upgrades - New versions of your software applications.
Selling upgrades is an excellent way to generate serious income for your software business. If done properly, moving from version 2.4 to version 3 can bring in some serious sales.
Motivating customers to buy software upgrades
Here are a few things to think about when you email existing customers about their paying you to upgrade their program:
Use plain text to ask for software upgrades
Send an email in plain text email, and not HTML. When people see a colorful, formatted email message, they think they're being spammed. By contrast, a plain text email looks much more like correspondence from a family member or business colleague.
Use a friendly "from" address
Use a "from" address that your prospects will recognize and be comfortable with. There are three names that your users might recognize: Your personal name, your company's name, and your software product name. Use the two most recognizable ones as your "from" address. For example, if you think your users are most likely to know your product and firm names, then send them an email from Widget Support email@example.com.
Write a great subject line
Craft a subject line that makes them feel comfortable. Say something in the subject line that lets them know that they're receiving communication from a business colleague, and not spam from a stranger. Mention the product name, or the application's main benefit, or some phrase that they will probably recognize.
Personalize your software upgrade message
Personalize the body of your email solicitation. One key to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is personalization. You have the data about your customers, and doing an email-merge is worth the extra work. Start the body of the email with something like, "Since you bought Widget in March of 2010, we've made a lot of improvements. And for a modest upgrade charge of $12.95(US), here are the new benefits that you will enjoy:".
Talk to your regular software users
Deliver a convincing software marketing message to people who use your application every day. Tell them about the advantages of using the new and improved version of your program. Don't get so caught up telling them about the new features that you neglect to tell them about the new benefits. You should paint a word picture in which they can see themselves saving even more time, or even more money, or doing something tomorrow that they can't do today.
Communicate with your occasional software users
Deliver information for buyers who haven't used your program for a year. There are people in your customer database who didn't even migrate your application to the new computer that they bought last winter.
Make sure you include information that re-introduces your software, and reminds them what your program does, and why they purchased it some months back.
You may entice them to install your software and use it, perhaps for the very first time.
Focus on selling the software upgrade
Sell the upgrade, and not the download. You don't want to put an existing customer back into try-before-you-buy mode. They already trust you. Most of them already know what the program does. Don't ask them to download the trial version and try it for 30 days. Ask for the sale.
Sell your software
Ask for the sale. Most sales presentations fail because they don't include a call to action. You have to ask for their order. Say something like, "Please purchase your upgrade by visiting http://www.widg-co.com/upgrade/ and using our secure order form."
Let them unsubscribe
Make it easy to unsubscribe to future product-related emailings. At the bottom of the email, tell them that they've received this email because they purchased Widget, and that they can remove their names from your list, immediately and permanently, if they no longer wish to hear about software upgrades.
Sell well, and sell more software
Too many developers complete their beta testing, and spend a half hour composing a quick-and-dirty upgrade letter. If you take it seriously, and think through how you're going to convince your users to upgrade to the new version, it will be time well spent.
Before you start writing, think about how the market has changed, how your software has changed, and how the industry has changed. Tell your existing customers about the benefits of using the latest version of your software. Sell them the upgrade.
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