Monday, June 1, 2015

To push or not to push, that is the question? Comments and suggestions will be rewarded.

For the last 11 years we have chosen to not push our users to pay for our tools. In fact, the “edict” was to focus on providing value and avoid any sales gimmicks. The thinking was that happy users will convert to paying customers on their own volition. Well, looking at our stats we have come to realize that there is something not quite right with that approach. The results of an informal study we conducted recently show that the users will only consider paying when they “hit a wall” and even then, when the cost of “switching” is negligible as it is in the case of the type of tools we sell, the value that the user may have received from using your tools for years, does not factor positively in the purchasing decision. In fact, a hypothesis was made that it may actually negatively impact your chances of being selected since the user has a hard time reconciling the additional functionality with the additional cost. Case in point: a user has been utilizing the lite edition of our SQL Server Schema and Data Compare tools for years at a cost of $0. Now he/she runs into a case that the lite edition does not cover and therefore the purchase of a license at a cost of $499 is required – all of a sudden a price that can be easily justified considering the hours saved (in fact the user in question has likely saved 10 times that amount by utilizing the lite edition of the tools) appears to be ridiculously high! “I have used those tools a thousand times for free and now you want me to pay $499 for just this one project!” We were not able to prove or disprove the hypothesis but there is empirical evidence that supports it.

We are considering a significant shift in our approach but are of course worried of the reaction of our users and hence we are seeking feedback before making any big changes. The basic idea is:

  • Raise more “walls” so that the user will likely hit one much earlier. We still want the users to be able to try the tools until they are 100% satisfied with them before paying, but not to the point where it may start to feel like the tools should always be free. 
  • “sprinkle” the free version with a bit of “annoying” seasoning – right now the user experience with the free lite edition of the tools is exactly the same as that of the paid edition. A bit of annoyance may provide an added incentive for the user purchase a license. 

We are currently experimenting with our Script Executor – what we did there is fairly subtle, it does not interrupt the flow and we don’t think it is annoying but we will see what the users think.

Tell us what you think – any comments / suggestions would be greatly appreciated and will be rewarded with a free 6 months Silver Subscription (only if you send your comments/suggestions before June 8, 2015). Either post your comments here or email us at