First screens of the Manula topic editor and tracking features

Manula logoAlas, no Manula launch yet this week.
The app is completely ready for release, but sadly I am the bottleneck myself, as I’m completely swamped with CLZ releases at the moment.
Oh well, no hurries. Live next week?

But today I do have more screen shots for you, the first screens of the Manula app itself. Also, more details about all Manula’s features can now be found on the updated website.

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Using Manula for

My new product Manula will go live within a couple of weeks. We’re currently aiming to launch before the end of this month. Just a few weeks left!

A quick recap of what it is: Manula is a web-app for creating online manuals. It lets you create, maintain and publish your manuals online. On top of that, it comes with built-in statistics tools that help you track the usage of your manuals so that you can easily spot which topics need improving.

In an earlier blog post, I have already told the story of how I got into the business of creating a manual tool. In short: I looked for a tool like this for the manuals, couldn’t find one and decided to create it in-house.
Manula is basically version 2.0 of that in-house tool, rewritten from scratch.

So, knowing the history of the tool, who do you think is Manula’s first “customer”?
Yep, of course is the first user. We have been using Manula ourselves since September 2012, for actual real life manuals. We’ve been tweaking the look of the manuals since then and today I am confident enough to show you the first screen shots of a manual created with my new toy. Continue reading

Pick our brains at the ESWC

This weekend, November 24/25, the European Software Conference (ESWC) will be held in Munich, Germany.
As always, I will be speaking at the conference (and sponsoring too).
However, this time we’re going to try something different.

For this conference, I have not prepared a presentation. Instead, Sytske and I will do a “pick our brains” session, during which we will answer any question you may have about running a software business.
Sytske will answer questions related to Customer Support, Customer Communications and Human Resources. I will be available for technical and marketing related questions.
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A/B/C split test: The power of a smile

An A/B split test I did in April this year showed that for my landing pages, photos of real people worked better than cartoons. So the completely new site design I created in June features large header images showing either me or my wife standing in front of our movie and book collections, like this:

But a comment by Gleb Koshuiko on this blog (“Try to smile on the photo”) and one by a fan of our Facebook page (“that is one angry dude”) made me think:
What would happen if the landing page had a smiling Alwin instead?
Or, let’s take this one step further, would it help if the person in the picture smiled and pointed to the main call-to-action, the free trial box?

So that is the test I just completed: Serious vs Smiling vs Pointing.

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What I learned about email marketing… the hard way

I have written about email marketing many times before. It is an important tool for selling more software, both to prospects / trial users (using auto-responder email sequences) and to your existing customers (with newsletters and sales campaigns).

And today, I am going to write about it again.

Because in the past 3 weeks I learned a lot about email marketing. Sadly, I had to learn it the hard way.

So here’s my story and a summary of the things I learned. I know, it’s long, but if a large part of your business depends on sending emails, it may save your ass one day.
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Coming soon, my new product: Manula

I have been working on the products since 1996, first part-time, then since 2000 full-time.

The company is doing great and we still have lots of ideas for improvements of the current products and are even planning new products for the software portfolio.

However, it’s time for a new challenge.
Something else to work on, next to

So in the past 4 months, one of my web developers and I have been working on
a new product, for a new audience. And it’s called: Manula.

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Reducing costs with Adwords Ad Scheduling

I am still having a love/hate relationship with the Adwords Display Network. It’s a great place to find extra traffic, especially from people who were not actually looking for a product like you’re offering. But that also means the quality of the traffic is lower.
And advertising on the Display Network doesn’t come cheap. For my target sites, a minimum bid of 20 to 30 cents is required to get impressions and even then you only get shown on the lower quality sites.

However, I don’t want to completely stop advertising on the Display Network. It is still too useful in creating awareness of my products in the right audience. (some marketing dudes call that “branding”, but I hate that word…)

So I am trying something different now: Adwords Ad Scheduling.

I am using Ad Scheduling to only show my ads on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
(at, we sell software for home users, so the weekend days are our best days of the week, with the highest conversion rates)
This lets me reduce costs, without lowering bids. I actually increased my bids somewhat, to make sure I get impressions.