Monday, 21 July 2008

Snarky about Snarketing

Filed under: Business of Software — Jan Goyvaerts @ 14:00

Several people pointed out to me that EditPad was mentioned in issue 161 of the Windows Secrets newsletter.

I learned a new word. “Snarketing” is the contraction of “sneaky marketing”. According to the article, that includes practices such as installing “potentially unwanted software” (this politically correct term is not used in the article), hiding the freebie, automatically signing people up for subscriptions, posting fake reviews, and nagging people into buying something.

I certainly agree that some software companies try a little too hard to lure customers with free downloads that pester them into buying. But I do feel Mr. Dunn is getting a little snarky about all this. Software companies don’t give away software to make the world a better place. They give away software for various reasons, but in the end it all boils down to increasing their bottom line. As long as customers aren’t being deliberately deceived, that’s perfectly fine.

Of course the EditPad web site is designed to sell EditPad Pro. Selling EditPad Pro licenses is the only revenue we get from EditPad. I deliberately decided not to put a big “Download EditPad Lite” button front and center. Instead, the “Free EditPad Lite” link sits in the navigation bar at the left. A logical spot, and the word “free” clearly indicates where to get the free stuff, if the “lite” moniker isn’t obvious enough. And when it’s really too hard to find, there’s always Google. Search for free editpad, and feel lucky. The first hit is the one you want.

When you click the free EditPad Lite link, you’ll get a screen shot, a list of the most important features, and the download link at the bottom. Maybe Mr. Dunn doesn’t care for the screen shot or description, but I actually believe it’s good marketing to provide a clear description of the download. People should know what they’re getting without having to waste time and bandwidth to actually download the thing.

And then there’s this misconception:

It’s as if the company had no confidence in the power of the free version to sell the full version.

Without “snarketing” tactics, the free version of something has very little power to sell the full version. Though there are certainly EditPad Lite users who later on purchase EditPad Pro, it’s not EditPad Lite but the free trial download of EditPad Pro that is designed to sell EditPad Pro. During the “new economy” of last century’s internet boom, everybody was going to get rich giving away free stuff. Well, the world doesn’t work that way. People don’t come looking for free stuff with their wallets in their hands. Be good and charge for it is a much better model. Next time I’ll talk about why we do make EditPad Lite available for free.

But I really just wanted to point out the irony of sneaking in a link to a paid newsletter in a free article about sneaky marketing:

For more on this type of snarketing, see Susan Bradley’s Mar. 27 Patch Watch column in the paid version of the newsletter.

Or that the fact that the “EditPad” link actually points to:


They’re tracking you! How sneaky!

I don’t care about the paid link or the tracking link. But if you’re going to accuse me of having a black pot, polish your kettle first.

1 Comment

  1. […] promised in my previous post, today I’ll discuss the business reasons for publishing, or not publishing, a free version of […]

    Pingback by The Economics of Free Lite Versions - Micro-ISV.asia — Thursday, 24 July 2008 @ 18:52

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