Approaching the Market: Registration
Getting an end user to register software has long been a difficult task for software authors. This is, however, an important one because it allows you to maintain contact with your installed base. As you develop new software and products, your easiest and most cost effective target will be to people who have already decided once that your software was worth purchasing. Also, as you update existing software, having accurate registration information will make it easy to get end users running your latest versions.
At the very least, you'll need to get contact information details. However, if appropriate, you can use the registration opportunity to find out more about your customers' environment. If you produce graphic design software, it may be useful to know if your customers typically have a particular color printer on hand which may lead you to focus on more support and testing in this area.
The key to getting a good return rate on registrations is to make it as easy and effortless as possible for end users to register. Below are some different methods for obtaining registrations. No one solution can guarantee that an end user will register. In fact, including several of the following options for registration is suggested.
Traditional software registration has been done via mail in cards in which the end user fills in information on a card and then drops it into the mail. This method of registration tends to yield poor results with a typical return rate of less than 10%. This can be boosted by providing some incentive for registration (e.g. future software upgrades, newsletters, etc...).
Fax is somewhat better than mail-in cards, however the return rate is still very low as this method requires a fair amount of effort on the part of the end user. In addition, if you don't have an 800 number, the end user will have to pay for the call which may be a negligible expense but turns out to be a hurdle that many end users never clear.
Email is typically a no-cost solution for the end user and has a higher registration return rate associated with it. This is especially true since an end user without email is becoming rare. Embedding this capability in your own software will further boost this medium's rate. If you deliver any shrink wrapped components of your product, remember to include at least a mail-in card registration in case the end user does not have access to email.
Using a Web interface to register software is another good method for achieving a good return rate. You should consider where your software will most likely be installed. Software being used in the work environment where Internet access is generally available will result in a very high registration return rate. Software being used in the home environment where Internet access, although rapidly increasing, should not be assumed, should also include other registration methods. If you deliver any shrink wrapped components of your product, remember to include at least a mail-in card registration in case the end user does not have access to the Web.
You can assure yourself of the highest registration return rates by building in automatic registration within your software. Also, as mention before, StarCode software offers some automated registration services via BeDepot and Software Valet.
Approaching the Market Index