How to promote software / shareware is an article for software and shareware developers
containing tips and tricks of the trade to promote and increase
your website popularity and sales of your product.
The idea of build a website and everyone will visit is far from the truth. A webmaster has their hands full on a daily basis in order to build traffic and website popularity, more effort is required when the website has product for sale. After that, more work is required to maintain the site even after a substantial amount of traffic is achieved.
Each of the following Tips and Tricks are general in content and volumes can be written on each subject. We offer these to each software/shareware author from the benefit of our years of online experience.
Tips and Tricks for Software/Shareware authors:
> Sell your software via the online payment services.
> Optimize your website for Search Engine and keywords.
Most likely the most important thing you can do is to insure your website meets standard Website Design before you submit your website for inclusion to any Search Engine or Directory. By following the basics of web page design you will increase not only your traffic but also your chances for inclusion into a Search Engine. Website Page Title, Page Description, Page Name and Keywords need to match the content of the page, not your website in whole or general. Every page is identified and classified by each of those mentioned by the Search Engines. If you are listing items not relevant to the page it appears, most SE will penalize your page and website, this results in a much lower ranking and listing within the SE search pages users will be shown when looking for your product. By placing non-relevant keywords on a page can even cause most SE to not list your page or website in whole – your loss. Do Not make use of “under construction” anywhere upon your website! This is the number one indicator of a webmaster who is an amateur and has not any conception of advanced Website Design. Place as much content as possible upon a webpage, even if it is lacking in information or graphics. If the webpage makes no sense with the lack of information – do not publish the page until it is ready. A website is ALWAYS under construction with updates and other refinements. Do Spelling and Grammar checks of every WebPage BEFORE publishing them online. You can not imagine the amount of spelling and grammar errors that are currently on most WebPages. Gain Trust, Confidence and show your level of professionalism by making sure every one of your WebPages undergoes Spelling and Grammar checks.
> Give your website eye candy.
Most people online today like to view a website that is attractive not only in content but also color. By using a color-coordinated website, you give the user something to remember you by. Dull gray or vibrant colors most often are so repulsive they make most users leave your website because it just is not professional. Use of a template is also recommended so your webpages remain consistant with each other and the website in general.You will want visitors to feel comfortable when visiting your website, the more pleasant your website – the longer they will stay.
> Show everyone you are a professional.
> Get your site listed with DMOZ, Google and Yahoo.
The most important places online today to have your website listed is with DMOZ, GOOGLE and YAHOO. Let’s take a small look at each one. DMOZ is not a Search Engine; it is a Directory which about 20 or so small Search Engines use for their data base and search listings. Having your website listed within DMOZ is like submitting to 20 or so smaller SE without the high cost for inclusion to each of them. DMOZ is not a computer based Directory, it is still run by human Editors. When you submit to DMOZ, a human Editor will review your website; if your website meets standard Website Design and offers original content it will be listed within their Directory. Therefore, a submission for your website to DMOZ will take about 2 – 6 months before inclusion – Be patient, it is worth the wait. GOOGLE has been and still remains the number one Search Engine. If your site is listed within Google, you will find the majority of your traffic coming from Google: 50% or better! When submitting to Google, submit only your INDEX page and NOT any other webpage. The Google robot will FIND every page within your website. Google will perceive multiple submissions as SPAM and will not list your website. A submission to Google takes between 4 – 8 weeks before being listed – Do Not submit your website more than once during that time. If your website is not listed after 8 full weeks, take a look at your basic Website Design to find the faults, fix them then re-submit to Google. YAHOO is still VERY popular and continues to be with its numerous users. Submit your website for a FREE listing within the Yahoo Directory, this may take as long as 6 – 8 months for their human Editors to review your website. The human Editors will be looking at the basic Website Design and for original content. Do Not submit your website more than once every 8 months. IF you cannot get listed within the Yahoo Free Directory – Do Not pay for submission – your site will be rejected and money not refunded. IF your website does get listed within the Yahoo Free Directory than by all means DO pay for an elevated or premium listing. By having your website with DMOZ, GOOGLE and YAHOO you will find 90 – 98% of ALL your traffic originating from these sources.
> Get listed with other Search Engines for a small boost.
There still are a handful of small Search Engines that allow a free listing, submit manually or use a free submit service to get listed, we do recommend manual submission as many of the free submit services are often outdated and contain broken links. Do not have high hopes or expectations for volumes of traffic from any of these smaller SE, as most online users just do not use them. Our traffic from these smaller SE generate about 20 visits per month from each of the smaller SE, a number which is less than 1% of our website traffic. By having your site listed with the smaller SE you do gain a small boost in website popularity with the larger SE.
> Boost Website ranking by linking to and have others link to you.
Another key to gaining website ranking and popularity is to have on your website a “resources” page or most commonly known as a “Links” page. Visit other websites that offer content similiar to yours and make request to their webmaster a LINK EXCHANGE. You and they agree to place and maintain a LINK to each other on your LINKS page. Links to and from other websites will boost your website SE popularity and ranking. It will also show your website visitors you care enough about them to provide other sources of online information for them and many will view your efforts a courtesy, further making YOUR website more valuable in content.
> Consider competitive pricing.
For the new software developer, pricing should not be too difficult. Search other products similar to yours based on quality, level of design and usability. If you’re introducing a new product, the cost should be low (under $20). After you do numerous updates and upgrades over time, your product increases in value with a certain degree of usability and should be then – competitvely priced. The majority of software today is priced between $ 19.95 – 39.95 based upon its usability and value. To under price your software in order to gain a few sales – just does not work with online software sales. We have seen time and time again, developers lower their prices expecting the flood of sales orders will start rolling in – quite the contrary – we often if not always see sales drop. Never have we seen a rise of sales because it was lower in cost for a time period, the developer raises their price back to competitive and then we start to see sales for their product once again. Users perceive ‘low cost’ software as Cheap Software or unworthy of a higher price due to its inability to perform as expected and will shop for something better. When we had our Brick and Mortar Store; we seen time and time again the validity of what we just said. Now with our online store selling software, we again see time and time again what we said is true. Is your product so unworthy that it needs to be low cost?
> Visit and submit to Download websites and Portals.
Submit your software/shareware for review and inclusion to the numerous DOWNLOAD websites and PORTALS. These websites are visited by Tens of Thousands of visitors daily that are searching for software for their use. Many of these sites do charge a small fee for inclusion. The reward is that your product will be listed with many others for users to choose from. Software developers gain most of their recognition from these sites as users continue to see their product listed amongst others of a similiar nature. The vast amount of “dowloads” of your product via these sites will expose your product to the most amount of people. You can save lots of time by using one of the specialized Software Submission Services that will submit for you. Think of it as a numbers game; the more people that see and use your product the more likely they will purchase your product. There is no guarantee that everyone who downloads your product will purchase a license to continue using it. In fact, there exists a large number of people who are refered to as “shareware junkies”, within the software industry. These are people who enjoy downloading and trying (not buying) a numerous amounts of software for the mere pleasure of trying something new.
> Have affiliates sell your products.
Many new software developers are unaware of the vast benefits of having affiliates. Affiliates are people who will offer, promote and sell your software on their websites for you in return for a small commission for every sale. It is like having an army of salespersons! Today there are many levels of affiliates. There are those which have been selling other peoples products for a number of years and have become very proficient in their efforts. There are those that do an adequate job of promotion and there is also the low level affiliate that in most cases are looking to make a few dollars every month by placing an ad upon their site to give value to their site. Many of the more experienced affiliates have websites designed to sell your product or with other similar ones upon their sites. Most of the more experienced affiliates even have and use numerous websites in order to maximize their commission payout. There is a wide range of affiliates and how they work at promoting your product. Payment services such as Register Now, eSellerate, Share-it and ClickBank include an affiliate program with the service they provide and already have an army of affiliates waiting to sell your product. If you want to increase your sales 10 – 40% over what you alone can do by yourself – consider having affiliates sell your product.
> Partner with other developers.
Search around and find products that are similar to yours that would compliment each other and make a request to the other developer for a low level partnership. A relationship in which you can sell each others product in conjunction with each other – you will be creating “bundle software” packages at a slight discounted price. For example: Your product sells for $ 30. and the other product sells for $ 30. Both developers offer the same bundle on their websites for the same price. With a software bundle, the user will purchase both products together for $ 50. a savings of $ 10 for the user, while each developer has given a mere $ 5. discount and both developers benefit from the sale. The customer is happy and both developers are happy – a win-win solution to increase your sales.
> Use of a signature whenever posting to a discussion group.
Many developers belong to one or more discussion groups and open forums online. Many times people when doing a Search will be directed to one of those. But after reading a posting and gaining an interest for some product that is in the discussion – the user is left with nowhere to go. Because the writer: JBCool did not use their real name, not mention their website or have a URL for anyone else to go to. Common sense and good marketing practice tell us to advertise whenever and wherever possible – think of it free advertising.
> Use of a signature whenever sending an email.
Another key to being professional: Always use a signature on every email you send stating your website, the URL and possibly a tag line or slogan. Do not over do it – Keep it simple.
> Send copies of your software to Editors for “review”.
With the various categories of software today, there are publications online and offline that have a large readership. Editors of these publications are always seeking content for the “next” news story. Send via a CD along with a letter introducing yourself and your product for review and possible publication of that review within their publication. Every month the Editors will publish reviews about new software – maybe yours will be next!
> Announce your product in affiliate forums.
Online today there are numerous affiliate forums and discussion groups where affiliates gather. Within these forums is often a category for new product announcements or an area for developers to make known their new products. When you do post to these forums, be brief by giving your Product Name, website URL, payment service you use, commission offered and PAD file location. Keep the vast marketing ads out! They are neither needed or welcome – be professional.
> Maintain contact with your affiliates.
Once your establish a vendor-affiliate relationship, do not let it end there. Email the affiliate once per month is enough to keep them abreast of new products, updates or upgrades you have made. Express you willingness to assist them concerning text ads, banner ads, screenshots and any other support they may need. The best way to show affiliate support is to create an “affiliate page” on your website. This page can include affiliate program details, sign up links, examples of ads, graphics and of course a contact email address. The more experienced affiliates will treat you and your products with respect. The less experienced affiliates may require that you assist them in their promotion efforts. Also if you have suspicions or doubts about an affiliate – email them and be very direct and straightforward with your inquiry. Your reputation is on the line – so be tactful and professional.
> Offer affiliates a custom build to promote on their site.
If you really want to boost your sales – nothing beats having your affiliates offer “custom builds” of your software product that they will host on their websites for their visitors to download. To create a custom build is simple. By changing a few lines of code within your software. You need to have all the BUY NOW links contain your affiliates special URL and also all the VISIT VENDOR website links also must be the affiliate special URL. By doing this you are assuring the affiliate they will get their commission fee for every sale they are responsible for making. Use of a software program such as Affiliate-Now that is available to and for RegNow vendors makes the custom build process very simple and easy for those vendors using the RegNow payment service. Even if you use another payment service – custom builds for your affiliates will generate more sales than any banner or text ad they have on their website.
> Offer a free product on your site.
Almost every software developer has created a small application for personal use. Most of them are small simple software programs such as: mini-data bank, personal calendar, calculator or simple but fun game. If the program works but is really too simple to offer for sale – Offer it for free on your website! Create a Webpage for the free product, place on the page in large text, FREE Software or FREE DOWNLOAD and also make sure the same words are included as KEYWORDS, Page Title and description. You can also create a simple screensaver and offer it for free on your website – visitors LOVE free software and are aware because it is free, they do not expect much or expect it to have great abilities. Be advised: Free products upon your website is a great traffic builder and will generate a lot of visits – you will also need to be creative in your marketing in order for the visitors to try your other software and generate sales.
> Sell your Logo – spread your image and name.
Do you have a really nice logo? Would it look good on a T-Shirt, cup or hat? Take a look at CafePress.com and their free website for selling products with YOUR logo or design on each item. You can make money on each item – but would it not be better to have the customer walking around with YOUR logo – spreading the word about YOU subtly? You could even offer a free T-Shirt with every multiple purchase of your products. How about sending a free T-Shirt to that Purchasing Agent who bought a 100 Business License pack for your product? We sent Frosted Mugs to one of our friends who just happens to keep the mugs on his desk, everyone coming into his office get to see our domain name every time they come into his office. Did we mention he is the IT Network Administrator where he works? We also sent T-shirts with our Logo to several people we know in different parts of the country – they walk around the malls, stores, beach and anywhere else they go wearing our shirts. We provided free T-Shirts and they are providing us with free advertising!
> Develop more products.
Having more than one product opens your website to multiple inquiries and possibilities. We do not know of any developer that has only one project on the bench at any given time. Release your other products as they become useable and let an army of users tell you what needs to be fixed. You can release them as Beta software or as freeware at no cost to the user with the requirement that they not hold you responsible for any errors. Provide an incentive for users to give you feedback; offer a free copy of the software after the bugs are worked out. In most cases, somewhere between Version 1 – 2, your product will begin to resemble something really useful and that is the time to set a small fee for your software. Having a few products that you will continue to develop as time goes on will not only gain more sales but also keep you busy bouncing back and forth between projects.
> Create and offer an interactive gizmo to play or use on your website.
There are many examples of free gizmos or interactive thingies online today from free banner makers, Java or Flash games to Love Testers. Whatever the item, as long as the item is on your website and visitors can come and INTERACT with it by clicking or moving their mouse to gain some sort of pleasure or benefit. These items attract a lot of website visitors, more then you can imagine. Once again, it will require skillful marketing techniques to get those visitors to review your software or at least think about it while using the gizmo!
> Offer Custom Versions of your Software for customers.
After your product has achieved the level of Quality and Usability that warrants a substantial fee. You can gain further sales by offering to customize a special version for a Corporation or Company to their specifications, for a fee of course. This may also be done at pro-bono if you believe the users may purchase a copy of your software for their own personal use. The possibilities here are endless – something to think about!
> Offer compatible non-software products.
Make your website more valuable to your visitors and gain a few more sales by offering non-software products that compliment your software. Examples: MP3 software with a portable MP3 Player, Digital Video software with a webcam or digital camera, Game software with portable games – you get the idea. The idea is to offer a handful of products that compliment your software or you can have a full blown online store. The best way to do this is to make use of the dozens of companies that offer drop shipping. Drop Shippers require only that you send them the order with payment and they will ship to your customer. You have no inventory to carry or purchase. Offer products at a marginal increase in price, since you are paying wholesale price. Making use of PayPal is best for these kinds of transactions. You receive payment upfront, send the order to the Drop Shipper, they will ship the product to your customer using your shipping labels. You pocket the profit! There are numerous sources to find Drop Shippers, however be advised that most are bogus or out dated, the only reliable source is: The Drop Ship Source Directory which has been running a respectable business and keeps the Directory up to date. The Drop Ship Source Directory is also the only one that is approved by the Better Business Bureau.
> Advertising will get you noticed.
The list is long of where you can advertise and the amounts you can spend for such can be staggering. Consider some low cost methods. Consider giving away free calendars to select people, calendars that have your logo on it of course! Put a low cost custom made License Plate on your vehicle, available from LicensePlatesOnline. We had one made for our vehicle. Some online newsletters are starving for advertisers and can be low cost. Consider offline publications; A 3 – 5 line classified ad is low cost. Target publications that are specific to you and your software. Purchase a mailing list for direct mailing – a postcard with a brief description and your “free software trial” download URL. Walk around wearing a Sweatshirt with your Logo and domain everywhere you go – even when on Holiday! Avoid pay-per-click advertising as most are not worthy the service they provide. Supermarkets often offer free small ads for local residents within the store or provide a bulletin board for such. Some cable TV channels offer reasonable rates for a 5-second advertisement. Set aside money for advertising, 25% of your sales income is considered normal. As your sales grow, so will your advertising dollars.
> Advertising with Pay Per Click
We highly disapprove of PPC. While you may have experienced different results, we will relate to you OUR experience with using PPC. We have used several PPC services and the results was always, one of two: The click throughs that a service claimed to have sent, not one could be verified by our site stats. The other result that occured showed that every click through that did occur and verifiable as originating from the PPC service – the visitor stayed on our website no longer than one second, not even long enough for a webpage to load! This boosted page hits but resulted in zero sales. Page hits will not put bread on the table or money in your pocket, only sales will do that. If you would like to venture out and experiment with PPC by all means it is your time and money, we do not recommend using those services. If you have money to toss away – send it to us, you’ll get the exact same result as paying for PPC services, a hardy thank you and no sales.