Do more with less. That is the challenge for software marketers today: to get better results from their marketing programs on increasingly smaller budgets.

It's important for software marketers to analyze the effectiveness of their programs and determine their return on investment (ROI), because a careful look will reveal that some methods produce better returns than others.

One way to improve ROI is to find marketing vendors who are true business partners and not just hired guns who have no vested interest in a project's success. Pay-for-performance marketing is an emerging trend that helps software marketers minimize their risk while maximizing their partners' engagement.

Types of Software Demos

In software marketing, demos are vital to selling software. Several types of demos allow companies to showcase their products:

  • Software downloads from the company's website or partner sites
  • CDs or DVDs that are mailed to the customer
  • Live demos directed by a company representative
  • Online videos
  • Customer-driven live demos

Typically, software companies use one or more of those demos to showcase their products, gather leads, and obtain more-detailed information about prospects. Downloads, CDs or DVDs, and online demos are the most-common methods. Although each method can be effective, research has shown that some methods are more effective than others.

Downloadable demos are often outsourced to a hosting company. The software manufacturer typically pays the host a fee per download, depending on the file size and the volume downloaded. (High volumes typically mean a lower cost per download.) Although downloads are easy and convenient, the large size of enterprise software can make download times unrealistic, even on high-speed Internet connections.

CDs and DVDs provide one solution to the shortcomings of downloads; however, they're expensive to manufacture and mail, and they aren't timely.

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Tim Keyes is CEO of Runaware, Inc. (, a provider of online demos and software marketing.