Software Marketing Review: Esri

See how other companies market their software. This is part of a series of reviews looking at examples of software product marketing: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”


Esri have a website with lots of information, lots of products, and lots of clues to what they do. But unless you already know what they do, it’s far from obvious. See for yourself…

Below is a screenshot from Esri’s home page. Let’s look at what works well and what doesn’t.

I have marked up

  • The Good
  • The Bad
  • The Ugly
Screenshot of Esri Home Page

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good. Great examples of software product marketing best practice

  • 1. Most websites treat all visitors exactly the same. But different audiences are looking for different information and want to be provided with that information in different ways.

    Esri are giving Executives, Developers, and IT the choice upfront to go somewhere where the information will be more relevant for them.

    Most software companies should do more of this. The most basic audience split is experienced customers vs. prospects. Never do what HerdLogic did and put support information on your home page.

The Bad. Could be improved

  • 2. News type information helps keep the web site feeling fresh and cared for. It also helps your search engine ranking.

    However in this example, there are three announcements about seminars. Without clear explanations of what Esri does, newcomers may think they’re a company that does seminars. The strapline up by the logo “Understanding Our World” does not help clarify what Esri actually does.

    It’s far from easy to ensure your news / announcements are always going to be different enough to avoid such confusion. Instead I would recommend making news items less prominent and having a clearer description of what Esri does.

  • 3. Esri is a software company. The type of software they sell is GIS which is an acronym for Geographic Information Systems. This is essential information for any newcomers to Esri’s website.

    Burying the explanation of GIS behind a link does not help enough. Newcomers won’t even know to look for GIS—why should they?

    And you should probably avoid phrases like “Learn the Basics”, people may think you are talking down to them. As a software company it is your responsibility to quickly explain what you do and the benefits. It should not be up to prospects to learn the basics before they figure out what you do.

The Ugly. Examples to illustrate what you should not do

  • 4. Great images but, like Media Sign Pro, without context they don’t explain what Esri does. The text suggests they offer free images from satellites, but that’s a small part of what they do.

    It’s apparent these are not just normal maps as the colours are unnatural, but there is no explanation here.

    Our brains are excellent at scanning and understanding images very quickly. Images are an excellent way to quickly communicate.

    It’s important to design your images very carefully.

Esri’s Products

The next screenshot is from Esri’s product page.

Screenshot of Esri Product Page

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good. Great examples of software product marketing best practice

  • 5. Images are much better here. We can recognize these as maps, and see one map is colour coded and one has names layered on. It’s still not clear what Esri does but this gives us a general sense.

The Bad. Could be improved

  • 6. This product description is far too complicated. It reads like it was written by a committee – or more likely by people representing different products adding a little bit here, a little bit there.

    The main sentence has 43 words and 6 commas.

    Parts that are particularly unclear include “author data” and “serve them out for use”. And this text really adds nothing “depending on the needs of your organization”.

    Most of this lengthy sentence could be replaced with something like “use this where you want to”. And that would leave space to explain what is meant by globes and models and more importantly what the benefits are for customers.

The Ugly. Examples to illustrate what you should not do

  • 7. Esri’s product names are confusing for newcomers. Their main product line is called ArcGIS and within that, product names are based on the platform e.g. “Desktop GIS”, “Mobile GIS”…

    But if you don’t know what GIS means none of this makes sense.

Esri UK Home Page

I tried the home page for Esri in the UK to see if it was any clearer. Some things were clearer but overall it’s too cluttered.

Screenshot of Esri UK Home Page

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good. Great examples of software product marketing best practice

  • 8. At last an explanation of what GIS means.

    There is also an attempt at customer benefits but “we help businesses become more profitable and public service more efficient” is too vague to be useful.

The Bad. Could be improved

  • 9. The whole page is far too cluttered. There are dozens of links and lots of dense text to read. Most people won’t bother, they will focus on the main image.

    At the top of the screen is a rotating banner of three images. This one is the most useful, because the text “Esri UK Geographic Business Intelligence” helps explain what Esri does. However, the photographs are not helpful – just a bunch of office buildings.

    The other images are even less helpful. One makes Esri look like a virtual training company, the other is an abstract image referring to local government.

The Ugly. Examples to illustrate what you should not do

  • 10. When you spend your whole time in a software company, it is too easy to assume that everyone knows what your product is. Minor differences between your various products and the latest product version all seem important.

    Stand back and look at this list of products, and think how confusing this might seem for a newcomer. Do you want your prospects to feel confused?

    Make it easy for your prospects to buy. Go back to your home page and your product pages and look at them “outside-in”. View them as a newcomer.

    You should probably explain the core points more clearly and with fewer words. And move less important content to other places.

Join the Discussion

  • Do you agree – or do you find it easy to understand what Esri do?
  • How would you explain what Esri does and the customer benefit?
  • Suggest any examples of best (or worst) practice for software product marketing

Please add a comment below or contact Giles @ Smart

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