Five software marketing resolutions

Written by Dave Collins, SoftwarePromotions Ltd.

The New Year is celebrated by different people and different cultures in an astonishing number of different ways, sometimes even at different times of the year. Whether you choose to mark your new year with a cosy gathering of friends or family, a wild party, or setting of fireworks in the snow, the fact is that most of us feel some form of starting a fresh page, a feeling of renewal. It’s probably for this very reason that many of us choose to mark the occasion with some sort of promises to ourselves.

We may decide to eat more healthily, to get more exercise, not to bite our nails, to spend more time with our families, or really anything and everything that we feel we don’t do, or don’t do enough. Many of our promises are often abandoned within days or even hours, but a few of them do make it, and some actually end up changing aspects of our lives forever.

Aside from exercise, healthy eating and relaxation, there’s one other area that many of us reading this article neglect on a regular basis. Marketing. One of the ultimate should-be-doing-more-isms. Most developers are all too aware that they should be spending time on the marketing of their software. But let’s face it. By the time you’ve finished working on the code for your next version, pushing it out to the software sites, sending out the emails to your existing customers, updating your website and submitting to the search engines, who has time for marketing? And that’s before you start dealing with the technical support, sales enquiries, CPC search engines, advertising and so on. It’s not difficult to see why marketing often has its own permanent place at the bottom of your to-do list.

So maybe this year is the time to do something about it. Leave your diet and exercise promises until next year, and this year start with five simple marketing resolutions.

Resolution Number One: Your website
I’m forever pointing out that if your business relies on an online presence, then your website is everything. It’s your storefront, your staff, how people perceive you and your software and a whole lot more. Yet amazingly, many websites simply do not do justice to the products they sell.

Too many websites are created almost as an after-thought, with graphics that are patched together in an old version of Paint Shop Pro, and content that is sometimes adapted straight from the help file.

My advice? Give your website a real overhaul. Work on a new layout, polish up the text, and get a professional to at the very least, design some new graphics – it isn’t as expensive as you might think.

If you don’t yet have a domain name, then what on earth are you waiting for? If you do have a domain name, then get some more! With cheap domain names and cheap reliable web-hosting, there’s no reason why you should confine yourself to only having one domain name and one site. Get out there and be seen!

Resolution Number Two: Search Engines
In case you haven’t noticed, the web is changing. For software companies, the era of the free ride is well and truly over. It was great while it lasted, but nowadays we have to pay to have our websites hosted, we have to pay to have our files hosted, and we certainly have to pay to do really well on the search engine – Google.

While there are no shortage of options, my own advice would be to start with Google. We all know that you can still submit to many of the search engines without having to part with a penny, but if you’re serious about having your customers find you, instead of your competitor, then it’s time to find some Expert SEO help.

And while we’re sparing a thought for the ever-diligent Googlebot, let’s also make sure that we leave it enough relevant data to read. Keywords are still as important as they’ve ever been before – not just in the META tags, but throughout the content of your site. When’s the last time you updated your keywords, and do you know which ones your competition are targeting? You have to spend to be seen.

Resolution Number Three: Your existing clients
There is little (if anything) more important to your software business than your customers. It’s difficult enough to get a new customer in the first place, so once you have them, make sure you keep them happy. Make sure they know how much you appreciate them, and make sure that your after-sales support reflects this.

You might want to offer them some form of resources or occasional newsletter, or pretty much anything that will remind them how much they value your product, and how much you value their custom.

Take a look through your own start menu, and you’re sure to find a few applications in there that you purchased on the advice of others. Your next happy customer could turn out to be a promotional opportunity as well as a sale! So look after them.

Resolution Number Four: Time for a new version
How long has it been since you released a new version of your software? Unless you’ve just sent one out, the likely answer to this question is “too long”. We see the same patterns with our clients, time and time again. A new version = new exposure = new sales. So what are you waiting for?

There’s a fine line between releasing an unstable version too early, and waiting too long until everything is 500% ready. It’s a safe bet that most people reading this article wait too long before releasing their software. Are your competitors quite as meticulous as you are? If not, whose software will be found when people search for it? Get it out there. Be seen.

Resolution Number Five: New strategies
A New Year should mean new strategies. For software companies, there are more opportunities out there than you can begin to count. So choose something. Choose anything. It’s many times better than choosing nothing.

Maybe you’ve been thinking about setting up an affiliate scheme, signing-up with a reseller, using a professional software marketing company, some advertising, offering a competitive upgrade, jumping into the AdWords arena, software bundling, wider distribution, or even a freeware version of your software.

My advice? Just choose at least one of them, and go for it. Right now. Any one of the above options can potentially result in an increase in sales. To not seize the opportunities that await you is to neglect your own potential. Be sold.

All being well, next year will be a happy and healthy year for all of us, but much of this is beyond our control. Some things do lie within our command however, so if nothing else, let this coming year be the year that you actually start marketing your software. Make your website gleam, be prominent on the search engines, look out for your customers, and keep pushing your new versions out there. New strategies can and will lead to new opportunities. See them, reap them, and enjoy them. Be seen, be sold.

Written by Dave Collins, SoftwarePromotions Ltd.