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Excellent user feedback but sales still low, what am I doing wrong?

I developed a desktop application for Windows and I’m now trying to sell it.

User feedback are excellent, I receive encouraging emails from user saying that they have been waiting a tool like this for years, but the sales remain low (less than 10 sales per day).

I have a free version for personal use only, with some limitations, and a paid version that costs $9. The differences between the two versions are explained here:

http://www.nurgo-software.com/pricing/aquasnap

According to Google Analytics:

  • 28% of the visitors download the free version (about 100 downloads per day).
  • 2% of the visitors purchase the paid version (less than 10 sales per day).

I think that I need to do some advertising, but my first attempt with AdWords has been a waste of money.
I tried search ads and display ads with very limited results. For now I targeted only US.
I also tried YouTube ads with the video that you can see on the product home page. 23% of users watch the video, which seems not bad, but it don’t generate enough sales to be profitable.

What am I doing wrong?
What actions should I take to improve this?

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9 comments

  1. Moustache_Me_A_Question

    Its a cool product, but I would probably just end up being a free version user. I would just use the free version because it doesn’t seem to be an app that is necessary since I can click and drag the windows myself and resize them into position (I may be missing some other features). Although its handy, if I am resizing windows so I can see multiple things at once…its usually when I am about to work on something for awhile, so I don’t mind taking 15 seconds max to click and drag everything into place.

    However, I would highly recommend pitching the software to Microsoft. It is a feature that I think the executives over at Microsoft could stand behind as one of the many cool features of windows 10 which is coming out in the near future. I think that is where you could really make your money. Good Luck!

  2. I haven’t read all of the other answers, so these suggestions may have already been made. Here’ are my thoughts from looking at your site.

    General Advice

    1. You need to move your product landing page to the homepage.
    2. Not sure why there is an image of “Je Suis Charlie” on your product page?
    3. I would suggest removing the freeware version and turn it into a 7 day free-trial after which the customer will need to purchase a license.
    4. After doing #3, I would upload your product to the free software sites to get free exposure. (Ex: https://upload.cnet.com)

    Marketing Advice

    You’re overlooking the MOST IMPORTANT part of marketing, and that’s not collecting email addresses! You’re getting 100 downloads a day and the second these interested prospects leave your site you have no way of continuing a conversation with them!

    Here’s what your landing page should look like.

    **enter image description here**

    As soon as they enter their email I would redirect them to a page that says something like “we’ve just sent the download link to your email, etc”.

    Now you have their contact information and can follow up with them.

    Marketing (Re-Targeting)

    You should do some research into re-targeting. Here is a brief description if you’re not familiar with it.

    “Retargeting converts window-shoppers into buyers. Generally 2% of shoppers convert on the first visit to an online store. Retargeting brings back the other 98%. Retargeting works by keeping track of people who visit your site and displaying your retargeting ads to them as they visit other sites online.” – Source Adroll

    Retargeting costs pennies compared to traditional PPC advertising (adwords).

    If you need any further help, feel free to ask!

  3. You have two fundamental problems:

    1. You don’t present the user with an obvious, one-click process to switch AquaSnap from “free” mode to Professional mode.
    2. You aren’t collecting demographics and don’t have any way to engage with the users who are downloading your software. You rely entirely on them engaging with you.

    Once these are fixed, you can start looking at other issues such as exposure and customer education.

    I think your website does an excellent job of illustrating what your product does. Anyone who has ever struggled to resize and arrange two or more windows just right on their desktop will immediately recognize AquaSnap’s value, whether or not they have 4K displays. (In fact, I’d say those who have lower-resolution displays need the pro features even more.) These are the people you should target first because they are the low-hanging fruit. Those who don’t recognize the value immediately may just need to let it simmer in the backs of their minds for a while.

    You have the right formula, and maybe even the right balance of features for the Professional version of AquaSnap. The remaining gap that you need to bridge is that of getting people to try the features in AquaSnap Professional. It wasn’t clear to me whether you even offer a trial of the pro version, though you did promptly send me a trial when I inquired via e-mail. The trial request and activation process should be seamless to the user, and ideally it should be integrated into the software itself.

    You actually include more features than I expected in the free version, which could be either good or bad depending on whether any one of those features address a major pain point and would have driven a significant number of users to buy licenses. Those extra features on their own wouldn’t have driven me, personally, to buy the Pro version; but on the other hand, they may have convinced me to use AquaSnap over WinSplit Revolution.

    As I mentioned in my answer to your other question, you need a fully-automated, streamlined trial activation and follow-up process for the pro version. Require the user to supply and confirm an e-mail address prior to trial activation, and send several strategically-timed follow-up e-mails to solicit feedback while the user is engaged with the product. The follow-up also serves as a reminder to use the software, in case the user installed it and forgot about it. Keep in mind that the more you can automate this process, the easier it will be to engage with users. The process should go something like this:

    1. User downloads and installs AquaSnap.
    2. At some point, the user supplies an email address and clicks a button in the software to activate the Professional features in trial mode.
    3. A license key is automatically emailed to the user, and the user enters it into the software to activate the trial.
    4. After 2-3 days, follow up with the user via e-mail.
    5. After 7 days, follow up again with the user via e-mail.
    6. After the trial period expires, follow up again via e-mail. The next time the software is run, it should notify the user that the trial has ended and should provide an easy way to either purchase or extend the trial by filling out a brief survey (3-7 questions).

    Note: much of the discussion below is copied or adapted from my answer to your other question.

    Competitors

    Your competitors are WinSplit Revolution (free) and DisplayFusion (freemium). Look at what they do to promote their products. I prefer WinSplit over DisplayFusion because of WinSplit’s more intuitive keyboard shortcuts, but I bought DisplayFusion purely because of the multi-monitor taskbar (which worked much better than the free MultiMon Taskbar). AquaSplit seems to offer several features which either replace or complement those of these other products.

    Who are you targeting?

    The typical Windows user may not be sophisticated enough to need AquaSnap, especially if they’ve committed themselves to using Windows 8’s Metro/Modern UI and rarely use Desktop mode. I suspect that more than 90% of software developers running Windows will immediately recognize AquaSnap’s value. You’re almost guaranteed to achieve some level of success if you target that group first.

    But then again, I could be wrong and maybe a bunch of managers or non-software office workers are downloading the free version. Collect some basic demographic information on your users via short surveys before or after each download.

    Freeloaders will not purchase regardless of what you do, and many people will casually abuse your “free for personal use” policy. Your goal is to identify the people who need the advanced features, and convince them that those features are worth the asking price.

    You can run various experiments to see what types of advertising and promotions give you the most bang for your buck. With the advent of social media and deal-sharing sites, any targeted promotion may get more exposure than you expect, so make sure you’re prepared for this possibility.

    Conversion

    The trick to convert someone from free to premium is that you must get exactly the right balance of free vs. paid features. If the free version isn’t functional enough to be very useful on a day-to-day basis, people won’t get hooked on it. It looks to me as though you’ve done that, but it isn’t clear to me from your website whether I can get a trial of your premium product, even for 14 or 30 days.

    These days, if there’s a piece of software that I find useful for work and it costs less than $30, it doesn’t even pay to think about it after I’ve used a fully-functional trial–I just have my employer buy it for me. If I can’t try the software first, that’s an immediate deal-killer. If it’s priced above my impulse-purchase threshold, I may hesitate but as long as it provides significantly more value than the free alternatives, it doesn’t pay to spend much time thinking about it. Examples: DisplayFusion, SnagIt, BeyondCompare.

    Ideally I would just run a series of different experiments whose sole purpose is to gain exposure, and track your exposure with Google Analytics (or similar) to see what works. Make a 30-day trial publicly available. After the premium trial expires, revert back to free mode but allow the user to extend the premium mode at least one time. This reminds the user that there is some additional problem that the premium version solves, but also reminds the user that you he or she is using the premium features on borrowed time.

    If the paid features aren’t valuable enough to support the asking price, then the customer will be turned off and will go back to using the free version or will look for a cheaper competing product.

  4. Without knowing more of your metrics and what’s driving traffic, it’s hard to know whether the figures you quote are good, bad or indifferent. So my suggestions carry a health warning.

    What is this thing?

    When I visit your site, I need to know in a couple of seconds, is this for me? You’re proud of what you’ve made, and you want me to know all about it. That’s understandable, but mistaken. It’s especially problematic when I see your pricing choices. I need to be an expert in your product to work out which edition is for me. That doesn’t help me, and that means you’re not helping yourself.

    So I would be looking to ditch the headline “window management made easy,” and replace that with something that resonates with a group of users who have a problem you can help solve. In the process, you may remove, or at least de-emphasize, a bunch of features that don’t tell the story. To make good decisions, you need to reach out to your users, and do customer development. Find out how they’re using your app (ideally, also bake in a bit of instrumentation so that the app is periodically phoning home with usage data so you can build up an objective picture) by asking open questions. Find out why they are using a PC. Find out, if they’ve paid, whether they are expensing it.

    Of course, there are lots of potential use cases and types of users. But for now, you need to find one group where you are making a significant difference that makes them want to give you money. Focusing helps you make decisions, do effective marketing, build partnerships and so much more. Start with a niche, and a headline and presentation that speaks to them, and grow out from there.

    The Freeware Trap

    People have strong opinions on this subject, so you’re welcome to mine, but please shop around, because I’m not going to be nuanced.

    Freeware makes zero sense for an app like this (in my opinion). Do what works: offer a free trial of a paid app. If you’re creating value, but you’re not creating a community (which you might monetise in other ways), ask for money. The people who don’t value your app enough to pay can do without, and the vanity metric of free users is the sticking plaster over the problem of supporting customers you have educated to expect great stuff for nothing.

    You’re at an early stage, and if this is a change you need to make, it’s going to get harder as you go on. So bite the bullet, make the current version the last freeware release, and get a paid, short free trial version out soonest.

    Become shareable

    As far as I can see, you have implemented a gazillion features, but not a single way for one user to recruit another. If your pricing is right, you need a low cost channel. And the best is your user base.

    Again, customer development is important, as is instrumenting your app. My instant thoughts for promising avenues to explore are these:

    1. Become visible
      • Your site parades your problem: to show that I’m using your app and what that feels like, I need to show someone who’s standing by me, or deliberately capture and share a video sequence of using your app. And that’s not going to happen at all often.
      • So your objective is to become visible by default whenever I share my screen or share a screenshot. Find a way to do that clearly. And if the only way you can find is a little bit annoying to users, offer an in-app upgrade to remove that branding.
    2. Become shareable
      • Let’s suppose that you find out from customer development that software engineers are an important group of users. That kind of user (a) likes to share cool stuff, and (b) isn’t afraid of, say, config files or a little bit of scripting
      • So if you had an API, you could also maintain (or let users maintain) a library of useful files that help people get the benefit of your product quickly – for instance, maybe Visual Studio users have complex UI issues. Anyone who shares a file of their own, or shares a link to a file, is advertising your utility.
      • This is one niche example. But you need to find your first niche, and find a great answer to the question, “how do I enable sharing, in a way that makes happy users my primary marketing channel?”

    Become valuable

    The desktop app market is reasonably healthy, but it’s not the central space it once was. So there’s a good chance that from a personal point of view, your best option may be to establish a market for your app to prove its value, and to sell it to a company that has scale and scope economies to become their next hit product.

    The rule of thumb for a successful trade sale is demonstrate value, and leave something on the table for the acquirer.

    Paying customers is your primary demonstration of value right now, but I would want to deepen that connection. Instrumenting the app (as I’ve mentioned before) adds value – customer use data (handled with care with regard to ethical and privacy issues) is a whole new level. And I would definitely add real life user stories. Discovering the value people are telling you they are getting from your app is a way to change the sale negotiation from a revenue multiple to something that factors in the business plan potential.

    Good luck. There are lots of people out there who have created desktop apps that have gone nowhere. You have created a viable business which has the potential to step up a couple of gears. To get there, you need to focus hard on the business angle, and be ready to experiment, find what works, and keep pressing forward.

  5. Yes I think you need to take care of some points while tackling these kinds of issues in the business
    Take the following few points into consideration first these will definitely help you

    1. Check your website it should attract the people and less confusing

    2. Try to understand the basics of the Customer Lifecycle

    3. Try to follow best practices of the Advertising

    This may help you

    http://blog.canvass.in/2014/09/05/customer-lifecycle-marketing/

  6. Here are some critiques, hope they help you:

    • I don’t know anything about your company / software, and when I visit your homepage, it’s not clear within “15 secswhat your product is and what it does.
      • You should identify main landing pages and make sure they do a great job of explaining your company and product to the customer within “15 seconds or less“. Images are better at explaining than words.
      • The huge homepage banner space is wasted on a meaningless template image. I’d put up a banner slider. It should contain stuff that would peak the visitor’s interest – product details, company background, special offers, how many times product has been downloaded etc ..
    • There are too many navigation items – Home doesn’t contain anything really, Products and Download are the same, Support & Company tabs both contain Contact Us etc. All of this is distracting and confusing.

      • Make it a product oriented site. If possible a single page website. Then the users have to click less to browse around. Your website is a sales pitch. Its intent is to funnel visitors to the pay button & checkout as quickly as possible. Reduce everything else. Identify your funnel – it could go something as -> Inform the visitor -> Gain the trust -> Checkout -> Payment.
      • I’d throw the support / forum / contact us links to the bottom bar. These after sales service items are distractions from the main product sales pitch IMO.
    • How can I TRUST you and give you my money?

      • Where is your company “About Us”?
      • If you have so many testimonials, put them up! I’d suggest a block that is repeated on all pages. This is your gold. You must use it! Do as much as possible to draw the eyes to it. Gold star rating, dynamic updating etc. Positive reviews from other people is a proven way of increasing your social trust level and conversions.
  7. Can you add more flexibility for bulk purchases? You hate a site license, but thats a fixed rate. Maybe offer more than 5 users a 10% discount, 25 users, 20% discount, over 50 users, 50% discount or something like that.

    I feel that your target audience is a small business that uses PCs. They may be more willing to buy more licenses for the small office if it seems like they are getting a deal. They need to buy more than 50 to get a discount and that seems like too many users to have before a discount kicks in.

  8. As per my understanding the ratios are good.

    You should try to bring targeted customers to your site. Targeted customers will increase profit and sales ratios.

    Use your home page to describe the product as you have done on the product page.

  9. I only looked very briefly at your site, but based on the question I think you’re on the right track and just need a nudge in the right direction.

    The good is, you’re actually measuring and you know your conversion rates: 28% download the freebie, and 2%, which is to say 7% of the latter group, purchase it.

    The bad might be that you aren’t aware of why these conversion rates are occurring. (There’s also a typo in your price list: “Strandard” should be “Standard”.)

    At any rate, before you waste any more money on ads, try to figure out the aha! moments related to both conversion rates — and optimize accordingly.

    With respect to your current approach:

    1. Which specific features are the ones that make things tick and prompt visitors to hit the download button?

      (Your download rate, by the way, is already high by some standards. But you never know — there might be some wiggle room to improve things regardless, or at least some insights to gain.)

      Experiment with your sales copy to determine this. Either use the same copy for all visitors for a day or two, or a different copy for a certain percentage of users for a few days in a row. The idea here is to collect a reasonably meaningful sample.

      Try to identify which features and parts of your landing page are most important or can be improved: try changing the feature order, try hiding some features, and so forth. Which one makes them go straight for the download button? Is it dynamic layout? Window snapping? Window stretching?…

      While you’re at it, review the other elements of your landing page. Does watching the video yield more conversion or less? Would a different video improve things? Does the page convert better without the video? When it’s to the left? To the right? Would there be room to try to capture the emails of your visitors? And so forth.

    2. Which specific features actually turned out to be useful, and interesting enough to prompt a sale?

      Determine which set of features the users run into before they buy the software.

      Can they temporarily try all features in the free version to get a feel of the difference?

      Assuming you need to enter some kind of API key that unlocks the app, or that the app monitors for updates, you can do this while calling home: track which features got used during the first day, during the first week, and before entering an API key.

      Your goal here is to try to locate patterns: if users have a higher conversion rate when they’ve used one or two particular features, you want to know about it.

    3. Then, provide an animated intro/welcome screen upon completing the installation.

      It should deliver clearcut, to the point instructions, and a picture or animation (the ones on your site should be good enough).

      The point here is, walk new users into trying and using the features that will maximize the probability that they’ll open their wallets.

      Allow users to opt out of this onboarding, of course — most will go through it if it’s short and entertaining.

    While you work through the above, also ask your existing users and clients: What was the tipping point for them? What made them want to try the product? What made them want to buy it? Don’t do this using a web-based survey. Have a chat with a dozen or three of them instead — by phone or Skype, to keep things interactive.

    While you do this, try to figure out why they needed the product. What pain point did it solve for them? Can you identify patterns in there? As in, some work in very similar niche markets, or needed it because of some very specific piece of software and a very specific feature or two made a world of difference, and so forth?

    Once you get a very good sense of the precise problems that they’re trying to solve by purchasing your product, you’ll be ripe to retry ads. Because, you’ll have a much better understanding of what is going on in a potential buyer’s head vs a freebie user’s head, and therefor why you should target some keywords but not others — and with what teaser.

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