Are Software Download Sites Still a Viable Marketing Concept?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the concept of free software download sites and at one moment I was thoroughly convinced that it was the only way to get traffic and customers to buy new software through the Internet. Nowadays, I don’t know if that still holds true. I’m beginning to have my doubts. Like everything in life, things change, and one has to keep up with those changes or risk being left behind.

A few years back I helped one of my sons with a software component that he had developed and wanted to sell through the obvious benefits of the web, which after more than ten years in our country, was just beginning to bear fruit. We timidly started submitting the software to the different download sites; a job that I handled personally while he struggled with the development of the business application that he was doing single-handedly. At that moment in time, I had to fill out all the forms by hand, which was not an easy or an enjoyable task by any means.

Anyhow, due to our combined dedication and the traffic generated by the download sites, companies from all over the world began to buy the component and the automated PAD file on autopilot took away the pressure of filling out forms from my hands. Without really being able to know exactly in how many sites the software was registered and functioning, the results were very clear: this was the way to sell in Internet for this particular product. At the same time, we noticed that the home website that harbored the software received very little attention from the search engines and Google was just beginning its astonishing upward career, but we didn’t worry too much because the free download sites were doing all the work.

This comfortable economic situation lasted about four or five years, but began to dwindle in the last couple of years, and things have become uncertain, to say the least. We began to worry about the durability of a software that had probably outrun its life-cycle possibilities. My son immediately started to make some badly-needed revisions in the original source code, migrating it to other programming languages, commenced to rely on new applications like WinForms, WPF and Silverlight to spruce up his output and did a whole make-over of his website.

None of this has been easy and sales haven’t been anywhere like before, but one thing that has definitely changed is that the search engines began to recognize the website and only a few of the top download sites are still responsible for a much smaller part of the visits to the site. In our case it’s probably because our product got lost in the shuffle somewhere between the thousands upon thousands of different programs that hit the market every day. We still haven’t been able to really put our fingers on what has happened, but knowing that we no longer can depend fully on third-party traffic has made us more conscious of the great challenge that we have ahead if we want to keep in business.