How to Promote Software – Everything You Need to Know
How to promote a software created by a technology startup? The times when it was enough to make an interesting product that will “promote itself” thanks to recommendations from other users are long gone. The “referral software” or “word of mouth marketing” strategies are not enough anymore. So, what else you can do?
Software advertising usually requires creativity, especially when it comes to content creation and selection of slogans. There are certain advertising tools you can use and it’s worth testing them. In the case of startups, investment in advertising, regardless of its scale, often doesn’t pay off. Costs don’t translate directly into revenue. However, you should know, that as long as you have the budget and the application acquires new users, the investment makes sense.
It’s extremely unlikely that the software you’ve created, especially at its early stage, won’t need any advertising to gain popularity. But even if yes, users are the key to spread the information about it. Reaching new customers should give you exponential growth.
Considering software marketing, we can limit it to a few points that matter:
- Advertising content – why the user should use the software and how it differs from others,
- Ways of communication – the more varied, the better. We are talking about video, infographics, e-books, presentations, etc.
- Distribution channels – tools and advertising channels that allow you to pass the content to end-users.
Based on my experience, I know that each of these elements is independent and must be precise and well-prepared.
Advertising slogans for your software
I’ve seen applications that changed their main page slogans every few months. It’s not a good solution and has nothing to do with a well-prepared marketing plan. Your home page should include a short, catchy slogan with a clear message. It doesn’t have to explain how your startup works. Instead, focus on the benefits of using it. If you can easily insert another brand’s name in place of yours, it means that the slogan is not distinctive enough. Underneath the catchphrase, there may be a slightly longer explanation of the app features and again, the benefits of using it.
On the other hand, testing different messages in distributed advertising content makes more sense. Especially in the case of remarketing or content marketing.
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Ways of communicating software advertising content
You can use various means of communication to allow potential users to get to know the tool you offer:
- Paid advertising
The content you create should justify the value your application provides to the user. The way of communication should be accessible and take into account the stage of development of the industry your software operates in. Do you have to explain what it is for (an innovative product)? Is it better to focus on its basic features (users are highly aware of expectations)? Or maybe, first of all, you need to refer to its main functionality (product better than the competition)?
Analysis of distribution channels
This is an equally important element of the marketing strategy. Distribution channels are used to spread information about your product. However, you need to combine several factors into one:
- Analysis of the sources of entries to the website where you advertise your software – I recommend Google Analytics and Amplitude for this;
- Analysis of conversion to registration (setting up an account in the software) depending on the entry source;
- Analysis of the transition from a user who has registered to a user who actively uses the application. However, first, it’s worth defining what does an active user mean.
- Analysis of the transition from an active user to a paid user. This is justified primarily by the concept of issuing a free, limited version of the software or allowing its users to test it during a trial period.
Following the right statistics is the key to success. You should start by creating an effective process of passing the results to your team members. Based on the analytics you can make many decisions related to the marketing of your application.
Which distribution channels provide the best results?
In the case of software advertisement, there are a few crucial channels of reaching end-users:
- Podcasts (Spotify, Soundcloud, iTunes – Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Podbean, Anchor, Libsyn)
- Articles on the blog
- Guest and sponsored articles
- Mailing (including newsletter)
- Video channels (e.g. Youtube, Vimeo)
- Social media and forums (e.g. Facebook Groups, Quora, Reddit)
- Market places offering software similar to yours (np. G2Crowd, Capterra, Product Hunt, Alternativeto)
The role of Content Marketing in the software’s marketing
Based on my 10 years of experience, I consider Content Marketing and SEO to be among the most important methods of reaching users. Search engines, mainly Google, provide their users with the content they expect. That is why they are more willing to show them blog pages full of valuable content than advertising homepages (because they earn money on paid search results).
You can build your content marketing on a few basic principles. Create content that:
- Is simply useful – for example, The list of top pages where you can …
- Compares your product with those of your competitors – for example, An alternative to …
- Responds to the most frequently asked questions from users– for example: How to integrate with…
- Presents you as an expert in your field – for example, use titles starting from: How to … Why … How to …
If you think about a long-term strategy, the sooner you start writing articles that are useful for your customers, the quicker you will observe the results (in this case, an increase in active users).
Paid ads – is it worth to invest in them?
It depends. What is the purpose of your advertising campaign? If you want to scale up the business and gain more users, paid ads can help quickly. If you want to make higher profits, then maybe focus on cheaper ways of advertisement. If you have a lot of traffic, you can just focus on marketing.
When to advertise your application through paid channels:
- When your main goal is to attract new users;
- When you want to quickly test your advertising slogans;
- When you want to quickly test new features and functions;
- When you experience low organic traffic;
- When you want to build a sales funnel and test different channels;
- When you want to assess how much does it cost you to gain users from different channels.
The quality of your software remains the most important element
You can have an amazing website and great marketing. Your application can be tested by hundreds of people every day. But if nobody wants to buy it, or at least actively use it, your business doesn’t make sense. It needs to show the potential for scalable user growth.
Stick to the principle that it’s the marketing that exists for the product, not the other way around.