How to Sell Software Online

Do you need help with how to sell software online?

Perhaps you're wondering what types of software are best to sell online?

Where are the best websites to sell software online?

In this post, I try to answer your questions about how to sell software online, and give seven steps to follow to improve your online software sales.

What is different about selling software online?

You may be wondering how is selling software online different from selling any other ecommerce product? One of the common questions I get from consulting clients is how to sell software online versus direct sales.

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In a nutshell, it really isn't very different: You still need to understand your target customer and what problem or need your software is addressing. You still need to worry about branding, messaging, and how to reach your audience. And you still need to be able to communicate your USP (unique selling proposition) to get them to buy.

But there are two ways in which selling software is a little different from selling other products - the first may be obvious, and the second is a little more subtle, but both are important:

  1. Where you sell software online: software is often sold through app stores, download sites, or your own website, rather than via the popular ecommerce platforms which are designed primarily for physical products.
  2. How you communicate the value: software developers are engineers, and often make the mistake of focusing on the technology (software features or the underlying technology used) rather than on the customer benefits. 

Where to sell software online

There are various sales models for how to sell software online, and which is best for your will depend on what type of software you sell, your target market, and your technical ability or desire to support your customer directly. Your options include:

  • Sell your software directly on your own website
  • List your app in one of the app stores
  • List your software on a download site
  • Use a third-party ecommerce platform

Sell software directly from your website

The advantage to selling your software directly from your website is that you have much more control over the purchase and delivery process, and you get to keep more of the profits. However, this is also the most complex and support-intensive option.

Sell software in an app store

Particularly for mobile software, selling via an app store may be your best option. For example, the Apple Store for iOS apps, and the Google Play Store for Android software.

Sell software via a download site

Download sites are a common option if you are selling standalone desktop software, for example. They handle all of the payment and download logistics, but in return they will keep a portion of the software sale. There are many download sites available - this article gives a good list.

Sell using a third-party ecommerce platform

It is also possible to sell software via popular ecommerce platforms, such as Shopify,  GumRoad and Selz.  This article gives quite a comprehensive list

Seven steps: how to sell software online

If you're planning to sell your software online, here are the seven steps you need to follow to do so successfully:

1. Select Your Payment Gateway

Sign up for Paypal and Stripe so you can accept both Paypal and credit or debit card payments online.  You can also sign up for Amazon Pay to accept payments from Amazon customers.

2. Select Your eCommerce Platform

You can choose to sell through your own website, or use a third-party ecommerce platform such as Shopify, FastSpring or Selz.

3. Select Your Delivery Platform

After your customer pays, how are they going to receive your software?  You have a few different options:

  • Manual delivery, where you follow up with the customer after payment to arrange software delivery.
  • Download directly from your website. This is the most seamless experience for the customer, but requires more integration and support on your side.
  • Use a digital download platform. There are various sites which can manage the payment and delivery side, such as SendOwl, PayLoadz, and E-Junkie.

4. Define Your Target Customers & Pain Point

What need is your software fulfilling for your target customer? On your website, blog or social media, write articles and posts to address these customer needs and answer questions. These articles should not be directly selling your software. Instead, focus on "preselling" - write content that helps your target audience and creates credibility for you and your company as a trusted resource in your segment.

5. Demonstrate How Your Software Solves Their Pain

Your website should include videos and/or demos that clearly show a target customer how your software will solve their problem. Don't focus on software features. Instead, focus on the customer, their pain, and the solution. When you do it correctly, purchasing your software will naturally follow.

6. Ease Your Customer's Anxiety

Online sales are tricky: your customer does not know you or your company. It doesn't take much for a prospective customer to get cold feet and abandon their shopping cart. Do as much as you can to show that you are a real person/team, a real company, and have policies in place that protect your customers:

  • Have a phone number, physical address, as well as email address on your website.
  • Include something about you and/or your team in your "About Us" page - it needs to be more than a faceless Contact Us form.
  • Include a clearly visible privacy policy and refund policy, preferably with a money-back guarantee. It may seem counter intuitive, but for a digital product it is best to have a longer money-back guarantee period: make it 120 days, and by the time they get to the end of that four-month period they have already invested enough time and data in your software that they will be less inclined to leave.

7. Keep Your Customer Engaged

This is especially true if you have a subscription product. Your job is not done when the customer makes that first purchase of your product. You should have an email sequence to get them engaged with your software, offer tips, and provide upsell or cross-sell opportunities. Make sure that you gather feedback, review and respond to customer comments, and track social media mentions.

Next Step: Plan Your Sales & Marketing Strategy

Now that you understand how to sell software online, the next step is to plan your software sales and marketing strategy. We provide a software marketing package here that will give you the templates and guidance you need to develop your custom software marketing plan.

Or, contact us for guidance on how to sell software online - we offer consulting and coaching services to help with software sales, marketing, and business strategy.