How I Increased My Software Downloads By 50%

Here's my problem: I have dozens of support pages on my business website that crush the traffic numbers of my product pages. So much, that I even get customer support requests for products that aren't mine:

Twice today I’ve had people ask for customer support for a product that isn’t mine. Page ranks well, but can’t see how to capitalise on it.

— Kohan Ikin (@syneryder) May 5, 2017

So what can I do with all this traffic? How can I monetize it? Is there a way I can convince those customers to try my products instead?

Tracking Downloads Via Google Analytics

Before I made changes to my website, I added download tracking in Google Analytics for all of my download links, so I could measure the improvements. I'll write full instructions for doing this in another post (for now, look at Google's Events Analytics instructions), but once you've added Google Analytics event tracking Javascript to all your pages, it just requires adding the following HTML code to each of your download HTML links:

onclick="ga('send', 'event', 'button', 'download', 'MyProduct Windows EXE')"

Of course, you can change the 'MyProduct Windows EXE' portion to anything you like, so that you can track in Google Analytics how many downloads each of your products are getting.

Remember that Google Analytics only tracks downloads that happen on your website. It won’t track downloads that happen from external download links, eg from software directory websites. To track those you can use an offline stats file analyzer (like Web Log Storming), but it isn't necessary for this page optimization process.

Adding Download Links On The Front Page

The first improvement was a no-brainer. The front page of any website is valuable real-estate, and yet I'd never put direct download links there. I'd always linked to my product pages instead, and assumed visitors would make the extra click. Here's what the main promo header used to look like:

First front page design

I redesigned it to have large download buttons that entice you to click on them. They're the same large CSS buttons I use elsewhere on the namesuppressed site. I've included Buy Now buttons in this design, but since that's a bigger commitment for customers to make, I expect to remove that button in a later design iteration.

Front page re-design with large download buttons

The Support Page Download Widget

After reading through blog posts by Cliffski (of Positech Games), I noticed that his latest blog posts include a Humble Widget at the end. It’s a way to directly buy his products without even leaving the blog article page.

The Humble Widget as used on the Positech blog

It’s more direct than what I've been doing - I'd occasionally include a text link to my product pages if it seemed appropriate. But making customers click through to the product page is an unnecessary extra step.

I don't think a purchase widget would work for me - the support page visitors often haven't heard of me or my products before. So instead I designed a widget more focused on trying the trial version - it’s less commitment, no credit card or email required, but still nudges them closer to the sale.

The download widget I designed for namesuppressed

I’m sure I’ll optimize this design over time, I just made something quickly to test the concept. I created separate widgets for each product, so I can include the download link for the most appropriate product on each support page. For pages that are more general, I have a "current promo" widget, so I can change the product being promoted across all those pages at any time. Perhaps it could include a current sale offer (Cliff's Humble Widget typically included big discounts for purchasing through it), or maybe I could change it to a newsletter signup when I have a major update coming up in the near future that customers might want to be reminded about.

Results So Far

Since I implemented this, downloads increased 70%+ over baseline. Specifically, 41% of all my downloads now come via the new download links I added to my support pages and the front page of the site.

So has it moved the needle on sales? Alas, not yet :) It's too early to tell, the trial period hasn't expired for those downloaders yet. It does look like most of those downloads are coming from outside my usual target market as well. But I'll monitor its progress.

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31 May // ©2017 Kohan Ikin.