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All posts by Robi Ganguly

apptentive-device

Building our team: new funds and partners for growth

It’s all about relationships

At the core, our company is about building relationships. Establishing relationships with our customers. Forming relationships with our strategic and software eco-system partners. Helping our customers build better relationships with their customers.

As we continue to build Apptentive, it’s helpful for us to remind ourselves of this simple fact. It drives how we make decisions and with whom we choose to work.

Today I have the pleasure of sharing that we’ve added some very meaningful partners to our company in the process of raising our Series A. Working with the good people at SurveyMonkey and Origin Ventures, we’re taking the next step in our company’s evolution. I’m also delighted to have the continued support of our early investors, with Golden Venture Partners, Founders Co-Op and our many angels joining all four of the co-founders in participating in this round as well.

On behalf of all of us here at Team Apptentive, I’d like to share some personal thoughts about what this means for our growing company. While fundraising is often perceived as being about the money, for us this is really more about the growth we’re experiencing and the continued investments we need to make in order to deliver on the expectations of our customers and ourselves.

Believing in the concept of “Customer Love”

First, I love that we found people who are as committed as we are to the concept of “Customer Love” in SurveyMonkey and Origin Ventures. We are living in a new era where customers are once again being appreciated for what they really are: the most important strategic focus for every company worth it’s salt. Customers, not companies, are the engines of the modern economy. Earning the love – not just the respect or the admiration – of each and every customer is an increasingly crucial task for every company today. The most innovative and successful companies know this already and are doubling down on this commitment… with great outcomes as a result.

Origin-Steve-Bruce-Mac-Woz

Origin Ventures’ Steve Miller and Bruce Barron

In Origin Ventures, we now have a long-term investment partner which brings deep experience and relationships with many of the largest consumer product and brand companies in the world. Not to mention a team of partners, including Steve Miller and Bruce Barron (pictured here working away on a Mac signed by…oh just, you know… The Woz) and Brent Hill, who really understand not just what kind of mobile software platform we’re building here, but why.

Software development and design innovation are speeding up even as their costs decrease. At the same time, new customer feedback channels have dramatically increased the speed and quality of our insight into what *really matters most* to people. The rise of social media has helped dramatically raise the volume of the customer’s voice. Now mobile devices and applications are quickly changing the game once again. This is why earning customer love – through more efficient and effective mobile app communications – is what we’ve been focused on helping companies do since Day One here.

In Tim Cook’s recent remarks accompanying the latest Apple product releases, he emphasized the importance at his company of delivering an amazing customer engagement experience at every point-of-contact with Apple’s devices, software, and services. apptentive-deviceWe totally agree about the first-priority focus they place on customer delight. But we also want to point out that there is one vital aspect of the mobile experience where Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others in the devices-and-software market simply “go dark” as it relates to customers: inside the applications. This is exactly where companies need to dig deeper and turn their software into communications channels. This is also where Apptentive comes in.

Finding partners who understand this opportunity and who believe in the importance of companies getting more personal has always been a crucial part of our decision criteria. I’m delighted that in our new partners SurveyMonkey and Origin Ventures, we’ve found this shared belief in spades.

Ensuring that Our Customers Love Us

Second, I love the response that we’re hearing from many of our own customers about their experience integrating and using our mobile CRM software tools. Raising our Series A round gives us a variety of options for how best to fuel our next wave of growth plans. One of the most important inputs into these decisions will be the ideas and feedback we’re getting from our current (and soon-to-be!) Apptentive customers. Chuks-Personify.iTSo, keep it coming. We are striving to earn your love of us every day – not only through our software, but also through our team and approach. Consider this a humble request not to congratulate us on this news, but instead to share with us what you love about our company today and how we can do better for you tomorrow.

Growth isn’t just external – often, great growth comes because of internal refinement, insight and focus. Our company has benefited substantially by seeking out mentors and partners who can help us grow into the company we strive to be. In searching for partners who can help us serve our customers better, we really aimed to find great operating experience – people who have built great businesses, delighted their customers, and grown amazing teams in the process. We think we’ve accomplished that goal in this fundraising round.

It Takes A Team to Deliver on Love

Most importantly, I love the team and the company that we are building here at Apptentive. We believe that there is something quite powerful – and motivating – in helping our customers earn their own customers’ love and loyalty through better, more personal communications. We try to incorporate this concept into our priorities for building this company, too. I am so excited about the prospect of welcoming more talented people who share these values and want to join us in achieving this ambitious mission.Feelin-the-love

So if you know talented engineers, marketers, and customer success and sales people (or if you are one yourself) who have that *extra bit* – the “love your work” bit – woven into the fabric of their careers, then consider this my shameless pitch to get in touch soon. Did I mention that we’re hiring? You can learn more about the amazing team that we get to work with every day here.

It’s been an exciting day to reflect. Now it’s time to get back to work.

Let’s keep building the app love… one customer at a time.

Team Apptentive

Robi, Mike, Andrew, Sky, Josh, Steve, Red, Andrew, Peter, Matthew, Stacia, Christy, Nick, Blake and Clay (and perhaps, you)

Apple Events WWDC 2014

WWDC 2014 – Apple’s developer relationships mature

Open.

Apple opened up – it showed us more love, more insight into what’s coming next and more answers. Last week’s WWDC was notable in its universal inspiration of developers. The reason was a simple one: they felt like they’d been heard. As @jsnell wrote before WWDC, there is a new confidence to this version of Apple. This Apple shares more and listens harder. Gruber and Matt Drance agree that this WWDC was a monumental success, covering most of the main requests from the developer community and then shocking them with the dream of a new beginning. It feels like Swift is a jolt of forced fresh thinking at just the right time.

To The Cloud.

I find it fascinating to watch Apple transform in front of us. The future of computing is service-oriented. Unfortunately, services are an area of weakness for Apple. iCloud continues to be unreliable, the App Store has been massively behind Google Play’s innovation curve and the company who defined act 1 of digital music looks downright old in Act 2:  Beats seems like a blatant admission. Apple can’t afford to give up here, however. They realize that the changes might render them irrelevant. Not immediately, but over the next 10 to 15 years. Apple knows what it’s like to peak and then be beaten. They have respect for how quickly this can change. So they’re changing themselves, working to build out more services and taking more “risk”. As Matt shared, Apple struggles with a more open, services-oriented approach because of how they perceive risk:

The massive technical and political change required and subsequently generated by things like extensibility, third-party keyboards, and a new programming language, bears massive risk both inside and outside of Apple. That risk — to security, to battery life, to a consistent experience that customers know and trust — was constantly evaluated when I fought for SDK enhancements as a Technology Evangelist inside Apple. And more often than not, it was decided either that the risks were too high, or that there wasn’t enough time to solve the problem while sufficiently containing those risks.”

Contrast that with Google, Amazon and Facebook: they have grown up in a services-oriented world and are steeped in how to iterate quickly and take “risks” with developer-facing offerings. The word risk means different things to these companies – they’re used to deploying their software into the cloud. Apple is getting more comfortable with this concept, finally. You can see it with their announcements about iOS 8. A lot of the announcements were about upgrades to their developer services. You can see this by dissecting two of the most interesting areas of change:

  • The notifications center and app widgets
  • The App Store and iTunes Connect

Notification Center and App Widgets

iOS-8-Widgets-in-Notification-Center

Screenshots of the new widgets in notification center

There is a strong argument to be made that notification center will be the most important screen on your iPhone or iPad. Similar to Google Now, notifications center has the opportunity to highlight core information at the right time. However, instead of Google determining what information to show, Apple is letting developers create the experience and compete for the attention of their customers.

Widgets enable more information to be accessible through the notification center. We fully expect more apps to be including widgets and working to ensure adoption of their widgets. This new channel for communication on a customer’s home screen will be used for marketing, customer feedback, follow-up and ongoing reminders of an app’s value. If you’re an informational app, there’s no reason you need to have a customer open your app in order to access crucial information. App Widgets and the updates to Notification Center are exciting developments and we can’t wait to experiment with them with our customers. But I bring up Notification Center and App Widgets as an example of how Apple is moving into services: cautiously but in a way that’s giving developers more control over the entire iOS experience.

If we’re right and Notification Center ends up consuming more of consumer time on the mobile device, this is an important decision. Apple, historically so careful with the customer experience, is giving the keys to the engagement castle away, trusting that developers will do the right things. This new Apple is letting developers define the mobile experience.

What will be interesting to observe is what happens when app developers get too aggressive with their widgets. Will the review process begin to test notifications out? Will developers be throttled in their widget activity? What extra controls will be embedded in the Settings section to give people control over the noise in Notification Center?

App Discovery and Marketing in the App Store

While much is made of iCloud and iTunes, the App Store is likely Apple’s most impactful web service today. Unfortunately, app discovery and search in the the App Store have long been a point of contention because developers and publishers have felt like they had insufficient tools and very little insight into the decision-making processes. While we don’t expect all of that to change with this update, it’s clear that Apple has invested more time and energy in improving the experience, both for publishers and app customers. Most of the improvements that were made should improve search, discoverability, reporting, attribution and conversion tracking. Fundamentally, the App Store team is providing a service that helps mobile businesses grow and they’re starting to act like it.

Apple's iOS 8 should bring related search

Related Search coming soon?

Improved Search

The changes don’t appear to be deployed yet on iOS 8 devices – but from the keynote, Apple’s new app store search will include “trending searches.” Similar to trends on Twitter, this feature gives insight into what are current popular searches in the App Store. It will be interesting to see how these suggestions will differ from the apps that appear in the Top Charts.

Replacing the “Apps Near Me” Section

Apple's iOS 8 will revamp app discovery

Bye bye “Apps Near Me”

Apple’s new “Explore” function in the App Store is a major improvement over the previous “Apps Near Me” feature that had limited use cases. With “Explore,” you are able to easily drill down into sub categories of each app vertical to find apps that suit your needs. The key takeaway here is that Apple is clearly experimenting with discovery methods and once “Apps Near Me” proved to be unsuccessful, they weren’t afraid to change it up.

App Previews

App previews have been desired by publishers for years – demonstrating an interactive app with flat screenshots is just not sufficient to the task. Great app previews will provide a boost in downloads for apps by telling the story more effectively. For paid apps this will become an important tool for converting visitors into a paid install. For more information on app previews and how to make them effective, our friends at Apptamin have written a great post with tips on how to use them. What remains to be seen is how Apple is going to deal with the quality question: many of the previews will be of poor quality. Is the review process now going to encompass reviewing your App Preview? If so, how much time is this going to add to the review process?

Beta Testing

It’s no secret that beta testing has been a frustrating experience for most iOS developers. As apps get more sophisticated and customer expectations rise, it’s absolutely crucial that developers conduct some testing and get feedback from customers before launching the apps more broadly. Launching with a buggy or incomplete app is just not an option for companies with an existing brand and customer base. This process has been significantly limited by Apple’s provisioning requirements and limits.

The purchase of TestFlight implied that this was going to get more attention from Apple and sure enough, WWDC confirmed this. Making it much easier to ship beta versions of apps to up to 1000 people (note that each person can have multiple devices, really increasing the scope of testing) is a huge win for publishers. The quality of apps is certainly going to improve as a result. The fact that Apple saw this area as truly important and crucial to the ecosystem further underlines their movement to a service-oriented approach – they have to be a provider of ongoing services that improve the app development and release process and testing is a crucial piece of the puzzle now.

Reporting

Reporting and analytics have long been subpar in iTunes Connect. If you wanted to understand how many people took a look at your app’s App Store page, well, that was just impossible. If you wanted to try and implement attribution tracking, you had to work with HasOffers or another outside vendor, which meant that the vast majority of developers weren’t even thinking about the problem. Trying to understand your app’s retention and installation activity? You better set up an analytics package and get comfortable with their reports. While there were many developers who invested in analytics, attribution and other reporting tools, the problem with the lack of information coming out of Apple was that key pieces of the puzzle were missing. Without App Store view and conversion data, every other analysis was an incomplete guess. Furthermore, the vast majority of developers weren’t taking the time to invest in these tools, resulting in suboptimal results.

With more information about customer needs and actions comes better software. Apple’s rollout of reporting and analytics tools should reverse this state of affairs, democratizing the data and information about app store behavior, unleashing a wave of more finely honed app strategies and better informed developers. Many of us thought Apple just didn’t want to share this data, but WWDC communicated that Apple understands our problems and wants to help us be more successful. By investing in this area of iTunes Connect Apple is making it easier for the rest of us who help app publishers to deliver a full picture of customer activity and behavior. Our in-app communications tools help with app store download conversion and customer retention.

Now that Apple’s providing us the core data for these calculations, we can help our customers contextualize that data and act upon it instead of spending numerous cycles just to estimate impacts and results.

Looking forward: designing a better mobile experience

In addition to the items we’ve highlighted above, there are many more inspiring features that we’ll all be discovering in the coming months. You can find a full overview on all the features released in iOS 8, but the most interesting pieces won’t be clear for at least 6 months. Once iOS 8 is out the door and in the hands of consumers, we’ll get to see how the new changes are helping us make better apps and be more successful. We’re excited to see how this unfolds with a newly open and supportive Apple. We can’t wait.

Ratings Prompts for Mobile Apps

Ratings Prompts Don’t Have To Suck

John Gruber, of Daring Fireball, shared his frustration with the usage of ratings prompts last December:

I’ve long considered a public campaign against this particular practice, wherein I’d encourage Daring Fireball readers, whenever they encounter these “Please rate this app” prompts, to go ahead and take the time to do it — but to rate the app with just one star and to leave a review along the lines of, “One star for annoying me with a prompt to review the app.”

In the following weeks, several other people chimed in on the topic, having a somewhat public, flowing debate about the practice of reaching out to customers for better ratings. A deeper discussion about the app store, consumer decision-making and why ratings matter was touched on, but largely left alone as most focused on the execution of the prompts.

On one side, you had Gruber, Marco Arment and others who were strongly against the practice. On the other side, we heard from Cabel Sasser , Chris Gonzales, Dan Counsell, and Wil Shipley who had arguments in favor of reaching out to customers. Penalizing hard working developers and publishers hardly seems fair when the app store represents such an important piece of the distribution and customer connection puzzle.

Somewhere in the middle, Daniel Jalkut offered a nuanced view of the situation that asked more questions than it answered, challenging us all to explore what is truly best for the consumer. Taken in sum, this was a good beginning to what is a much larger conversation.

Ratings Prompts for Mobile Apps

Ratings prompts, while being the interruption that catalyzed this conversation, represent only the tip of the iceberg. This is about much more than ratings. It’s about more than improving an app’s rankings.

This is about how companies communicate with their customers in the mobile world.

For many companies, mobile is the primary medium of communication with their customers and the number of companies who are mobile first will only grow. Each of us carries a little communications device that buzzes and blinks all day long, alerting us to news, updates, and information. These messages build up – messages from our friends, our family and yes, the companies we’ve allowed into our inboxes, given our phone numbers, and whose apps we’ve installed.

We do not have to guess how this plays out – we already know. There are reasons why developers employ prompts, why websites have numerous pop-ups, and we can only expect to see more of these on mobile. These messages increase revenue, retention, ratings, and customer interaction. Overuse of these tactics is well documented, and while inappropriate interruptions can make a difference to a companies’ metrics, we know that appropriate, non-intrusive, implementation can make a larger one.

You don’t boycott a store because a clerk asked if they could help you or become annoyed when a cashier asks if you were able to find everything all right.

What is needed is a better answer to the question: “How can I communicate with my app customers without driving them crazy?” The answer has to come from the app developers and publishers, not the app customers. Nor can we rely on the app stores to make meaningful changes.

Starting a campaign to rate apps 1 star if they prompt for a review or calling developers greedy and desperate are not constructive and don’t take us to a healthier communications environment. You don’t boycott a store because a clerk asked if they could help you or become annoyed when a cashier asks if you were able to find everything all right.

Helping customers at the right moment

Asking people if they need help, at the right moment, can create a delightful experience.

Let’s Start Talking With Our Customers, Together

This is really about companies wanting to talk to their customers in an elegant, helpful, and relevant way without being annoying. So, what is the right way to communicate with customers inside a mobile app?

By working with thousands of companies on these problems we’ve discovered that there are a few clear guidelines that can form the basis of better behavior by apps:

  • Don’t interrupt customers in the middle of tasks or at app launch
  • Identify and enable communication at key moments in the customer’s journey – when they’re happy, frustrated, or lost. Identifying these moments should be a natural part of any app’s design process
  • Instrument your communications activity so that you know what the impacts and outcomes of your messaging strategy are – working with hard coded solutions that don’t make you any smarter about your customers’ preferences is a recipe for disaster
  • Iterate, experiment, and be able to make changes on the fly

Some Myths and A Better Way to Communicate

In the debate about ratings prompts a lot of strong feelings based upon personal anecdote formed the foundation of much of the analysis. Significant assumptions about consumer behavior at scale made its way into commonly held beliefs. What has been sorely lacking, however, has been actual concrete data.

“If you don’t know what happens when you send a message, you might as well not send the message at all.”

Here at Apptentive, we think a lot about customer communication and the experience for the end consumer. For years we’ve instrumented every message and communication we power for our customers, measuring what the outcomes are.

We’ve held ourselves to a standard that says, “If you don’t know what happens when you send a message, you might as well not send the message at all.” This perspective has served our customers and our team well. It helps us to deliver best practices, improve tools, and shed light on an area that is severely lacking in data. For example, we know that:

  • Just asking people to rate the app is ~5 to 10x less effective than starting a conversation about whether or not the consumer is happy
  • The actual words used in the message to the customer can dramatically change the % of ecstatic customers who talk about your app in the app store and impact the % of ratings that also result in reviews
  • Showing a ratings prompt on launch is 50% more likely to result in the app being closed than if it’s shown at any other point in the app
  • Customers who are asked about their opinion with an app who are unhappy are >100% more likely to return to the app than the average app customer. It turns out that being informed that the company actually cares about your opinion can change the dynamic
  • When you give people choices about what action to take, only about 20 to 30% of customers will actually exit the app to do something else.

This week we rolled out many major improvements to our services, which represents over 2 years of working with many of the world’s largest companies. We have a sophisticated communications system focused on enabling you to listen and talk with your mobile customers. Our company is betting on the fact that you, and app publishers everywhere, want to treat their customers well and with respect.

We believe that while in-app communications are inevitable, they don’t have to be annoying, unsophisticated, and a necessary evil. We know that it’s possible to connect with your app customers at the right time and we know many of you truly deeply care about the mobile customer experience. Your passion for the consumer experience is why the ratings debate prompted such strong opinions and discussion in the first place.

It’s Time We All Got Better At Talking With Our Customers

Poorly implemented ratings prompts raised awareness around how easily a mobile experience can be ruined. It’s time to re-examine all of our customer interactions and ask ourselves if we can do better. Are there better places in the app to ask for feedback? Are there places where customers might need help and appreciate a company reaching out?

As we said earlier, this conversation is just the beginning. We know there are strong opinions about this and encourage you to add your thoughts below. Many of you are our customers, colleagues, and fellow app enthusiasts and we value your words. We plan on taking the thoughtfulness and execution behind customer communication to a level beyond where it exists today on mobile and even online. We encourage you all to communicate with your customers the right way as we all work towards creating products that people love.

App Marketing

App Marketing Conversations: Q4 & Holiday Planning

The holidays are almost here and App Marketers have to prioritize!

In this installment of App Marketing Conversations we talked about the upcoming holiday season and how important it is to prioritize your marketing activities in order to make the most of the influx of new customers. With less than 6 weeks to Christmas, it’s important to plan for how you’re going to attract brand new customers, learn about how they’re different from your existing base and understand how to keep them. In addition, if you haven’t created your ad and marketing plan for the holidays and determined your absolute drop dead ship date, you’re already behind the ball. Take a look at the video from this week’s App Marketing Conversations to find out more specifics.

The Transcript:
Robi: Hello and welcome to another App Marketing Conversations. I’m Robi
Ganguly from Apptentive. As always, I’m joined by Ryan Morel from
Gamehouse, and Ian Sefferman from MobileDevHQ. We’re missing Darwin.
Ian: That’s right.Robi: But, you know.

Ian: It’s a good thing.

Ryan: Darwin’s in the corner.

Robi: For those who checked out last week’s segments, you might have
noticed that Darwin was acting up a little bit. We want to talk about Q4,
so we’re wrapping up Q3, here. And we know that many marketers out there
are thinking about how to close out the year, and Q4 is historically big
for many companies, especially retail, travel.

As you’re thinking about Q4, and we’ve had a number of years of experience
in the app ecosystem. I think there are some lessons for how to plan around
this, and how to time your product launches. So, we thought we’d share some
tips and tricks and get into that a little bit.

And then take comments and questions, so we can dig in more over the course
of the quarter.

So let’s start off, number one piece of advice that you would give to your
app marketers thinking about their Q4 planning?

Ian: If you haven’t started planning yet, it’s already too late. Like get
on the stick. Right. Q4 needs to happen early November, not late December.
Timing is everything, and having that strategy ready is gold.

Robi: What about you?

Ryan: Yes. So I think my biggest piece of advice would depend on the
company size, is not only make sure you have it planned early, but make
sure you’re starting it early. So you’re optimizing around that probably
two weeks before Christmas for two things. One, velocity of your ranking,
so that when the App Store shuts down, which it inevitably will, you’re at
the right spot. And that your user retention monetization metrics are
right.

Ian: And this is something that is really interesting, which is about the
ranking. Because I’ve always found it really weird that they shut down
rankings. Like I just never understood it. But Apple has been playing with
their rankings a pretty good amount, recently, leading me to think that
they might actually be getting ready for some sort of big change that
they’ve never done in Q4.

And it’s almost like, “Okay, well, I don’t understand what Apple’s going to
do. How do I manage around that?” And it’s like, start getting those
download velocity, ensure you have that engagement and retention, ensure
you have the right ratings, ensure your reviews look good. And like get all
of the first order priorities right, and then let the rest take care of
itself when it does, whenever it does happen, right.

Ryan: Yes.

Ian: I just have this vague sense that they’re going to change something
during Q4 this year.

Robi: Well, so…

Ryan: Prediction time.

Robi: The idea that they’ve been shifting more and more about their
rankings recently, I think underscores the fact that the historic shut down
of the App Store has indicated that it’s been highly manual, right? That
the way that they think about rankings, the way that they think about
reviews, all that stuff’s intertwined and dependent upon people. And so, if
they’re shifting a lot of the rankings, maybe they’ll be moving some of
that optimization more to their computers, which you would sort of expect,
right. It’s actually a little odd how manual it is.

So, if you assume that, then your point really is an important one.
Foundationally, we know that there are things that will matter, regardless
of whatever the algorithm ends of being. The core things that matter:
download velocity, retention, app ratings, and customer reviews. What else,
foundationally, should people be thinking about, that you think maybe
they’re not planning around as much?

Ryan: I think product launch timing is really important. So, I mean, you’re
going to see like certain developers are planning to launch their games in
early December, late November, whatever it may be. And those developers
have existing relationships with Apple and can negotiate placement, right.

There was news, unconfirmed comments this week, that Apple had either paid
PopCap, probably not, more likely, guaranteed placement for them to do IOS
exclusive. Like that stuff happens. So, if you’re not one of those people
who can get that type of promotion from Apple, you need to be watching
beforehand. The last thing you want to do is launch your title at the same
time that EA launches Battlefield on IOS or something like that. You’re
just going to get drowned out.

Robi: Rule of thumb. Would you say launch title by the first week of
December, or launch it before Thanksgiving?

Ryan: I mean this is just my opinion, I would do like early November.

Robi: Okay.

Ryan: Give you a chance to see what’s happening, drive some downloads, make
an update before Thanksgiving. Because Thanksgiving is also probably the
second busiest weekend on the App Store. Then see what happens right after
Thanksgiving; one more update, and then you punt. Cross your fingers.

Robi: Right.

Ryan: Because Christmas, I mean, it can’t be underscored how profitable
Christmas and the four days after it are. It’s unbelievable.

Robi: I find it really interesting; it’s not exactly Black Friday, you
know. And this isn’t the retail sector. But it is very much a meaningful
portion of the year in discovery for a lot of consumers, and then, by
extension, app marketers.

Ryan: Yes.

Ian: Huge.

Robi: So let’s talk a little bit more about the IOS7 aspect of this. Does
that matter, if you were thinking about the Q4 and IOS7 is sort of nice to
have? Are you crazy? Should you be pulling that in and saying, “I have to
be supporting IOS7 by the time?”

Ryan: Yes. So I think one of the, this is a guess. I’m totally making this
up; maybe this isn’t true. So what happens around the holidays? People get
together, and people talk and share things about what they’re interested
in. So AirDrop becomes really interesting, right.

So, if you’re not supporting IOS7, I’m not sure that AirDrop will work for
you, but it seems like a kind of no-brainer, right now. But the kids
sitting around on Christmas morning, or afterwards, whatever, are sharing
games via AirDrop. You have to be supporting it.

Ian: Yes, I agree with that. I think another reason why is, if you want any
hope of Apple featuring you, right, like if you care about that at all,
they simply won’t do it unless you’re optimized with their latest stuff.
They don’t give a sh** about you.

Robi: Yes. So we’ve been talking quite a bit about the App Store, as it
pertains to, Apple’s App Store. What about the Google Play Store? Same
foundational stuff? Same dynamics? Or are there differences that marketers
should be taking into account as they think about their Android releases?

Ian: I mean certainly like I don’t see the same rush to get things in. I
mean, you don’t have the shut down the same way. You can continue to do it.
But I think all of the things that we’re talking about foundationally, that
all sits on the same premise of have your ducks in a row; make sure you’re
aligned for this massive jump. That the jump isn’t going to be the same;
consumer demand isn’t going to be the same.

Ryan: Yes, I think that’s right. I have one more question for you. Like, if
you’re a new developer, because we’ve consistently heard that ratings are
an increasingly important thing. You don’t have a lot of volume. How can
you get that initial set of ratings? And how can you manage around that?

Robi: Well, I think there are two things. And one that is very much
underestimated, and very much why we’re talking about Q4 planning now, is
timing. You just, you have to be out there for a period of time, especially
if you’re new.

It’s not just going to explode, right, like you have to give yourself room
for people to download your app, use it, start interacting. And potentially
rating it if they’re happy, and if they’re not happy, finding out really
quickly. So that takes time. You can’t really force that stuff. Even if you
were to buy a lot of downloads. As we know, we’ve talked about it a lot,
it’s not necessarily going to be translated into consumers who are going to
be using it on a regular basis. Which means those are not consumers who are
going to rate you well. So that’s sort of one thing.

The second is that, if you do have other titles, and you’re sort of new in
this space, you could do some stuff with your existing audience that will
move people over to your newest apps. And that’s an asset you could do. And
I would say, sort of begging, pleading to get to your first 20 or 30
ratings, if you’re really brand new, is important. And people can do that.
We find, it’s better to get people outside of your network to do that. You
know, if you have to resort to asking your friends and family to go down on
your app and rate it because you have no attraction, nobody’s rated it,
then that will work, too.

Ryan: Yes. After how many, we’re maybe getting off-topic here, but you see
a lot of games or apps ask for ratings like almost right away, that’s
probably bad?

Robi: Our data says that’s horrible.

Ryan: Okay.

Robi: People hate that. They don’t go and rate it; they don’t take action
on it. But then they’ll also go and complain.

Ryan: Yes.

Robi: And say, “I haven’t even used your service; I haven’t used your app
at all. Why would I do that?” So we often find, and suggest to people using
our tools, to be conservative, and then sort of ramp it up more
aggressively as you get data and we report to people on the outcomes around
that.

So like a conservative estimate for a lot of apps is after it’s been on a
device for ten days, and it’s been used five to ten times, that seems like
it’s at least an indication that that person has made some commitment to
that experiment with your app to get to places that are, you know,
successful for them.

And then, what’s really important is to think about what’s unique to your
app as a success metrics. If you’re a utility, and people can actually use
you to like set up like a calendar invite, or something like that, that’s
probably aligned with them really adopting your app, as opposed to just
kind of poking around.

Ryan: Right.

Robi: So, last thoughts on Q4. We’ll come back to this, but last piece of
advice for marketers, as they’re planning?

Ian: You know my last piece of advice that we haven’t talked about is
actually get out of the marketing room and make sure your engineering is
also on track with this. Especially if you have any services in the Cloud,
make sure your infrastructure is ready.

Robi: That’s great advice.

Ryan: Yes, so, I would potentially think about pre-paying. Or you know,
negotiating now around any advertising revenue. So, especially at, well,
like this week, in the next couple of days, because we’re at the end of Q3,
people are maybe running deals and they will be happy to sandbag a little
bit. So you might be able to get some pre-paid discounts on advertising.
But I would be getting that set up now.

Robi: Yes. And I think that you should really think seriously about doing
an audit, right. How is your app, how are your teams doing in term of App
Store optimizations? How is your download velocity looking? How are your
ratings or reviews looking? How is sentiment inside your app around
customer satisfaction?

If you’re not aware of that, you can do an audit early on, to also tell
yourself and your team where you need to be by the end of November, if you
really want to be ready.

Great, well, be sure to like this, share with your friends, and check out
the other segments this week. Thanks.

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App Marketing

App Marketing Conversations: the new iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s

Apple released two new iPhones – how does this impact marketers?

In this installment of App Marketing Conversations we talked about the new Apple iPhones and discussed if they impact mobile marketers’ budgets and plans. In particular, we discussed which new audiences might become more common on iOS and how the new hardware features of the 5s might reduce friction in purchasing. Watch the video to find out more about:

  • Which audiences will probably be unlocked by the 5c
  • How to modify your marketing approach to take advantage of the new audiences

Be sure to check out the Gamehouse segment of App Marketing Conversations which talks about the mobile sensor on the iPhone 5s and to learn from MobileDevHQ about what’s new in the iOS 7 app rankings.

The Transcript:
Robi: Good morning. Welcome to App Marketing Conversations. As always, I am
joined by Ian Sefferman of Mobile Dev HQ, Ryan Morel of Gamehouse and I’m
Robi Ganguly  from Apptentive. Today we’re going to talk about the new
iPhones, starting with iPhone 5c, 5s. It came out last week and we’ll talk
about the opportunity that it presents to marketers, based upon what we
think that’s being. So let’s kick this off. What do you think about the new
iPhone 5c?Ian: I think the iPhone 5c is a device that I have no interest in personally
but that a lot of people will have interest in. We were talking beforehand.
It wasn’t a game-changer in any way. Right? It wasn’t like the rivers of
Amazon coming out of the phone that’s completely free for anybody or people
with a prime subscription or whatever. It was $100 cheaper than the 5s, but
that’s enough to open it up to a new customer segment.

Robi: Got it. What do you think?

Ryan: The same. It’s just the 5 rapped in a new shiny case. It’s really
interesting from the perspective that most people don’t know that. We know
that but 99% of the population is like, “Oh, cool. A colored phone, it’s
awesome. I’ve always wanted an iPhone and now there’s colored ones.” I
think their choice not to move really far down market is an interesting
one, and my guess is that some of it is a defensive move for their
ecosystem. Like, they don’t want all the people who aren’t going to buy
apps and are going to download content and pay money. It hurts their
ecosystem. I think it was a calculated move.

Robi: Got it. What about the opportunity from a marketer’s perspective? A lot
more people are buying these things. Obviously, we can make a volume
improvement. Is the selling market really exciting for marketers in the
next six to 12 months? Do you have to start thinking, “Oh my gosh. I really
have to think about the iPhone 5c consumer”?

Ian: Yeah, I think you do. I think it opens up a different range of consumers
as well. I think that the tweens become an interesting segment, especially
for the gaming side of the World. I think it opens up the World to tweens
and I think it also potentially opens up the World to a different segment
of 60+ year old women as well. As a marketer, you now have a much larger
base to go to.

Robi: Sort of playing on that, what’s the most exciting new demographic you
might see as a consumer?

Ryan: I think it’s the tween. If they have the iPhone, they have some
amount of disposable income. Their parents are giving them money from their
parents’ account, or whatever it is. We know it’s true that, that
demographic is addicted to their phone and addicted to content. If you have
content or have passion for developing content for that age group, this
could dramatically change the prospects of your business.

Ian: So, let’s move a little bit iPhone 5s. What’s your favorite thing about
the iPhone 5s?

Ryan: I haven’t played with it yet, so I don’t know. I’m sure all of it is
pretty cool. I’ve finger-printed the A7 chip, the M7 sensor. It’s all
really interesting. The most interesting thing is the…This is really the
foundation for the next three years or so for Apple and how they approach
the market and services they provide because that’s clearly what they’re
pushing for.

Ian: What do you mean by that? I don’t know much about the hardware specs on
it but, for me it was kind of a lackluster launch.

Ryan: The M7 chip, with the ability to track movement, speed, location, ID
cam, which starts to give you some interesting indoor mapping options as
well as Geo-cash hunting sort of stuff. The 64bit processor enables almost
about five years of console-quality gaming. Is Apple putting Apple up to a
new TV product that all of the sudden replace consuls and just put in
things like infinity play? I think that’s really interesting. Finger-print
with potential to unlock payments. Again, with the low-power blue tooth eye
beacon stuff. That could be really interesting for the long term. I think
their choice to make all of their office competitors pretty was also an
interesting one. It’s defensive and it keeps Google and Microsoft from co-
opting services on their devices. I think that’s smart.

Robi: Yes. Not as familiar with the hardware specs but thinking about the
services around the 5s, did anything come to mind that you’re like, “This
is really interesting. It opens up the opportunity to…”

Ian: I thought in general it was a lack-luster launch. It’s actually not the
most interesting now. The office suite or whatever it is, iWord, or
whatever, was the most impressive thing for me. I think that was totally a
defensive move but it was also a, “Look, we are actually betting on the
iPad tablet, not just the iPhone, becoming a place for media, content
creation, rather than just consumption and that will continue to shift the
World towards the mobile ecosystem and Apple’s ecosystem.

Robi: I think the really interesting thing about the 5s, if you look at it
sort of macro, is that even if Apple is looking to broaden its market or go
down market or at least achieve lower price points and bring in a different
class costumer, they’re also leading the way on IM. The touch that allows
you to log in to your device by finger-print scanning…that’s crazy! We
have finger-print scanners on our phones now. That’s way out on front to
me. Even though it’s not the first one, this is going to be mass market.
We’re going to be comfortable finger-print scanning thanks to Apple.
They’re pushing that out and it says to me as a marketer the continued
investment in their ecosystem is going to read high on rewards, with a
broader base of consumers to spend more money. Apple’s really good at
getting people to spend money. I’ll tell you, I bet the 5s is going to lead
to 50% increases for purchases for some apps.

Ryan: Even just like, playing with my phone yesterday and knowing there’s
this ID touch screen thing that I could be using makes putting in a
password really annoying because my password is kind of long and
complicated. So I’m always like, “God! I could be done by now! I have to
have this new phone!” It’s the age-old thing. If you can remove friction
from any point in the process, you will make more money.

Robi: I think that motion-sensing stuff is really interesting. In our next
segment, Ryan is going to lead a conversation about that and the
opportunities there. Be sure to check that out, as well as Ian’s segment,
like us on YouTube and share with your friends.

ios-7-logo

Quit Hating on iOS 7 & Be Constructive

(Update, you can discuss this post on HackerNews here)

Last Saturday, a tweet from Cory Bohon grabbed my attention and, apparently, a lot of other people felt like me – take a look at its faves and retweets:

A screenshot of Cory Bohon's tweet about iOS 7 complaints on Twitter and how to give feedback more constructively

As a company that is totally focused on mobile customer feedback and communication, we wholeheartedly agree about this. Yes, iOS 7 has some inconsistencies, some rough edges and some bugs, but it’s not constructive to just HATE on an entirely new OS in public on Twitter.

Especially when it’s so easy to do something constructive!

Do you want to actually effect change? Here’s what you can do:

If you’re a consumer with bugs, feedback or suggestions about iOS 7, go here: http://www.apple.com/feedback/iphone.html

If you’re a developer with bugs to report, you can use Apple’s bug reporter here (requires an Apple ID): bugreport.apple.com

We believe in the power of customer feedback – real people read these bug reports and suggestions and want to make amazing products. You can be part of the solution to the problems you’re experiencing and help every customer of Apple in the process.

“Haters gonna hate” – but is that who you are?

In working with thousands of companies making apps, the phrase “haters gonna hate” comes up a lot. For any product or service that achieves a modicum of success, there will be a group of people who choose to vent, complain and badmouth you. But our belief is that this group is very small and it’s dwarfed by the people who actually care about your product enough to feel strongly. For those customers, making it super easy to listen and responding to them is crucial to ensuring that they feel heard.

We suspect that most of you out in Twitter-land complaining are closer to “Apple Lovers” than “Apple Haters.” If you’re frustrated because you love the company, their products, and their employees then you owe it to yourself to take advantage of constructive channels for sharing your opinion.

Take the extra 30 seconds and give them constructive criticism in a channel that they’re listening to and have set up explicitly to make better products. They’re listening and working as hard as they can on developing an amazing experience. They do care what you think. After all, this is a company that was founded by someone famous for answering emails himself and currently run by someone who cares enough to show up at stores on launch day.

App Marketing

App Marketing Conversations: App Ratings & Engagement are Impacting App Store Rankings

App ratings are now even more important to your app’s organic marketing strategy

In this installment of App Marketing Conversations we talked about the news that Apple’s app store is now taking app ratings and engagement into account in a more meaningful way for setting the rankings of apps. We dug into some key questions that marketers are asking us about what this means and how to take advantage of  the changes. A few key questions to be asking about your app’s trajectory:

  • How many of your customers actually love the app?
  • Are your app customers using the app regularly?

Be sure to check out the Gamehouse segment of App Marketing Conversations which talks about what we can learn from the data indicating that the majority of app development is happening internationally now and from MobileDevHQ’s segment on the changes to the App Store Search Ranking methodology.

The Transcript:

Robi: Good morning. Welcome to another App Marketing Conversations. I’m here, as always, with Ian Sefferman, of MobileDevHQ, and Ryan
Morrel, of Gamehouse. I’m Robi Ganguly, from Apptentive. I want to take a few minutes this week to talk about an interesting conference that happened here in Seattle last week; it was called MoDev Tablet, put on by MoDev. This was their first real conference on the west coast, and it was very tablet-focused on a lot of really interesting content, in particular 3 different organizations were talking about they’re engaging with consumers, particularly around tablets. Nordstrom was there, Major League Soccer was there, USA Today was there. All of them had different takes, but they were all really seeing a lot of interesting use cases. I wanted to talk about that a bit and what it means for marketers.

I’ll start with I think a lot of people were surprised at first when I said that they were there, but then they got it. The MLS,
Major League Soccer, has in the past couple years, really built out a digital presence to engage with fans who are, as content
consumers go, rabid. In a previous segment, we were talking about fantasy football. Sports fans consume everything about
their sport, and Major League Soccer has really capitalized on this by creating lots of digital content, lots of technology to
watch stuff. What they were talking about being able to do on the tablet was really let the consumption of the sport happen;
you can see lots of different clips from different angles, but have the ability to go deeper, more personal. You, if you’re a
stats geek, can use their tablet experience, and some of this is web-based and some of this is app-based, in order to go deeper
on stats. An example of that is you can see the different shots on goal that a player makes, and then their percentage of
success with those different shots on goals. As a stats geek you can get into it.

I want to push this out to you. Have you seen yourself as sports fans, a change in the way you consume sports with mobile
devices, with tablets?

Ian: I am not a big MLS fan. There’s no team in Detroit, so why would I be? I’m a huge college sports fan. ESPN3, or whatever they call it, Watch ESPN now, and March Madness, completely changed my life. Being able to see multiple games at once, being able to
see all of the stats online; all of that stuff has totally been a massive shift. It’s been a time shifter; I can watch the games
whenever I want, especially on ESPN3. I can play Shift; I can watch it while I’m at the office, I can watch it at home, I can
watch it on the bus, whatever, and it’s allowed me to go deeper. As a sports fan, tablets are an incredibly useful venue for
consuming the information.

The other interesting thing is, I saw this yesterday, that ESPN is now in talks with some of the IBTV folks, the InternetTV
folks, to get all of their content directly onto that stuff.

Robi: Interesting.

Ian: Which will, I’m sure, send shivers down many cable network CEOs.

Robi: Just all across the country, they just went . . .

Ian: Exactly.

Ryan: As you were saying this, all I was thinking was, ‘The content wants to be free. Let it go.’ When you think back maybe 7 years ago, and you go home and go watch March Madness, it’s like, “Let’s go to the bar down the street for March Madness.” Then it was like,
“CBS has this thing; you can watch 1 or 2 games online, but it’s still video over the web and it’s crappy sometimes.” Now it’s,
“We can go watch these 3 or 4 games all at once on different screens. That’s fantastic,” Then you run into some content
distribution ownership rights and all this crap, and you’re like, “What is going on here?”

Ultimately, I think it just gets better from here. Now there’s opportunities, especially with sports and things that people are
really passionate about; you can almost consider them niches, to create really deep, engaging experiences. I think that’s just
going to grow as . . . these people that own these content distribution rights are going to have to start letting them go.
Comcast, we all know their big fear is being a dumb pipe, and that’s why they bought NBC. They’re still going to be a dumb
pipe.

Ian: They’re going to be dumb pipe with NBC.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly.

Robi: I think this is interesting as we talk about everything, one of the things that came up over and over again at this tablet
conference was the way in which you could go much deeper to engage customers and engage your fans. The way that MLS was
thinking about it was very forward thinking, like ‘We’re building this league. We’re building this brand presence, and
this allows us to get those fans even deeper.’ There’s this constant overwhelming theme of ‘mobile helps you get deeper into
a customer’s life’. You can’t necessarily do that for everybody, but if you have 20 million loyal fans, you can let those people
just do everything they want to do with your content. Freeing it actually helps you get that relationship much more cinched.

Ian: I think on top of that is mobile allows you to give, and especially tablets; you have a massively-connected social experience in the tablet, as well. One of the things, I think March Madness did this, CBS did this, was integration with Twitter for people
talking about a specific game. When I first saw it, I was like, “This is stupid. This is just a gimmick.” By the end of March
Madness, especially because Michigan went to the finals, by the end of March Madness, I was so in on that. I was like, “Look at
all these people. Look at these idiots from Louisville.” I was so in on it. It was, first of all, I had this personal
connection with the tablet, because for whatever reason, I feel more personally connected when I’m using a tablet. I don’t know
if that’s just because I’m literally holding it in my hand, and then it has the direct integration with social. All of a sudden
I’m like, “I should participate in this,” and I’m going way deeper than I would have ever gone if I was just laying on my
coach clicking buttons.

Robi: Wow. That’s pretty awesome, if I think about. What’s an experience where you went overboard?

Ryan: I don’t know that . . . unfortunately, I used to be extremely over- the-top sports fan. Since I’ve had kids, I’ve gotten a little bit older; I’m just not so much anymore. It was also just like this guy, “Look at all these Louisville.” All right, man,
whatever. I think ultimately this is . . . we’ve talked about this funnel over and over again, and how you can use apps to get
into this lower section of your really good consumers. Those are the people you want to inundate with content and options to
engage with you, because the more you let them choose the path they’re on, the more they’re going to do so, and the more likely
they’re going to be to come back. Apps are a . . . it’s a choice. They made, they declared their intent to engage with
you.

Robi: At first, I think I was a little bit ambitious in wanting to talk
about these 3 different companies. I think that I’m going to
have to break this up. We’re going to have to come back to some
of those [inaudible: 07:54] from USA Today and Nordstrom, but
just the MLS experience for marketers, I think the real lesson
is when you have fans, doing everything you can to go deeper and
deeper and draw them in, especially on this device that makes
you feel more personally engaged, is a huge opportunity. Think
about how you can do that.

Ian: One amazing customer is better than 100 customers who don’t care.

Robi: Exactly. That’s absolutely right. With that, I’m going to wrap this
up and say please share this, Like it on YouTube, and then check
out the other segments this week where Ian and Ryan drop some
knowledge. Thanks.

Ian: Thanks.

Ryan: Thank you.

App Marketing

App Marketing Conversations: How Major League Soccer is Using Tablets to Connect with Fans

Do you think that tablets can make better fans?  

In this installment of App Marketing Conversations we dug in on a conversation from the MoDev Tablet Conference, where the MLS talked about how they’re using technology and tablets to deepen the fan experience and really enable another level of engagement. We dug into what it’s like to really create an adoring fan base and covered specifics like:

  • How can you enable the “stats geek”?
  • What can we learn from sports to apply to other areas of industry?
  • Why the tablet is a perfect device for augmenting the fan experience

Be sure to check out the Gamehouse segment from this week’s App Marketing Conversations, Candy Crush’s amazing success in the free to play space.

The Transcript:

Robi: Good morning. Welcome to another App Marketing Conversations. I’m
here, as always, with Ian Sefferman, of MobileDevHQ, and Ryan
Morrel, of Gamehouse. I’m Robi Ganguly, from Apptentive.

I want to take a few minutes this week to talk about an
interesting conference that happened here in Seattle last week;
it was called MoDev Tablet, put on by MoDev. This was their
first real conference on the west coast, and it was very tablet-
focused on a lot of really interesting content, in particular 3
different organizations were talking about they’re engaging with
consumers, particularly around tablets. Nordstrom was there,
Major League Soccer was there, USA Today was there. All of them
had different takes, but they were all really seeing a lot of
interesting use cases. I wanted to talk about that a bit and
what it means for marketers.

I’ll start with I think a lot of people were surprised at first
when I said that they were there, but then they got it. The MLS,
Major League Soccer, has in the past couple years, really built
out a digital presence to engage with fans who are, as content
consumers go, rabid. In a previous segment, we were talking
about fantasy football. Sports fans consume everything about
their sport, and Major League Soccer has really capitalized on
this by creating lots of digital content, lots of technology to
watch stuff. What they were talking about being able to do on
the tablet was really let the consumption of the sport happen;
you can see lots of different clips from different angles, but
have the ability to go deeper, more personal. You, if you’re a
stats geek, can use their tablet experience, and some of this is
web-based and some of this is app-based, in order to go deeper
on stats. An example of that is you can see the different shots
on goal that a player makes, and then their percentage of
success with those different shots on goals. As a stats geek you
can get into it.

I want to push this out to you. Have you seen yourself as sports
fans, a change in the way you consume sports with mobile
devices, with tablets?

Ian: I am not a big MLS fan. There’s no team in Detroit, so why would I
be? I’m a huge college sports fan. ESPN3, or whatever they call
it, Watch ESPN now, and March Madness, completely changed my
life. Being able to see multiple games at once, being able to
see all of the stats online; all of that stuff has totally been
a massive shift. It’s been a time shifter; I can watch the games
whenever I want, especially on ESPN3. I can play Shift; I can
watch it while I’m at the office, I can watch it at home, I can
watch it on the bus, whatever, and it’s allowed me to go deeper.
As a sports fan, tablets are an incredibly useful venue for
consuming the information.

The other interesting thing is, I saw this yesterday, that ESPN
is now in talks with some of the IBTV folks, the InternetTV
folks, to get all of their content directly onto that stuff.

Robi: Interesting.

Ian: Which will, I’m sure, send shivers down many cable network CEOs.

Robi: Just all across the country, they just went . . .

Ian: Exactly.

Ryan: As you were saying this, all I was thinking was, ‘The content wants
to be free. Let it go.’ When you think back maybe 7 years ago,
and you go home and go watch March Madness, it’s like, “Let’s go
to the bar down the street for March Madness.” Then it was like,
“CBS has this thing; you can watch 1 or 2 games online, but it’s
still video over the web and it’s crappy sometimes.” Now it’s,
“We can go watch these 3 or 4 games all at once on different
screens. That’s fantastic,” Then you run into some content
distribution ownership rights and all this crap, and you’re
like, “What is going on here?”

Ultimately, I think it just gets better from here. Now there’s
opportunities, especially with sports and things that people are
really passionate about; you can almost consider them niches, to
create really deep, engaging experiences. I think that’s just
going to grow as . . . these people that own these content
distribution rights are going to have to start letting them go.
Comcast, we all know their big fear is being a dumb pipe, and
that’s why they bought NBC. They’re still going to be a dumb
pipe.

Ian: They’re going to be dumb pipe with NBC.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly.

Robi: I think this is interesting as we talk about everything, one of the
things that came up over and over again at this tablet
conference was the way in which you could go much deeper to
engage customers and engage your fans. The way that MLS was
thinking about it was very forward thinking, like ‘We’re
building this league. We’re building this brand presence, and
this allows us to get those fans even deeper.’ There’s this
constant overwhelming theme of ‘mobile helps you get deeper into
a customer’s life’. You can’t necessarily do that for everybody,
but if you have 20 million loyal fans, you can let those people
just do everything they want to do with your content. Freeing it
actually helps you get that relationship much more cinched.

Ian: I think on top of that is mobile allows you to give, and especially
tablets; you have a massively-connected social experience in the
tablet, as well. One of the things, I think March Madness did
this, CBS did this, was integration with Twitter for people
talking about a specific game. When I first saw it, I was like,
“This is stupid. This is just a gimmick.” By the end of March
Madness, especially because Michigan went to the finals, by the
end of March Madness, I was so in on that. I was like, “Look at
all these people. Look at these idiots from Louisville.” I was
so in on it. It was, first of all, I had this personal
connection with the tablet, because for whatever reason, I feel
more personally connected when I’m using a tablet. I don’t know
if that’s just because I’m literally holding it in my hand, and
then it has the direct integration with social. All of a sudden
I’m like, “I should participate in this,” and I’m going way
deeper than I would have ever gone if I was just laying on my
coach clicking buttons.

Robi: Wow. That’s pretty awesome, if I think about. What’s an experience
where you went overboard?

Ryan: I don’t know that . . . unfortunately, I used to be extremely over-
the-top sports fan. Since I’ve had kids, I’ve gotten a little
bit older; I’m just not so much anymore. It was also just like
this guy, “Look at all these Louisville.” All right, man,
whatever. I think ultimately this is . . . we’ve talked about
this funnel over and over again, and how you can use apps to get
into this lower section of your really good consumers. Those are
the people you want to inundate with content and options to
engage with you, because the more you let them choose the path
they’re on, the more they’re going to do so, and the more likely
they’re going to be to come back. Apps are a . . . it’s a
choice. They made, they declared their intent to engage with
you.

Robi: At first, I think I was a little bit ambitious in wanting to talk
about these 3 different companies. I think that I’m going to
have to break this up. We’re going to have to come back to some
of those [inaudible: 07:54] from USA Today and Nordstrom, but
just the MLS experience for marketers, I think the real lesson
is when you have fans, doing everything you can to go deeper and
deeper and draw them in, especially on this device that makes
you feel more personally engaged, is a huge opportunity. Think
about how you can do that.

Ian: One amazing customer is better than 100 customers who don’t care.

Robi: Exactly. That’s absolutely right. With that, I’m going to wrap this
up and say please share this, Like it on YouTube, and then check
out the other segments this week where Ian and Ryan drop some
knowledge. Thanks.

Ian: Thanks.

Ryan: Thank you.

App Marketing

App Marketing Conversations: Amazon App Store Now Supports HTML 5 Apps

Whatever happened to that whole “HTML 5 is going to crush native apps” argument?  

For a while it seemed like the whole mobile community was convinced that HTML5 was going to take over the market, rendering app store and native app development obsolete. Well, that hasn’t come to pass. So, with the news that Amazon’s App Store is now accepting HTML5 apps, we thought it was a good opportunity to discuss HTML5 again and to dig into if Amazon’s presence will meaningfully change the current trajectory of app creation in mobile. We discussed several aspects of this announcement, including:

  • Does the Kindle Fire help boost the relevance of HTML5?
  • Should marketers watch this closely?
  • Is this more important to specific verticals?

Do you think Amazon’s announcement is going to meaningfully impact the future of mobile app development? Please share in the comments.

Be sure to check out the Gamehouse segment from this week’s App Marketing Conversations, talking about burst campaigns and their declining efficacy and learn from MobileDevHQ about some conflicting reports about Android’s market share.



Transcript:

Robi: Good morning. Welcome to another App Marketing Conversations. I’m
Robi Ganguly, CEO of Apptentive. As always, I’m joined by Ryan Morel of
Gamehouse and Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ, and our occasional guest,
Darwin.

Ian: More than occasional.

Robi: So, we are going to talk in this segment a little bit about some news
out of Amazon, who continues to introduce new opportunities for app
marketers to grow their businesses in the Amazon Appstore. The recent
release from them is that you can now produce HTML5 apps and then submit
them to the Amazon Appstore.

First off, we’ve talked about HTML5 quite a bit over the past year plus.
There’s a lot of back and forth about who should be investing in it and
why. Does this make a meaningful change in how you think about HTML5 apps?

Ian: No. It’s interesting because it’s as if there’s a dying patient in an
emergency room who’s flatlined, and these are the paddles which is like,
maybe if we’re really lucky, are going to resuscitate the guy. But,
fundamentally I for a long time wanted to be all in on HTML5. I thought it
was a great idea. I actually thought somebody needed to build an HTML 5 app
store.

But, the more time I spent in the ecosystem the better Native became to me
for so, so many reasons. And platform owners care about it. Does Amazon
really have a meaningful amount of sway as a platform owner? It’s not
convincing to me that it’s going to make a huge difference.

Robi: What about you?

Ryan: I’m a long dissident of HTML5 content. I’ve never liked it. I
probably never will. But, I think it’s an interesting play from Amazon’s
perspective. It’s maybe a really, really long game where they say, “Hey
this is our potential way to access consumers on other people’s platforms
for content other than what Amazon traditionally sells, books, et cetera.”

Assuming that they’re doing this the way that I would expect Amazon to do
it, like if I have an iPad I could go to Amazon’s Appstore and buy HTML5
content and play them in my browser. That opens Amazon up to content sales,
to a vastly larger number of hardware platforms that they would never be
able to obtain themselves. So, I think it’s really interesting if the
content works.

Robi: Yes. And I think that you’ve got to be assuming that’s the bet
they’re making internally. That they think that, around the content
strategy that they’re developing, there’s an extension that they can make
into the broader market.

I think the other aspect of this that’s really fascinating is that they’re
anchoring it around the benefits to Kindle Fire owners and Kindle Fire HD
owners, that those devices in particular are being perfectly tuned for
HTML5 apps delivered by them. And I think that becomes interesting just
because they have this core opportunity to promote it, to push.

So, if you just pull that out. If you’re a marketer and you’re in sort of
the content space. Let’s say entertainment. Do you spend more time looking
at this as a result if you’re seeing already some existing meaningful
traffic growth for Kindle Fire?

Ryan: I think if you have existing content or have easy ways to produce
HTML5 content, then yes, you should think about it. But, I wouldn’t go
running out the door hiring HTML5 and JavaScript developers to produce for
it. We have seen, just over the last couple of days, that Amazon’s tablet
share, they’re now not even in the top five or seven or something like
that, so, uber-cyclical business. Yeah, I wouldn’t go jumping out the
window for it.

Ian: So this brings up a good point which is, if Amazon’s goal is to access
platforms that it doesn’t otherwise have access to, by you as an
independent developer and marketer developing for Amazon’s HTML5 store, you
could just go straight to those platforms and have a better experience
anyways.

Ryan: Yeah.

Ian: So, why wouldn’t you?

Ryan: Yeah.

Robi: Well, maybe part of the argument is if you don’t have the resources,
but you do have decent HTML5 experience, like maybe you’re Hulu and going,
“Hulu.com is okay on the tablet.” And maybe this is a better place to
promote yourself and connect billing systems, perhaps. What about the
search implications around this?

Ian: Yeah, I think that’s where it starts to get interesting. Because HTML5
apps are by their nature easier to search. They’re easier to index. They’re
easier to get deep linking and deep indexing into the content that’s going
on there. That makes search a whole lot better. Quite frankly, Amazon is
great at content search. If you look at the numbers, I think Google is
obviously the biggest search engine. Then it’s probably either YouTube or
Facebook. But, Amazon is not far down the line.

Ryan: Yeah.

Ian: They’re certainly in the top seven to ten search engines. So, I think
Amazon will do a great job of understanding what an app is actually about
in a way that we haven’t seen before. That allows a marketer to really
boost engagement and downloads.

Ryan: Yeah, and the other thing I would add is I think in the short term it
might be interesting especially if you have HTML5 content and Native
content. Use HTML5 as opportunities for trials, if that’s easier, and then
upsell people into the Native version for its fuller functionality or
whatever. I think that’s a really balanced strategy, potentially.

Ian: Yeah. So, this is one question, do we think Amazon will be paying
developers to get into this platform in the way that Microsoft pays
developers to build Windows phone apps? Do we think Amazon will, and should
you be going after those dollars?

Robi: I would say I’d be very surprised if they had a structured plan
around paying developers to do that stuff. That seems outside of their
normal behavior around cost structures and the way that they think about
building businesses. Even if they did, it’s not clear that that’s
beneficial to the people who are accepting those dollars from Microsoft.

Ryan: Yeah, or the platform owner themselves, right.

Ian: Yeah.

Ryan: Because there are plenty of platform examples where they have
content, but they still don’t have users. I think two to three years ago
the lack of content was a really valid and meaningful reason for you to
have issues growing a platform, but at this point I think we’re past that.
It’s like you’re not fighting content, you’re fighting momentum and shift
change in behavior. It’s just hard.

Ian: Yeah.

Robi: Alright, so I think we’ve covered several topics on this. The verdict
remains to be seen. We’re a little skeptical about some of the
opportunities here. But, certainly it’s nice to see Amazon broadening their
approach to apps and the Appstore. I think that as a marketer, ultimately
you want to be seeing a bigger market with consumers spending more time and
more dollars. Amazon’s clearly bringing a lot of heft from consumer
purchasing behavior. So, if you have an Amazon app, maybe it’s time to
extend it a little bit and see if HTML5 can help you do cross promotion,
and if you don’t then let’s watch and see what happens.

So, be sure to check out the other segments this week and like this video
on YouTube, share it. Thanks.

App Marketing

App Marketing Conversations: Frito Lay & Activision Experiment with Mobile Engagement

If you’re a brand that sells physical products how do you use mobile’s unique qualities to engage with customers?  

This is a question that more brands are asking themselves every day. In this week’s App Marketing Conversations we discussed an interesting campaign from Frito Lay and Activision that is attempting to crack the engagement challenge facing traditional brands. Using mobile apps to deepen the customer’s awareness of the brand and to associate it with an existing game franchise has some pretty significant potential. We discussed several aspects of this campaign, like:

  • Why even a small amount of consumer adoption could produce significant ROI for Frito Lay
  • What this means for other brand managers, and
  • Why this is just the beginning of experiments like this

Have you run a campaign like this or tried any other interesting tactics out for your CPG brand? Please share in the comments.

Be sure to check out the Gamehouse segment from this week’s App Marketing Conversations, discussing the newest data out of App Annie showing that Google Play has finally surpassed the iTunes app store in driving installs and to learn from MobileDevHQ about how Quixey’s Appurl initiative could change search and discovery for mobile apps.



The Transcript:

Robi Ganguly: Good morning, welcome to another App Marketing
Conversations. As always, I am joined by Ryan Morel of GameHouse, Ian
Sefferman of Mobile DevHQ, and I’m Robi Ganguly of Apptentive.

So this week we’re going to dig in and talk a little bit about an
interesting augmented reality app that came out as a result of a
partnership between Frito-Lay, which is a division of Pepsi, and
Activision. So, it’s called the Skylanders Giants in the Store Adventure
App. And essentially what it lets you do is, using augmented reality,
unlock various characters when you’re in the store. So let’s talk about it
first, from a sort of high level, as a concept. What do you all think about
this Ian?

Ian Sefferman: It’s interesting. I think these are the types of things
that brands need to continue to be pushing on. I’m sort of reading this and
not really understanding where the value is for the user. I’m not sure
about, like, this particular implementation, but I think it’s a smart idea,
way to get into the mobile realm for a brand that one would think has no
real relevance in being in the mobile world, Frito Lay. But they totally
do, and having large brands offline and online drive in-store promotions
is, I think, really smart.

Robi: What do you think?

Ryan Morel: I think it’s interesting. I think the in-store part
potentially makes it less exciting from a Frito-Lay perspective. If I were
them, I’d be thinking about how can we gain people outside the store by
using this brand Skylanders, because the reality is, you have a certain
subset of a population, a very small subset of the population, that cares
about Skylanders, and then an even smaller subset of that population who’s
going to download this app and do some augmented reality thing in your
game. So I’d question whether or not that was really worth it, outside of
being a good brand exercise.

So I think it would be more interesting to see them try to extend it
outside the store, doing quests or whatever it is to unlock prizes from
Skylanders and Frito-Lay, as really a brand exercise and extension.
Generally, I think it’s pretty interesting though.

Ian: What about you?

Robi: I was going to dig in a little bit further on some of the
things they talked about as reasons for this. So apparently in 2012, they
partnered with Activision to launch a Skylanders game promotion. So that
was the first foray into working around this brand and every iteration. I’m
going to guess that that must have been successful on that, enough for
their metrics, they they’re like, “Okay. Let’s go deeper.”

So they’re saying, you know, natural progression is, extend it in a
bigger, more engaging way. What I love about that is, the quote is,
“Natural progression is to extend the program in an even bigger, more
engaging way.” Parenthetically, that means mobile, right? Like, what’s
bigger and more engaging than mobile? We’re at this point already where
that’s the next logical… I think that’s great.

Augmented reality for me continues to be something I’m skeptical of.
I still haven’t really personally experienced augmented reality in a way
that I wanted to apply it to my life, but I think experimenting around this
is pretty cool.

So let’s dig in a little bit more and say, if you’re a mobile
marketer. If you’re out there and you have a consumer brand, and you’re
thinking about these sorts of things, you’re probably starting to see these
things come across your desk, or somebody sending you an email about this
and saying, “Evaluate, how do you take this information and all [inaudible
0:03:43] to start thinking about your planning?”

Ian: It starts from sort of understanding that mobile is great for getting
at your customers wherever they may be. Mobile is great at the engagement
piece of the puzzle, right? So going back, and back, and back, to your
customers in a way that you previously couldn’t. So I would start there and
say, “What are the innovative ways that we can engage with our customers in
a multitude of locations that we couldn’t do before?”

Robi: Yep.

Ryan: And at a level that you didn’t have before.

Robi: Right.

Ryan: So I saw something really interesting yesterday on Stratechery
about Facebook and how mobile is fantastic for it, and the fundamental
pieces there was mobile is the only visual platform other than the maybe e-
readers where you have 100 percent attention. Right, there is no, or very
rarely, are ads or other tabs or whatever it is. And that’s really
important, and that should just continue to hammer home the necessity for
the marketing and the development side and the UX side to be in line with,
“Hey, we need this to make… this needs to be a really compelling
experience,” because all the app marketing in the world isn’t going to help
you if your content is crappy or the experience isn’t good.

Ian: And the flip side to mobile being the only place that you have 100
percent attention is that oftentimes, those attention chunks are very, very
small, right? So you get a lot of engagement over time and over a lot of
locations but it might only be for five minutes or one minute at a time,
and so managing how your brand interacts in really small chunks is also
pertinent.

Robi: Yeah, and I think that leads into something I want to talk
about, which is, sometimes I think those of us in the mobile industry
think, “Well augmented reality hasn’t taken off, right? This activity
doesn’t seem to be that natural. Like who’s going to go to the store and
open up their phone and then look at this character and then go do this
thing with this other character?”

And I think that sort of misses the other point, which is, if you do
get five minutes at a time from some portion of customers, even if it’s a
couple hundred thousand, that is such an upgrade. That five minutes of time
is such an upgrade to your existing ability to talk to those customers.

Frito-Lay is buying ads everywhere 30 seconds at a time, of which we
think a large portion of them are fast-forwarded or people are not paying
attention to because they’re cooking dinner at the same time. And now, for
a couple hundred thousand people, you have them doing something for five
minutes, and then the way that this unfolds is, there are actually three
different in-store displays, so you can go do kind of a scavenger hunt and
find each one.

So if you get somebody to go actually change their behavior, to move
around the store, which helps out the retailer, right? You can bet
retailers are like, “Yes, I want people moving around more in the store,”
and do that, those couple hundred thousand people have now invested, what,
ten minutes of time with your brand and thinking about Frito-Lay, and then
they’re going to go home and think about Frito-Lay and Skylanders because
they just spent 15 minutes doing something around this.

I think that’s sort of the flip side of this that we don’t often talk
about. When was the last time that a brand got you to go actively spend ten
or 15 minutes doing something fun?

Ian: Apple, the only one.

Robi: With your brand new MacBook there.

Ryan: I can’t think of a single one, at least off the top of my head.
Actually the only one that… that’s not true. I got up off the couch once,
got dressed, during Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial. That was it.

Robi: Wait, was that because you saw the commercial and you felt like
you had to go exercise just watching it?

Ryan: No, no, I got up and went to Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Ian: It was the opposite of what Robi’s thinking.

Ryan: This was like ten years ago, and the point remains. It’s really
hard to get people to engage with your brand, right?

Robi: Yes.

Ryan: And I think your point is the best one, is that Frito-Lay has
no two-way communication channel or virtually no two-way communication
channel with anybody. They sell chips, right? It’s hard to talk to a bag of
chips. Easy to get people to engage with an app and send you feedback that
they just didn’t have before. So, I would still say I don’t think it’s big
enough, it reaches a big enough base of their audience to make it more than
just a brand exercise, but it’s got to be super valuable to the company.

Robi: Yeah, and I think, thinking about it again from the brand
manager, marketing manager who’s trying to deal with this. You might not
see huge ROI on this, but if you’re not learning now what’s working, if
you’re not starting to build those layers into your media strategy, two
years from now, five years from now, you’re not going to know what you’re
doing and other people are. Frito-Lay is clearly out there experimenting,
which means they know that this is where the world is going.

So I think with that, let’s wrap it up. Make sure to like this video
on Youtube, subscribe to our channel Channel, and check out the other App
Marketing Conversations.

Ian: Thanks.

Ryan: Thank you.