Interview with BitsDuJour 0

Funny how Facebook sometimes works, I run across one of my older connections in the software industry, the BitsDuJour guys. I contacted them a few years ago while I was a hotshot marketing manager at Avangate. So I invited Nico to an interview to find out how things are going. BitsDuJour is one of the “original” one discount per day sites, tailored to the software industry, right?
Nico: That’s right, we’ve been in business for over five years, well before Groupon exploded onto the scene, and you can now get daily deals from everything from pizza to kitchen sinks, and yes, I actually found a kitchen sink daily deal on a site last year. We showcase Mac and PC software and WebApps too, everything for people who love the software. We continue to work with Avangate and your replacement over there, but it’s great to catch up!

How did the site start? Was it a new concept back then?
Nico: Well, BitsDuJour wasn’t actually our idea; it was started by Ellen Craw as a WordPress blog featuring just one deal a day. There weren’t too many daily deal sites back then, and BitsDuJour was the first to do downloadable software for the PC. We’d like to think that we did for software what did for hardware, as they were the first daily deal site out there. Woot started as they had an inventory problem with too much stock in their warehouses. At BitsDuJour, we’ve always been lucky that we sell digital downloads, so we can have infinite inventory.

So how does the site actually work?
Nico: We work directly with software vendors and arrange a deal that typically runs for 24 hours. We get the software vendors to give us a coupon code for 50% Off, or sometimes up to 100% Off their regular full-price software. We publish the deal on our site, send out a couple hundred thousand emails to our fans and hopefully see a huge spike in sales.

Then it means it works both ways; it helps people get better prices on software and software vendors to get more customers, right?
Nico: Absolutely. We’ve got a loyal following over the years of people who really love the software. I spoke to one of our customers on the phone who purchased ninety pieces of software from us in a year – now that’s a real fan! Many of our customers are also developers too, we have a pretty technical audience, and this works well for software developers who have built a great niche product but don’t know how to do marketing or sales. We like to think of ourselves as a mini marketing department for software companies, especially with some of the new services we’ve built out recently.

I know that nowadays there are a lot of copycats sites, so, Nico, how is BitsDuJour different?
Nico: Well, yes, there has been an explosion of software deal sites; I have about fifty listed that I found. Many of them are bundle sites, and many don’t operate every day, and a lot don’t last more than a few months. Apart from our size we now offer four different types of promotions. We have our classic 24-hour promotions and new everyday promotions, where you can get a smaller discount on a huge range of software. We also run 100% Off promotions and promotions on Facebook, which gives software developers more ways to market their products and reach new customers, allowing them to build an email list of the Facebook fanbases. For the customers, our breadth of deals really can’t be beaten; most sites are pulling the same deals published by the e-commerce companies, whereas we’re arranging the deals one by one.

What are the most successful software products you are selling?
Nico: The most successful software titles we promoted are just really great, to begin with! We have a list on our “Best Bytes” page, and you can see that the titles are really varied. One thing they share in common is that they’re not the mass-marketed software that you see on TV – we sell real technical products for real people, be it graphics, antivirus, or utilities. We stay well clear from the “click now your computer may be infected” types!

And what were the biggest companies you had on board?
Nico: Well, with over 2000 software companies on our books, it’s more like who haven’t we worked with! It’s a pretty comprehensive list, although some of the bigger companies still elude us as they simply do their own in-house marketing and don’t work with third parties. That’s not going to stop us knocking on their doors, though.

Can you buy at a discounted price as a business as well? And is it the same software you are usually buying at the regular price?
Nico: Yes, we have a rule that the software for sale on BitsDuJour should be the same software that’s for sale on the web. We found that our customers really don’t appreciate “lite” versions of products, so we hold ourselves to that standard whether you’re a business or a person, you’re still purchasing straight from the software vendor, so it’s the same product.

What if something doesn’t work right with the software? Who is offering support?
Nico: The support comes directly from the software vendor as they’re the ones completing the sale, so they’re always your first port of call. We do like to be advocates for our customers and our vendors, too, so in the rare cases that there’s confusion, we try and stay proactive and fair and make sure everyone’s happy.

What happens if you’ve just missed a promotion?
Nico: We do get the odd pleading email, but there’s not really much we can do once a sale is over. We do like to bring back our best sellers after several months or work with vendors to time promotions around their software releases. For customers, we are often able to get a smaller coupon to put up after a 24-hour promotion has ended, so there’s always hope!

How do you feel the software market has evolved over the years?
Nico: Well, it’s certainly diversified. It used to be that the only way you could sell software was through your own website, but now there are more deal sites and more app stores, which means more opportunity, but also more accounts to maintain for the software vendor. The changes with Google mean that download sites are not nearly as important as they once were; they just don’t bring in the traffic. Customers also expect a deal and ask for this – just as I was writing this, I had a call from a huge airline company asking if I could arrange a price break on a $30 piece of software. People just expect it now!

How can one make sure never to miss a product that they need?
Nico: There are several ways, you can join our Daily Bits email list, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, subscribe to our RSS feed, or find the deals that you want and click the “I Want This” button. Either way, you’ll get notified of our deals.

What are the 100% Off deals, and are there really free?
Nico: Our 100% Off deals really are 100% Off! We make sure that the products are the exact same ones that you’d get from the software site itself. The only limitations that there might be in the 100% Off deals is that the vendor may not offer support or upgrades to the product, or you may have to install the software while the promotion is running. We detail all this in our “Fine Print” tab, which you can find on the deal page itself, but we’re not out to try and push a free trial or adware out on unsuspecting customers; we’re out to get people great products.

And for the future? What are you preparing?
Nico: Well, we just got done with a redesign of our site, which has been a long time coming, and we’ve got a lot more to do to bring it to where we want it to be. A greater breadth of deals and more control over what you can see. We’re working on a few trails for new ways to promote software, but I can’t give out all my secrets… you’ll have to stop by!

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