Monday, July 29, 2013

Stuck with an
Ugly Domain Name?

Are you frustrated with the quality of the domain name that you've chosen for your company? Do you think that a better name might have brought in more business over the past few years?

Well, you're not alone. According to a recent study of small business owners by Wakefield Research, as reported in the June 28, 2013 issue of Processor Magazine -
  • 49 percent of the businesses in the survey started with a different domain than the one that they're currently using.
  • 55 percent worry that they've lost business by not having the name that they would most like to have used.
  • 52 percent are interested in changing their current domain name to something better.
I've spoken with a lot of microISV business owners about their domain names, and I've been surprised by the number of domain names that most of these people have registered and never used. It may be time to dust off the best name that you've been paying for year after year but never used, and put it to work for your company. Start a blog. Or start a second blog if you already have one. It's never too late to create additional websites and generate additional traffic for your software business.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Smartphone Market Share Growth

Android-based smartphones gained significant market share between the first quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013. In a recently published research paper from IDC, as reported in the June 28, 2013 issue of Processor Magazine, Android-based units grew from 59.1 percent of the smartphone market to 75 percent. In the same period, iOS market share dropped from 23 percent to 17.3 percent.

The smaller players in the smartphone marketplace have had changes in their market share that are even more dramatic:

  • Windows Phone grew from 2 percent to 3.2 percent.
  • BlackBerry OS fell from 6.4 percent to 2.9 percent.
  • Linux-based smartphones fell from 2.4 percent to 1 percent.
  • Symbian phones dropped from 6.8 percent to 0.6 percent.

While market share trends are certainly not the only shifts that microISVs need to look at when deciding which platforms to support in future software development projects, these dramatic shifts in market penetration tell us a lot about who tomorrow's winners and losers may be.

Monday, July 22, 2013

ISVCon announces seminar info for
2013 software marketing conference

The 2013 Independent Software Vendor Conference (ISVCon), scheduled for September 27-29, 2013 at the Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno, Nevada, has released information about the panel discussions and seminars that will be presented. Designed to deliver the latest marketing ideas to small software development firms, this year's conference includes:

  • "Sell Software on Facebook" by Nico Westerdale of BitsDuJour - Can independent software vendors (ISVs) make money selling software on Facebook? Yes. More than half of the people in the US have Facebook accounts. Learn practical ways to build your fanbase, and create posts that generate traffic.
  • "Conversations to Create More Customers" by Jessica Dewell of Red Direction - Move more software customers through your company's sales cycle by changing from reactive conversations (such as answering email inquiries) to proactive conversations (such as listening and starting conversations.)
  • "Growing your ISV business to Multi-Device with Mobile and Mac" by David Interstimone (David I) of Embarcadero - Discover how to increase software sales by supporting a mix of client devices, UI approaches, OS versions, and emerging form factors.
  • "Connected Apps: The New Normal" by Leyla Seka of Salesforce.com - Learn to build and deploy connected apps as your software development business evolves from the desktop/laptop world to the cloud and mobile environments.
  • "33 High Tech Business Myths, and How They Can Hurt Your Company" by Gary Elfring of Elfring Fonts Inc. - Gain insights into distinguishing between valid business ideas and the myths, folklore, and misinformation that can hurt your company.
  • "Google AdWords - Winning the War and Making It Work" by Aaron Weiner of Software Promotions - Learn how recent AdWords changes will impact your account's performance, and how you can overcome any problems.
Other seminar titles include:

  • Practical Roadmap to High Performing Websites
  • Secondary Offer Networks
  • The Cloud for ISVs
  • Avoiding Problems When Hiring and Working with Freelancers

Visit http://www.isvcon.org/speakers.php to read about new seminars that will be added during the summer.

Sign up for the conference by September 22 to take advantage of ISVCon's $820.50(US) registration fee. Registration includes three days of intense education and networking opportunities plus a Thursday evening reception, and break rooms full of snacks and helpful representatives from the conference's sponsors.

Previously known as the Software Industry Conference (SIC), ISVCon carries on a 22 year tradition of supporting independent software developers' business and marketing efforts with seminars, presentations, and networking opportunities.

ISVCon is owned and presented by The Association of Software Professionals. Sponsors for ISVCon 2013 include FastSpring, Avangate, Tightrope Interactive, Software Promotions, Greentram Software, and The Association of Software Professionals. Visit http://www.isvcon.org/ for more information about attending ISVCon 2013. Or visit http://www.isvcon.org/sponsors.php for information about sponsoring the conference.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

BYOD, a Radical American Trend

Around the world, employees are bringing their iPhones, iPads, and Android tablets to work, and using them on their companies' WiFi connections. According to Gartner, as reported in the May 17, 2013 issue of Processor magazine, US companies are twice as likely as European firms to allow employees access to their networks using their personal mobile devices.

Gartner is calling the bring your own device (BYOD) trend "the most radical change to the economics and the culture of client computing in business in decades."

BYOD is not without security risks. Because these tablets and smartphones were selected individually by employees, few enterprises have policies that control these devices' privacy, security, or usage. Gartner reports, however, that the IT managers in companies that allow BYOD think of themselves as doing a particularly good job of managing corporate data security.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hybrid Mobile-SaaS Apps

It's difficult for microISVs to decide if they want to create their next apps for a specific mobile device operating system or if they should create a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application that will run using any modern web browser. With the introduction of hybrid solutions into the marketplace, the decision among Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Linux, and SaaS has become even more complicated.

According to research by Gartner, as published in the June 28, 2013 issue of Processor Magazine, by 2016 more than half of all mobile apps will be hybrids.

Gartner defines a native mobile app as one that will run on a specific mobile platform. Today's web apps, by contrast, are written in HTML5 and can be used by anybody with an Internet connection and a modern web browser. Hybrid apps combine the benefits of both designs. They support HTML5, and they can be used offline when an Internet connection is not available. Gartner says that the hybrid approach offers more flexibility for both software developers and end-users.

Gartner believes that by 2015, consumer apps will be 40 percent native, 20 percent web, and 40 percent hybrid. The enterprise apps will have a mix of 10 percent native, 30 percent web, and 60 percent hybrid.

microISVs with marketing plans that include developing SaaS applications or apps for mobile devices are going to have competitors in the coming years who have developed hybrid apps that allow for offline computing. To avoid being at a competitive disadvantage, software developers need to start thinking of using the hybrid design model for future software releases.

Write Stronger Sales Messages

Book review of Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy (published 1983 by Vintage Books)

David Ogilvy is a legend in the advertising industry. Time Magazine called him the most sought-after wizard in the advertising business.

"Ogilvy on Advertising" teaches us how to write better advertising and sales messages. While Ogilvy wrote ads for direct-mail and magazines, all of us in the software development industry write ads for our websites, blogs, newsletters, and email sales letters.

"This is not a book for readers who think they already know all there is to be known about advertising. It is for young hopefuls - and veterans who are still in search of ways to improve their batting average at the cash register," Ogilvy tells us. Ogilvy started in the ad business in 1949. In 1963 he set up Ogilvy & Mather, and took it from a specialty advertising shop to the fourth-largest ad agency on the planet. At the time he wrote this book, the company had 140 offices in 40 nations.

Ogilvy believes that advertising is timeless, and that most trends should be ignored. In the software development industry, where new trends are announced on a weekly basis, Ogilvy's advice is timeless. "Consumers still buy products whose advertising promises them value for money, beauty, nutrition, relief from suffering, social status and so on," Ogilvy explains.

I believe that Ogilvy would be impressed by the way the Internet has evolved, just as he was impressed by the way that television revolutionized the advertising industry. But the age-old principles that he talks about in "Ogilvy on Advertising" are much more useful than the ideas that you'll find in the "Bill and Ted's Excellent Advertising Techniques" -type books that are written for today's audience.

Buy this book. It's a classic, and it will strengthen your software marketing.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

US Ad Spending Increases

$39.7 billion US dollars were spent on digital advertising by US companies in 2012. So says the Winterberry Group, as reported in the June 2013 issue of Direct Marketing News.

Overall US ad spending increased 4.3 percent from 2011 to 2012. The increase in digital advertising during the same period was 14.9 percent.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Email Versus Postal-Mail
Response Rates

Postal mail outperforms email by a factor of 37. So says the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA's) 2012 Response Rate Report, as reported in the March 2013 issue of Direct Marketing News.

According to the DMA, the average postal-mail response rate is 4.4 percent, while the average email response is 0.12 percent.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

QR Codes for Software Marketing

Twenty-seven percent of adults between 18 and 34 in the US, UK, France, and Germany have used QR codes. So says Pitney Bowes in their "Getting Ahead of the Emerging QR Code Market Trend" report, as cited in the March 2013 issue of Direct Marketing News.

If you're handing out business cards or flyers about your software, be sure to include a QR code so people can use their smartphone to snap their way to your website. And be sure that the page that the QR code points to is optimized for mobile phones.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Use Active Voice
in your Press Release

Software developers should write the vast majority of their sentences in the active voice.

Nearly every sentence should be in the format "Subject does something to object". Very few sentences should be in the format "Object has something done to it by the subject."

It's easy to tell if you're writing in the active voice or in the passive voice. Say the sentence aloud. If it sounds awkward or evasive, chances are you're writing in the passive voice. Think about how you would say the same thought to a friend, and rewrite the sentence. Chances are your rewritten sentence will be in the active voice.

Here are a few examples of the same thoughts written in both active and passive voice:
  • Always use active voice.
  • Active voice should always be used.

  • Widget Corp has released Widget v. 5.
  • Widget v. 5 has been released by Widget Corp.
Passive voice is used a lot by politicians who want to avoid responsibility. That's why we often hear "Some mistakes were made" and why we seldom hear "I made some mistakes".

Active voice communicates ideas better than passive voice. Another reason for writing in the active voice is that editors rarely print passive voice sentences in their magazines or newspapers. When they see passive voice writing, they'll either rewrite your sentence or choose another press release that doesn't require editing. Which choice do you think these busy editors with an inbox full of press releases will make?

You can use news releases to increase your SaaS and desktop/laptop sales. Editors and bloggers need to know what's happening in their field of interest.

Don't think that sending your news releases to the online portals is a substitute for sending press releases to print magazines, newspapers, and bloggers. Web portals increase your spam. Web portals don't help your software sales. Real press releases, on the other hand, bring real buyers to your website.