StackOverflow like alternative Q & A system



In order to build a Question & Answer system like StackOverflow, for my website Conceptworld, I was looking for various alternatives.

The reasons behind building a Q&A website for our products were:

  1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  2. Minimizing Support
  3. Provide customers with quick answers to frequent questions

Since year 2000 when we founded Conceptworld, we have received several thousand support queries. I wanted to put the best, frequently asked support queries into this Q&A website.

I found a long list on this stack exchange page but I wanted something that can be setup easily on my Windows based server (IIS). I am using shared hosting from Lunarpages.

Finally I found a fantastic Q&A system called Question2Answer. It is a PHP based free and open source platform which works so well. I have successfully set it up on our Conceptworld support page.

Question2Answer is as easy as setting up wordpress on any server. It has a huge community around it. Plus there are several plugins available to tweak the product to your needs.

If you are looking for a free Q2A platform that will work on Windows IIS based server, then I strongly recommend Question2Answer.

If you found this post useful, please like it by clicking on one of the social media buttons (facebook, twitter, google+) on top/left of this post.



Tracking your software downloads using setup filename



Measuring your marketing campaign is utmost necessary to determine the success of your campaign.

In order to measure, you need to track various factors. When you are selling a downloadable software, one such factor is the website from which your software was downloaded.

There are several software download sites where you can publish your software. Such as download.com, softonic, softpedia etc. When someone purchases your software, how will you determine from which website he had downloaded your product? Very few websites have javascript based tracking methods. The disadvantage is that tracking is available only when you advertise on that particular download website.

Today I will show you one trick. The trick is to name the setup file name with a tracking code and track it till product purchase. I implemented this today for my sticky notes app – Notezilla.

Step 1:

If the setup file name is NotezillaSetup.exe, just suffix it with a code like NotezillaSetup(s101).exe

Step 2:

In the setup program that you use, parse the setup file name, pick the tracking code and save it in registry or an INI file during installation of the product.

I use Inno Setup. Here is the Inno Setup script I used to parse and save it to INI file during installation.

function GetDownloadSource(Param: String) : String;
var
setupFileName : String;
stringPos : Integer;
downloadSourceName : String;
Begin
 
  //The following code is to find the source of download file
  //from the file name itself. For example if the file name is NotezillaSetup(s100).exe 
  //then we will get s100 from the file name
  setupFileName := ExtractFileName(ExpandConstant('{srcexe}'));
  stringPos := Pos('(s', setupFileName);
  if (stringPos > 0) Then
  Begin
       //+1 ignores ( character
       downloadSourceName := Copy(setupFileName, stringPos+1, Length(setupFileName)); 
       stringPos := Pos(')', downloadSourceName);
       if (stringPos > 0) Then
       Begin
              //remove all characters after ) closing bracket so that
              //finally we get a string of within the () brakets
              Delete(downloadSourceName, stringPos, Length(downloadSourceName));
       End;
  End;
 
  Result := downloadSourceName;
 
End;

In the INI file, now you used the above function GetDownloadSource

[INI]
Filename: "{userappdata}\Conceptworld\Notezilla\Notezilla.ini"; Section: "General"; Key: "DownloadSource"; String: "{code:GetDownloadSource}";

Step 3:

In your software, you will have various locations where you take the user to your website. Like Buy Now button, Website button, Online Help.

You need to suffix the tracking code to all the urls that take the user to your website.

Example:

Old Url: http://www.conceptworld.com/Notezilla
New Url: http://www.conceptworld.com/Notezilla?downloadTrackingCode=s101

Step 4:

Now modify your website code (client or server side) to read this tracking code and save it to cookie or session variable.

Step 5:

On your order page, take the tracking code from the cookie/session variable and append to your order urls. All e-commerce websites allow you pass additional data so that you can track your order. Configure your e-commerce server provider to save this additional data and send it to you on successful order completion. Usually it is through IPN (Instant Payment Notification).

That’s it.

You can see how useful this tracking method can be. You simply have to change the setup file name and provide a different url to the download website. This way you can plan your marketing strategies. Where to spend more money on advertisement, where you stop spending more money etc.

I hope you got an idea how to go about it. If you have any questions, please post them below in comments section.



Source control your website for better SEO



When multiple developers work on a single website project it is obvious to use a source control software such as SVN, CVS etc. But you should do it even if you are the only developer working on the project.

Why? Source controlling helps an SEO expert to analyze the impact of a change on website traffic.

Imagine that you have modified some pages of your website (page title etc). After few days you wonder why the sales have dropped. You have totally forgotten the last changes you made to the website. Your source controlled website will help you to track every change made to it. You can easily recover back your sales.

Thanks



ASP chooses a sensible name



The Association of Shareware Professionals has renamed itself to the Association of Software Professionals (ASP).


Association of Software Professionals

Details of the name change can be found here.

I have been a member of ASP for many years now. If you are running a software company then I strongly suggest that you join the ASP. The members’ discussion group (newsgroup) will give you valuable tips for marketing your software, SEO, software registration, protection, new product development, product ideas, website feedback, product review etc.

Moreover, members of the ASP offer their products at discount price to other co-members. I take this benefit each year and save hundreds of dollars.
Thanks.

The Association of Shareware Professionals has renamed itself today to the Association of Software Professionals.


Watching topics/keywords on Twitter using RSS Newsreader



Twitter

Thanks to Dennis Crane who suggested that Twitter can be used to watch discussions about particular topic, your product, your competitors product using your newsreader (Bloglines etc).

How to do it?
Just subscribe to the following feed url:
http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=(your keyword here)

Example:
http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=google+chrome

Thanks.



MailChimp – Email marketing service



When sending our email newsletters to our customers, we were always worried about our emails being marked as SPAM. And we didn’t know how to get away with it. We kept improving our email copy (subject, content, format etc), but still Gmail and others would treat it as SPAM.

For the launch of our product RecentX, we wanted to fix this for sure. Seeing the potential of this product, we want each of our customer to know about it. So we asked the geeks at Business Of Software forum. We were quite confident of getting a solution because all of us mISVs face this problem.

And yes, we got the answer – MailChimp

MailChimp

In our experience, this is a simply fantastic mass mailing service. We wanted to solved the SPAM problem. Period. And MailChimp did solve it. The emails which we sent from MailChimp was authenticated. So it did not get filtered by most of the anti-spam systems.

MailChimp website’s usability and looks are very impressive. They also have something called “Inbox Inspector” that sends the email to all major webmail services (gmail, hotmail etc) and verify whether it reaches their inbox and not the SPAM folder. Plus it shows how your email looks in each of those webmail services.

The campaign report shows all the required details. How many opened? how many clicked which link on your email?, supports Google Analytics etc.

MailChimp is free for 100 subscribers. I strongly suggest that you have a look at this service.

Thanks.



Predict the tech future with Engadget blog



Engadget Logo

Engadget blog gets you very interesting tech news at your desk. It’s about gadgets such as laptops, desktops, mobile phones, cars or any new electronic items. You can see the market trends and make appropriate decisions for your business. What mobile phone platform is popular, which is not worth concentrating on. This is why I subscribe to this blog.

Thanks.



Lifehacker – A Must Read Blog



You definitely must have heard of www.lifehacker.com . It is a must read blog for everybody, from all parts of life.

My main purpose of reading it is to get updates on new software, new web services, new version of existing software, what’s hot, what’s not, free downloads and other industry news.

Add to your blog reader now, if you wish to get the juice of what’s in, what’s out in this industry.



Get instant visitor’s feedback using Kampyle



Andy Brice mentioned on his blog about how to get website/product feedback from within every page of your website using a free service called Kampyle.

About 2 weeks back, we added Kampyle to our website. Since then we have received some useful feedback about the product and website which we may not have received otherwise.

Kampyle adds a button to every page of your website so that the user can submit feedback effortlessly. You just have to add their script on the footer of your page.

Read more about it on Andy’s Blog.



GiveAwayOfTheDay



Giveaway Of The Day

GiveAway Of The Day (GOTD) site gives away a software for free, every day. This site can be a very good marketing tool for software companies, especially uISV.

Many of us may immediately reject GOTD and it’s quite natural. When given enough thought and based on my experience, I have written down some facts/arguments that will help you to take the right decision.

  1. If you have a innovative software that people normally do not search for, you will need to layout an extensive marketing plan. One way to reach the masses is by giving it away free and just for one day. This is when GOTD will be useful. You would be surprised to see the comments that you would receive on the GOTD site. The comments include appreciation, criticism, feature requests etc. This can be very good for your product’s future.
  2. GOTD pays you for giving away your software on their site. It’s normally $400.00 or so. If you receive a good response from the GOTD users, you can ask for more. If you have a product that does not sell much, this is one way to get that ‘extra income’.
  3. If you are going to launch a new version of the product, you can give away the current version for free. When GOTD users download your software from the GiveAwayOfTheDay website they do not register with you. So you wouldn’t have their email addresses. However, you can modify your current version (a link in your program’s menu etc) so that GOTD users can upgrade to the new version at special discount price.
  4. Some software vendors have a notion that it is very hard or impossible to sell to users who are crazy about free software. But there is a good % of GOTD users who do give money. Moreover, the software given away on GOTD is only for personal use and comes with no technical support. If your software’s quality is good, GOTD users will talk about it at different forums, their blogs etc.

That’s it for now. Hope these points will give you more insight towards marketing your software using GOTD.