Web Software Marketing

Ten Top Strategies for Marketing Your Software Online

I was asked recently "what is the best web software marketing or advertising strategy for a small software company?"  I responded with these top ten strategies. Regardless of your niche, your approach should include both software marketing online as well as offline marketing tactics. I'll touch on online strategies here. If your software product is sold primarily via the web, then you can also take a look at these tips for selling software online.

Finally, remember that these web software marketing tactics should be just one component of your larger marketing plan and strategy. 

For business software, use of the internet as the primary B2B marketing medium is growing, as B2B buyer survey data shows the internet is the main influence in their purchase decision, emphasizing the important of having a crisp B2B internet marketing strategy. What are some good resources and tips for web software marketing? Well, here's my list (your mileage may vary, depending on your niche and specific target customer):

  1. Author a blog. Having a blog will help build your credibility and visibility in your particular niche. Three important things to remember: keep it content rich, keep the selling to a minimum (direct them to your website or other contact medium for the sales pitch), and make sure it is updated frequently so your visitors stay interested and keep coming back for more.
  2. Post in blogs, forums, discussion groups. If you do this, it is critical to keep your posts useful to the audience, concise, and relevant to the question/discussion at hand. Avoid any marketing or selling hyperbole - that is only going to backfire on you or may get you blacklisted in the forum.
  3. Write an article. There are a couple of approaches to this, depending on your goals: If you have deep or otherwise valuable expertise in your niche or area of specialty (relevant to your product or service, of course) then consider authoring an article for one of the online (vertical industry or horizontal technology such as ZDNet.com) sites in your field. This type of article is not going to be a venue for direct advertising (typically links to your site or product within the article body would be a no-no) but usually these sites allow an author bio or resource box that can briefly describe your company and link back to your site. This can be an effective web software marketing strategy to get you and your product credibility and visibility. The downside to this is that many of these online content sites have several months lead-time to publish your article, and they may be quite selective in what they publish and from which authors. Before you send in an article, check their website to see how many articles are published by guest or contributing authors versus staff writers. If you are writing a more general article, don't want to wait weeks to months to get your article published, or don't yet have the writing skills or technical credibility to publish in one of the online content sites or magazines in your niche, then consider publishing a brief article in one of the online article directories. I find eZineArticles.com is excellent, and your article will be live within days. You can include a resource box where you can have a description of your company or product or service, and one or two relevant links.
  4. Issue an online press release: Press releases can be done very cost-effectively, but do make sure you have something newsworthy to say, focus on a single message, and make sure your release is concise and well-written.
  5. Advertise online: for example, Google AdWords can be doable for small companies without a big web software marketing budget.

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6. Participate in a webinar. Many of the online magazines and content sites do regular webinars or podcasts with vendors presenting to a online business audience. If it's directed at the right target customer, this could be a very useful vehicle to get the word out in more detail about your product, especially if it's one that benefits from a demo early in the sales cycle. You usually also have access to a list of participants and contact information to follow up with them directly. Alternatively, you could organize your own web conferencing presentation using a number of easy-to-use hosted solutions.

7. Participate in an online virtual trade show. Trade shows are traditionally a useful venue for vendors to demo and advertise their wares. But there can be a lot of expense involved in getting a booth or advertising space, and traveling to a traditional trade show, not to mention the time involved. There are a number of sites hosting online virtual trade shows now, together with online presentations and virtual booths that attendees can "visit".

8. Publish in an online software directory. Find one that is relevant to your niche. There are a number of good ones out there for everything from shareware download sites, to web software marketing directories with vendor/application blurbs and contact info for higher-priced B2B offerings.

9. Publish an e-zine or newsletter via email. But whatever you do make sure it's opt-in: subscribers should sign up on your website or blog, you could reach out to Webinar participants, include a link in an article you write, etc.

10. Write a white paper. The strategy is similar to writing an article, but a white paper can be more explicitly about your company and product or service offering, together with some customer case studies and benefits. You don't need to go to the expense of having a large print job of glossy papers produced - just turn it into a PDF, and there are many online sites that have a section for relevant vendor white papers to download. Find a site that is in your niche, directed at your target customer audience.

How to Plan Your Web Software Marketing

To figure out which web software marketing strategies are best for your product or service, try putting yourself in your target customers' shoes for a minute. Think about how they get their information about software or solutions: what online ezines do they read? what forums do they frequent? If you don't know, then I suggest you take some time to further refine your marketing strategy by talking to current or potential customers before you spend time, energy and money on mis-directed marketing or advertising.

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