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Top 3 Post-Launch Mobile App Marketing Pitfalls

The number of mobile apps in the market is ever increasing. In 2009, when App Store was just launched there were only 500 apps altogether. Five year later, in July 2014, iOS users have the option to choose from 1.2 million apps available. And, Apple recently announced that its “apps generated over $10 billion in revenue for developers.”

The competition is even fiercer for the Android market, as according to recent statistics, there are around 1.4 million apps in the Google Play Store as of February 2015. The challenges for app marketers, therefore, continue to grow as the number of apps, be it Android applications or iOS apps, skyrocket in the market.

Though every app marketer out there wants his or her mobile app to become successful overnight, such miraculous accomplishments are often far-fetched dreams. It is important to have a strategic mobile app marketing plan in place to avoid the common pitfalls.

Here are the top 3 such pitfalls that you need to avoid during your app’s post-launch phases.

1. You Failed to Focus on User Retention and Engagement

We have some interesting statistics here. According to a report by Localytics, app retention has improved over the past few years as only 20% of apps are now being used just once – indicative of a 6% improvement over the last four years.

App Retention Rate 2011-2014

However, the study also indicated that 65% of iOS apps are failing to entice users and over 50% of apps available on both iOS and Android platforms have failed to do so. It also found that Android apps are performing better than iOS applications in terms of retention.

App Retention Rate by Platform

Irrespective of you offering an iOS or Android app, here are a few factors you need to consider. And the most important of them is looking beyond paid user acquisition.

Paid user acquisition has gained a lot of attention lately and many marketers are delving into it. Together with your PR efforts, paid user acquisition is a great option for generating a significant number of apps downloads within a short period of time. However, it should never be your key mobile app marketing strategy even if you have thousands of dollars to spend on gaining paid users.

Though it is perfectly acceptable to spend some money to significantly increase the numbers of downloads initially, you need to focus more on user engagement and retention in the long run if you don’t want to see the same people drooping off as fast as they came.

Now, we are not against paid user acquisition but there is a rule to follow to use it the right way. To do so, you need to first determine the retention of paid vs. organic sources. Remember you are spending money on users coming from paid sources; their in-app behavior therefore should be similar, if not better, than that of your organically acquired users.

Marketers naturally expect users from paid sources to be quite active in the app and interact in a meaningful and measurable way. To understand whether or not they deliver on your expectation, you need to analyze the paid vs. organic users and determine:

  • Which source (paid or organic) provides the most loyal users?
  • Which of these users are spending most time in your app?
  • How are they acting as influencers?
  • Who’s a better influencer?

Analyzing all these will help you to understand which source provides better ROI and who your most valuable audiences are. This, in turn, provides a better benchmark to justify the cost and ROI of your existing mobile app marketing campaigns and how you can enhance your organic growth.

In addition, it is important to find the best performing paid app marketing channels for your particular app and incorporate them into your existing mobile app marketing strategies. Analyzing your performance and measuring the ROI will also help you to understand whether or not your users are happy with the app; if not, what are the things you can change for better user engagement and retention.

Measure your 1-, 7-, and 30-day retention rates to determine the user engagement. In addition, there are a few key performance indicators that you need to measure.

  • Your daily (DAU) and monthly active users (MAU)
  • Average revenue per user (ARPU), which is determined by calculating total revenue generated by your app / total active users of your app
  • LTV or Life Time Value, which is determined by ARPU x (1/ attrition rate or CHURN)

* CHURN is determined by the number of users who stopped using the app after a particular time.

2. You Failed to Use the Update Description Space of Your App

This is one of the most important factors for marketing your app successfully. Think in terms of website optimizing here. Why should you write a Meta description of your site? The answer is to display preview snippets for a given webpage on search engine result pages. The approach is more or less similar here.

According to Google’s Our Mobile Planet, a smartphone user downloads around 25 apps on average, though the number often reaches to 40 in some countries. This means users are usually so bogged down with update notifications from so many apps that they might choose not to update them at all, or at least not all of them. Your update description should read more than “bug fixes” to encourage them to do so.

The app update description space is a marketing channel for you to convey your message to the users in an interesting way. Use it to tell them about:

  • What new features your app has to offer?
  • What issues have been fixed?
  • How you app now provides an even better user experience?

If you can properly use this mobile app marketing channel, it can be a great strategy to gain back users who stopped using your app for a while. Consider this example from PC Gamer magazine:

Mobile App Marketing Update, PC Gamer

In this example, PC Gamer is using the update description space to inform users about the latest improvements as well as to highlight their free trial offer and to provide details on customer support.

3. You Failed To Personalize the App Review Pitch Email

Marketers are well-aware of the importance of sending emails to potential users as soon as their app is launched. While they do include all important information about their app, what they often fail to do is personalize each email. Here’s what a proper personalized app review pitch email should include:

  • The name, unique selling point, and price of your app
  • A link to the app
  • A link to your app’s press kit
  • A link to the trailer (some reviewers prefer a more visual pitch)

Finally, don’t forget to include the reviewer’s name and website in the email and always double check it.

Conclusion

Remember the mobile app industry is a competitive market, and while you have thousands or maybe millions of users, you need to treat them properly. Be firm and dedicated about your customer support as word-of-mouth plays a significant role here too. Pay attention to your users, their needs, and most importantly, their complaints and grievances and try to resolve issues privately and promptly.

Author the Author:

Jaykishan Panchal is a content marketer at MoveoApps, an iPhone app development company. He enjoys writing about technology, marketing, & industry trends. He is a tech enthusiast and loves to explore new stuff. You can follow him on Twitter @jaypanchal8.

App Marketing Conversations

Revisiting Our 2014 Mobile Predictions

One year ago, we sat down with Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ and Ryan Morel of GameHouse to share our predictions for where mobile apps were headed in 2014. We predicted that 2014 would be the year of customer retention and engagement. We concluded that metrics around customer experience would rise in importance and become high priorities for customer-centric brands.

How well did we hit the mark on our mobile predictions? Check out our newest installment of App Marketing Conversations in the video below to see just how well reality measured up.

Interested in seeing our last year’s predictions for yourself? Check out what we had to say one year ago. We’d also recommend tuning into the GameHouse blog for the scoop rising acquisition costs, and what they mean for mobile engagement and retention in 2015.

Transcript:

Robi Ganguly: Good morning, welcome to another edition of App Marketing Conversations. I’m Robi Ganguly from Apptentive. As always, I’m joined by Ryan Morel of GameHouse and Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ by TUNE. So, we’re going to talk a little bit about last year’s prediction and judge whether or not we’re correct. Ryan’s already discussed the UA side of things. I’m going to talk about the loyalty side of things and then Ian’s going to talk to us a little bit about ASO. So, last year I said I was just going back awhile using the same prediction as 2013 which is that retention’s going to matter in a pretty meaningful way. I felt like it was going to be really important and that finally the companies wake up to it and really invest in a meaningful way.

A large part of our conversation discussed what that looks like and why that might not be true and what actions they might be taking around retention. So, for example Ryan you made some real good points about the fact that of course retentions are truly important and every company should invest but it’s kind of easier to expect the customers around user acquisition. In 2014, do you think that you saw companies spending easily but starting to invest more on the retention side of things?

Ryan Morel: Yes and I don’t really have a lot of firsthand experience here but I talk about kind of what I hear and sort of see. It seemed like 2014 was the year of people really starting to get really serious about reengagement which I think is maybe not directly parallel to retention and loyalty but it’s kind of like realization that oh my gosh, we should probably like pay attention to retention and loyalty because it’s so much easier to keep a customer than it is to get anyone of these good customers. Yeah, I think we start to see some of that, a lot of shift.

Robi: Yeah and it seemed like fix you in particularly starting to push a big narrative around acquiring loyal list and then what are you going to do afterwards too. So, I think that was part of what was also in the market from a conversation perspective. Then when we were talking about reengagement we also talk about tactics and the tools that companies are using in order to do this. I think in 2014, we can be comfortable saying retention was a bigger emphasis because push became bigger as a place for trying the engagement campaigns. Ian, you led a conversation with us talking about how at Amazon and email and marketing division you were thinking a lot about delivery and the cost of delivery and whether or not push providers are actually doing that kind of analysis. If the company is using that analysis so do you think you saw strides in being more relevant in the push?

Ian Sefferman: You know, I’m not sure that I actually saw a lot of companies really place a huge emphasis…. I guess I should take that back. Urban actually did put a big emphasis on doing push the right way. They have some tagline. Yeah, exactly, so that’s great. Personally as a consumer, I saw more apps going the right way with a few apps going off the deep end like crazy. I find that certain games are just incredibly push heavy to the point that I turn it off.

Ryan: Right.

Ian: But a lot of Apps that were pushing crap are no longer pushing crap, they are pushing interesting relative things for me.

Ryan: I would add one thing here that I still see at least from my perspective people doing it wrong from a permission’s perspective. I just download some the other day where I immediately opened it and you push notifications. I don’t know yet. [laughing] I think consumers especially just from time zero-sum game, they don’t know if they like it or not yet. I think there’s still a long of ways to go as far as developers asking at the right point to optimize in giving a good consumer to say yes.

Robi: Yeah, yeah. I think the broader point about retention and doing that is something that would become much more important in 2014. From what we saw, that conversation was a lot more common. A lot more companies asking question about how are we going to keep people around. We know we are actually making money mobile. It felt like 2014 for us was at least full of companies that had said we got our legs under us we know what it looks like in an app that’s useful used on a regular basis. We know that they are going to consume enough media that the advertising is worth it or that they are going to purchase it in some way so now we’re really in. We’re in this business, we’re invested and we’re running it so we’re not just running from the acquisition side we’re really growing from the LTV side. I heard a lot of propositions about LTV media in particular which makes me feel like I think we were pretty right about this prediction. How have you heard the conversation around LTV?

Ryan: Yeah. LTV, there’s a lot more conversation now about user acquisition based on LTV and not CPI than there was a year ago. So, a year ago it was really just a volume game, and there’s still some volumes but it’s really like how’s the LTV coming out. We see it with our customers like we’re going to we shift the CPI up or down based on what the LTV is doing on the back end. I have a question for you, which is this is also the year that we really heard a lot about like ecommerce on mobile is ginormous right, like 60% of Amazon holiday sales came from mobile or maybe it was 60% of their mobile sales came from an app, I can’t remember. Either way the numbers are huge. Which has to be driving people are going to pay attention to this.

Robi: Yeah. Yeah. I think if I understand your question correctly is the ecommerce shift to it leaning more of the LTV accounts because ecommerce companies have done by LTV for a long time. I think that is absolutely true. That is definitely a place where you talk to m-commerce companies or ecommerce companies that now have a big mobile presence, their math; their understanding of what it looks like to hit and retain the customer is much more sophisticated. I think the thing that we’ve been pleasantly surprised by is that the analysis from those companies is much more forgiven. In the mobile world a lot of the math has been driven by games companies.

Games companies tend to think about 3 days, 7 day, 30-day retention and a commerce company will say well we’re just trying to see if they’re active over a 6-month period. Because customers aren’t here all the time but when they come back and they make a choice, we want to see them. I’ve seen more sophistication around that. You guys do a lot of attribution tracking and see a ton of data at TUNE, are you seeing similar things?

Ian: Yep, absolutely. Almost nothing to add. I think everything that you’ve said we’ve seen. The one piece that I think is still missing is around the brand side. Brand side who may not ever really care about an LTV calculation, not clear to me that they’ve been particularly well suited in that ecosystem yet, as the ecosystem pushes toward LTV, where are they going to go and where are they going to fit in.

Robi: And when you say brand side, are you thinking like Proctor and Gamble?

Ian: Yeah. Coca Cola.

Robi: Coca Cola. There’s still trying to maybe figure out what’s the purpose of their apps and how does that get included in there…

Ian: That’s right.

Robi: …there LTV for their…

Ian: Exactly.

Robi: …for fundamentally an offline consumer.

Ian: Yeah. Exactly and what are they thinking about in terms of how are they allocating their advertisement budgets towards mobile campaigns. Because they’re doing it, right? Those guys have apps; they have things they are trying out and experimenting and they’re buying on. What’s its real purpose? Feels a little bit like the 1990s, 96, 97. Where those guys knew they needed a website but they had no idea what they’re going to do with it yet.

Robi: Yeah. And we’re starting to see several brands you mentioned or people that we know pretty well. We’re starting to see those folks say maybe it’s not something I should be thinking about right now as a modernization channel or that I can attribute like dollars to you but I do know that if I’m somebody’s pocket I can do interesting things with consumers that I’ve never done before. That’s part of the conversation we’re starting to see which is oh so us being on our phones mean we can actually communicate with them, we can learn from them and if you combine that with other things that we do the $150,000 market research study we do, the $10,000,000 test ad be buy over here we start having a better picture of the consumer and maybe that’s how we evaluate mobile right now on the brand side. So, I think that’s an interesting aspect it’s not really retention related as that notion.

Ryan: Oh, because we have an engagement and retention is kind of the same thing, right? So, while you were talking this is totally tangent but I’m noticing you were still wearing your watch.

Robi: Yes, my watch.

Ryan: So, I was thinking about whether or not wearables become a potentially more interesting medium for brands to engage consumers especially as they kind of move through the real world.

Robi: Yeah.

Ryan: And whether or not you’ve seen any examples personally like beacons effecting notifications or your location affecting notifications and your engagement with brands.

Robi: Well since I am on Android ecosystem, beacons don’t really apply to me unfortunately.

Ryan: They still have beacons.

Robi: Do we? I don’t know if really.

Ryan: iBeacons.

Robi: So, eye beacons. So, yes I guess that’s funny, I think about beacons being at this point. I haven’t seen any of that stuff like physical triggers kind of stuff off but I am seeing like on deck apps doing a better job getting you to like pay attention to certain things they are doing. Slack has a pretty nice notification that shows up on here and it’s relatively very convenient. I have been real happy with that. Google continues to set me in their ecosystem. I’m now like a Google Fit user on accident because of this thing. So that worked to their advantage pretty meaningfully. But I didn’t expect that at all. Maybe the other part I missed was this is a point you made towards the end of our predictions was if you’re going talk about retention, you’re going to talk about the quality of that. That at a certain level yes you can send out push, you can do app messaging, you can do feedback, you can do lots of things to reengage with the customers but if your app is no good…

Ryan: Doesn’t matter.

Robi: …doesn’t matter, right? And that was basically your point and you said I think this year around retention aspect some people are going to hit religion about the quality of their app first. I feel like that’s true, I feel like across the board the conversation is about what apps are good or what apps are not and what people are doing in order to invest has led to a massive tidal wave of if we’re doing it native, we’re finally just going native. How do you feel about the quality of apps and the emphasis on that?

Ryan: I think we kind of talked about this at our predictions for next year’s segment or it’s like there is no such things as a MVP at this point, at least you have to have, your MVP has to be really good or no one is going to care. So, I think it’s becoming clear everyday like quality level of polish, volume design kind of lines or that on Google are incredibly important to even have a remote shot of getting some users. I think that is only going to get more competitive as we go.

Robi: Yep.

Ryan: Did that answer your question?

Robi: Yep. No, it does. I mean, I personally right because we live in this. I’m biased. Everyone I talk to says yeah, we want to hear from our investors, we’re going to talk to them, our app has to get better and this is the best way for us to get better faster, it’s the best way for us to prioritize but we’re biased so I’m curious about what you are saying, are you hearing more conversations of quality? You work with some of the largest apps in the world.

Ian: Yeah, I mean to a certain extent in working with some of the largest apps in the world excuse our judgment too because those guys they are there because they are the quality and they are the best. But with that being said, that just points the needle in the exact direction that we are talking about. In order to be the best and to be the largest in the world, you have to have high quality. So, yes high quality is unequivocally important.

Ryan: I would say from a games’ perspective it’s harder today to start with a lower quality game and iterate rate to a higher quality game. Simply because of the cost of user requisition is so high. So, you can’t you’ve got to spend the time up front to make sure you have something of quality that people want or at least give you a starting point.

Robi: So Flappy Bird happened in 2014. Is Flappy Bird the exceptional cruiser role? Like, how do we think about that?

Ryan: I don’t know.

Robi: That was a crappy game, right?

Ian: I’m not convinced it was a crappy game actually.

Robi: That’s a fair.

Ryan: I can say it was a haunted service. So if you think of Clash of Clans and Candy Crush, etc, services so Flackin Bird was not that. It was a good game that filled a need…

Robi: Yes.

Ryan: …in a short period of time. But I think it proved that the power of word of mouth is still going to be strong. And that there is meritocracy in the gaming business.

Robi: Yeah. So I’m going to say wrapping this up. Last year’s predication around retention we did about 80%. I think we were right that it’s going to be a more emphasis, there’s clearly a lot more focus on LTV. I think that conversation around LTV will continue to explode this year but I think maybe we’re a little bit optimistic about everybody talking about the notion of talking to their customers and hearing from them. I think that more people are doing that, it wasn’t so universal. So we definitely made some predictions about this stuff for next year, be sure to check those out and check out the other recaps from Ryan and Ian and like this and share it. Thanks.

Hungry for more? Check out our mobile predictions for 2015!

In-App Surveys

Best Practices in Mobile Research

The Apptentive Guide to Mobile Research Best Practices

The following is Part 3 of our three-part guide on mobile research and in-app surveys.

Before you set out to work on creating your own mobile research instruments, we wanted to provide a few best practices that we’ve discovered with the help of our customers. These are proven tips for creating effective mobile surveys optimized for response rates, customer experience, and the collection of actionable insights.

Best Practices: Survey Design

When designing your mobile research instrument, do:

  • Design with mobile in mind
  • Keep questions brief and concise
  • Allow customers to opt out at any time
  • Aim to address your research objective with as few questions as possible
  • Limit the number of options for multiple choices
  • Break the questions up so that only one or two appear at a time
  • Provide an ‘Other’ field with a textbox for fill-in answers to your multiple choice questions if you suspect that some respondents may have answers you had not previously considered
  • Add an option for ‘Don’t Know’ or ‘Not Applicable’ for questions that some respondents may not be able to answer
  • Pre-test your survey internally to identify any weaknesses and ambiguity

And don’t:

  • Create overlap in multiple choice responses. All responses should be mutually exclusive
  • Present rating scales with large matrices of options or questions ones that require scrolling on a mobile screen
  • Create vague responses that are open to the interpretation of the respondent (i.e.: If asking about use frequency, give tangible options like ‘twice a week’ and ‘once a month’ rather than ‘often’ or ‘rarely’
  • Frame questions in a way that leads the respondent or creates bias (i.e.: “Why do you like this app?”)
  • Request personal information at the start of the survey as this may lead to lower response rates. If you need this information, make the questions optional and move them to the end of the survey

Apptentive customer communication

Best Practices: Survey Integration

For best results integrating your research instrument within your app, we recommend you:

  • Use an in-app survey rather than directing mobile customers to a web survey so as to not detract from the customer experience. If you are using a web survey, be upfront about asking customers to leave the app for an external link.
  • Use event-based targeting that isn’t intrusive. Don’t immediately ask new users to take a survey, and only ask customers to take your survey once rather than asking each time they load an event.
  • Integrate the survey with your existing customer analytics to allow you to target the responses against your audience segmentation to uncover trends based on loyalty, device, etc., without having to ask customers to fill out additional questions.

We hope this guide helped, and we wish you all the best in your mobile research endeavors! Of course, this list contains just a few of our favorite tips. Please help us grow this list by letting us know in the comments below what tips worked best for you and what you’d add to the list.

Want more best practices and help thinking about your in-app surveys? Sign up for an enterprise plan for unlimited access to our dedicated customer success and support teams. We’ll work with you to create a plan specifically for your mobile app and research needs.



Revisit the highlights of this three-part guide on Slideshare:

Mobile research best practices from Apptentive

Apptentive logo

Demystifying Mobile App Lead Generation: Tracking Leads and Calls through Your App

A shroud of mystery surrounds mobile app lead generation – everyone says it’s incredibly effective, but few can tell you how to actually do it with efficacy.

In today’s era of online marketing and ecommerce, the allure of mobile is undeniable. While mobile adoption for ecommerce is more apparent in North America and Europe, emerging giants like China are also playing an important role, allowing a steady rate of increase in mobile purchase rates. In the middle of 2014, 26% of all internet users worldwide bought something via mobile.

That’s a staggering 550 million people. That doesn’t even include tablets, with 12% purchase rates – another 230 million. If that wasn’t impressive enough, take note that these are the millions who actually purchased; many others would research via smartphones and tablets and become leads, then finalize their conversion in person or via desktop.

So where does this leave the bewildered marketer or business person? How in the world do you track leads and calls through your app?

The Simplest of Ways

HubSpot – always a great source of research for information on ecommerce and online marketing – can give you a ton of great tips that show you how to generally perform app lead generation. They cover this topic in one of their posts: six ways to get more leads via mobile. Not very technical, sure, but let’s start with one of their most practical and simplest propositions: make your phone numbers clickable.

This is the foremost step that allows performance tracking. It’s a call to action and an interactive touch point in one. You can track who’s clicking, where they are, how many times the number is clicked in a day, how many calls push through, and so on and so forth.

A clickable phone number exemplifies usability for your consumers too: when researching on-the-go, they can click on the number to call and get in touch with you right away.

Okay, that’s all good; but how?

Lead and Call Tracking Tools

If you only want to get a feel for mobile app lead generation, you can use your Google Analytics to track the performance of your mobile app. GA is already a powerful tool and many of its uses for website traffic modeling, lead tracking, and user acquisition can also be applied to mobile apps with a little tweaking. Better yet, you can use it free of charge, until you start needing its more advanced features.

While extremely useful, GA can’t do everything for you. External tools for lead tracking via mobile apps and calls are dedicated to the task, compared to GA’s all-in-one peg. These external services that specialize in tracking leads can get you very detailed information on their calls – call times, call lengths, call origins, lead tracking via numbers used, campaign performance based on calls, you name it.

One such tool is CallRail, which allows you to assign a number to each of your campaigns. For instance, you have three specific campaigns rooted in your mobile app and you want to track the performance of each. By using CallRail, you assign one number to each campaign to track important metrics like:

  • Which numbers received the most callers
  • Which numbers received calls from leads who actually converted
  • Customer engagement and lead nurturing data gleaned from call metrics like length of call, call location, repeat calls, and more

Once you combine your GA stats with details from services like CallRail, you get the bigger picture of mobile app lead generation.

An Example Scenario

Let’s use a simple example scenario so you can visualize how lead tracking works on mobile apps using the just the two tools above: Google Analytics and CallRail.

We’re going to use a typical business model here that relies on a mobile app to drive user engagement and generate leads. Let’s assume conversion is completed elsewhere, though the following scenario can also include the possibility of conversion via the app (e.g. in-app purchases like micro-transactions) – only we won’t delve into it.

So you have a sales funnel that includes a mobile app to tap into mobile ecommerce, and you want to track your leads from your app. With Google Analytics, you can leverage aspects like Traffic Sources, Event Tracking and Flow Visualization to see user engagement:

  • Track installs and measure how many users go through the first step of your funnel, how many drop off, and how many keep going
  • See which devices your app is popular on and where your users come from for better demographic data for targeting
  • Check repeat uses to quantify how much engagement users need before becoming a lead, i.e. clicking one of your numbers being tracked by CallRail

This is simple enough and you do this for your website. Now, let’s see how dedicated services like CallRail improves your tracking:

  • Check which numbers are getting the most calls to gauge initial generation performance
  • See where the calls are coming from, for better demographic data for targeting
  • Find out how long the average call duration is per campaign
  • Track which leads actually close

Now it gets much better, as you merge your two tools: GA with CallRail.

Set your GA goals to track events that lead to users clicking the interactive phone numbers CallRail is tracking. From here, you can track user acquisition and consumer behaviour from app install to call and even to conversion. You can also see patterns, such as:

  • Which numbers got the most and least calls, and then you can cross reference repeat app use to call tracking, figuring out correlation between app engagement and lead generation
  • Which numbers got calls from leads who actually converted, then you can cross reference campaign performance with conversion to figure out which aspects of the campaign led to better quality leads
  • Which numbers received calls that took the longest to finish (call duration), which is indicative of either customer engagement or lack of information from the campaign – you can then reference the campaign’s specific consumer path to check which is which, along with the data from the call from your call recording

These are just some of ways you can get valuable insight from tracking your mobile app leads via GA and CallRail. There are of course more straightforward ones like knowing the location of your leads when they access your app and when they call. Combined, these basic and advanced information about your leads can help you refine your campaigns and even your business development strategy, at least in relation to your mobile app.

Mobile apps are truly versatile tools for a variety of uses, including lead generation. What you need are the right tools to track how your campaigns are doing, how you’re generating leads, how good your leads are, and what the results of your efforts ultimately lead to.

Mobile apps can be as useful and effective as everyone says they are, and now you know quite a bit to make them work for you.

About the Author:

Gino Paolo R. Diño, Demystifying Mobile App Lead Generation

Gino Paolo R. Diño is a content strategist, inbound marketer, freelance writer and editor. He has also authored two books – “The Hacker’s Guide to Getting to the Top of Google Search” and “Google+: Is Google’s Facebook Killer Doomed to Fail?”.

CustomerEngagement

The Importance of Mobile Feedback

Through conversations with thousands of mobile developers, we’ve found that evaluation of the customer experience publishers hope to build into their apps often comes down to simple guesswork without any tested and true ways to gauge satisfaction. You have a steady stream of new installs and fantastic ratings in the app stores. And yet, your mobile customers come and go, with only a small portion continuing to use your app after the first month or even past those crucial first 30 seconds.

Fortunately, it no longer has to be guesswork. Many publishers are taking the first steps when it comes to better evaluating their in-app customer experience. Every day, we work with new CX-centric developers to integrate in-app surveys and customer communication tools into their apps. These tools, seen commonly all over the internet but rarely inside mobile apps, empower businesses to survey their customers. They unlock a wealth of insights in a much greater volume, and of a far more representative nature, than what the limited information in app store ratings seems to convey.

Urbanspoon Mobile Feedback PromptOne such customer – Urbanspoon – used the mobile feedback prompt seen to the right to proactively ask customers for feedback with an in-app prompt. After implementing this feedback forum, Urbanspoon received over 7,000 pieces of feedback. These insights uncovered critical components that helped Urbanspoon in its strive to constantly create a better app for its customers with each new update.

Using in-app surveys to open up a channel for customer communication and gather mobile feedback has allowed Urbanspoon and countless others to save money, prioritize features, learn more about their customer base, receive structured feedback, and engage customers.

Save Money

Mobile apps aren’t cheap. Every new update requires time and money, and lots of it. Mobile app developers have an inherent vision of what they want their app to be, but don’t always consider how the needs of their customers may differ from this vision. As a result, publishers are wasting valuable resources on new features and rollouts that don’t necessarily provide customer value.

However, if you can directly ask your customers what they’d like in an app using in-app surveys, you can be sure that your development time and money is being put to good use and that each new feature will enhance the customer experience. Or better yet, create a minimal viable product and test it in a mobile focus group environment to see if you’re on the right path.

Prioritize Features

As a developer, you have dozens of features on your roadmap that you’re excited to one day get to. But don’t fall into the trap of trying to do too much, too quickly. Collecting mobile feedback and giving your customers with a voice allows you to determine which of your proposed features are most important to them in the context of your app.

Once you’re armed with this knowledge, you can begin to prioritize your roadmap based on what will add the most customer delight. You’ll also be able to determine which of your current features needs a little touch-up to meet or exceed customer expectations.

Customer Love

Better Understand Your Customers

If we’re adamant about one thing, it’s our philosophy of Customer Love — seeing mobile customers as people, not users. Each of your customers has their own likes and dislikes, their own use cases for the app, and that one thing that will really make them love your app.

Using in-app surveys, you can begin to collect valuable demographic and psychographic information to segment your customer base. This research allows your in-app communications to speak directly to a segment’s unique interests. You can also use it segmentation to target your out-of-app marketing to potential customer groups that match one of your current customer personas and likely have common needs and interests that will draw them to your app.

Make Product-Specific Inquiries

You’ve rolled out a new update, only to find that retention is falling. Or you see customers abandoning their purchases half-way through checkout. Do you know what’s causing this behavior?

Once again, collecting mobile feedback can provide you an answer. By proactively surveying customers at key moments throughout their experience with your app (e.g., after they’ve used a new feature for the first time, or after they close out of the shopping cart platform), you can evaluate their experience with, and attitude toward, your product on-the-spot. This allows you to identify and fix any customer pain points early on and intercept negative app store reviews.

Engage Your Audience

The reviews you see on the app store ratings page represent only a small minority of your customer base. This minority tends to be skewed toward either extreme when it comes to their evaluation of your app. These are people who either love or hate your app, with a lesser proportion of those in-between making the leap to the ratings page. You’re getting only the feedback of the vocal few and not feedback particularly representative of your greater audience.

Providing your customers with the tools needed to share their thoughts – without requiring them to leave the app to take a web survey or visit the app store – allows you to unlock a much more precise perspective of customer opinion. Mobile surveys (particularly when done right) let you to quickly poll a much larger portion of your customers and have response rates dramatically higher than their web counterparts and competing market research instruments.


For more on opening up customer communication, check out MobileDevHQ’s Complete Guide to App Marketing, in collaboration with Apptentive’s Ezra Siegel and a panel of industry experts.

Enterprise App Marketing eBook

The Retention Problem

Cutting Costs with Retention Marketing

What Continued Increases in Mobile Acquisition Costs Mean for Developers

Customer acquisition may seem like an easy task. After all, the growth of the mobile market is only accelerating and the mobile internet is predicted to be in the hands of half the world’s population by 2020.

If you build it, they will come… Right?

Not anymore. An increased number of smartphone holders worldwide and an increased demand for apps have created an extremely competitive marketplace where customers almost always have several strong options when it comes to finding that perfect app.

As customers increasingly shop around in the app stores and evaluate their options, mobile publishers are hit with dwindling customer retention rates. According to our own research, only 40 percent of customers continue to use an app they downloaded a month ago – and this number plummets to 4 percent over the course of the first year in the customer journey.

The Retention Problem

The cost of acquiring a loyal mobile customer (defined here as someone who opens your mobile app at least 3 times) is therefore at an all-time high. According to Fiksu’s Cost Per Loyal User (CPLU) Index, the average CPLU increased 34 percent from September 2013 to September 2014.

Between August 2014 and September 2014 alone, the base CPLU rose from $1.86 to $2.25. This 21 percent spike corresponds directly with the unveiling of the Apple iPhone 6 and iOS8. Both of these events led to an increase in demand for mobile devices and apps and a subsequent increase in competition among mobile app publishers vying for attention in an increasingly crowded market place.

Cost Per Loyal User, 2012-2014

As acquisition costs continue to rise, mobile customer retention becomes more important than ever. If done right, mobile retention campaigns can lessen the burden of the much-costlier new customer acquisitions while still allowing you to hit those monthly revenue and active customer goals.

We’ve put together a few, low-cost strategies to boost customer retention and loyalty – in turn, fueling sales, higher ratings, and organic growth through word-of-mouth and customer delight.

Give Your Customers a Voice

Before you can hope to delight, or even retain, your mobile customers, you must open up a two-way conversation where their voices can be heard. App developers constantly strive to create that perfect customer experience, but many lack the tools to evaluate whether or not their assumptions of customer opinion are really on mark.

Sure, there are the ratings on the app stores that can be used to guide future updates, but these are indicative of only a small fraction of your mobile customers – namely, the vocal minorities who either love or hate your app.

But what about the less vocal majority, those with opinions somewhere between those two extremes? This is a group that likely won’t make the journey to the app store ratings page unless they’re truly delighted or peeved. They constitute the bulk of your audience, yet their voices remain largely unheard across the much of today’s app market place.

To fill this void, developers are bringing customer service to the mobile channel – incorporating two-way chat capabilities between customers and publishers and prompting in-app surveys to gauge opinion throughout every step of the customer journey. In addition to allowing them to preemptively address customer issues before they surface publicly as a negative rating, these interactions provide developers with a wealth of data that they can use to shape future updates and delight their audiences.

Use smart, well-timed push messaging and in-app surveys

Opening up customer communication is just the first step in improving retention. Next, it’s time to actively ask for and respond to that communication.

We recommend our customers look for ways to reach out and solicit feedback during key events throughout the customer journey – such as the third time a customer logs in, or the first time someone shares content via the app. Once these events have been triggered, don’t wait for the customer to search through your menu navigation to tell you what they think. Instead, prompt a brief, non-disruptive conversation to gauge customer opinion at the broadest sense before diving into more specific sentiments in the event that the customer wishes to continue the conversation. (For more tips on asking for customer feedback, check out our 5 Tips for Writing Effective Mobile Surveys.)

Let your customers know they’re valued

The surest way to delight customers is to let them know that they are valued – and that means giving thanks and showing appreciation. If customers commonly make a similar request, consider shifting your development schedule to prioritize that need. Likewise, on releasing your next update, give a shoutout to your customers for contributing to a new feature release and remind them that you’re building a customer-first experience where their voices are not only listened to, but highly valued.

Regularly refresh your app with rich content updates

It’s no mystery that creating valuable is key to delighting mobile customers. If customers see new and interesting content each time they open the app, they are likelier to spend more time in your app consuming that content and return to your app frequently to see what’s new.

To really wow your mobile customers, align your content strategy with your customer data provides additional opportunities. For example, use your in-app prompts to suggest relevant content based on your customer communications or reward your returning customers by offering them exclusive discounts or deals out of appreciation for their loyalty.

Understand your app’s customer retention rates

And finally, it’s important to know your numbers – how to calculate retention rates and the revenue generated by each loyal customer. Of course, each app will have different retention and average revenue per user goals and benchmarks, but being able to calculate these metrics will allow you to internally compare both your marketing effectiveness over time and the ROIs of your retention and acquisition strategies to determine what makes the most sense for your business.

Calculating Your App Revenue

We’ve released a few guides to dive further into this concept and help demonstrate the importance of mobile customer retention:

Have a favorite retention marketing tip we missed? Pass on the knowledge by sharing it in the comments section or tweeting us @Apptentive!

Enterprise App Marketing eBook

The Complete Guide to Enterprise App Marketing

With continued increases in mobile customer acquisition costs and the challenges of customer retention in an increasingly crowded marketplace, app marketing may seem like a daunting task.

To remedy this, we’ve worked with some of the best in the business at MobileDevHQ, Apptamin, Leanplum, and AppFlood to shed some light on the strategy and best practices behind app marketing with our new eBook, The Complete Guide to Enterprise App Marketing.

This free, 100+ page guide is tailored specifically to enterprises and designed around Dave McClure’s startup metrics for pirates of Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, and Revenue (AARRR). Each of the five metrics is explained in-depth in terms of their importance to mobile marketing and some tips and best practices that marketers and developers alike can apply to their mobile strategy.

We encourage you to take the first step to improving your mobile marketing strategy by downloading this free eBook and sharing your favorite tips and advice from the guide (or anything we missed!) using the hashtag #AppMktgBook.

Enterprise App Marketing eBook

L.O.V.E

How to Prepare for the Holiday App Stores Rush

As in the past few years, the newest tablets and smartphones are going to be the big gift for many this holiday season. Between Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas Day, and Black Friday/Cyber Monday (after everyone ‘gifts themselves’ new tech treats a little early to take advantage of early price reductions), people all over the world will boot up, charge up, and start loading new apps on to their new tablets and phones.

As a result, app stores across the board receive huge spikes in traffic and app download requests. According to a recent Flurry report, Christmas day sees a 91 percent increase in app downloads, as compared to an average day in the first half of December.

Seasonality of the app marketplace: Mobile commerce peaks in the Q4 holiday season.

Seasonality of the US mobile market: Mobile commerce peaks in the Q4 holiday season.

In recent years, the combination of the holiday break at Apple and the increased demand for new apps has created a notable point of concern for app developers, marketers, and mobile product managers… the ‘App Store Freeze.’

In anticipation of the surge of new submissions, updates, and App Ratings and Reviews flowing in to iTunes, Apple would ‘freeze’ its app ratings and version update listings for a period of time in order to work through the backlog of new data.

The Ratings and Reviews component of the ‘freeze’ came as a blessing and a curse to app marketers. Mobile marketers ahead of their game could take advantage of the ‘freeze’ by attempting to boost their Ratings right before they were temporarily ‘locked in’ through advertising blitzes and holiday sales. Consequently, app publishers with more organic app store ratings and reviews optimization strategies were bumped down right before the ‘freeze’ – and stuck in that unfavorable position for anywhere between eight hours to one week.

For better or worse, the App Store Ratings Freeze is largely a thing of the past. In 2013 Ratings updates were locked for approximate eight hours, while any Ratings freeze this year is predicted to be negligible.

Dwindling duration of the infamous 'App Store Freeze'

Dwindling duration of the infamous ‘App Store Freeze’

However, there are a still a variety of key considerations for mobile developers and marketers around the end-of-year holiday time period. Notable among these is the continued presence of the Apple iTunes Connect Holiday Shutdown – during which new app versions will not be processed through the App Store until after the Apple Holiday break.(See next paragraph.) We have assembled a few new tips to ensure that you ride smoothly through these exciting – but choppy – waters ahead for the next six weeks. As you seek to leverage the opportunity to delight customers who will be searching for new apps and trying out your app for the first time on their new mobile devices, we hope you find the following advice useful.

Plan early – especially regarding your app version and pricing updates.

While the App Ratings ‘freeze’ is no longer a main concern, app publishers should still be aware of – and plan around – the iTunes Connect Holiday Shutdown. This is the time Apple iTunes and App Store developers are typically away on vacation, preventing manual changes to app version updates in the App Store. The 2014 shutdown dates will be announced shortly, though publishers can anticipate something along the lines of Dec 20 – Dec 26/27 this year (in accordance with the duration and span of the 2013 dates).

During the expected iTunes Connect Shutdown, no new apps or updates will be added to the App Store and prices and descriptions for existing apps cannot be changed. Front-end functionalities of the App Store, including updates to app rankings, will be unaffected however. In preparation for the App Store Shutdown, we recommend submitting holiday updates and pricing changes by the first week of December to give ample buffer time for review and approval.

App Store Holiday Shutdown Dates

2013 dates for the App Store Holiday Shutdown Dates, when no new submissions will be approved by Apple – Not to be confused with the App Store Ratings Freeze, when app ratings were historically locked in place

The Google Play Store does not have a scheduled holiday shutdown (of which we are aware – if you know about one coming this year, please update everyone in the Comments). Android update submissions are typically made live within 24 hours. However, we would still recommend planning any app new submissions or version updates well in advance of the 3rd week of December to ensure that neither you nor your new Android device customers miss the ‘unboxing’ windows this year.

Similarly, if your new year resolution contains anything about SDK integrations or setting up mobile customer engagement programs, consider getting an early start while things are still relatively quiet in the time leading up to the holidays. This way, you can start to capture customer data during the busiest time of the year and use the start of the new year to focus on providing an incredible customer experience rather than working through a backlog of integrations.

Dress for the occasion.

There’s a reason retail stores play holiday music through all of December and most of November. Research has shown that holiday music and themes can increase the amount of time consumers spend in a store, their intention to revisit, and their intention to make a purchase.

The same goes for apps.

In addition to providing another opportunity to delight your mobile customers, holiday themes are an effective way to increase engagement and click-through rates. Capturing the holiday spirit may also provide opportunities for increased exposure if your app lands on an app store’s list of top holiday picks or in a festive industry round-up of ‘best in show’ holiday apps.

Consider holiday specials, but don’t sacrifice value for rank.

Everyone loves a deal, but make sure your holiday pricing aligns with your business goals. In the days of the App Store freeze, publishers would greatly discount their app’s price to boost its perceived value – and consequently, its ratings – right before Apple would freeze its listing of top-rated apps. With the much shorter duration of the freeze, tricks like this are much less effective and publishers should be careful of pricing below their cost of acquisition.

Before heading into the holidays, know your metrics inside and out – what it costs you to acquire a customer, and how much revenue you generate for each engaged user. Once you know these metrics, you can plan better plan your holiday strategy around maximizing either new user volume or your average revenue per user (ARPU).

Want help setting goals and driving revenue? Check out our free guide, The Math of the App Business.

Make that first impression a good one.

Customer Service departments are notoriously overworked during the holiday season. In the app world, customer service can be put on the back burner entirely as staff depart for their own holiday vacations or are simply spread too thin to accommodate the sudden spike in traffic. However, publishers that set themselves apart by delivering an exceptional customer experience to the onslaught of new users will be rewarded in spades in the form of customer loyalty and retention.

Don’t let the first impression your customer has be a buggy one – empower them with the tools to openly communicate any issues or suggestions before they make their way to the ratings page. The cost of acquiring a new customer is significantly greater than the cost of retention, so creating an engaging customer experience from the get-go this holiday season will make the year ahead that much easier.

Continue your campaign well into the new year.

The holiday opportunities last long beyond the initial holidays. It’s important to remember that user acquisition is just the first step in your journey.

New gadget holders are swamped with an endless list of new app recommendations from the moment they unwrap their shiny new toys. As a result, it may be hard to shine past the clutter as a must-download. In order to stay top of mind, consider investing in a longer-term retention or re-targeting campaign to nurture users into engaged and profitable customers long after the initial excitement of the holidays has waned.


Have any other tips? Share them with @Apptentive and we’ll pass them along! Until then, happy holiday planning!

iOS Icon for Apptentive

Tips to Implement on Your Way to the Top

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by our colleague, Tsipi Joseph, at AppGo2Market.

Many developers get really excited working on their mobile apps… just to realize, a little too late, that they haven’t set the right marketing infrastructure that will help their app shine in the very crowded app store markets.

Sooner or later, you have to learn the ropes of the app marketing business. Don’t let it happen it happen the hard way – the putting out fires sort of way.

We have put together a few tips we recommend you follow from an early stage to make sure that when the time is right, you have made all the necessary decisions and have the knowledge and tools in place to start pushing your app to market effectively.

  1. No need to develop everything yourself! Luckily, our young industry has already started producing some best practices and conventions around mobile app distribution, engagement, and monetization. As such, there are many service providers in the ecosystem, providing developers with off-the shelf solutions to many of the basic building blocks of a successful mobile app. Many of those are around marketing your mobile app: Inbound and outbound analytics, push messaging, A/B testing, in-app feedback, and more. So, there’s no longer the need to develop everything yourself. That’s great news! BUT, it is important to select the right vendors for you, your specific challenges, your goals, and your needs. And you may need help doing that!

  2. Seek recommendations and advice. Join mobile app related social groups – especially in Facebook and Google+. You can easily find app professionals who are eager to help their industry bros. You’d be surprised how quickly you can get priceless tips and answers to your questions. You can have meaningful discussions that will help you get smarter about your app promotion. There is also a lot of information out there that you can read, but it can sometimes get confusing and overwhelming. For best results, identify a few resources where you can get all the information you need and stick to them.

  3. Keep your balance. Once you start looking for information, you will see that the information out there is close to endless. The set of decisions you need to take is huge, and a lot of them will be based on intuition, at least in the beginning. Don’t get lost and lose focus. Always seek the balance between the time you spend learning the business and the time you do the actual work.

  4. Know where you’re going. Speaking of actual work, you need to know where you are going. It all starts with a plan, with goals, with you knowing what the word “success” means for you. Is it reaching the top five in the app store category? Achieving 10K downloads? Is it about user engagement? Maybe “60% of my users log in at least once a month” is what success looks like to you? Whatever it is, you can only get there if you know where you’re going.

  5. Know how you’re going to get there. Once your destination is set, you need to decide on the best ways to reach that destination. It’s called planning. One important pointer – When you come to evaluate your plan, try and explain why you believe each chosen tactic can bring you closer to your destination. All done? You are good to go. No matter if your way is made of buzz creation, viral marketing or even burst campaigns, just make sure it’s connected to your goals. It’s that simple.

About Appgo2market:
Appgo2market is a DIY Mobile app marketing resource center that supports appreneurs with (almost) everything they need to execute top-of-the-line marketing in order to meet and exceed their distribution, engagement and monetization goals:

Here is what you can find on Appgo2market:

  • A huge, and constantly updated library of how-to trainings (e.g., ASO, acquisition, Social, PR and more).
  • Downloadable templates tailored specifically to mobile app pros – you can just download and use as needed (Graphical, UX, spreadsheets and more ).
  • Access to top mobile app experts – Members can post specific questions to our “consulting zone” and get answers from relevant industry experts.
Mobile Team

Marketing Tactics Every App Developer Can Do

The experts on Apptentive’s Mobile Team provide answers to your questions about from between app development to successfully marketing your app. Got a question? Ask it in our comment section below or on Twitter using #MobileTeam. In each post we’ll highlight a different topic where the Mobile Team will share their insight and experience.

This week we asked the Mobile Team:
Developing an app these days is only half the battle, what’s one thing every app developer can do to help market their app?

Rod Burns
It is easy to overlook the importance of App Store Optimization (SEO for apps) and how this drives users to your app. Discoverability is key and not everyone can afford to pay thousands for installs or cross promotion to get their app up the charts. A much cheaper option is to think carefully and experiment with the title and keywords for your app so that your app appears near the top when users search for specific terms. There are even some free tools available to get you started.

Rod Burns - WIP

Chiu-Ki Chan
Post a demo video. Most app stores do not require a video, so many developers just skip it. But a video is a much richer format, and it gives you a chance to weave a story around your app. The video does not have to be professionally produced. Think of it as a show-and-tell. Share your excitement about the app.

Chiu-Ki Chan -Square Island

Dan Counsell
A landing page is essential to help raise the profile and awareness of your app. It gives you a central place to direct users and collect their details before your app goes live. Having the details of hundreds (hopefully thousands) of potential users who are interested in downloading your app can really help boost your chart position on day one.

Each day new apps are announced and most of them don’t have a great landing page. A lot of them are missing key elements, and at the very worst they don’t even say what the app does. I don’t have space to go into all the details here, but if you’re interested in learning more about building the perfect landing page you should check out this article.

Dan Counsell - DanCounsell.com

Ben Johnson
As soon as you know what you are building – get a launch page up early and start generating interest (and emails) – I’ve used a service called Launchrock before with a lot of success. By the time you are ready to launch you’ll have a solid group of early adopters that can help you beta test and promote your app when it hits the store.

Ben Johnson – Raizlabs

Leigh Momii
Make your app free, or have a free version of your app. It’s much easier to market an app that is free to a consumer. Then, once you’ve got them hooked you can draw them in with in-app purchases and other monetization methods. Everyone likes free! Especially on Android, the expectations for free apps is very high and you’re going to have a much tougher time convincing someone to spend even $0.99 on your app even if it’s amazing.

Leigh Momii – HTC

Kyle Richter
It is all too easy to focus on the functionality of an app and forget about its form. A beautifully crafted app not just from a visual perspective but also from an user experience stance speaks volumes. Before a user downloads an app the first thing and often only thing they look at are the screenshots. Make sure that your app is presentable, well thought out and designed. Invest time and/or money into making a great icon and appearance.

Developers spend months working on their apps and then just minutes putting together the app store meta data, if people don’t give your app a chance they won’t know how well everything was developed.

Kyle Richter – Empirical Development

Dan Shapiro
If you are trying to market an app that you’ve built, you’ve already lost. Marketing should be a part of your app’s conception, creation, and implementation. Before you start designing, ask yourself questions like this:If someone was going to tweet about your app, what would they say?

Would you retweet that?
What is going to motivate your users to tell people about your app?
Why would a journalist get excited about your app?
If you were going to describe your app in one sentence, what would it be?

If your app doesn’t sound like it matters, you’re going to have a very hard time convincing people that it does. Marketing starts with understanding your market and how to engage them.

Dan Shapiro – DanShapiro.com

Michele Titolo
Never underestimate your content on the App Store. Good screenshots, a well written description, and testimonials are key. Regardless of how customers found out about your app, they will see this page before they download. Make sure it represents your app well.

Michele Titolo – Michele.io

Conor Winders
Tell people about it in advance of the release. Too many developers get hung up on the worry that if they tell anyone about their great idea it will be stolen. To be honest, there are very few truly original and groundbreaking ideas left, you’re probably building something that has already been attempted or built, but hopefully you are doing it a lot better.

So get the word out about your amazing new app. If you are doing anything interesting from a code or interface perspective then blog about it and get people excited about what you are doing. We’ve seen blog posts generate huge traffic and interest in an app weeks before it’s even been released. The more buzz you can build for free the better.

Conor Winders – Redwind Software

Do you have any special strategies to help market your app? Share your questions and comments below or by using #MobileTeam on Twitter.

App Marketing

App Marketing Conversations: 2013 In Review

Mobile in 2013 – The rise of social messaging apps within an expanding app marketplace

In this installment of App Marketing Conversations we talked about things that have changed and what we have learned for mobile in 2013. Previously, mobile was all about gaming, but during 2013 the market expanded and people now use their phones for everything not just games and entertainment. One of the largest trends during 2013 was the rise of social messaging apps. App marketers need to be thinking about how to build these messaging services into a marketing plan.

Take a look at the video below as we dive into we have learned during 2013 and what has changed that will impact app marketers in the future.

Robi: Morning, and welcome to another App Marketing Conversations. I’m here with Ryan from GameHouse and Ian from MobileDevHQ and I’m Robi from Apptentive.
So, wrapping up this year, it’s nice and cold in most of the country. Surprisingly cold in Seattle, and as we look back on the year we thought we’d do a series of conversations about the things that have changed, the things we’ve learned.

So, I’m going to start it off by talking about a couple of the things that app marketers have sort of seen and grown into this year. One of the things that happened last year is we talked a lot about gaming. We were like “Gaming, gaming, gaming. Gaming leads the way in mobile.” This year it feels like mobile has become a much more full discussion about opportunities that are provided to people like travel, people who are in retail, people who are in mCommerce, maybe in traditionally eCommerce who have moved to mobile, what other markets have come up and what’s your take on how that market’s expanded this year?

Ryan: Yeah, so I think it’s a really interesting point that gaming essentially has kind of acted as a plow, right? It was like “Hey, you can do all these games and all this fun stuff on your phone,” which was kind of the easy way to break people in to using their phones for things other than the phone and text messaging, right? And slowly but surely as people got more comfortable, we found other uses, right, and other companies started providing you value that you couldn’t have gotten before.
So, I mean, I was just thinking about this the other day, like, how much more often than I use my iPad or iPhone and the apps that are on it for pretty much everything that I would have done on a PC previously, like, shopping, retail’s a big one.

Robi: Yep.

Ryan: Travel, sort of. I mean, you have to travel a lot to really get a lot of additional value there. So, I’m not sure what my overall point is other than over the last year we’ve really seen that kind of shift from “Hey, people are using phones for games and kind of entertainment” to “They’re using their phone and their tablet for kind of everything.”

Robi: Yep. Yep.

Ian: It’s true. Like, the point about games being a plow is interesting because it’s actually, like, games acted the way that porn traditionally acts, right?

Robi: Oh yeah.

Ian: Where porn brought VHS to the world.

Ryan: Yep.

Ian: Porn popularized the internet. Like, let’s be honest, right?

Robi: Right.

Ryan: Brought Bluray over.

Ian: Porn brought Bluray over HD-DVD.

Robi: Yep.

Ryan: Yep.

Ian: Right? But games brought mobile.

Ryan: Yep.

Ian: And I’m sure there is porn on mobile, like, no question, but especially on apps where Apple locks it down. Like, games took over that role.

Ryan: Yep.

Ian: And that was a really important role for it to take. Like-

Robi: Yep. Yep. That makes sense. And then in terms of thinking about some of the other things we’ve seen trend wise, I’ve been kind of blown away in the past few months about all the stats around the social messaging apps.

Ryan: Yep.

Robi: And the hook is that kids are using their phones constantly, and so we’re seeing the rise of instant messaging again, except the scale of instant messaging is far larger than it was the first time around when we had ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger.

Ryan: Yep.

Robi: And all those. Right? So what do you guys think? Does that pretend, you know, a reinvention of a lot of the things we saw 10 and 15 years ago?

Ian: Probably. How that looks, I don’t know. I think it was Benedict Evans who was talking about how messaging actually has the most potential to supplant Facebook, which is a really interesting way of looking at it, that, like, those guys are building up a different social graph that is potentially even more useful.

Robi: Right.

Ian: So, like, I think there’s a lot of potential in messaging. Messaging boggles my mind. Like, I only know how to use SMS. I don’t-

Ryan: Yep.

Ian: I don’t know, but-

Ryan: Yeah.

Robi: I’m sure you could figure out how to use WhatsApp.

Ian: I’m sure I could.

Ryan: Yeah. And I think its, because I was thinking about Benedict Evans’ point on this too where it’s like, you know, the messaging apps are going to become widgets very soon if they aren’t already, and then it ultimately relies upon the kind of platforms and services they build around those messaging apps.

But, you know, the phone is really interesting from a social networking perspective because your social graph is built in, right? It’s your phone book. And it wasn’t that way on the web. It’s certainly not that way with Facebook. Like, I have way more people in my contact list than I do friends on Facebook. Maybe that’s not true across the board, but I think the messaging apps, I would assume we’re going to see three winners and everything else will kind of slough off. That would be my guess. I don’t know how many more you can have.

Ian: Yeah.

Robi: Well, three winners in any given market.

Ryan: Yeah.

Robi: Like, in the US, right?

Ryan: Yeah.

Robi: So, but then if you look globally, there’s the potential that each market has its own three winners and maybe there’s some overlap but-

Ryan: Yeah.

Robi: It’s not required. And if you’re a marketer and you’re looking at things like Facebook and you’re starting to do marketing and advertising using Facebook, you’re starting to build communities there, and then you look at a What’sApp.

Ryan: Yep.

Robi: Do you start paying attention to that more? Does that get pulled into your strategy? How are you evaluating that next year?

Ryan: I think you have to be thinking about creating, you know, over the last two years, “What kind of social hooks can we build in? How can we build Facebook and Twitter in?” Now it’s got to be “How can we build these messaging services in and either provide some sort of incentive or reward or just making it really easy to share something with their friends via these social messaging apps?” because the scale’s so much larger.

Ian: That’s right. From a, I think from a paid standpoint, like, a lot of those guys haven’t figured out what that looks like and certainly haven’t figured out their targeting, but that’s where, like, we’ve talked about this before, set aside 10% of your budget for experiments.

Robi: Yeah.

Ian: And go experiment in some way around those guys.

Robi: Yeah.

Ryan: Yep.

Robi: So, definitely seen an expansion of all the markets, opportunities there. In fact, I was arguing with somebody last week that most of the value in the mobile market isn’t actually captured in the stereotypical industry reports because they talked about in app purchases, app purchases and advertising, and that misses a whole bunch of the commerce around a retailer or a travel site or even Uber. That was the point I made.
Right, so last week we saw Uber’s leaked results.

Ian: Yeah, geez.

Robi: Which is, like, they’re grossing about $1 billion each year. And then net to them, in terms of revenue, is probably $210 million.

Ryan: Yeah.

Robi: All that billion dollars is not captured in the industry reports around the size of mobile, right? That’s ridiculous, and that’s one company.

Ryan: Yeah.

Ian: Yep.

Robi: So, I think we’ve seen explosive growth. Another thing that we talked about last year, and I was banging the table when I said “2013, we’re going to be talking about retention a lot more,” and it feels like that’s definitely come up, but we’re still seeing so much explosive growth and expansion that retention is kind of a question coming up from the most seasoned marketers, but I’m not seeing it across the board.
Would you agree with that? How do you think about this Ryan?

Ryan: Yeah. So, I think retention starts to become more important as the market gets more and more saturated and we’ve got to be getting close to that point, right? I mean, I don’t know that we’re going to get there in the next year or so, but people are, you’re ultimately fighting for eyeballs and time and the cost of user acquisition continues to go up and it will continue to happen as long as the market can grow in conjunction with that.
So, it’s got to get, people need to be thinking about it now. Yeah. Not a very good point right there but…

Ian: But I totally agree. Like, it’s the right point of view. Retention and re-engagement have to become important at some point. It’s really just a matter of when people figure out that their budgets are, need to be focused in that direction and push notifications are not the answer to re-engagment. Right?
Like, they are, A, an answer that may or may not work. In many cases they don’t work. Yeah, and so there needs to be work done there to figure out better ways, more successful ways.

Ryan: Yeah. Oh yeah, and push notifications, I think, are an unfortunate victim of developers over use of them, right?

Robi: Yeah.

Ian: Yeah.

Ryan: Especially now that we’re seeing a bunch of system notifications, right?

Robi: Yeah.

Ryan: And so, like, that’s unfortunate because there can be a lot of value, right? Like, Starbucks push notifications are extremely valuable. Like, Apple Store notifications are really valuable, but so many of them are just, aren’t.
So I would say, you know, like, to your point, it’s one piece of an overarching puzzle. So yeah.

Robi: And the point about saturation’s an interesting one because, you know, part of me says “Okay, 2014. That’s when people are going to wake up and it’s really going to be a big deal,” but at the same time, going back to our good friend Benedict Evans and his predictions, right, he’s saying next year is the first time that mobile device says are really going to cross over PC ownership, and that’s actually interesting to think about.
When he put out that turn I was like “Wait, I thought that already happened,” but it hasn’t yet.

Ian: Yeah.

Robi: And so the fact that that’s just happening next year, I don’t know, maybe we are still, have sort of a lot of growth to go before we hit saturation globally at least.

Ryan: Yeah. I mean, I think, if I remember that chart correctly, it might have been a little bit unfair because it was like phone sales versus PC ownership, which is-

Robi: yeah, that’s true.

Ryan: Totally, like, two different things, because if you look at PC sales now, they’re kind of going like this. It goes, like, large. I mean, I’d like to see, like, what percentage of those home PCs are being used right now. I mean, just, like, think about your own experience. Like, other than doing some work at home, like, do you ever use your home computer?

Robi: Well, my home computer is my work computer.

Ryan: Okay.

Ian: Same for me, but, no, I also don’t use my tablet. I use my phone.

Ryan: Yeah.

Ian: For almost everything.

Robi: Yeah. Right, it’s certainly, like, the big, old desktop. I do have one and it hasn’t been plugged in in quite a while.

Ryan: Yeah.

Robi: So, that’s definitely gone. That counts in as numbers, right?

Ian: Yeah.

Ryan: Yeah. Well, I just think it’ll be, kind of my point there was it, phones have gone, or phones and tablets have gone, your point, from being games, to now being entertainment and retail, to now being total replacements for your home computer, and in a lot of cases, your work computer. And so the opportunities for developers and app marketers to capture that audience at various points during their day, whether it be on the bus, at work, or at home or with their kids, like, there’s a lot of opportunity there that simply didn’t exist before.

Robi: Yeah. That’s true. Creating time.

Ryan: Yeah.

Robi: Yeah. Anything else to add?

Ian: No, I think this is good.

Robi: Great Well, so be sure to turn in for the next segments of App Marketing Conversations where we review a couple other pieces of 2013. We’ll look back, and then next week we’ll be looking forward. Cheers.

Ghost

The Top 6 Reasons Why It’s Scary to be A Mobile App

Ghosts, ghouls, witches, and even vampires may come out of the woodwork on Halloween, but to a mobile app they’re hardly reason to shriek into the night. As I considered what costumes I could create that would elicit the most screams and bring my fair share of terror into the night, I caught myself thinking. If I was mobile app, what would be scary to me? Zombies, trolls, and Frankenstein don’t cause a stir, but plenty of items come to mind, and each year they’re getting worse. I bring you:

The Top 6 Reasons Why It’s Scary to be Me: A Mobile App

1. The App Ecosystem - Costume Idea: An extra on Michael Jackson’s Thriller

Michael Jackson Thriller

There are over 1.75 million mobile apps available for download in the app ecosystem. Every week it is growing and getting organically discovered seems as likely as setting the high score for Candy Crush Saga. As a mobile app, I just want to be downloaded and do what I was made to do, but I need to be found first.

Being a part of the app ecosystem is like being an extra on Michael Jackson’s Thriller. You may look great, have all the moves, but no one is going to pay attention to you unless you’re at the front and your name’s MJ.

Get into the spotlight with: ASO, Press

2. ChurnCostume Idea: Zombies (undead customers)

Conehead Zombie

The only thing that hurts more than being all alone in an App Store is being found, downloaded, and then discarded. I may only live in digital space, but I have feelings too. You want to know what’s really scary? Retention rates! On average, retention rates drop to below 30% after a short 90 days.

I’m quickly left wondering, where did all the people go who downloaded me? Is there a way to bring my (un)dead customers back? It makes me shutter thinking about all the zombies who have me on their phones. I wish I knew why some customers left and why some stayed.

Raise the dead with: Engagement, In-app Customer Support – It’s time to bring them back “Warm Bodies” style – with a little love.

3. Device/OS Fragmentation- Costume Idea: Dr. Jeykell & Mr. Hyde

jekyell & hyde

You are all so terribly hard to please! I think I am going a little crazy trying to handle every new operating system and device that gets released. Android is the usual suspect with over 10,000 distinct Android devices seen this year and eight different OS’s in use. Apple’s fragmentation is nothing to scoff at though, the generations of iPad’s, iPod’s, and iPhone’s adding up is starting to give me a headache as well.

I’m afraid to fall asleep at night not knowing where I might crash and bug out tomorrow. I feel like I have a thousand split personalities. Compared to me, Dr. Jeykell and Mr. Hyde had it easy.

Prevent odd behavior with: Testing

4. Negative ReviewsCostume Idea: The Girl From The Ring

There is nobody more unhappy looking than the girl from the ring. She’s so unhappy that looking at her makes me feel terrible inside, thus her image will not be placed on this page. She’s so unhappy that she makes other people unhappy just by being in the same room with her.

Apparently I make people so unhappy that they leave negative reviews in the app store (ouch). Most of the time I don’t know what is wrong from their comments or they’re upset about a bug that has been squashed (change your review if the problem has been fixed!). These negative reviews make people think they won’t be happy if they download me, but that’s simply not true! I have many happy customers but they’re just too busy being happy to take the time to leave a review. My reputation is based on star ratings and reviews, and it really cheers me up when my happy customers leave a rating.

Turn that frown upside down with: Apptentive :)

5. Marketing BudgetsCostume Idea: Ghost

ghost

There is a lot of noise in the mobile industry and I somehow seem to drift through it all like a ghost. Nobody sees me and I haven’t quite saved up enough money for the “don’t be a ghost” operation. Even with cash to burn, I’ve heard it’s still difficult to be noticed. As mobile continues to grow, I’m afraid that some marketing budgets will be too big to keep up with (some already are).

Correctly marketing me is a task that my creators can no longer ignore as it is crucial to every app’s success. The time of making apps and making it big without a marketing strategy is long gone. I am beautiful and talented so make a marketing plan to get me noticed. Not every marketing plan needs money to work.

Make Casper a real boy with: CreativityRelationships with Bloggers, Review Sites

6. Development CostsCostume Idea: It’s Alive!!!!! (Frankenstein)

Young Frankenstein

Holy broomsticks! My great great grandfather was made for only 10 cents, but mobile apps these days can cost into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Once the mobile app development process begins, every little feature, design change, update, and maintenance starts to add up. It’s like Frankenstein coming alive and reaping havoc all across the town while you’re helpless to stop him (because you love him so much).

Now, I don’t think there is anything more important than me, but I can sympathize with what these growing costs can mean for businesses that want an app like me. In an effort to preserve and promote my kind, I urge you to be smart about how you develop your app. There are lots of tools out there (some free, some not) that will save you hours upon hours of dev time, cut down on maintenance, and are cheaper than doing it yourself.

Stop the monster rampage with: 3rd Party Solutions (Push, Support, Analytics etc.), Minimum Viable Product, Find a friendly dev who takes payment in candy corn.

Being Prepared

Zombie PrepareThe only way to beat my fears is by being prepared, just as the only way anyone is going to survive the Zombie Apocalypse is by being ready for it. Having strategies in place for all of these issues are as important as the development of an app. Without knowing how to handle these issues, your app won’t get very far. Do your research, spend time sketching out ideas, and make a plan for your app even before development begins.

If you have any other suggestions on what mobile apps need to know and prepare for in order to survive please share in the comments, I want to survive!