Why Chatbots are Essential for Businesses

Chatbots are those things you see that pop up on sites asking you if you have questions or need additional help.

Sometimes, there is a real person on the other end of that chatbox, but most often, these are bots that are programmed with responses based on frequent questions or algorithms.

These bots aren’t just another bit of code to add to your site. They can actually have a big impact on your success. Here’s why:

Users Actively Engage with Them

Chatbots aren’t typical pop-ups that annoy users and send them searching for ad blockers.

Users actually engage with these bots and rely on them for information. Many have reported that they feel like they are working with their own personal assistants on the site to find the information they need or achieve their goals, such as finding the right car to buy or the right couch to have with children around.

Bots end up improving the user experience on the site, which makes people feel better about your brand and be more likely to return. Bots also help people find exactly what they need, which means that you are helping to solve their problem and potentially earn a customer.

Think about how bots can help users find information on your site and incorporate them effectively. Make sure you set up the design to show users how they can be helpful, and include information encouraging them to engage with the chatbot in a way that shows this usefulness.

They Don’t Require Downloads

Users are very leery of downloading software or information on their own computers, especially from sites that they have just started using.

Bots don’t require that users download anything, which means that people are much more likely to use them. Therefore, you will get more usage, which increases your chances of generating a lead or making a sale.

Since bots don’t require a download, they also put less strain on your coding and hosting capacity.

Bots are Optimized for Mobile

Mobile marketing is the focus of the future for all brands. There are now more mobile searches than there are desktop searches, and mobile users are growing constantly.

If you want to remain relevant, you have to develop a strong marketing plan for mobile users. That includes optimizing your design and your content for these smaller devices.

Bots are optimized for mobile without you having to do anything else to make them that way. Bots were used on mobile devices for many years, so their design has already been perfected for mobile users. You can be sure that they are helping you to capture more of this important demographic for your site.

They Have Minimal Cost

Unlike developing a dedicated app, bots have a very low cost. You won’t have to spend thousands of dollars to incorporate them into your site.

Bot platforms have created the basic infrastructure for creating bots, so you don’t have to hire a team to do all the extensive development required for building a program from scratch.

In addition, bots require minimal maintenance, so you won’t have to make a big investment of time or money to keep your bot up to date or secure.

Not only do you not have to pay a lot of money to get or maintain a chatbot, but you will get a huge return for having one on your site. Users will feel more engaged, you’ll get more leads, and you’ll make more sales as a result of having the bot on your site.

They are More Popular because of WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a popular messaging platform that allows users to send messages without using a texting service. People can instantly send messages without having to pay for an additional service or without using the data on their plan.

Because more people are using WhatsApp, they are comfortable with these kind of messaging services and are more open to using them. That means that when they see the chatbot on your site, they are going to be more willing to engage with it.

They are going to understand that they can communicate easily and without being charged for the privilege. The more they use the bot, the more likely they are to get the information they need and to become a lead or a paying customer.

The more you can include on your site to increase user engagement or to promote sales, the more successful you will be. If you are not already using chatbots on your site, it is important that you look into how to incorporate them and start developing one.

You may find that a simple bot that answers frequently asked questions is enough to get the results you need, or you may find that you need multiple bot models depending on the user and the device. Either way, you will find that the investment is well worth it.

Microsoft Edge Browser: Pros and Cons

The new Microsoft Edge Browser is the Windows 10 answer to Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, and, of course, Internet Explorer.

This new internet browser promises to be sleeker, slimmer, faster, and better, but does it deliver?

Let’s find out.

Overview: What Edge Brings to the Table

Microsoft Edge began as Project Spartan, a code name for its successor to Internet Explorer. While Internet Explorer will still be available to existing corporate customers and those who don’t upgrade to Windows 10, Edge brings plenty of new features to the table.

Here are just a few:

  • Lightweight design – Edge learned from the mistakes of Internet Explorer and the improvements of competitors, such as Chrome. Its lightweight design uses less memory, so it cuts down on initial load time.
  • Faster surfing – Likewise, Edge’s lower memory use makes for faster surfing, quicker page loading, and a much better user experience.
  • Super-smooth scrolling – The lightweight UI carries over to the browser. Like the latest version of Word and other Windows 10 products, Edge decided to cut out the jerky stop-motion scrolling that characterized past versions of Internet Explorer. This detail may seem small, but once you try it, you may be impressed.
  • Distraction-free reading – Edge has a distraction-free reading mode, which allows you to trim back on irrelevant content, download pages, and read them at your leisure. When you find articles you want to take with you, simply download them with the push of a button, then open up the Reading List at your convenience.
  • Instant answers – Like many of the other tech giants, Microsoft is beginning to offer immediate gratification, with services such as Cortana. Since Cortana is integrated with Cortana, Edge can offer instant answers to a number of common questions. When searching for weather, for instance, Edge displays it directly in the browser.
  • Note-taking – Ever want to write directly on a web page? Well, now you can. With touch-screen devices such as Surface, or even the mouse, you can write, doodle, and highlight directly on the web. Once you push the “Make a web note” button, you can add your notes, then share that annotated page with friends, family, or coworkers.
  • Enterprise-grade security – Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge tout their security features, acknowledging that cybersecurity is more important than ever. Windows itself has enhanced Smart Screen and Windows Defender, and all new Microsoft products have integrated Microsoft account functionality. While personalization and productivity are both big benefit of such integration, security is another – Windows Hello, for instance, greets users with a friendly login screen that doesn’t store passwords on devices.

Microsoft Edge for Developers

While Edge is not problem-free, it offers so many advantages that some are willing to drop their previous browsers just to use it.

One of the biggest issues with Edge is its lack of extension support. Those who want to install plugins will have to wait until corresponding add-ons have been developed.

Developers need not worry, however, since Microsoft already has a developer portal, which has several features that developers can find useful.

  • There are virtual machines for testing and development purposes.
  • RemoteIE allows free testing with Azure Remote App.
  • A GitHub page contains open-sourced demo sites.
  • A screenshot generator lets developers see how their page would look across different generations of browsers.
  • A roadmap shows where Windows 10 and Edge are headed in the future.

Clearly, Edge is ready for further development.

There is already plenty of opportunity for developers who wish to expand their offerings to Edge.

As for users who are hesitant to adopt Edge due to its lack of plugin support, they probably won’t have to wait too long before plugins start appearing.

Microsoft Edge and Windows 10: Roadmap to the Future

It’s obvious that Edge is more than just an upgraded Internet Explorer.

Learning from its own customers and the state of the marketplace, Microsoft Edge and Windows 10 have taken big strides towards a more connected world.

Tech giants are scrambling to offer streamlined, omnichannel experiences that bring personalized, immediate value to users, regardless of their device. While Microsoft has made some blunders in the past, its foothold in the tech industry gives it the ability to innovate right alongside companies such as Facebook and Google.

Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge are perfect examples of this innovation. With this new release of Windows and its latest browser, Microsoft has been able to offer much – if not more – of the value that its competitors are offering.

For instance:

  • Edge offers the same sleek minimalism and speed that Chrome does, and promises a future full of plugins, add-ons, and apps.
  • Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant program, competes with Siri, Google Now, and Facebook’s new assistant, M.
  • With Windows 10, Office 365, and Microsoft Edge, Microsoft has introduced a new era of easy online collaboration for the workplace, friends, and family.
  • The Microsoft operating system and software suite will help bring the web and multimedia to the HoloLens and similar AR and VR devices.

With Edge and the latest wave of Microsoft products, the tech giant has proven that it can still innovate.

5 Things Software Management Services Have in Common with Software Monetization Services

Software management services are offered by companies who help you procure, maintain, and operate software for your business. Even if you have your own IT department, it often makes the most sense to choose and use software management services for your business.

In the same way, software monetization services – such as those provided by CodeFuel help you procure, maintain, and operate software monetization for your business. And if you’re in the business of software, it often makes the most sense to utilize professionals who are experts in monetization.

At first glance, these two businesses may seem like apples and oranges, but remember that apples and oranges do have something in common – they are both fruit. To be a little more concrete with our analogy: they are both third-party experts in their respective fields.

A side-by-side comparison will highlight not only the benefits of both, but the overall benefits of outsourcing certain business functions to an external agency.

Here are 5 benefits that both services share:

1. Compliance

Software management services help a business comply with industry regulations, licensing standards, and more. Deploying enterprise-level applications and installations can be trickier than it sounds. Expert outsourcing can be the answer that you need to help you find out what your business can and cannot do when it comes to software.

Software monetization services, likewise, know the monetization industry inside and out. They provide pre-packaged solutions or customized solutions that comply with marketing standards set forth by the FTC and other government bodies.

2. Best Practices

Not all business software is created equal, and not all implementations are best for your business. Software management services know industry best practices and they can help you find the ones best-suited to your specific needs. This prevents you from wasting money on the wrong solutions and keeps you from the trial-and-error that can cause delays for the rest of your business.

Software monetization services also know industry best practices. Despite the fact that the monetization industry is a rapidly changing environment, there are certain practices that have proven themselves to be more effective than others. From display advertising to search monetization, consulting with a software monetization company can help you find the right solution and the best implementation.

3. Licensing Knowledge

Anyone who has ever dealt with enterprise-level deployment knows how much of a pain licensing can be. There are different levels, different pricing plans, different deals, and more. Knowing the various licensing requirements across an industry can help your business know where to save money and the best deployment solution for your business. Software management services know their industry inside and out, so you don’t have to.

In the same way, software monetization services dig deeply into the advertising and monetization world to discover the most money-making and money-saving licenses. Creating a proprietary search monetization solution, for instance, would require in-depth knowledge and specialization. Rather than hiring a team of people to develop proprietary tools for you, it is always more cost effective to find experts to do the job.

4. Industry Knowledge Means Better Deals

The right software management services company spends its time finding and providing business software implementations for their customers. If you go directly to the software vendor, they may attempt to upsell you or offer a less-than-stellar package that makes them more money. Software management company knowledge includes everything from licensing to specific software packages and special vendor relationships.

And the same holds true for software monetization companies. In this case, having an industry insider is virtually necessary, since the industry is constantly in flux and always evolving. The best way to stay ahead of the game is by aligning yourself with one of the industry’s top players.

5. Frees Up Internal Resources

Having a third party handle the tedious and cumbersome task of software deployment frees up your company resources to do other things. An IT department, which may or may not be up to the task of choosing and implementing enterprise-level software, also has their core job function to focus on. Allocating internal resources – at least to the procurement phase – would simply be cost-inefficient.

And, due to the fact that software monetization is such an esoteric and complex field, allocating internal resources to this task would simply be inefficient. Lack of expertise, training, and industry knowledge would inevitably produce inferior results and cost more than outsourcing would. Your marketing and accounting departments should work with experts, not try to become experts.

 

While the similarities between these two disparate industries may seem superficial, they both bring into sharp focus the benefits of outsourcing to experts. Both of these external services provide your business with the expertise you need, when you need it, so that your business can stay on task. 

5 Marketing Benefits of Software Bundles

Software bundles are product suites that contain multiple applications. They are frequently used to combine multiple small apps, tools, extensions, or plugins into a single package. For instance, you could purchase a bundle of WordPress plugins or Photoshop extensions.

Since selling an individual plugin is often not possible, developers will often package multiple tools together in order to make a viable sale. While you can package your own apps and plugins together, it’s often more feasible to work with others when creating your software bundle.

Doing so carries a number of benefits that can give you edge in marketing and monetization.

How?

Here are 5 of the top reasons.

1. New Partners

No developer is an island, and bundles are proof of that. When you work together with other developers, you build connections with other companies and individuals who can be your partners in business.

In marketing there is an awful lot of emphasis on the competition, but sometimes not enough on non-competitors. Forming relationships and pooling resources is sometimes the best way to climb the ladder and become successful.

More successful companies are excellent resources that can help you further your career, while smaller fish help reinforce your own position as an authority in your industry. Besides, who knows how they could help you down the line?

2. Bigger Audience

Another benefit to partnering up and bundling is growing your audience. The more partners who are involved, the more audiences you’ll have access to. Since each partner will undoubtedly let their followers know about the software bundle, you’ll gain exposure to that audience as well.

Promotion is one of the primary reasons you should consider bundling your software. While many developers shun the idea if the bottom line won’t see a big enough impact, it’s often best to look at it as a marketing investment. It’s very unlikely that bundling will hurt your business in any way.

In fact, the opposite is usually true. If, for example, two developers pool their audiences, revenue-share programs can often earn more money for each developer, even if they charge the same price for their bundle as for the individual app. Why?

As mentioned below, a bundle enhances the value of a product. If you include two apps for the price of one and double the audience pool, you are likely to see more than double the number of purchases, due to this enhanced value.

The end result?

3. More Money

If you do your math right, the aggregated demand of your audiences combined with the enhanced value of the bundle will bring in a larger net income. In other words, if you create or join a bundle, you’ll be able to see a return on investment.

On its own, a plugin can be difficult to monetize, unless it has an extensive range of features and provides serious value to the customer.

Given the increased value and demand for a bundle, however, that plugin can potentially earn more money, in addition to the other marketing benefits and networking benefits mentioned here.

4. Portfolio Experience

For new and intermediate developers, extensions and plugins are ideal ways to get your feet wet. And a portfolio piece looks that much better when it has been included in a bundle along with product from other well-established companies. This way, you can point to the project and its reception: the number of downloads, the ratings, the revenue, and so forth.

It can be daunting and difficult to jump headfirst – or even feet first – into software development. And if you don’t yet have the technical knowledge, it makes sense to take baby steps towards that goal. But just because you start small doesn’t mean you have to go unnoticed.

5. Enhanced Value

A sole plugin has much less value than a suite of products. This enhanced value increases the likelihood that you’ll gain all of the above benefits, such as increased recognition and income. Products that are more valuable in a customer’s eyes will also reflect better on your company. 

It is for this reason that subscription models like Netflix are so successful. Despite the service’s low monthly cost, it has been able to outstrip the traditional a la carte model used by other movie rental outlets.

A Word of Advice

When you bundle your products, ensure that you are adding value to the complete package. Don’t include software that you yourself wouldn’t use or recommend. If, for instance, there is persistent or annoying software, this could have a negative impact on your business instead of a positive one.

Finally, it should be noted that there is another use of the term bundling. The other usage of “bundling” is almost synonymous with pay-per-install, where you include third-party apps with your main software program and earn income when users install those apps. This is also a common monetization strategy, implemented successfully by advertising industry leaders like CodeFuel.

 

Happy bundling!

Software Monetization Guidelines 2014

Software monetization guidelines aren’t designed to help you get rich quick, though that sometimes happens. These guidelines will help guide you toward a sustainable monetization strategy.

Though these guidelines are designed with software developers in mind, if you follow the essence of these guidelines, they can also be applied to mobile apps and even blogs.

The Real Picture

The reality is that software and apps probably aren’t a one-way ticket to financial freedom. It happens occasionally, but there’s a lot of competition out there. The vast majority of software revenue goes to a small percent of developers, and that will probably never change.

That being said, when you do things right, you can turn your software into passive revenue generators. If you launch your software effectively, it can continue to operate and earn income for you while you move on to your next project.

If at first you don’t succeed, don’t get discouraged – just read our blog.

Build Traffic

You need a marketing arm that includes a website, at least one social media account, paid advertising, and perhaps some affiliate marketing thrown in for good measure.

Traffic equals users, and the more users you

have the

easier it will be to monetize your software.

If you’re new to

software monetization

, then brace yourself for small

conversion

numbers. It takes lots of visitors to get only a few click-throughs and downloads.

Assume for the moment that you’re using advertising to power your software; you’ll need to know that an even smaller number of users will click-through any advertising.

Promote with Mobile

Ads power the internet, from Google and Bing to Facebook and Twitter. Ads help you build your traffic, brand awareness, and

audience

. These all build revenue.

When you promote with ads, you’ll want to find out where your audience spends their time. These days, most people spend their time on mobile devices. Soon, over half of all searches will be mobile.

This means you need to – at the very least – include mobile as one of your major advertising and marketing channels. Find out which network is appropriate for your target audience and use it. Additionally, your website should be responsive or adaptive so that users stick around to read about your product.

Mobile

spend

is increasing year over year, so even if you’re developing a desktop product, you’ll want to target mobile.

Analyze Traffic

How are you marketing your software? Through an app store, software directory, or pay-per-install programs?

Track the number of downloads your program gets. If you’re using a pay-per-install program, track your customer’s journey. Find out what they like and add more value to that.

The internet is chock-full of metrics, so you can track your customers through software directories, websites, app stores, pay-per-download networks, affiliate programs, advertising programs, and so on and so forth.

Focus on Optimization

The common wisdom tells you to “create value first,” but once you’ve got value, it’s all about the numbers. Analytics give you those numbers and tell you something more important: what users want.

The best way to earn loyalty is by selling users what they

want but

giving them what they need. A user may want to get rich quick, but what they need is a solid monetization plan, so you sell them a get-rich plan that works practically.

Don’t compromise your product’s value with poor advertising or over-optimization. Instead, realize that your numbers tell you how you can adjust and optimize your product to provide users with a more palatable product. You can still provide the same quality – just adjust the appearance so that your conversions increase, your customer base builds, and your revenue goes up.

Allocate Wisely

No one has infinite resources, so at a certain point, you’ve got to choose. Where do you put your money and time? Building traffic with advertising? Optimizing your current funnels? Improving the quality of your product?

The call can be tough to make, but if you must make a decision, choose

traffic

. You are always free to improve your product and your funnels later on, but if you’re not getting traffic, you’re not getting money.

This can be a tough decision to make, because many developers take pride in their work and don’t want to put out an inferior product. But without incoming traffic, you won’t have anyone to look at your software updates.

Allocate your resources in that order:

1. Traffic Building

2. Product Improvement

3. Funnel Improvement

Why does product improvement come second? Simple. Your product quality dictates how long your users will stick around. In other words, quality products

creates

quality customers.

Improving your funnel through analytics, funnel customization, advertising optimization, and marketing adjustments will help boost the numbers of your existing conversions.

But that only comes after you’ve got a valuable product and an engaged customer base.

What is Software Distribution?

Developing software is one thing, but getting software into the hands of your users is something else entirely. When we talk about software distribution, are we talking about deployment, installation, marketing and dissemination, or the actual process and logistics of delivery?

What is Software Distribution?

There are a couple of definitions of “software distribution,” which can be a little confusing at first. One definition refers to a version or iteration of a software package, such as a Linux distribution – e.g., Ubuntu or Mint.

When used as a verb, however, software distribution just means getting your application into the hands of the user. This process involves several steps, including packaging, delivery, and installation.

Packaging

The efficiency of the deployment process depends greatly on the installer that is used. Good installers can accelerate downloads, decrease deployment time, and enhance the end user’s experience. In the same vein as Software-as-a-Service, third-party installation services often aid app developers who need a distribution solution. InstallFuel, for instance, allows developers to use their installer to distribute, deploy, and install a software package.

Benefits of Third Party Distribution Solutions

Software distribution may seem simple at first glance, but as the internet and the world of technology grows in complexity, so does the development and distribution process. App developers who use third-party distribution solutions can take advantage of a pre-existing digital distribution platform, which can target appropriate users with a customized, branded distribution package.

Packages such as InstallFuel simplify the software distribution process and often help you reach a larger network of users. This means that you can focus on your core business, while the third-party installer helps you reach high-quality, highly targeted end-users.

Another major benefit of such products is the monetization potential. People who ask the question, “What is software distribution?” are usually told that software distribution is getting an application into the hands of the end-user, and that’s true. But this definition ignores the possibility for monetization, and money is why we’re in this business. The distribution phase is a perfect opportunity for software publishers to monetize their software.

Beyond Deployment

There are plenty of resources online that describe deployment mechanics and the logistics of software distribution, version control, and planning the how-to side of things.

But any software publisher who wants to make money on their product should be thinking about more than just how to “get software into the hands of your user.” Software distribution certainly includes the logistics of packaging and installation, but it pays to think about ways to increase your audience. Enhancing your distribution to a larger audience has added benefits, such as increased brand exposure and increased revenue.

Another way to get your software into the hands of more users is through bundling your app as part of a suite of apps. By working with other parties, you can share audiences, which means more exposure, more sales, and more potential for revenue. And that brings us to one of the most important facets of distribution: promotion.

Increase Distribution with Marketing

Assuming you have the logistics handled, and assuming you have figured out a way to monetize your app, then the next step is to get more people to download and use your software. As mentioned, bundling your app into a package can help with both of those angles, but you’ll certainly want to maximize your exposure even more, if possible.

Good old-fashioned advertising is one of the best ways to increase your app’s visibility. This has some definite benefits, since you can get your app noticed quickly, and drive lots of traffic with properly placed ads. If your app has a good monetization system in place and you advertise appropriately, you can turn a profit pretty quickly. However, advertising’s not always an easy game to play, and costs for certain keywords can be expensive and competitive.

Content marketing, such as developing SEO-friendly web content or social media content geared towards your target audience, can be a cheaper way of establishing authority online and building relationships with your audience. Content is a good long-term asset that keeps on giving. The downside is that it’s a slower process and doesn’t always get you the same level of exposure as advertising.

If you charge for your software, joining an affiliate network can be a great way to get others to promote your product for you. Offer a high commission to entice affiliates to help you distribute your product, which will increase your exposure and user base. If you don’t charge for your product, put it up on all the major software directories, which also helps increase exposure.

There are plenty of other ways to monetize and enhance your distribution phase. It often requires thinking outside the box.

When you ask yourself, “What is software distribution?”  you should not only be asking yourself how to deploy efficiently, you should also ask how you can monetize, increase exposure, and add to your user base.

There are plenty of smart installers and third-party distribution networks that can help with both.