[Note: this article was automatically posted from a blog feed. The original post can be found at http://www.riverblade.co.uk/blog.php?archive=2008_11_01_archive.xml#6038862617467492847].
Last night's reception at Maximilian's restaurant on Friedrichstraße was great fun. Good food, great beer (I particularly liked the Berliner Weiß) and fantastic company.
After breakfast we set up our stand in the sponsor's area (complete with the usual last minute presentation edits). A rather large ice bucket (of all things!) was provided by the hotel for us to collect business cards from delegates.
There are two tracks for much of this year's conference, which indicates how much the ESWC has grown since we first attended in 2006.
Software Architecture (Hartmut Kaiser - MSDN)
This year's keynote had an all-encompassing title which rather unfortunately revealed nothing of the actual subject matter at first glance.
Harmut's introduction suggested that the session would be about what Microsoft are doing to provide tools/support to assist ISVs in design/architecture. In practice I found it a bit directionless, and by the time the SaaS (yawn!) buzzword came up I had pretty much tuned out.
I also couldn't help thinking that the existance the job title of "Software Architect" is diametrically opposed to the principles of agile software development. Separating the process of architecture/design from development is just asking for trouble. But then, that's just my view (and probably that of most ACCU members.... )
Mobile Web Adoption (Jon von Tetzchner - Opera)
The second session of the day focused on mobile web adoption. It was a rather interesting insight into the background and operations of Opera as a technology lead company - I certainly didn't realise how pervausive their products are in the mobile world!
Increasing Conversions (Aston Fallon - AskNet).
As the first session ran well over time, we lost our morning break and went straight into the next session. As we have no particular interest in Paypal APIs (taking place on the other track at the same time) this one was the logical choice.
Aston discussed issues affecting the effectiveness of e-commerce solutions (e.g localisation, local payment preferences etc.), along with some potential ways to increase conversion rates:
Software Marketing Myths
- Improved usability (both product and website/store). e.g. using Ajax to provide a more interactive interface to the store and reduce page load times
- Subscriptions, which of course raise issues such as how to handle automatic renewals, cancellations, upgrades/downloads etc., but provide the potential for much more pro-active communications with the customer and increased revenue predictability.
(Sharon Housley - NotePage/Adriana Iordan - Avangate)
This session aimed to debunk some of the more common myths among ISVs:
- "Customers will wait until the end of the trial before purchasing". Apparently, the majority of customers actually purchase with 24 hours of downloading a trial. Interestingly, we don't see that ourselves (possibly because the developer tools market is somewhat atypical). In addition, many (20% was quoted) customers purchase without ever evaluating a trial version. The obvious lesson here is to place "Buy Now" buttons everywhere to capture impulse purchases.
- "More traffic is better" - it is actually better to have targeted traffic.
- "Build it and they will come" - no, they won't. You really do need to learn how to market your product effectively.
- "You cannot sell to the same customer twice". Existing customers are actually your best asset, so use them effectively.
- "Our customers are honest". People can be rather good at finding justifications for behaviour they know is wrong. Keep an eye out for cracks of your product, and break them (but don't put huge amounts of effort into defeating pirates a it is a distraction from what you really should be focusing on).
- "More marketing email subscribers is better". No. Segment your marketing, tune and use emails sensibly.
- "Submit your url to thousands of websites"
- "Meta tags are the key to higher rankings". Content is king, today (particularly with Google).
- "Automated submission tools can help your link popularity". That used to work, but today it is better to cultivate links from relevant sites in your niche.
- "AdWords is not effective for small software developers". If it isn't working, in most cases it is because either it is not being managed effectively or the site and/or software are not encouraging conversions.
- "If you have good rankings in google, you don't need AdWords"
- "Social networking sites are for teenagers and personal use". Just look at how Mozilla used it to promote Firefox...
- "A/B testing is complex and expensive". Not necessarily - and tools such as Google Website Optimiser make it even easier.
- "I have tracking code on my website, so I know web analytics". You really need to look into how your visitors behave, and why. Optimise your content and use analytics to measure its effectiveness.
- "If it works for my competition it will work for me as well". Every product is different, and although there will be similarities you really need to tailor your approach to your product.
- "No feedback is good feedback". This is definitely not true - for example the feedback (good or bad) we've had from developers has been instrumental in improving our product and guiding its development to fit their needs.
After a quick but relaxed lunch we met up with Mike Dulin of Shareware Radio
to do an interview for a podcast (we did our first one at ESWC 2006, so this was a pretty relaxed follow-up). Mike is quite a character, as you'll know if you've met him...
The Russian Software Market: Is It Worth Attention?
(Eugenia Kolobukhova - Latte-PR)
If there is a theme at this year's conference it is reaching out into international markets. With that in mind, Eugenia Kolobukhova's session was rather enlightening:
- Localisation (of both product websites and software) is very important if you intend to sell products into the Russian market.
- The Russian software market is growing rapidly - it has doubled in value since 2005.
- The use of PCs and the internet is expanding rapidly.
- More is being spent on software in the corporate sector.
- Electronic distribution of software is increasingly accepted.
- The corporate attitude to piracy is changing. At least 50% of Russian companies now use only legal software.
- Unlike the USA and Western Europe, resellers play a big part in the Russian software market - key ones being Softkey and Allsoft.
She also gave several useful links:
Expanding into East Europe and Asia
(Tetyana Franke - Share-It!)
Tetyana first discussed trends in online shopping, before going on to give some tips on how to approach these particular markets.
Some statistics first:
- 60% of Share-It's European sales are in Germany, the United Kingdom and France, but there is currently rapid growth in the Czech Republic and Poland.
- In Central and Eastern Europe, Poland, Greece, Czech Republic and Russia represent the bulk of the market.
- Japan, India and South Korea together represent 50% of the Asian software market.
The tips she gave included:
5.30pm Business Conditions in Russia
- Localise your product and website (no surprises there, really!)
- Special offers/discounts.
- Cultivate links from price comparison sites (I'm assuming that this applies to the B2C market only).
- Offer payment options appropriate to each region.
- Add interactive content to allow users to post/share product tips.
- In Japan and Korea in particular, use blogs and social networks to build product awareness.
- Use testimonials as sales tools.
- To prevent fraud, accept only protected credit cards.
(Aleksey Savkin - AKS-Labs)
This session effectively duplicated the content of Eugenia Kolobukhova's session earlier in the day. Nevertheless, it was still pretty useful.
His points included:
- B2B products are far more likely to succeed in Russia than B2C.
- There is currently very poor broadband penetration among consumers in particular.
- There is real money in the oil and gas industries, as well as the financial sector.
- Piracy is rife, but affects consumer products far more than business ones.
- Buying a .ru domain is important.
- The most popular search engines are Google and Yandex.
- Buying links/catalog submission still works with Yandex and Rambler (= spam in results)
- Credit cards are not used widely.
- Buying software is a beaurocratic process - something you really want to leave to your payment processor. Hence, it pays to use one with experience in the Russian market.
- Find a local partner (e.g. ISDEF or Russian ASP members).
- Use local partners to write/send press releases etc.
- Submit product PAD files to Russian sites (e.g. using submit-everywhere.com) and outsource marketing and SEO services
It was a long day, but a worthwhile one. By the time we'd finished, I badly needed to unwind break (which the pool and sauna at the hotel helped nicely with!), following which we headed out for food and (of course) more beer...
I haven't always written software for a living. When I graduated from Surrey University in 1989, it was with an Electronic Engineering degree, but unfortunately that never really gave me the opportunity to do anything particularly interesting (with the possible exception of designing Darth Vader's Codpiece *
for the UK Army in 1990).
* Also known as the Standard Army Bootswitch. But that's another story...
Since the opportunity arose to lead a software team developing C++ software for Avionic Test Systems
in 1996, I've not looked back. More recently I've been involved in the development of subsea acoustic navigation systems, digital TV broadcast systems, port security/tracking systems, and most recently software development tools with my own company, Riverblade Ltd
One of my personal specialities is IDE plug-in development. ResOrg
was my first attempt at a plug-in, but my day to day work is with Visual Lint
, an interactive code analysis tool environment with works within the Visual Studio and Eclipse IDEs or on build servers.
I love lots of things, but particularly music, photography and anything connected with history or engineering. I despise
ignorant, intolerant and obstructive people - and it shows...I can be a bolshy cow if you wind me up the wrong way...
I'm currently based 15 minutes walk from the beach in Bournemouth on the south coast of England. Since I moved here I've grown to love the place - even if it is full of grockles in Summer!