Got a little while to go before having to cross this bridge, but I’ve been thinking about various ways to go about providing a demo for a piece of on-premises software I’ve got in the pipeline.
Having a look at some of the other players in the space, most seem to go for one of 3 options.
- No demo at all
- Shared demo, periodically reset
- Download and install with trial license
Each option listed so far has some pretty big downsides.
- No demo = nothing to play with = no second look.
- Shared demos can get vandalised or locked out. Potential customers don’t feel like they have any ownership over the data and may not explore its full feature set. Shared environment also precludes showing all leads an effective onboarding process - leaving them thinking it is a daunting configuration task.
- Downloadable demos are ripe for piracy. While Ioncube/Zend are nice tools to keep low level piracy at bay, providing downloadable demos is the quickest way to seeing a nulled copy finding its way online.
I’m thinking the best option so far is a hybrid approach to #2: Offering a private hosted demo, with little more than a Name/Email field to spin an instance up. It will take a bit more time and effort to get the infrastructure going behind it, but from my point of view the positives seem pretty good:
- The private instance doubles as a lead generation form
- Can gain metrics on feature usage that may not be acceptable to collect from an on-premises install
Are there any other Bootstrappers out there that have tried different approaches and can shed some light/data on the subject?