Mac Indie Marketing

You Should Have an Email Marketing List


A couple of months ago I wrote a post suggesting that indie developers set up a customer mailing list. I figured that it is such an important topic that it was worth revisiting.

This post is a sort of grab bag of suggestions and tips.

There are so many good reasons to have an email marketing list:

  • If somebody comes to your website, or downloads your application but doesn't buy it right away, they can join your mailing list, and get to know you and your company a bit more. And then, perhaps, become a customer.
  • You will have a base of current and potential customers to notify of your upcoming products and releases.
  • You can cooperatively promote your fellow indie developers' software programs. By introducing cool software to people on your list, they will appreciate you, as will your fellow developers.
  • You can provide tips and tricks for the users of your software.  Even if your subscriber doesn't own the software you mention, they will see that you are proactive and helpful to your customers, and be more likely to become a customer in the future.
  • Your subscribers may want to forward your emails to other people, thus netting you more subscribers.
  • You have a base of people to solicit ideas from, have take polls, sign up for beta testing, etc.
  • You can show off some of your users' productivity. For instance, we like to spotlight a couple of customers' Sandvox-built websites each month.
  • You can keep your company and your products in the back of people's minds.

Some General Suggestions

Don't just make your newsletter for your customers.  There are a lot of people out there who may not need your software, but are curious about what you are up to, or maybe are looking forward to the next great application you write.  These are your potential customers, and you are much more likely to sell to them than to somebody who you are hoping will wander onto your website.

Make your signup form easy to find on your website. Really easy. You want to capture people who are just window-shopping, not really in the buying mood.  Catch them while you can! 

(I have gone to some indie websites, knowing that they had an email list, but sometimes it took me 5 minutes to find the form, or I gave up completely!)

A Comparison of 16 Bulk Email Marketing Services

(If you are just arriving at this post, I recommend you check out my post from November suggesting that you set up a customer mailing list, and my post immediately following this one, You Should Have an Email Marketing List.)

This is a comparison of a 16 online email marketing services.  With a little help, I dug up as many email bulk senders as I could, so that I could compare their prices.  It's hard to compare these prices because their ranges never quite match, so I decided that putting them into a table form would be the best way to get an overview of the prices.

Nearly all of these services charge you a monthly fee, with a few offering discounts for annual or semi-annual plans.  But there are two very different pricing models, which has caused me to break this down into two tables.

Note: These prices are current as of mid-January 2010. They will probably change! Be sure to verify prices by visiting the websites.

The first pricing model is per-subscriber.  No matter how many emails per month you send out, you will be charged a fee based on the number of subscribers in your list.  This means that if you only send a newsletter out from time to time, you may not be getting a good deal.  If you send messages out frequently, then these can actually be quite nice.

Rich Siegel, Bare Bones Software


This interview with Rich Siegel, President/CEO of Bare Bones Software, is the fifth in a series of interviews I've held with indie software developers about marketing Mac software. Previous interviews: Oliver BreidenbachJacob GorbanJean MacDonald, and Kevin Hoctor. (Is there an indie developer/company you'd like to see featured here? Leave me a comment and I'll do my best to feature them!)

Rich Siegel is the founder and, after all these years, still the President/CEO of Bare Bones Software, known for its long-standing BBEdit and more recent Yojimbo. He lives in Rhode Island with his family, including four parrots (two of whom he claims are "too smart for everyone's good"). Like most indies, Rich works out of a home office, which presents interesting opportunities and challenges. He enjoys music and can claims to be able to use dangerous power tools without injuring himself or others. His personal website is absolutely not

I cornered Rich over email and managed to get some of his thoughts about marketing.

"Why MicroISVs Fail To Sell"

Here's an interesting article I found via the MDN Big Blog.  It's called Why MicroISVs fail to sell. It's part of an eBook from 47 Hats (not to be confused with 37 Signals!). I especially like Mistake 6: Customer as Circus Animal, in which the article encourages you not to make your customer jump through terrible hoops like the big companies do.

Of course, the take-away from this list of mistakes is that you should not be doing these things on your website and in your business.  I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Get Your App Listed on Macworld Expo's Indie Developer Spotlight

Just a quick announcement in case you missed it on Twitter or other blogs: Macworld Expo '10 will have an online "Indie Developer Spotlight" in which any application that is discounted for 20% off can be listed on their "indie list" page during the expo, between February 11 and February 13.

Just go to this page and get yourself signed up. One note: you will need a URL to visit, not just a coupon code. (For Sandvox, we were able to supply a URL to our store with the coupon code pre-entered.)

It looks like it's not too late to get a stand at their Independent Developer Pavilion — what some call "Tiny Town."

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