Software Marketing Review: Sawtooth

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”

Sawtooth Software

The home page for Sawtooth Software shows how some software companies forget the need to explain what they do. Check your software marketing is not like this.

Below is a screenshot from Sawtooth’s home page. At first glance, you’ll see the design is very conservative (or even boring) with lots of text links.

The only piece that catches your eye is the photograph of a mountain. This might be useful if Sawtooth were a travel company or sold mountaineering equipment, but not a promising first impression for a software company.

Let’s look at what works well and what doesn’t. I have marked up

  • The Good
  • The Bad
  • The Ugly

Sawtooth Home Page

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good. Great examples of software product marketing best practice

  • 1. Differentiating between new website visitors and existing customers is a great start.

    This way you can give prospects the fundamental information they’re looking for, without overloading them with unnecessary detail. And you can give your customers the detailed information they want, without the high-level marketing messages they already know.

The Bad. Could be improved

  • 2. Workshops and news items are taking up roughly 50% of the screen real estate.

    I’d recommend reducing or removing this and giving more space to show what Sawtooth do and the benefits for customers, as these workshops and news items are sending two unhelpful messages:

    • Sawtooth are more focused on what they’re doing than how customers benefit.
    • These items are only happening every 2 months, this does not sound like a thriving energetic company.

The Ugly. Examples to illustrate what you should not do

  • 3. It’s hard to tell that this is a software company.

    The images are of mountains, in the photo and in the logo. But that seems to have no relevance.

    The main text message “Have you considered our Annual Corporate Subscription License?” is a terrible opening line. It doesn’t say anything about what they do, and is a blatant request for more money. It would be like going into an initial job interview and opening with “Have you considered paying me double?” without even introducing who you are.

    The company’s name is Sawtooth Software, so people will eventually work out this is a software company. But they won’t know what type of software. It has nothing to do with mountains, lighthouses, nature, saws or teeth.

Surely the product page will explain what the software does. Let’s take a look…

Sawtooth Product Page

The Good. Great examples of software product marketing best practice

  • 4. Here we can find out what this software does: “SSI Web easily allows you to create online surveys”. Very clear, and it’s written from the perspective of what customers can do with it which is great.

    It would have been better to have made this more prominent, probably on the home page.

The Bad. Could be improved

  • 5. “powerful survey software platform” is a typical example of a software company trying to make their software seem bigger, better, more complete. Most software companies fall into the trap of trying to talk themselves up at some point.

    There is a school of thought that confusion can helps sales, particularly help upselling to larger “enterprise” solutions. The idea is that by making it sound really confusing, then buyers will feel it’s their own lack of understanding or knowledge.

    Copy like this is often written by marketeers who don’t really understand what the software does or how it’s used and they think that if they “buy” it then customers will.

    The reality is that customers are smarter and more knowledgeable about the software than most marketeers. So knowledgeable buyers consider text like this to be “marketing fluff” and ignore it. Prospects want information on what the software does, how they can use it, and how they will benefit.

    This list of modules and acronyms would be the place to tell buyers what it can do. Instead Sawtooth are writing this from an inside-out perspective, they’re thinking about each part of their software, how they organize it, their name, how clever it is…

    What Sawtooth should be thinking about is what prospects are looking for. Prospects have a problem they are trying to solve. Frame your information from your prospect’s point of view—not yours.

  • 6. Don’t include basic features like radio buttons and check boxes. They’re obvious and detract from features that are more compelling.

    I would use an image of a survey form to quickly cover basic features as well as showing what the software does.

The Ugly. Examples to illustrate what you should not do

  • 7. This image of the world, with a lighthouse and mountains is useless. It does not help the website visitor or Sawtooth in any way.

  • 8. There are far too many bullets here. It’s like using a machine gun to fire off lots of points and hope that some are useful. And according to the heading this is just an overview!

    The objective for any marketing copy is to communicate, not to fill a page. Make your copy digestible. Break it down in smaller chunks. Ensure it’s easy to read and understandable by everyone.

You should keep your software marketing information focused on helping prospects understand what your software does and the benefits for them.

Worst Practice

Don’t be like Sawtooth and list out dozens of features. Focus on being clear. Be as crisp and compelling as you can.

Assume everyone coming to your software marketing materials knows nothing about your software. Explain in 5-8 seconds what your software does and what’s in it for them.

Join the Discussion

  • What would you do differently?
  • Do you think long lists of features are convincing?
  • Suggest your examples of best (or worst) practice for software product marketing

Please add a comment below or contact Giles @ Smart

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