Software Marketing Survival Guide: Tip #4 – Sharpening Your Shareware Conditions

By offering trial-ware versions of their commercial products, software developers are not only improving the marketability of existing or new applications but are providing value to customers and prospects as well. But these offerings do also have their own set of special issues. This blog post takes a hard look at the factors to consider when setting the terms and conditions for use of your shareware.

Shareware and Its Usefulness. In principle, sharewares exist to help your end-users make the decision to buy your product. But this doesn’t seem to be the case in reality. As much as a fifth of software users make their buying decisions without ever downloading or acquiring the demo versions. In your end of the spectrum, however, shareware can help grow your IT contact database, so it pays to always include this feature in your terms of use.

Constant reminders. Around three quarters of shareware users actually register for the full version within 48 hours from downloading. Nonetheless, this still calls for persistent registration or purchase reminders early on and throughout the trial period. Aside from the built-in reminder mechanism, you should also send notification emails to shareware users in your contact database.

Crack Down on Crack. Software cracking is the biggest threat you face in offering shareware. Cracks eat up about a third of software revenues each year. Use measures like mandatory product activation and strict email verification for users in your contact database to avoid unwittingly turning your shareware into open-ware.

Strategic Distribution. Decide how to distribute your shareware products carefully. Choose only the top online shareware repositories as these sites are generally trusted by users. Also, promote your trial-ware products to the right audience such as those in your subscriber list or from a reputable contact database service provider.

Providing shareware is a great way to market your products, but it’s not without its downsides. That’s why the above points highlight the need for special care in coming up with your terms and conditions for use. On the next post, we’ll be shifting our focus toward another value-added marketing tool for software companies. You don’t want to miss it.