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 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.
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.
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 relationship 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.