(This is a guest blog post by Ashley Verrill of CRMsoftware.tv who worked with us to dig into a bit more of how mobile is changing the nature of customer relationships)
In today’s world, we face constant demands for our attention — from social media to news alerts and loyalty programs. Companies need to find ways to cut through this clutter if they want to compete in the future.This means creating anengagement strategy that reaches consumers in a natural way, rather than trying to interrupt them.
Recently, Apptentive CEO Robi Ganguly shared a video that explains how companies can infuse this kind of engagement in their mobile strategy. By integrating customer feedback tools in your mobile application companies such as Yahoo and Urbanspoon have garnered better customer reviews and increased customer retention and satisfaction.
But you have to make it easy.
Ease of use is one of the biggest distinguishing factors in a successful and not-so-successful engagement strategy. Apptentive enables companies to quickly add a customer feedback form or survey within their existing app. The form is extremely intuitive to use for the customer. What’s more, companies can proactively reach out to them with a message. For example, you might say: “Do you love Urbanspoon?” Based on the answer to this question, the customer would be taken down different feedback paths. This ensures the content is relevant to that specific customer, so the engagement feels more like a conversation.
These answers are used in four primary ways:
To assess the customer’s satisfaction with your company / mobile application.
To garner feedback about how the app can be improved.
To better understand your customer demographics.
To incite a two-way conversation that makes customers feel more connected to your brand
Not all of this feedback is used to respond to issues in real time. Companies also use this data to gain a high-level view of customer satisfaction and feedback. Apptentive customers can see analytics around customer sentiment, as well as which features in their app are used most. For messages that do require a response, the technician or support agent can instantly see details about the customer, such as which app version they are using and their device operating system.
“Our customers are telling us that they are intercepting negative feedback on a regular basis. The last thing you want are unhappy customers going to the app store and ranting in a place where you can’t respond to them,” Ganguly said.
Check out the video below to learn more about how to increase ratings and reviews for your mobile app with a more proactive engagement strategy.
Pretty much everyone trying your app really likes it and you have great ratings, but is it still difficult to get your app into new hands?
Well, unfortunately there is no secret recipe. And it’s not going to get easy. But by using video the right way, you’re adding one important piece to the puzzle of your app marketing strategy.
Let’s take a look at how video can help you promote your app, how you can get started and what you can do with it.
5 reasons to use video to market your app
Video is a powerful way to get your message across about your app.
1. It’s the best thing next to trying your app
So here’s the thing: there are tons of apps.
We hear about new apps everyday, and we don’t always have the time to try them.
With video, you can show what your app is about and what’s unique about it in a very short time. You can, in less than a minute, get potential customers excited about your application.
See, on your app page, potential customers can take a look at your beautifully designed screenshots and carefully crafted app description. That gives them an idea of what your app does. But when you get to show them your app in video, in its best light, you can communicate much more.
“A video provides the quickest way to initially assess your app, letting [bloggers] know if it’s worth downloading and testing further” – Erica Sadun, TUAW
The Mailbox app video trailer is a great example.
2. You get more qualified downloads
Not only can you get more people to download your app, these people are also more qualified.
They saw your app in action before downloading it, so they know what they’re getting into. They understand its concept and have a basic understanding of how it works even before tapping a single button.
They know why they downloaded your app AND they can learn to use it faster.
“A good demo video can go a long way to make it easier for people to understand your app” – Oliver Lo, App AnnieHow-To Guide For Android Developers
3. It’s good for branding
Ok, you might not be a big corporation.
But it doesn’t mean people should not remember your app, or your brand. Especially if you’re on your way to creating several quality apps! With a well done video, you can have app customers remember both.
They might not download your app right away, but you’re strongly improving the chances that when they hear about it again they’ll remember you.
4. It’s good for SEO
YouTube is now the second search engine.
And there are plenty of people reviewing apps or posting app trailers in there. Take control of what people find when they look for keywords corresponding to your app, and increase your visibility.
Having a good amount of views (and engagement – people watching your entire video) also helps you get your video up Google’s rankings.
5. It’s a good way to communicate with your existing customers
Using video is a great way to convert more visitors into customers.
It can also be used to communicate with your existing customers. Even if your app has been live for a while, a video showing what’s new in your next major update is an awesome way to get them excited about it (and hopefully share it).
If you have several apps targeting the same audience, video can let you efficiently promote your apps to your existing customers.
5 Tips to create a good video for your app
Whether you hire someone to make your app video or do it yourself, it’s good to keep in mind the tips below.
1. Consider your audience and purpose
There are all kinds of videos on the web. Funny videos meant to go viral, tutorials, interviews, documentaries, etc.
There is more than one way to use video to promote your app. And it can be a combination of the above, or even several videos. In all cases, it is critical that you consider your audience, as well as the purpose of your video.
When creating your video, you need to ask yourself these 2 questions:
*Who is going to be watching it?
*What are you trying to achieve?
A pretty safe bet is to go with a short video (30 seconds to 1 minute) that will highlight the benefits of your app, and show why it’s different from your competition (it is, right?). This type of video is great to use on your app website, when reaching out to bloggers or to present your app in general.
It’s like your elevator pitch, only it’s in video. And so it’s effective, you want to keep in mind who you’re talking to and why.
2. Write a script
Writing a script before creating your video is critical.
Keeping the 2 questions of the previous point in mind, you need to define what you’re going to show and how.
You have to plan it. You need to include the right elements (see #5), and you need to make sure you convey the right message about your app.
This saves you time, and if you’re working on a team everybody will be on the same page before you really get started.
3. Make it short
Your app is probably really interesting.
The best of its kind.
But people are highly sollicited online. They can be distracted by other apps people mention, or by the email their cousin just sent.
You want to make a video that is short and to the point. If you try to show all your app features (or the settings…) you’ll never be able to have an engaging and dynamic video.
4. Keep it simple
If you haven’t done any video before, or if you don’t consider yourself as skilled in this area then try to keep things simple.
Don’t go crazy with text flying all over or special effects.
Take a few ideas you feel confident you can reproduce from videos you like and keep the structure of your scenario easy to understand (intro -> features/benefits -> outro is a good start).
5. Include the essentials
You’re making a video for a specific purpose.
No matter who your audience is, you want people watching your video to remember your app, what it’s for and probably follow other call to action.
Use your intro for branding (app icon, company logo, app name, tagline, etc.) and include a call to action at the end (“download today”, “join us now”, “update now”, etc.) and in the description of your video (see below).
Watch the game trailer for Find a Way, Jose! for a good look at including the essentials.
5 ways to use video for your app promotion
What good is your awesome promo video if you don’t use it to market your app? Here are a few ways you can make good use of it.
1. Video Platforms (YouTube, Vimeo, Daily Motion)
Start by uploading your video on a video platform like YouTube, Vimeo or Daily Motion.
In fact, you can even upload it to several of them. Can’t hurt.
Make sure you choose a video title that includes your main keywords and that you also use these keywords in the video description.
If you have a voice over or text in your video, include that somewhere in the description. The description’s text is searchable on video platforms like YouTube.
2. Your App Website and Social Media
Place your video on your app website or your app landing page. If you don’t have one, fix that (and think Inbound Marketing)!
Either have a thumbnail with a play button or the video directly on the page (over the fold is better). Pick the thumbnail/preview of your video wisely: it can really change the number of people watching your video.
The better your video and the more people watch it, the more chances you have to convert your website visitors into actual app customers.
You can also of course share your video with your community on your Facebook or Twitter accounts. If your followers/fans like your app, they are more likely to share your video than a regular status update.
3. Reaching out to bloggers, journalists and influencers
As mentioned above, video is one of the quickest and easiest ways to initially assess an app and decide if it’s worth trying or not.
Guess who doesn’t have much time and plenty of apps to try? Bloggers and journalists (and other busy people).
When reaching out to them, your pitch and your video are your best assets. They might not have time to read your press release, but if your pitch is good then they most likely have 30 seconds to watch your video and decide if they want to know more.
“Creating a video takes a little more effort, but it can be of tremendous value when you begin pitching your app” – Ken Yarmosh, App Savvy
Do you have several apps targeting the same audience? Then you have a great opportunity for cross promotion.
You can place in one app an ad launching a video of another of your apps or have interstitials video ads (in which case your video needs to be VERY short – about 15 seconds). Or you can just have a link in the “More” section of your app.
Some of them require a demo or promo video. No need to say that if your video is good and engaging, you have more chances to win.
For some of them, you’ll have to demo your app in front of a jury. Live demos can go well, but they can also be terrible (trust me, I’ve seen a lot of them). A neat video, to the point, can convey your message more efficiently.
Video is a powerful way to show what is unique about your app and why people need it.
If you don’t have the budget to get a professional promo video for your app, then the tips we gave you should help you improve your app marketing with an efficient video.
The sooner your video is ready, the sooner you can use it to promote your app. Make the most out of it!
About the author:Sylvain Gauchet is the co-founder of Apptamin. He’s been marketing and promoting mobile apps for several years and passionate about start-ups and app marketing. Apptamin provides app developers with great-looking promo videos, helping them show what their app is all about in seconds. The company also helps developers to make their apps stand out from the crowd by writing thorough and useful posts on how to promote mobile applications, and recently published its iOS App Marketing Guide.
Take a look for yourself and see if you learn something new. Be sure to let us know in the comments if there are other areas we can address!
Robi: Hello. Welcome to App Developer Conversations. We’ve got Ryan Morel
back. You look a little tan. I hope you had fun in Hawaii. Ian is also
back from Hawaii.
Ian: Doesn’t look tan, because I stay in the shade.
Robi: Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ. I’m Robi Ganguly of Apptentive. Now
that the gang is back together, we’re going to talk about some new and
some old news, I guess. Let’s start off with something that’s old but
it’s always funny when it happens; Phil Schiller told us that Android
sucks, which is like, “Okay. Phil Schiller’s talking.” Then Android’s
chief, Andy Rubin is leaving. How about you talk to us a little bit
about the Android news around and Rubin leaving the [inaudible: 00:44]
and going into something else for Google.
Ian: I think it’s a potential huge shake-up. It could be really good, it
could be really bad. Andy Rubin has done a fantastic job of having a
vision of an open source operating system, finding a company who could
help get distribution for that operation system in Google, and making
it sort of . . . it’s not the standard, because I think iOS is the
standard to everybody here, but it is certainly comparable to the
standard; has huge numbers. That being said, if they do want to become
the standard, they’re going to have to figure out a 10x play and maybe
that involves shaking things up every once in awhile. This could work
out for them really well for them.
Robi: Do you have any thoughts on it?
Ryan: Yeah. I think it’s been an amazing run for Android; we all know that.
I think questions start to get raised when you have a market size that
is 5x the size of another, yet ¼ the size of the revenue. That starts
to become a little bit . . . that’s way out of balance. Then other
questions start to come up when you have OEMs with leverage. Amazon,
right across the street here, has essentially their own version of
Android, which Google has no control over. We can bet Samsung is
continuing to just push on their own version of Android, if not, going
to move slowly; Tizen, or whatever the hell they call their thing. Now
all of a sudden, you take those two players out of what you would
consider the core Google Android audience, and you’ve got problems.
You’ve got [inaudible: 02:28] devices.
Robi: I think that is probably Phil Schiller’s point. Phil Schiller is
like, “This fragmentation is real and it’s really messing with
consumers experiences, and look at the data. Sure, they have more
devices than us, a lot more now, but our people use their devices way
more often that are consuming more data.” When you think about it from
the developer’s perspective, we’re always talking about which
platforms developers prefer, what approach. It seems like you’ve got
to be developing for both if you’re going to be in this long-term.
This issue, are you seeing in your business what Phil Schiller is
saying, in terms of there being more money, people are using it more
Ian: Yeah. The short answer to that is, yes. There’s obvious caveats to
that, and we talk about Amazon as a caveat to that. In the standard
Android world, absolutely, iOS rules the day.
Robi: How does this play out? Do we just get to hear for the next 10 years,
“Android sucks”? Then everybody’s buying Android devices. Is this the
Ryan: I think at some point, people need to recognize that it’s okay to
have different audience segments. This has always been Apple’s play.
Apple’s like, “I don’t want these people who want free devices. We
don’t want them.” It’s arguable for game developers; you don’t want
them either, because they’re not paying you any money. Then there’s a
certain segment of the Android population, like you and other people
buying the Galaxy Nexus 3 and Nexus 4. Sorry.
Ian: Galaxy S3.
Ryan: Yeah, Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4, etc., those are the high-end scope.
When you look at the handset breakdown between them, it’s still iOS.
If I’m a developer, I’m thinking about how do I maximize my game for
these handsets that appeal to this higher-end audience and then not
care so much about this lower end audience, maybe?
Robi: Then there is another side to this I think, which is Schiller and
Apple are up there saying fragmentation’s bad, it’s really hard for a
consumer to have a consistent experience, and their developers’ lives
are easier, but we continue to see more and more devices coming out of
them supporting different things. iPad 2 is different from the iPad 3,
which is different from the iPad Mini, which is different from the
iPhone 5, which is different from the iPhone 4S. There’s no shortage
of things that are confusing about the iOS ecosystem at this point.
Are you seeing any of that stuff coming out, playing out? Are you
hearing from developers, that that is becoming more challenging?
Ian: We really talk after the development cycle, but I haven’t actually
heard that. People still bang on that drum, and I think of Android is
fragmented but iOS is not. I think part of that is because Apple says,
“Android is fragmented and we are not.” People just listen to them. It
Robi: I’m definitely seeing people developing just and iPad app or just an
iPhone app now. More and more being like, “I’m just choosing this one
thing. I’m just going after this. It’s too complicated to think about
the experiences across both.”
Ian: It’s probably right to do that. Depending on what your app is, there
are different use cases between having an app on your phone and having
an app on a tablet.
Ryan: Yep. We’ve talked about this before; they’re all big enough now. When
the iPad first released, an iPad-only app was a guaranteed failure.
Now, there are 120 million of them or something ridiculous. That’s a
huge market of people who are spending a lot of money. Perfect, Super
Cell, a good example, there’s an article about that making . . .
they’re calling the iPad the perfect gaming device or something, and
they’re focused almost solely on that.
Robi: Anything else?
Ryan: It’s good to be back.
Robi: Welcome back.
Ryan: I missed you guys.
Robi: We missed you, too. We talked about you quite a bit in the last ones
we showed, actually.
Mark: Fucking asshole, glad he’s gone.
Ian: I think there was fucking asshole, but it was because you were in
Robi: Sipping Mai Tais.
Ian: Not editing the video.
Robi: Be sure to tune in for the next 2 installments of App Developer
Conversations. You can like this on YouTube. Share it with your
friends and subscribe.
In our most recent App Developer Conversations we took a bit of a different approach and dissected some of the most common questions we receive from app developers about how to launch an app and foster its success. In our segment we really focused on the post-launch success tactics (visit MobileDevHQ to see the key tips for ensuring a successful app launch)
We focused on several key areas:
How to drive retention and engagement with your biggest fans
The importance of ratings and reviews on conversions (people who visit your app’s app store page and actually download it)
How much you can learn from your customer base, no matter how small
Take a look for yourself and see if you learn something new. Be sure to let us know in the comments if there are other areas we can address!
Robi: Hello. Welcome to App Developer Conversations. As always, I’m joined
by Ian Sefferman, of MobileDevHQ. I’m Robi Ganguly, of Apptentive.
We’re missing Ryan Morel, from PlaceClaim, as he gets a tan
Ian: Yeah. Tan and a Mai Tai.
Robi: This week, we’re doing a little bit different format than usual.
We’re tackling one real heavy topic about marketing. In a previous
segment, we were talking about leading up to launch and some decisions
that people make when they watch an app, and as they’re really
thinking about how they position themselves and get discovered. In
this segment, we’re going to go deeper on post-launch: Engagement and
retention, and what you can do to make sure that your conversions are
Let’s first start on that topic: Conversions. Once your app is live
and you’re in the App Store, there are some things that you do in
addition to your description and your screenshots to ensure that the
people that come across your app page are more disposed to actually
downloading and purchasing. What would you say that the top 2 things
that people are caring about are?
Ian: I think the top things that people care about the moment they hit
your page are . . . maybe the top 3 things: I want a one-sentence
summary of what this app actually does for me. I want to see the
screenshots, because you can pretty quickly discern this is a crappy
app versus this is a legit app, from the screenshots. I want to know
the rating and reviews. Those are the 3 things. If you immediately see
an app with, basically any one of those factors can quickly kill a
deal. If they don’t know what’s going on within a sentence, they’re
gone. If they see that your app is crappy because the screenshots are
crappy, they’re gone. If they see you have a 1-star rating they’re
gone. That being said, by having the best one-sentence summary, the
best screenshots, and a 5-star app, you’re still not guaranteed, it
still had to match what they want, but that’s certainly going to give
you the highest chance.
Robi: In the previous segment, we talked a little bit about those
screenshots, some of the things that are successful; a description of
some of the things that are successful, but what’s interesting to note
is that as your app goes live and is live, you have that opportunity
to learn and refresh. The language that you’re using can actually be
informed quite significantly by having your first couple thousand
downloads and your first couple thousand customers talking to you,
[inaudible: 02:30] app communications. One of the ways in which
customers are using us on a regular basis, is they have these
conversations with customers, they figure why people are using the
app, what really resonates, and then they change their copy and they
change what they highlight in the screenshots in order to be more
aligned with what they’re learning from the consumer base.
Ian: I love that, and I think . . . do you guys actually do this with
like, can you guys actually bring together the most frequently used
phrases for an app?
Robi: Not yet. It’s definitely on the roadmap.
Ian: Cool. I think that that is so powerful, in terms of bringing that
together as a publisher, really understand the exact messaging that
your customers are using about you, and then reflecting that back in
what you say about your own app. So powerful.
Robi: This is very traditional marketing. A lot of people come in an app
development space and try and reinvent the wheel, but truly great
marketing resonates with consumers because of a deep understanding of
consumer needs, desires, and language. The more that you can get close
to that consumer and learn from them, the faster you can iterate and
get the language exactly right. That’s really powerful. Pay attention
to what people are saying about you in the App Store and other places,
but in particular, to you directly. Make sure that you can hear from
Then we also really . . . the ratings and review stuff just cannot be
underestimated in its importance. There are a lot of psychological
studies about how important ratings and reviews are to us as consumers
for digital goods, because a digital good is by definition ephemeral;
you can’t actually hold it, you can’t look at it, you can’t feel it.
As a result, we really rely upon one another in our experiences with
these digital goods to make purchasing decisions.
Ian: What do you think are then the knobs and levers that an app publisher
can turn to make the ratings and reviews reflect what they want to
reflect and see that messaging and language that they want the
consumer to see?
Robi: Obviously, I’m biased; I think our tools do a great job of this. The
general principal of what we see being really successful is when you
have an app that’s got some user base at all, they’re using it for a
purpose and they’re happy. Those people who are using your app on a
regular basis, reach out to them and take the time to ask them how
they’re feeling. The people who are ecstatic, people who love your
app, you can actually ask them to go talk about you in public. Most
people are so busy being happy using your app, they’re not going to
think, “I should go to App Store and rate this.” It’s an unnatural
act, that’s why we see a lot of ratings and reviews being biased
towards the negative, because that’s the person who has this incentive
to go say something. It’s really about talking to your customer base;
the people who are using you on a regular basis, reaching out to them
and finding out if they’re ecstatic, and then making it really easy
for them to go talk about you. That’s Step 1.
Step 2 is ensuring that as you watch updates, that you have a regular
set of communications with those people. The people who maybe rated
your first version are not necessarily going to then think to
themselves, “I should go do this with my next version.” We see
something called the ratings click when people update. We actually see
a lot of developers who are wary of updating because they have a
really great set of ratings and reviews right now, and they’re like,
“I don’t want to do this because I’ve got 1,000 great ratings and
reviews, and they’re all going to go to 0.” That number resets,
especially in the iTunes App Store. Making sure that you’re reaching
out to those people and you’re thoughtful about that before you push
updates is really, really key. What about you? You hear from a lot of
developers about this.
Ian: Yeah. I think you’re right. In my mind, a huge part of it is that
point of knowing when to actually ask for feedback. At what point are
your users clearly having success in their app that they are in a
happy state and are going to say that, “Yes, I love the app,” and
asking at that point? I think that’s something that you guys work on
too, which is on number of opens? Is it after an amount of time? I
think that you can get really smart about that, too. If you’re a game,
you can do it after a level has been unlocked, whatever it might be. I
think that’s huge. I think otherwise, you’re generally totally
agreeing with what I . . .
Robi: Yeah, that’s a really good point. Discovering what the moments of
happiness are inside of your app is something too few developers spend
time on. Every time we see a developer do that, we suggest you do this
on opens, days on device, or something that’s significant to your app
as a variable that you can pass along to us. That latter one is the
most powerful. When you said in a game, completing a level, that’s a
moment of happiness, it’s a moment of success. A signature, like a doc
signing app, after somebody’s signed their first doc or second doc,
that’s a moment where they’ve accomplished something with your app
that’s provided utility. That’s a great place to inject and ask how
they’re feeling. Discovering those moments of happiness, and you
should know this. If you’re designing your app, you’re actually trying
to design these accomplishments and moments of happiness, so that
should be pretty easy for you to come up with and create some theses
around, and then to test.
The final thing about this is, I think, instrumenting; understanding
what’s going on. If you see a bunch of people using homegrown hardcode
solutions, and then they have no insight into how many people have
seen like a ratings prompt or something like that. They don’t actually
know if it’s working, they’re just like, “I see other people doing
it.” Again, take that as your step: Figure out how to instrument it.
That’s one of the things our customers just love, the data and all
Ian: That’s great.
Robi: Let’s move on from the ratings and reviews, and go into the real
problem that not enough people are talking about in mobile app
development today, which is retention. Talk to me a little about what
Ian: I think you probably have the more robust data set around retention,
but being at a high-level, we see that, or at least anecdotally, we
see that the apps that make the home screen are used constantly. The
apps that don’t make the home screen, either people hate it so much
that they’re going to uninstall it or it’s just complete apathy and
it’ll sit in a folder somewhere and never actually be opened. The best
ways to improve your retention at the 30,000-foot level is, A: Amazing
experience, and B: Integration with an existing workflow. Both of
those things have to happen. Even if you’re a game, I think that’s
I can think of a calendar app. If a calendar app doesn’t integrate
with my Google Calendar, then it’s not happening. It has to have that
workflow, at the end it has to have some of the great experience to go
along with it. You’d probably have really great data on . . . do you
guys have data on what is average retention, what is a good net form?
Robi: The answer’s horrible. On average, 90% of consumers are gone within 6
month of downloading your app. 90%, and that’s average. Apps like
Facebook actually pull that up because of the amount of data and time
spent. The vast majority of people are just trying your app. Whether
your app costs $5 or is free, they’re trying you out. They have so
many apps on their device, I think the last number we saw as an
average was over 80 different apps installed on the average
Smartphone. They don’t have time; they don’t think about it, they’re
distracted. What you’re really looking for is that core passionate
base. Figuring out as quickly as possible the people who aren’t in the
90%, that 10% that are coming back, figuring out what they’re using
you for. We see way too many developers who are always focused on
getting more, more, more without thinking about who. Which audience
and why are they using you.
Robi: When you focus on that 10%, when you figure out why they’re using you
and do research with those people, and then you build more deeply for
those people, we see that curve changing. We see people generating
much more emotion from the consumer. People are like, “I love this app
because it solves this problem that I had,” and it brings in more of
that audience. Word-of-mouth is totally underestimated. I’m not
talking like Facebook Share word-of-mouth, I’m talking about, you and
I are at dinner and I tell you about the Sign Now app, which is
awesome for document signing on my iPhone, and you’re like, “I’m going
to go get that because it totally suits my need. I have that exact
Ian: Which, by the way, I am probably going to go get after we have this
Robi: It’s just phenomenal for document signing. That’s the thing that we
see a lot. When you want to solve for retention, what you really have
to start out is the core principle of who’s using you, who’s really
finding you meet their needs; learning more about them, going deeper
with them, and then that leads to building better product for people
who are going to use you on a regular basis.
Ian: Cool stuff.
Robi: I think we covered a bunch of things here; got a little bit long.
Feel free to reach out with other questions to Ian or myself. Like
this on Facebook, or Like this on YouTube really, and share this with
your friends and tell us in comments if you have any questions. Thanks
for tuning in.
If there is one thing that all app developers should know now, it is that obtaining user feedback from your current customers is much more helpful than reading their negative comments in the app store reviews.
No one enjoys seeing his or her hard work be lambasted by people who cannot grasp the scope of its existence. Although it is disheartening, and ego deflating, it also turns the app into something of little service to others. Before someone downloads an app, there is a good chance that they are going to read the reviews first. If they download the app without bothering with another’s opinion and find it hard to use, they may even leave their own negative feedback. Countering this negativity is possible with the next version or damage control marketing measures, but ideally, the creator should want to avoid them to begin with. After all, this ominous circle of negativity can send an app into the black hole of App Stores everywhere, never to be seen again.
Get better ratings by avoiding negative reviews
Instead of envisioning an app world of mayhem, developers everywhere are realizing that with a simple testing period of a minimum viable product, consumer test groups can provide feedback before the app launches. But why stop there? You should keep gathering feedback even while your app is live.
What is a Minimum Viable Product?
A minimum viable product does not mean that it is less of a product than it will be in its finalized form. In the app world, it simply means that it has enough functionality to deploy its capabilities, but is not coded to complete operation.
Keep your v1.0 simple and iterate with feedback from the people using your app
This means you can open it, review its contents and show it off to others as a prototype, without spending an exhausting amount of time or money insuring its overall functionality through coding and programming. It allows you to gauge interest, excitement, feedback, and the overall need for your app, before you take it to the completion stage.
A minimum viable product is tested on a controlled group of people, whose comments and conclusions on its testing can be accounted for. This means you can let people know they are responsible for helping you create a better product together. That is the important word “together.” People love to be included in the creation of things. The idea is to find a forgiving audience, one who knows that this is only a beginning but could benefit from the final product’s existence.
Get Your Users To Help You Create The Best Product Possible
Think of it this way: If you give someone an app and say, “This app is going to do this in v1.0. Here it is in its most minimal functionality. Play with it.” When that introduction and testing period is followed up with surveys for the consumer to address, they can provide honest and accurate feedback.
Iterate with your app customers to build a better product
This will deliver information regarding what they were expecting, and how the app lived up to those expectations. It can also tell the developer how great or how poor its performance ranked overall, which means they can take that information back to the drawing board and fine tune the application for v2.0.
How Surveys Insure a Better Minimum Viable Product
It is practically impossible to fund every idea that your genius mind creates, which means when it comes to getting app creation right the first time, surveys can be a key financial component to its success. Creating a minimum viable product allows you to display the app’s genius, without developing it completely. This means no more ill-advised turns in the wrong direction, which have to be fixed with a costly 2.0 programming option that may or not be entertained by the masses.
Better communication helps to create a better product
Surveys will provide you with all of the feedback you could possibly need to hone the app’s capabilities and smarten its aptitude. Certainly there will be answers like, “I wish it were blue” that have no bearing on its functionality, but you have to take the good information with the unrelated comments. It is all part of the process. Once the survey’s feedback has been adapted to the app, it becomes a better version of its previous existence. You are still at minimal financial output and can test it again on another audience, gathering their feedback as well.
What Intelligence can you get from Surveys and Feedback Forms?
There are a number of things you can determine with surveys and feedback forms. At the core of the forms’ content should be finding out exactly what features the people are interacting with during the test. What do they like about the app? What do they love about it? All of these things should definitely end up in the final version. What do they dislike or find confusing? Remove it, or fine tune it.
Knowing what the customers enjoy, and what they do not, can help you reduce negative feedback when the app goes to market. Once customers air their grievances, others will read it, and some of it is not transferable back to the developer, so all hope is lost for a solution.
Beat reviewers to the punch by providing them with what they are asking for through the use of surveys and feedback forms. If they happen to list items that simply are not available at the time, make notes from their requests, and adopt them to version 2.0 of the app. It is the least you can do to appease your fans.
In a recent App Developer Conversations we led a conversation about Blackberry 10 and challenged ourselves to come up with 5 good things about Blackberry 10.
We had a few key takeaways:
We’re still early in mobile and it’s great to see Blackberry continuing to innovate
The enterprise arena is much different than the consumer market
Take a look for yourself and see if you agree with our positive points about Blackberry
Robi: Hello. Welcome to another installment of App Developer Conversations.
As always, I’m here with Ryan Morel of PlacePlay and Ian Sefferman of
Mobile Dev HQ.
I’ve challenged the 3 of us to say 5 good things about the new
release of the Blackberry 10, which is being talked about this
morning, and I’m sure is going to be trashed in the next 48 hours. I
think a lot of people are going to be out there saying lots of
negative things, but there’s got to be some good things coming out of
it. I’m going to start off: I think the good thing about this is a
reminder to everybody in the world that the mobile game has a lot of
players with different strategies, and just because we think that
their products are old, doesn’t mean Rim’s not going to continue
investing and trying to come up with solutions, which ultimately I
think is good for everybody.
Robi: How about you? Do you have something you can say that’s nice about
Ryan: I think people trying to innovate and make new products that push the
market forward is always a good thing.
Ryan: I think Blackberry . . . because they also changed their name from
Rim to Blackberry.
Ryan: I think their challenge is probably consumer mindshare, awareness,
and momentum. If we think back to when Apple released the iPhone, they
didn’t have any of that, at all. They had no following.
Ryan: They were able to create this massive snowball effect really quickly.
Blackberry, despite some of the shortcomings recently, still has a lot
of fans, especially in the enterprise world, so I think it’s great.
Robi: How about you?
Ian: I think the last bit that Ryan pointed out there is especially
important. I think there are a lot of organizations which will not,
and probably should not move to the BYOD, the Bring Your Own Device
movement: Government’s in there, a lot of medical stuff is in there.
Ian: I think Blackberry’s done a fantastic job of setting up an
infrastructure that works really well in that environment, and they
will be . . . they have the option to continue to be the clear winner
in that field.
Robi: Yeah. I think that’s true. We have 3; 2 more. I’ve got another one: I
think the release, at least as I’ve heard about it, is more clearly
defined than previous releases from them. There are 2 phones: one with
a physical keyboard, one with a touch-screen; that’s it. They have 2
lines. Clearly, they come from a lineage that was the best, physical
keyboard, and that continues to be interesting to people. I think just
having those 2 choices and taking a stance, more of a stance than
they’ve taken in the past is good. I like seeing that focus from them.
Ryan: I’ll add another one: Blackberry’s always been really good
about security, kind of to your point about governments and large
organizations. We know there are issues with Android, malware, and
software. God knows what gets downloaded on your phone. There’s always
going to be some number of organizations or consumers who are
interested in that level of service. Whether or not that’s a real
selling point for the mass market, I don’t know.
Robi: That’s interesting. It might take 1 or 2 mega-viruses on Android to
make a bunch of consumers wonder if Blackerry’s a good choice because
they’re more secure.
Ian: Think about it. That was actually a decent part of the Mac comeback,
when they started with Mac versus PC.
Ian: That was at least one of the Mac versus PC ads, and I think multiple
Mac versus PC ads.
Ian: Which may be interesting to see.
Ian: Maybe if you’re Blackberry, you start going and hiring people to make
Robi: Can you imagine what that would do to you, if you did that? Of
course, you would get found out at some point in time. We got that 5;
it wasn’t that hard. Any other ideas we should be talking about here,
with relation to the Blackberry 10?
Ryan: Those are 5 really good things. I still think it’s going to be really
hard for them, specifically because they’ve proven over the last 5
year they’re not able to come up with something new and different.
Maybe this is a big change and it works, and for their sake I hope so,
but if it passes in the indicator of huger success, then it’s a long
Ian: I think they need to continue to invest in the ecosystem as a whole
as well, which they’ve done a relatively poor job of. I hear much more
from Microsoft talking about developers and talking about the
ecosystem than I ever do of Blackberry.
Ian: I think that’s a place that they need to focus. Enterprise really
hasn’t yet moved to mobile, they have an opportunity to own that game
if they can own the ecosystem.
Robi: Yep. It’s still early, guys.
Ian: That’s right.
Robi: That ends this conversation. Please be sure to tune in for the next 2
installments of App Developer Conversations. Like this video, share
with your friends, and join in on the comments if you have other
things to say about Blackberry 10. Thanks.
We’re all about the love, but when we use the tagline “Spread the Love” at Apptentive, we are not just talking about sharing that wonderful feeling. At Apptentive, we use the letters L.O.V.E. as a constant reminder of how we should build our product and interact with our customers. It is a framework that we use to continually improve our product while keeping our customers in mind.
These four letters create a list that you should consider everyday when you think about how your app is interacting with your customers. Each aspect of the acronym is important and there is no order in which to follow them. Instead, it is understanding that there is a right moment (which could be all the time) to use each piece of L.O.V.E that is important.
Listening is the foundation of every positive relationship. We have all heard the adage, “hearing is easy, listening is hard,” but how does that translate to businesses and is it even important? Every customer has listened to another one for advice, suggestions, and warnings about a product. It is important for businesses to listen to the customer as well. In regards to mobile, much of the feedback can be straight forward, but take the time to digest the words being said as that can lead to a better understanding in general of how the app can be improved. For example, if someone comments on reducing the steps to access a certain feature, consider making it simpler to access all the features.
When somebody reaches out by sending feedback, asking questions, or commenting it means they care. Whether the messages contain praise or criticism, a customer is taking the time to send it. That alone gives it enough value to warrant a developers attention. For every customer complaint there are many others who feel the same way but remain silent. Ignoring negative feedback will result in some serious missed opportunities, and result in driving people away from your app. People leaving negative feedback want to use your app as much or even more so than those who provided positive feedback. Furthermore, negative feedback can provide developers with vital information on how to improve the app. In case you need any help handling negative feedback here are some tips to turn negative reviews into happy customers.
Listening is also about providing a place where you can listen and encouraging people to talk with you. This is why social media has become an integral channel to many businesses. Show that you listen to your customers by always commenting and thanking people through your social media channels. Often times people don’t reach out because they think there won’t be a response. Show them that responding is a priority. With a mobile app, any channel avoiding the app store should be used as an alternative as a place to listen (social media, blogs, forums etc.). At Apptentive, we want to make it easy for app developers to listen to their customers and provide a place in-app where customers can communicate with you, the app developer.
Observing is about incorporating data to judge if something is significant or not . In the technical world of bugs, freezes, and crashes some problems may be hard or too time consuming for customers to thoroughly explain. Therefore, it is up to the developer to investigate an issue in order to come to a complete understanding of the issue. If app developers are focused on listening to their customers, there will be a large amount of feedback. Being able to observe allows app developers to be able to prioritize what feedback is most important and should be acted upon. In an ideal world everything can be fixed, changed, or added but that is not always possible, especially with smaller indie developers. Therefore, it is important to be able to discern what items are most significant. Don’t get sidetracked trying to improve features that only you think is important. Focus on what is important to the customer, or you won’t have any left. Apptentive provides data to app developers to more easily understand customer sentiment towards certain features and generally gathers feedback about what customers like or dislike about an app.
If it is difficult to ascertain what should be fixed through the data gathered, take a walk in the customer’s shoes for a day and use the app (or product) as if you daily life depended on it. That will help clarifying what to improve upon. You owe it to yourself to make the best app possible, because if you don’t take the time to make your app great, why should customers take the time to use it!
Now it’s crucial to validate the time spent by the person who provided feedback as time well spent. The most common mistake made by businesses, app developers, or anybody asking for feedback is not validating the feedback they receive. Saying thank you is not enough, and can even sound like a dismissal in some instances. Tell the people who provided feedback what you plan on doing with their suggestions or to fix their complaints. Make your customers feel appreciated by explaining to them that the app has been improved thanks to their feedback. App developers should feel obligated to reach back out after any interaction with a person using their app. Whether or not you asked for feedback, it is important to show your appreciation every time it is received.
By validating feedback app developers have a wonderful opportunity to create brand advocates out of everyone who uses the app. Letting people know that their feedback helped create part of the new release creates a bond between the customer and the app, so not only will they continue to use it because they helped make it better, but they will tell their friends about the app as well. And as we all know, nothing is more effective or trusted than word-of-mouth for acquiring new customers.
Engaging customers is the most dynamic letter in L.O.V.E. because it incorporates every other letter and is open to any innovative ideas one could have. It is important for app developers to spend time and energy engaging and developing relationships with people who use their apps. You can do this by offering discounts or invites to private betas of the app. Try sending out holiday or seasonal cards to your customers so they know that you are keeping them in mind. Consider dropping personal notes about updates and changes to the app to people who have provided feedback. Besides being personal, be creative with your messages (e.g. include a cat video link :D, or anything to bring out a smile).
Don’t let the customer have the last word in a conversation. Let the final interaction come from the developer side with a thank you note, or something as simple as wishing them a wonderful day. If need be, stay on the phone with them for 8 hours like the customer service agent from Zappos (check out the great re-enactment video).
Here are two things we like to do at Apptentive to engage others:
Be real. Real messages from real people. It is fine to give customers your personal/work e-mail and encourage them to drop a line at anytime because customers who talk to you trust you more. Provide information for them on how to stay connected with links to your blog, Facebook, twitter, or any other places where information is published to the public.
Create a presence outside your mobile app. Whatever your target audience is, host or help sponsor an event that your audience would be interested in going to. It doesn’t need to be about your app or your business. You can’t go wrong helping to nurture a community that is your target audience. If you don’t have the money to throw events, just show up to them. Being present, personal, and approachable will go a long way to helping people remember you. This also includes writing guest posts, being open to interviews, and participating in conversations around the internet.
At Apptentive the L.O.V.E. framework works great to make sure we are keeping our customers in mind as we improve our product. Each part of the framework is important as a business tries to establish itself or grow. Every time a new feature, direction, or idea is being discussed it should answer one key question. Is this something that customers want? Without our customers there would be no Apptentive. Join us in focusing on building a better mobile customer experience and sign up with Apptentive today.
Have a small (or no) marketing budget to drive installs for your mobile apps? Having trouble retaining your customer base? No worries. We addressed these problems and many more in our #AppsOnAir live hangout – How to market your app without a budget.
Emmy Jonassen joined Apptentive to share her insight on marketing for mobile game developers. She is the marketing mastermind behind Indie Game Girl, a free resource that helps indie developers build adoring fanbases with step-by-step marketing instructions. With her expertise, there was a great Q/A recorded discussing how to market your app without a budget. Watch the video and/or read the summarized answers to the questions below.
Here are the questions and summarized answers that were covered during the chat:
Q1. What research should first time *mobile* game developers do, before beginning development?
There are two key things to do.
1. Audience Research. Who is going to be your target audience? Mobile app gamers are used to free games or paying very little, so you need to make up for that through volume sales. Make sure there is a broad enough audience that makes it worthwhile to create the game you have in mind. Research potential competitors as you are all targeting the same audience. Learn from their success or failure whether there is a broad enough audience that can support your app.
2. Product Road Map. Plan out the creation of your app. For example, if you are planning to launch on X date, then you might want to start blogging on Y date to raise awareness. By creating a product road map you are able to smoothly market your app while developing it.
Q2. When should your marketing efforts begin, and what should early marketing efforts include?
It is really important to start marketing from day one. The very beginning of the marketing process is knowing your target audience so that you are able to tailor your gameplay to that audience. Beyond that there are two things to focus on.
1. Building an Audience. While creating your game have an active presence on the blogs, forums, and other sites where your target audience spends their time. Utilize the social media channels and even create a blog of your own to share updates and information about the app.
2. Building a Network. Build a network of people who will promote your app. Follow the reporters, journalists, and bloggers who write about the games that you like and reach out to them before you launch. A great example of building a huge presence before their release is Sauropod Studio with their game Castle Story.
Q3. What elements go into making an effective App Store download page that will drive downloads for your game?
There are 5 key elements.
1. Killer App Icon. Create an app that engages the audience that is also able to convey to the audience what the game is about. Avoid text in icons.
2. Great Description. Most people will only read the first sentence, so focus on making that first sentence as engaging as possible.
3. Benefits List. Instead of a features list, have a benefits list. People aren’t interested in the real-time rendering or physics behind the game. They want to know about what they are getting (#of levels, characters, boss battles etc.).
4. Imagery. We live in a visual world so we need to rely on engaging images that accurately portray what the app is all about. Use informative but simple image captions to help tell the story.
5. Ratings/Reviews. Ratings and reviews are the word-of-mouth marketing in the app world. Make sure you have really strong positive reviews as they show what fellow gamers thought about the game.
Q4.How can you use in-app advertising without driving alway the people who use your app?
Take ownership of how advertisements are incorporated into your game.
1. Ad Placement. Places ads in between levels or during loading screens. Try to minimize actual gameplay interruption as much as possible.
2. Be Selective. Be smart about the ads you allow in your app. Don’t incorporate low quality grainy ads that lower the overall quality look of your app and tarnish your skill as a developer.
3. Competitors. This should be incredibly obvious, but, do not show ads of your competitors. Driving traffic away from your app to a competitor = bad for business.
4. Testing. Be aware of how ads are affecting the session use. If the number of app sessions start to fall consider lowering the amount of times ads are placed during a session.
Q5. Do your marketing efforts end when a person downloads your game? How can you continue marketing efforts to keep them engaged even after they purchase the game?
No, the marketing never stops! This is some of the most challenging marketing to do, especially if you are a free app relying on advertising
1. Addictive Gameplay. The best way to bring back to your app is through addictive gameplay. This is where the market research that you painstakingly conducted on even before development comes into play. You know your audience, and you have tailored your gameplay to them in a way that will bring them back.
2. Frequent updates. Updating your app on a consistent basis will help keep your audience engaged and coming back. If you forget about the people using your app they will forget about you. Frequent updates lets your audience know you are continuing to build for them, and they appreciate it.
3. Out of App Marketing. Don’t forget about your out of app marketing. Your blog, game forums, sites, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest… the list goes on. Continuing to be active in your social community and other communities will help keep people in the loop about your app. These are all pieces of the solution and the best success is achieved combining all these pieces together.
Q6.How can you drive positive ratings and reviews for your game?
1. Amazing Gamplay. It’s simple and hard at the same time, but amazing gameplay is what will undoubtedly drive in great ratings and reviews.
2. Negative Feedback. It is hard to create a game with the perfect type of gameplay for any audience, so embrace the negative feedback. Reach out to those who give you negative feedback and encourage them to share more information about what was wrong. People who post negative reviews like to be heard. App developers should try reaching out to people who leave negative feedback to make them feel important, and more importantly, involved. Show them that you have considered their feedback and improved upon it and ask for another review. Most likely the person who left negative feedback will become one of your biggest advocates because of the time you spend talking with them.
3. Friends, Family, the Network. Utilize your friends, family, and audience that you have built during development, including those more influential bloggers, journalists, and game reviewers.
4. Apptentive. Apptentive is a great tool for app developers to use to connect with their customers. Apptentive helps you intercept the negative feedback from reaching the app store, engage with your audience, and make sure that the positive ratings and reviews roll in.
Robi: Good morning. Welcome to another installment of App Developer
Conversations. As always, I’m joined by Ian Sefferman, of MobileDevHQ,
and Ryan Morel, of PacePlay. This week, we’re not talking about the
Seahawks, fortunately. We are going to talk about Google Play, more
broadly, allowing developers to make comments in the App Store.
For those of you who don’t remember, about 4 or 5 months ago, Google
Play said the top developers were going to be able to respond to
comments in the App Store. Last week, they announced that they’re
[inaudible: 00:33] more broadly and allowing more of the developers
overtime, in order to respond. First question for you Ian is: You hear
about this? What’s your reaction? What do you think?
Ian: My reaction is that it’s potentially a bad thing, which is that app
consumers now have this ability to talk to a developer publicly. The
review section of Google Play should be reserved for more subjective,
‘This is why you should download this app,’ advice to others. Now if
the developers can respond, my concern is that consumers will be using
that as a feedback mechanism to get personal help making the review
section, essentially, worthless.
Robi: Yeah. What do you think, Ryan?
Ryan: Now I’ve had some time to think about it, and I think this is going
to be an epic disaster for everybody, except for you. For you it’s
going to be like, “I read about this guy this morning who found a 12-
pound gold nugget, and Google just brought him a metal detector and
said, “Search in this 4×4 area. You might find something, you like”;
because this is going to be bad. I think it sounds great in theory.
People have always complained about not be able to respond to
comments. I think they were always saying, “We want to be able to
respond to comments privately, but not publicly.” Every developer who
responds is opening themselves up to further criticism. Yes, I think
this could be really bad.
Robi: I’ll reserve some comments for the end, because I think that we’re a
little biased in this. Let’s move on to another aspect of this, which
is the recent move from Google is that you have to use your Google+
account in order to make comments, to give feedback, to rate a review
and app in App Store. Is this commenting capability actually a play on
getting on more action for Google+ or getting more data?
Ryan: I’m sure it’s a play for get more data; it’s always a play to get
more data when you’re Google. Do I think that the commenting system in
particular is a huge impact on that? Certainly, I liked the idea of
making this Google+ integration, mostly because it takes away the more
anonymous qualities of the reviews, and that’s a plus, in my book. You
see quality go up when people can’t hide behind a fake name.
Ian: Yeah, that’s . . .
Robi: Then if we think about this from the aspect of Facebook, what they’re
doing in order to help app developers. Last week, we were talking
about Facebook app installs and their advertising programs going to
mobile developers. They’re helping you try and understand who among
your friends is using what app, and then they’re also trying to help
display apps that you should discover. Google is over here getting
more data and comment reviews, that sort of thing. It seems that these
guys are fighting on so many fronts, and now the mobile app space is a
big part. What do you think about that?
Ryan: It’s hard to think about it, because a lot of it all revolves around
identity; who owns the identity? Now we’ve got 3 people involved on
iOS, and there’s Google over here. I don’t even know. You sit back and
go, ‘It’s Google here, it’s Facebook, Twitter and Game Center over
here. I don’t really know what to do.” It’s just mind boggling. I
don’t necessarily understand the play, I guess, ultimately what I’m
getting at. I don’t get it.
Robi: Got it. I wonder if it will lead to more activity with Google+ just
because so many folks who have an Android phone now by default have a
Gmail account, a Google+ account, and a Google Play account; they’re
all linked. It seems maybe this will draw more people in the
ecosystem, give them more of a reason to come back, help strengthen it
and attract more attention.
Ryan: I wonder, you could check, but where does the conversation happen?
Does it take place inside of Google Play? If I leave a comment, and
you as a developer respond to me, does that go to my Google+ page and
I respond there?
Robi: I think that, as I understand it on the face of it, the way it works
is I can respond to your comment, and then you as the consumer have
the option to actually respond via email to me, and then it can
potentially go to email. I’m not sure that that’s default activity.
The way that Google+ files it, it’s not really clear that Google+ is
bringing this activity public. If it is, or if that’s an option,
there’s a whole other access for you as a consumer to be thinking
about, “Did I make this comment publicly across all my Google+?” It’s
Robi: I’ll talk a little bit about how we’re thinking about this, because
we’ve been hearing from developers over the past several months since
this has rolled out. It’s generally like you said, they did drop a
really big gold nugget in front of us because a lot of developers,
once they start playing with this are like, “A: I’m in multiple app
stores, so now I have to treat Google Play different than the rest of
these.” That’s frustrating and pretty annoying, so they come to us,
and they look at one management console with all their apps across
platforms with similar inboxes and it’s a much easier experience. B:
This notion that the App Store ratings and reviews are now going to be
hijacked and turned into these feature conversations. In particular,
the squeaky wheel getting the grease in this scenario is really bad.
The incentive is so negative that you could be a very popular app
developer and have a ratings and review section that ends up being
just full of 2 or 3 really noisy people. People are very concerned
Robi: I think the third thing is that there’s definitely a notion,
especially in public commenting spaces, where vitriol and being loud
is rewarded, so you more likely have that, actually, that cycle and
the wheel spin faster. People are going to be like, “I’m going to be
noisier than that other guy because I’m now going to get some
attention from EA.”
Robi: I think that’s concerning. We’ll see. The other side is I’m really
glad to see somebody, one of the app stores, innovating around ratings
and reviews, and trying to think about how to get developers closer to
the customers. I think that, fundamentally, is really exciting; that’s
great. Kudos to Google for trying something there, but I think it’s
going to be really challenging.
Ryan: Yeah. I’d rather them not try; that’s how bad I think this could end
Ryan: Great, you tried. Congratulations on screwing it up for a bunch of
people. My biggest worry would be some developer gets skewered because
of 1 or 2 people who are assholes.
Ian: This actually brings up a really interesting question. Maybe it’s not
the right time for it, but we all 3 agree immediately that it’s a bad
idea, but 6 months ago or 3 months ago, everybody is like, “People are
leaving the terrible reviews and developers have no way to comment on
it.” What would you have done if you were Google? Just been like, “No,
not at all?” Or would you have been like, “Partner with Apptentive”?
Ryan: I would have maybe done that. Frankly, if I were Google, given how
much they screw some of the stuff up, I would have gone, “Let’s just
wait to see what Apple does and then we’ll copy them.” If Apple hasn’t
done any apps, there must be a good reason for that, especially with
the . . . I don’t think it’s a secret; they just don’t know what
they’re doing yet, they’re learning as they go, and that’s perfectly
okay. They’ve created a really thriving and growing ecosystem, but
they’re probably not the ones to be driving decisions, as far as I’m
Robi: I could see that. I don’t think that Apple’s going to lead the way on
customer communications. I don’t think that the DNA of Apple is going
to embrace your customer base and go talk to them on a regular basis.
I don’t know if they think that way.
Ryan: I don’t know. We see evidence that they suggest that they do that.
It’s always about protecting the customer. Preventing people from
changing screenshots, which were leading to people screwing up, and
that was definitely done to protect consumers. There’s a bunch of
stuff now around preventing kids from getting access to an app
purchase, so people have to turn it off and all this stuff. I don’t
know. I’m fanboy-ish, so it’s okay.
Robi: It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. I don’t know that I
have great answer to what I would have done in Google’s spot, aside
from partnering with us, of course. I’m excited to see more people
realizing that it’s important to have conversations with the
customers. There’s no doubt in my mind that this will raise the
importance of doing that, and we’ll learn along the way. Hopefully,
it’ll end up being a better place for us as consumers, as opposed to
something that we feel like we can’t trust anymore because it’s just
Thanks for watching this installment. Be sure to Like it and share it
with friends. Check out the other installments from Ryan and Ian this
Robi: Hello. Welcome to another installment of App Developer conversations.
It’s a new year; Happy New Year. Welcome back, guys. I’m here with
Ryan Morel, of PlacePlay, and Ian Sefferman, of MobileDevHQ. I’m Robi
Ganguly, of Apptentive. We’ve been gone for a couple weeks. A lot’s
happened, as usual. Christmas was blockbuster for mobile app
activations, and a whole bunch of data. I thought we would start off
by touching on what we’ve heard happened over Christmas. Importantly,
we saw from Flurry and some other people, activations on Christmas day
topped 17 million devices; just an enormous amount of people
unwrapping stuff under the Christmas tree, and saying, “Wow. I’m going
to down load some apps.”
Even more importantly, I think we’ve been talking about the Tablet
Christmas a lot. It’s like over 50% of the new devices that came
online were actually tablets. A lot of them were iPad Mini’s, Kindle
Fire, or Nexus, the 7-inch format. Let’s kick this off and talk a
little bit. Are you surprised by these numbers, Ian?
Ian: No. I think I would’ve been more surprised, but I think going into
Christmas, everybody started to expect that that was what was going to
happen. I think you were on the ball with that one. I think if you
were to have taken me back to September, and just been like, “Is that
what will happen?” I would have said, “Absolutely not.” Going into
Christmas, I felt like that was what was going to happen. It’s
astonishing that the rise of tablets, I think what’s really
interesting is the smaller form factor; the mini’s and the 7 inches
have taken off as fast as they have.
Robi: You have a mini at home, right Ryan?
Robi: Would you say that your use at home of tablets has shifted towards
the 7 inch, or are you still mixed between the iPad and . . .
Ryan: It’s my wife’s mini, so I can say that I have the iPad 3, she has the
iPad Mini. The screen on my iPad is infinitely better. That’s a
meaningful difference, but using the iPad Mini is so much better,
because it’s so much smaller, so much lighter. You can still do
everything that you could do before, but in a form factor that works
better. She would use my iPad every once and a while, but now she has
a Mini, she uses that almost exclusively. She doesn’t touch her phone
as much, she’s not touching her laptop as much, but she’s using the
Mini for everything, and it makes a lot of sense just given how
portable it is and everything you can do with it
I think the numbers felt high to me. 50 million feels like a really
big number. 17 million on Christmas feels like a really big number,
especially seeing Verizon, and AT&T combined sold 18 million
Smartphones overt the entire quarter. It’s hard to codify all of those
numbers, and go, “Is this really accurate?” Flurry clearly
Robi: That’s true. Whether it’s 10 or 17.
Robi: I think the big point is it continues to grow dramatically. More
devices are coming online, and importantly, we’ve moved from a place,
I think, where it was phone first, and the whole app ecosystem was
being driven by upgrades of phones. To now, there’s this new device
that people are purchasing just for its ability to use it on Wi-Fi for
apps. I think that’s a big distinction. As an app developer, I think
this is kind of a point where we start saying, “Wow. This ecosystem is
truly much larger than a lot of people have given us credit for.” It’s
not just the phone story anymore. This is a new way of computer.
Ryan: I think, especially for app developers, we’re not at the point where
not only are there enough devices in market, because there’s clearly a
ton of both phones and iPads, but the ability to market to certain
niche groups is getting so good that you don’t need to go within
everyone’s product strategy. You can go with, “I’m going to do the
best app possible for high school football players.” It’s likely that
70% of football players are going to have a device that can access
your content, and you can market to them specifically, which is
fantastic, especially for the small to middle-sized developers who
can’t compete with EA, Backflip, and all these other guys.
Ian: I’m really looking forward to when the market ensures we have a slew
of app developers making $100k, $2 million a year range. That would be
a meaningful change in the way that the world works.
Ryan: Actually, the first time Robi and I met; we kind of talked about this.
Up until recently, there has been no room for a single or a double.
It’s you’re either hitting a homerun or you’re striking out. We’re
almost there where you can hit a meaningful single or meaningful
double, because there’s so many devices and the marketing options are
Robi: I think we are seeing something we’ve talked about; everybody’s
talking about free-to-play. I do think that with these tablets, we are
seeing pricing differences. People are charging more for tablet apps.
If it’s a universal app, you probably default to the cheaper price;
the phone price, it’s free or $0.99, but if you’re just tablet-focused
app, we’re started to see people charging $4.99, $9.99. That, I think
leads to a lot more singles and doubles, again to your point of being
able to target a niche market and be really focused. Are you seeing
much in the way of your customers focusing their search terms and
their discovery around being tablet-only?
Ian: Yeah, it’s interesting. When you use our service, you have to make
the distinction of ‘I want to know what people see on their iPhone, or
I want to know what people see on their iPad’. There has been a
marketing increase towards people choosing iPad to see those search
results, and how their apps are ranking for the iPad. It’s certainly
still less than it is for the iPhone, but it’s grown quickly.
Robi: Are you seeing much in the energizing landscape that says higher
rates for tablet ads or different inventory?
Ryan: Not quite there yet.
Robi: Not so much?
Ryan: I think we will be there soon, but as you know, advertising is a year
or two behind; it just takes a while. Tablets open up some really good
opportunities, and they also potentially . . . given the screen real
estate, potentially reduce some of the issues with fake clicks,
accidents, and user anger around that. That’s probably going to take a
little bit of time. One thing I would say, and I think you kind of
touched on this a little bit, is that developers need to be careful
when they’re talking about focusing a niche apps and their pricing
strategy, because free-to-play doesn’t work. If you’re going after a
really small [inaudible: 07:27], you have to charge.
Robi: That’s important to expand upon. Free-to-play is generally speaking a
very large market opportunity strategy because you’re trying to get
distribution and get almost ubiquity, but if you’re going after a
niche, free-to-play is really not going to be the way to go for a lot
of the folks there.
Another detail that I saw coming out during the holiday season, and
we’re starting to see some data points around Kindle Fire adoption.
They’re touting their numbers, in terms of . . . of course, the Amazon
way of saying, “We’ve never sold more product ever than we’ve sold
with the Kindle Fire,” but other people are saying, “Wow. We’re seeing
7% web visits for tablets coming from Kindle Fire.” What do you make
Ian: I think that Amazon’s strategy is super-interesting and I want to see
it work, and it looks like it’s beginning to work. A device that’s a
good device, not necessarily the best device out there, charge less
for it and make it back up in the content. It seems like it’s starting
to take hold. That’s good. I’m all for that that competition.
Ryan: It seems to me that this is a 2-horse race between Apple and Amazon.
Despite that fact I know you have a Nexus 7 and really like it,
they’re not selling; people aren’t buying them. The Nexus 4 is
apparently a disaster sales-wise. There just is no meaningful movement
in the Android tablets outside of Amazon. You wonder if anybody . . .
and it seems like it’s pretty clear why. Amazon has distribution,
Apple has distribution; we kind of talked about this ad-nauseam. It’s
great; it’s good for app developers.
Robi: I will say that I think the iPad Mini, from a consumer perception
standpoint, has raised the overall profile of the 7-inch tablet
Ian: I think that’s totally true.
Robi: I think it brings people in saying, “I can look at the smaller
tablet,” and then they start doing price comparisons and that leads
people to discover other things. Obviously, Apple is extraordinarily
good at telling a story. They go out and tell this story about this
smaller, better, faster, and all of a sudden, people are like, “Maybe
I shouldn’t care about those things.” I don’t necessarily think
anybody else is telling that story as well. Amazon is clearly telling
the price story that’s winning.
Ian: I think you make you make a good point, that it’s good for app
developers, especially because Amazon has done such a great job,
traditionally of getting their customers to spend money. We’ve seen
that the Amazon users, the Kindle Fire users, are spending money as
much as or more than Apple users. That’s fantastic.
Ryan: They’ve got the payments worked out. Google’s kind of getting there
with the Play Store, and it’s sort of going to work, but Amazon’s
there. This is a total aside, but I saw someone’s prediction that in
2013, carriers will start going back in the distribution game, which
if you’re an app developer, stay away from that. Focus on Amazon,
Apple and Google.
Robi: If they come to you with a boatload of cash and they’re willing to do
all the work, great; but that doesn’t usually happen.
I think that sort of wraps a little bit of the recap of what happened
over Christmas. Great holiday for everybody in the app ecosystem, I
believe. Be sure to Like us. Share this with your friends. In
particular if you’re developing apps and focusing on tablets, I would
love to hear about your experiences in the comments; that would be
great. Stay tuned for the next installment of App Developer