Archive for the 'software' Category



Avoiding SaaS Customer Churn

Today’s VentureBeat guest post by Vishal Sankhla covers the topic of how to keep customer churn low in the SaaS business model. I definitely recommend checking out the article “The SaaS Churn Challenge: How to Hold Onto Your Customers”.

The crux of the issue is that in the SaaS business model, you invest up-front to acquire each customer, but you only get positive ROI from that customer if the customer lifetime value is high enough. In other words, you are counting on customers staying customers for longer than a few subscription periods. If your churn is too high, then you never make enough off each customer to cover the acquisition costs. That is a losing proposition for any SaaS business! The key is finding ways to maintain customer support and interaction while keeping those costs down.

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Should You Develop Mobile Apps for iOS or Android?

Currently, the leading platforms for mobile app developers are iPhone and iPad (ie, iOS devices) and Android smartphones and tablets. As a developer of mobile apps, do you choose one platform to focus your app development efforts on, or do you support both? And what about the other mobile platforms such as Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry?

In making that decision, do you look at which platform has the largest installed base? Or do you go by which platform is currently shipping the largest volume of units? Or what about which platform has the highest overall in-app usage time? The answers vary drastically depending on how you frame the question.

We published a summary of the mobile app market this month – it is available for download here.

Most of the published data on mobile share focuses on platform market share, which shows a rapid increase of Android compared to iOS. However, an article published by Business Insider in March instead considered the amount of actual time spent online as a proxy for app usage, which paints a very different picture with iOS clearly dominating.

The rapid rise in Android smartphone market share compared to the iPhone is clearly indicated in Silicon Alley Insider’s chart of the day from November 2011 which shows Android smartphones at 52.5% of the market, while iOS is less than 20%.

At first glance, this type of data may give a developer of mobile apps pause: Should one be prioritizing an Android version over iOS or vice versa?

With all the talk of platform market share, what many of us forget is that the relevant question is the market share of mobile app usage time. After all, that is what users will ultimately pay the app developer for. Silicon Alley Insider’s chart of the day from March 13 2012 instead tells the real story of Android versus iOS.

The chart from ComScore shows the digital traffic market share of connected devices by OS in the US – it’s a very different story than what’s told by the device platform market share where Android shipments are now dominating. When you look at it by digital traffic – the actual mobile Web usage – the picture changes, with iOS dominating at 60% and Android far behind at only 32%. Similarly, Net Applications finds iOS has a 4.4x larger web share than Android. On top of that, a number of studies have also found that iOS users are much more likely to pay for apps or make in-app purchases. On average, developers make 6x more on iOS apps for the equivalent app.

This data seems to clearly indicate that the first platform of choice for a mobile app should still be iOS.

So if you develop mobile apps, what choices do you make? Please vote in our poll:

Update your Business Plan for the New Decade

It’s now 2012… do you have an updated business plan or marketing plan to address the new decade?

If you’re a software company, the industry is changing with the move to SaaS, mobile apps, outsourcing and other trends. It’s important to make sure you have a current business plan to make sure you’re positioned to take optimal advantage of these changes.

Check the links to the right, and take advantage of our SaaS business plan template, or the Software Company business plan template, and get started optimizing your business today!

Quest Software SaaS Case Study

Check out this new case study on Quest Software’s transition from being a licensed software company to a SaaS firm. You have to have Gartner registration to access it, but if you do you can find the case study at www.gartner.com.

Quest moved to a SaaS-based log management offering. Their SaaS case study shows how significant the impact of moving to SaaS can be across the entire software business.

If you can’t access the Gartner case study, Microsoft also published their own case study about Quest Software’s move to SaaS earlier this year.

They’re both worth a read, if you’re a software company considering the move to a Cloud solution. For additional reading, check out this article about the important considerations when moving to a SaaS business model.

Update your Business Plan for the New Decade

New Year start business planning It’s now 2010… do you have an updated business plan or marketing plan to address the new decade?

If you’re a software company, the industry is changing with the move to SaaS, outsourcing and other trends. It’s important to make sure you have a current business plan to make sure you’re positioned to take optimal advantage of these changes.

Take advantage of our SaaS business plan template, or the Software Company business plan template, and get started optimizing your business today!

Software Business Case Study: eMASON

I just read the case study on ISV eMASON on SoftwareCEO this week. It’s an interesting example of a software company that managed to triple their business in 2009, despite the slow economy and turmoil in their target market of financial services.

How did they do it?

Basically, with a singular focus on quality and solving the customer pain point to the best ability, flexibility and easy customization, being really clear on their unique value, and making it as comprehensive as possible within the bounds of the single point of pain the application is solving.

I think we could all learn from these tips… bottom line:

  • understand your customer and feel their pain
  • know your unique value – what really distinguishes your solution from the competition
  • be fanatically customer-focused

The Trend Toward Marketing and Selling Software Online

As I’m sure any software marketer knows, more and more of the sales and marketing of software is happening online. Even for high-price enterprise software, much of the initial customer data gathering and lead generation is often done online. I wrote a recent page on Software-Marketing-Advisor with some key tips for selling software online.

In an article published today on MarketingProfs, “The Surprising Evolution of Online Marketing in Software Sales”, Jayson Gehri talks about the trends in software marketing online, and some tools that could be quite useful to software marketers looking to extend or simplify their online marketing efforts.

Selling software online is about two key things: First, clearly communicate the benefits to your customer (in language they understand, not geek-speak or feature lists). Second, allow the prospect to experience the software in as real a way as possible. Jayson’s article gives some useful pointers to making the most effective use of online software demos.

For some additional help with selling software online, take a look at our list of key tips here.

Why Having a Marketing Strategy Can Save You Money

When it comes to planning your marketing activities, do you take a strategic or a tactical approach?

Or in other words… Do you have a plan for how your marketing will really impact your customer purchase decisions? Or do you just “shoot from the hip” in your marketing decisions?

Too many companies fall into the second category, especially technology focused firms (to whom marketing may not be second nature).

It may seem like a waste of time to sit down and plan out your software marketing strategy, but the fact is that doing so will make your marketing signficantly more impactful and will save a lot in your marketing budget in the long run.

Trade shows are just one excellent example… they’re very expensive, but many tech companies continue with that large expense in their marketing budget just because “we always have” and “our competitors have a booth there.” Neither of those are good reasons, unless you’ve really done the strategic analysis of how your presence at the tradeshow can influence your customer purchase decisions in your favor.

Ask yourself whether the tradeshow is an important part of your software marketing plan. Maybe it is better to pass on the booth, and focus instead on networking and customer meetings during the show? If you don’t have a strategy, you will never know which is the better choice for your business…

Make your marketing work for you, by regularly updating your business plan and marketing strategy, and using that to prioritize your marketing activities. You can get a head start by using our templates for business and marketing planning for both traditional software companies and SaaS providers.

What’s the Best Training for Software Sales?

How important is software sales training? And what type of course or other training resource is the best choice?

Our question of the week over at Software Marketing Advisor is about recommended software sales training for selling offshore software services.

Obviously, the answer depends on what type of software you are selling. The approach to sales is very different if you are selling mission critical business applications versus a low-priced consumer internet software service.

Particularly for selling business software or software services, the most important thing to understand is that you are selling a solution to the customer’s problem, not just a piece of software. If you are looking for training options, look for a good solution selling option (whether or not it is about selling software).

Where do you start?

First, be crystal clear on the target customer for your solution… and don’t waste your time on leads that don’t fall into that segment.

Second, be a good listener. Learn to listen to your customer and recognize the phrases and concerns that indicate the types of problems that your software can address.

Third, know your software value proposition and unique selling proposition inside and out, and know how to communicate that to your customer after you hear them express the problem that you can solve.

Check out the rest of our response for more recommendations on specific software sales training.

The Changing Enterprise Software Model

Yesterday, a panel of software leaders discussed the direction of the enterprise software model at the InformationWeek 500 conference. You can read about it here.

The panelists agreed that the enterprise software model is making the shift toward SaaS rather than on-premise application deployments. This is dramatically impacting software sales cycles as I wrote about before, with processes that previously took weeks or months now taking less than a day.

Clearly, SaaS is the wave of the future for greenfield applications and enterprise solutions. But for most enterprise deployments, there’s a legacy infrastructure and business process to contend with. In many cases, that legacy will dictate an on-premise solution as the only realistic near-term model. And in cases where the legacy infrastructure can be transitioned or integrated with a SaaS solution, that integration will in many cases take significant time, cost and resources. This is going to create (and is creating) new business opportunities for vendors and service providers alike.

Read more about the software market transition to SaaS here.


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