present-day IT-journalist. Here are three generalized images of a today’s typical characters from Germany, the USA and Russia. Please read between the lines, and you will see that the images are quite typical.

Let’s begin with Germany. It is really pleasant to deal with German editors: the employees are polite and professional. If the person you need is absent at the moment, you will be asked to call again at a given time (e.g. Friday, 11 o’clock) or they can even call back themselves no matter where you live. Well then, here is the first image.

Friedrich Hoffmann 
Munich, Germany
33 y.o. 
Ziff Davis Online Publishing, Internet Professionell, PC Professionell, PC Welt

I am a wiper by profession!
Friedrich Hoffmann

Friedrich Hoffmann avoids talking about himself without reference to his work by all available means. In his opinion, what is private should remain private. But he shared his tales about his professional activity and his thoughts about IT-journalism of today with pleasure. 

What kind of education do you have?

I graduated from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. My major was “Journalism”, and my minor was “Political Science, Sociology and History of Arts”. But I did not start working at once, as I had to take two years’ break in order to do non-military service in a Hamburg orphan asylum.  

And what happened afterwards? Weren’t you disappointed with your profession after a long break and a change of occupation?

Of course, there were a lot of various thoughts in my young head, but I have always felt that it is my vocation to work with the word. I was 23 when I began to look for a job consciously and, as a result, started my career.  I was employed as a PR specialist by a company, which dealt with developing b2c and b2b program solutions for financial management. That experience was really valuable. I got a lot of new knowledge about software market, the current state of the World Wide Web and its business potential. I became more and more concerned by the problems of IT branch. I promoted the products of that company till 2005, and I naturally made some contacts with targeted magazines and main news portals. 

Therefore, you were invited to join editorial staff?

Not exactly. I am not officially employed. Along with my main job, I became a freelance writer: I wrote articles that were bought by some magazines quite willingly. Soon I began to get orders from magazines, and I decided to quit my job and to commit myself to journalism. 

What are your articles about?

About various things – networks, network security, web-design, Internet-marketing, freeware. But the core of my interest is still the social aspects of the Internet: social services, web 2.0 etc. By the way, in 1996, when still going to college, I had written the first German articles dedicated to flirtation, acquaintance and love online long before they became a part of our life.

I know that you also write books. How do you manage to find time for that? 

I guess it cannot be helped. Every journalist writes books, as everybody gathers unique experience in the course of his life, not excepting you or me. And everybody needs to share this experience, but a journalist feels this need stronger than anybody else. I satisfy this need with writing books. One of my books on marketing has already been translated to four languages and is successfully sold in Europe. It means that my experience is instructive for somebody! 

What can you say about the present-day technology journalism? You must reflect on your profession a lot. 

I am a wiper by profession! Everybody is surprised to hear it, but I am going to explain myself. It is commonly considered, that only a “pro”, which has worked in a technical department of an IT company for several years, can work as an IT journalist. So, if you read any IT article, it will be either boring or difficult to understand unless the subject is directly connected to your work. There is too much dust in IT journalism, and somebody needs to wipe it away. That is what I deal with. And, judging by my readers’ comments, I seem to be quite a good contemporary wiper, which wipes the dust properly. 


The US. American journalists differ a lot from their German colleagues. First, magazines’ sites contain a great amount of information, which is often irrelevant and difficult to sort out. When you make a call to editorial office, most likely you will hear a cushioned female voice of the answering system, which will make you play a quest game named “If you would like to… then push…” When you eventually manage to talk to somebody, you will be asked to write to the editor’s e-mail, which has been inactive for a long time (as you will tell them later). Though, it must be an “entrance threshold”… and, due to this, overcoming this mental barrier will seem even more rewarding. And here is the second portrait. 

Kevin Gordon
California, the US
45 y.o. 
Computer Shopper, Computer Power User, The Washington Post, New York's Computer Click

I am most likely to be a musician.
Kevin Gordon

Kevin, please tell us about your job. How did you become an IT journalist? 

With pleasure! I live in California, in a small town named Humboldt City, together with my daughter and my wife. Besides, we have plenty of companions: a parakeet, two lizards, a cat and a dog. Our house is not big, but we have managed to transform the basement into a studio: you know that I am keen on music! I adore drums and all percussion instruments. I am a member of a music band and compose music for computer games. 

Amazing! And, in addition, as a journalist, you have one of the most hectic professions!  How do you cope with everything? 

I have excellent leadership qualities and some work experience in a computer company. I got employed as a technical support service manager while still studying at college, proved to be a good employee and became the head of copyrighting department after graduation. In that software company I got deep technical knowledge, and now I possess qualifications, which are virtually exceptional for an IT journalist. 

And what kind of education do you have? What college did you graduate from? 
My work is not actually connected with my education. As I have already said, I got my technical knowledge in an IT company, not at college. I took bachelor's degree in a college of journalism, and later I became Master of Psychology in another university. 

Where can we find the examples of your articles? I could not find them on your web site. 

What for should they be there? It would merely provoke copyright violation. I give examples only in private correspondence. The site contains only the most important information: the topics (databases, office technologies and flow of documents, various solutions for business and networks) and the types of my articles. And if you are too lazy to write, use Google then. 

Where do you find yourself? What is your vocation – a journalist, an IT person or a musician?

I am most likely to be a musician. I try to spend every free minute in my studio. But journalism is music, too, so to say – it is the music of words, and you should play it in such a way that those you write for would hear it and listen it up to the end. 

But why do you write about software and high technologies? Why not about music or psychology? 

Because I find it very interesting. In general, all my knowledge, experience and hobbies help me in writing about IT. I have already mentioned music; and psychology helps me understand my readers. I am good at writing for a common user. Look, what Rob Winfried, the former technical editor of a major publishing house, wrote about me: “Kevin’s main advantage lies not in his technical knowledge, but in his ability to understand the level of his readers’ technical knowledge and to write his articles according to this level. There are too many technical writers around us, and very few of them can transform the IT world into several paragraphs, which will take the reader away to an amazing journey…”


Russia. It should be noted, that today’s Russian IT journalists are quite adequate, civilized and intelligent. They are analysts, who literately express their expert opinion on market problems. They are vivid personalities, who actually create public opinion and influence it greatly but skillfully, aware of the scope of responsibility. 

As for editors, the situation is not so ideal, as in Germany. When talking to a secretary, who is willing to share her frustration, you feel like you are talking at least to the God. But it refers not so much to journalism, as to the service standards in Russia.

Now, meet our third character. 

Gennady Abuzov
35 y.o. 
Moscow, Russia

For many people “freelancer” means the same 
as “unemployed”, but for me it is the new level 
of a man’s professional actualization. 
Gennady Abuzov

How did you engage in journalism? Why was it IT journalism?

I deal with analytics, because I consider it an intellectual and rewarding work. That is why I have something to say, and that is why I am a journalist. Analytics is a field where one can approve oneself, apply the stored knowledge and, in addition to this, develop further.  

What would you like to come to?

To my own business. I am a manager by education and deep in my heart. IT market is greatly dynamic and bears a powerful business-charge, so it attracts me by all means. 

Do you work as a freelancer?

I do, but in the sense of being able to control my working hours as I see proper. I am an independent artist, so to say. I do not take orders. In general, our society has a strange attitude to this word, as for many people “freelancer” means the same as “unemployed”, but for me it is the new level of a man’s professional actualization, no matter what is his profession – a manager, a writer, a translator or a toast-master. When somebody can organize himself and his time in such a way, when he chooses himself what to do and bears full responsibility for his choice, such a person would manage with any duties in any staff, even if he does not appear at the office. 


As a conclusion, I would say that it is difficult to overestimate the role of a journalist in the present-day consumer society. Without those who can speak, those who should hear would never hear anything. The communication with them is getting harder, as more and more people try to use mass media for the purpose of their business. Journalists are humans above all, no matter what country or field they work in. Never forget about it. Take into account and respect your interlocutor’s peculiarities, and you will be treated likewise. 

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tips for Software Marketing in a Slow Economy

The slow global economy presents some unique software marketing challenges. Not only do software firms have to deal with the industry transition to software-as-a-service (SaaS), but the recession is dealing many companies a double whammy!

What are some winning strategies for software marketing in a slow economy?

Bottom line, your goal should be to do more with less… and then do even more with even less. But that does not mean cutting back on getting your message out there. Instead, you just have to figure out some more creative ways to do it more cost-effectively.

Here are four tips for software marketing on a budget during slow economic times:

1. Drive Viral Marketing Through Current Customers.

Start a referral program. Re-engage current customers for feedback to make your product or service even better.

2. Show how your Product Saves Money.

Does your positioning need an overhaul? In a recession, customers care about today’s bottom line. They are not investing for the future. Write an article describing how your software saves them money (or stops them from wasting it) and post to online article sites, in your newsletter and on your website.

3. Sponsor a Competition.

This doesn’t have to cost you much money. Offer a bonus of some sort, and a spotlight on your website to the winner(s). The type of competition you run will depend on your market segment. For example, if you sell nutrition software you could run a competition for the best, most nutritious recipe. Promote it to blogs and magazines in your segment.

4. Lockin with a Free Trial.

Many software companies now offer a free trial of their product. The challenge is how to upsell trial users to paying customers. It is important to figure out a creative way to lock in the user. Make it painful for them to stop using your software. Make it easy for them to pay on a low-cost subscription basis.

Joanna Lees Castro is owner of, a resource for software and services companies wanting to grow their business strategy, marketing and sales capability in a services-oriented world.

For additional tips on software marketing in a recession and to vote in our poll go to

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