Sunday, June 30, 2013

Time Spent on Social Media

Most marketers spend at least one hour each day on social media for their work. According to the June 2013 issue of Direct Marketing News, forty-six percent of marketers surveyed spend less than an hour each day working on their social media business tasks.

I wonder how many marketers who spend significant time on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn measure their return on investment (ROI) for the time that they spend on these sites.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Show Software Buyers
Your Best Price

Seventy-two percent of consumers say that a "best price" sign next to an item that they find online will influence their buying decision. This is true for shoppers who use their PC as well as shoppers who access sites via smartphone. So says Accenture, as reported in the June 2013 issue of Direct Marketing News.

Software developers could use "best price" to nudge buyers to choose the Pro version over the Lite version, or perhaps the Family Edition over the Individual Edition, or the School District License instead of the Classroom License.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Software Gift-Giving Guides
and Software Roundup Articles

Last week, I posted an article entitled "Gift Cards for Software" on this blog. The article mentioned that many magazine and newspaper editors publish Christmas Gift-Giving Guides for their readers, and that software developers can increase their sales by being included in these gift guides.

Earlier this week, Computer Reseller News (CRN) delivered the perfect illustration for my article by publishing their "Father's Day Gift Guide: 25 Great Tech Gift Ideas For Dad." Only one of the 25 gifts is a software application. The others are peripherals, accessories, and stand-alone tech toys. But the principle applies - If you send press releases to the tech publications' editors and columnists, you'll increase your chances of getting publicity for your software in these gift-giving guides, and in roundup articles.

Gift-Giving Guides

A gift-giving guide is a feature article that publications print or post before major holidays. While the Christmas gift-giving guides are the most common, many magazines and newspapers print holiday gift guides for Father's Day, Mother's Day, Graduation Day, and other religious and secular holidays.

Editors and columnists know that their readers are always looking for fresh ideas for affordable tech gifts. So these gift-giving articles tend to be very popular with the publications' readers. Surprisingly, it's not just the computer consumer magazines and the daily newspapers' tech columnists who publish these guides. The computer trade magazines - and even the dealer/VAR outlets such as CRN - usually cover gifts for the holidays.

Stodgy and conservative publications often recommend games and frivolous home software to their readers. Vertical market publications and blogs take a light-hearted look at popular software and tech-toys, and make recommendations to their readers, too.

Roundup Articles

Roundup articles are very similar to gift-giving guides. Roundup articles typically discuss the features and benefits of a group of ten-or-so software programs in a category. For example, you can expect to see vertical-market magazines publish year-end roundup articles with titles such as "Top Ten iOS Games" or "The Year's Best Financial Apps."

Editors, bloggers, and columnists use press releases as the source of many of their roundup articles. Even though the "news" value of a press release might have diminished by the time the roundup article is printed, the press release that you sent to the editors can still create more income for your microISV.

Roundup articles tend to generate more software sales than downloads. Because the editor or columnist is an expert who is recommending your application as one of the top programs in its niche, many buyers will simply make the purchase, without installing and trying the application first.

With roundup articles, you don't have to have the most "stars" to generate software sales. If an editor awards your software three stars and describes it as "solid, but without the advanced features of similar applications," then your three-star program might outsell the five-star application because many people don't want to wrestle with a complicated application.

The Bottom Line

It's hard to break into the holiday gift-giving guides and the roundup articles. Many editors choose "safe" programs to recommend. And safety is often measured by crowdsourcing: If a program is very popular, it must be very good. It could take you some time - and a bunch of press releases - to develop a solid reputation with magazine and newspaper editors.

Start now. Please visit my software press release site to learn more about using press releases to sell more software.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Gift Cards for Software

You can increase your microISV company's revenues by offering gift certificates for your software.

People buy entertainment, game, and home software for friends and relatives. And when the end-user has a problem with the software, they're much more likely to ask for help from their friend than from you, the software developer.

Business people buy productivity programs for colleagues and employees, especially during the year-end holidays.

This is the season for graduation and wedding gifts. Graduates might enjoy games, and perhaps business and productivity applications. Weddings and showers might be good opportunities for offering gift certificates for nutrition, cooking, and home maintenance software.

Many consumer and trade magazines and newspapers have Holiday Gift-Giving Guides that describe tech toys - like software - that make nice presents. Be sure to send them your year-end press release by the end of August if you want Christmas coverage for your application.

Most developers sell gift certificates for a specific version of the software. If you offer a number of software packages for sale (either programs that you've created, or other developers' applications that you sell on an affiliate basis), it might be worthwhile to sell gift certificates for a specific amount of money instead of gift certificates for a copy of a particular program. For example, sell a $25 gift certificate that can be used for any program or group of programs that you market.

According to First Data and Market Strategies International's "2012 U.S. Prepaid Consumer Insights Study" (as reported in the February 2013 issue of Direct Marketing News), the average amount of money that a consumer spent over and above the value of the gift card that they'd received is $20.79(US).

It's hard to compare the buying experience of somebody who received a gift card from, say, a sporting goods store with the experience of somebody who received a gift card for your software. But there might be a way to turn gift cards into additional sales, cross-sales, upgrades, and other upselling opportunities. Just look at the gift card display rack in your local grocery store to see how popular gift card sales are.

Before you launch a gift card program, look at the regulations that apply to sales where you do business. Here in the U.S., a few states have laws that regulate gift card expiration dates. And some states require you to jump through hoops with gift cards that aren't redeemed within a certain number of months; these states treat gift cards as unclaimed assets, in much the same way that abandoned bank accounts have to be turned over to the state.

It's complicated. But gift cards might offer some interesting opportunities to increase your microISV's revenue stream.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tapping Purchases on your Smartphone

Consumers' willingness to use their smartphones to pay for products in retail stores is highly dependent upon their age. So says a recent Harris Interactive Survey, as reported in Processor magazine.

Most people are comfortable using cash or a credit card to buy products in brick-and-mortar stores. But younger buyers are much more receptive to tapping their smartphones to pay for their purchases.

The percentages of consumers who are very or somewhat interested in paying for products in retail stores by smartphone, broken down by age groups, are:
  • Ages 18 - 35 - 40%
  • Ages 36 - 47 - 34%
  • Ages 48 - 66 - 18%
  • Ages 67+ - 7%

Saturday, June 1, 2013

CRM, ERP, and Productivity Software

Businesses and nonprofits will increase their spending a little bit on enterprise applications this year and next. Gartner's IT spending study reported in the March 22, 2013 issue of Processor magazine that spending will be flat in the US, Canada, and Western Europe. The bulk of the spending increases will happen in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia.

The three hot applications that Gartner identified for increased spending on enterprise software in 2013 are:
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or contact management applications
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that helps businesses manage everything from sales and manufacturing to accounting
  • Productivity tools, both personal and office
In the same issue of Processor magazine, we learn that IDC's latest "Worldwide Black Book" report found that IT spending increased 5.9 percent in 2012. The magazine didn't report the split among hardware, software, and services. But a spending increase of nearly six percent in today's turbulent economy should be encouraging to those of us in the software development industry.