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App Marketing

App Marketing Conversations: Holiday 2013 Recap

2013 Holiday Trends for Mobile Consumers – Sales Data Showing Rise in Mobile Commerce

In this installment of App Marketing Conversations we talked about consumer trends during the holiday season and the growth of mobile commerce. After the holidays, IBM released shopping data around how people are spending money with mobile devices. Mobile commerce is taking a larger percentage of online sales each year and companies not seeing increases through mobile devices should be focusing more heavily on mobile. Android continues to own the mobile market, but consumers with Apple devices are spending more money.

Take a look at the video from this week’s App Marketing Conversations to learn more.

 

Robi: Good morning and welcome to another installment of “App Marketing Conversations.” As always, I’m joined by Ryan Morel of Game House, and Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ. And I’m Robi Ganguly from Apptentive. Happy New Year.

So, in the previous installments, we’ve been sort of talking about what happened over the holidays, and stats that have come out. We want to do a little bit of a deeper dive on some stuff from IBM. They had a lot of shopping data around how people were spending money using mobile devices.

So, a couple things to highlight. They said they represented about 17 percent of all online sales, and that was growth of 46 percent over last year. So, mobile’s share of online sales grew tremendously, even though online sales themselves as a total bucket were growing really pretty healthily as well.

And then, sort of not surprising, Apple was much larger than Android. So, I think that the numbers are basically that Apple represented something like 12, 13 percent of the total, and Android was about 2 1/2 , 3 percent. And then, more importantly, the dollars spent from Apple devices were a whole lot more than Android.

$115 to, I think the number is $83 for Android in some of their studies. And then, if you cut the numbers up different ways, you come out with different absolute numbers. But in general, consumers with Apple devices were spending a lot more money than people with Android devices.

So, as you look as this stuff, Ryan, what do you take from it that’s most interesting?

Ryan: The thing that I think is most interesting goes back to our other topics about saturation not really mattering, in terms of where the growth of the market is going to be. I find Android and like this really sucks. But I also go “Well, there’s a lot of opportunity here,” right, because I still own the market from a pure market share percentage. So, they have a lot of room to operate and grow.

If I’m Apple, I’m really excited because I can now go build meaningful businesses around retail and commerce that Android can’t right. So, you can go into retailers and say, “Hey, I represent 15 percent of your mobile sales, or your total online sales. Let’s do some interesting things, if I leak in kind of all this other commerce-structure stuff that we can do that no one else can. And that kind of just creates the ecosystem login and platform login. That I think it will be hard for everybody to compete with.

Robi: Yes.

Ryan: So I think – yes, that’s what I think is really interesting.

Robi: Got it, and what about for you? Is it the same thing, or is there something else?

Ian: Yeah, and I mean I agree with everything he said there. That the one thing that stuck out to me originally when I heard the stat was, I think 16 percent was the number, right, for overall percentage of online sales. Is thinking about who that is actually out sized for. Who is doing more than 16 percent?

And it wouldn’t surprise me to see like an eBay doing much more than 16 percent on mobile. I think eBay has done pretty well with mobile, especially if you were to add in PayPal. That, sort of to me, is not online sales.

Ryan: Yes.

Ryan: Thinking about that type of world. Obviously, the newer folks have done tremendously well. Fab, I think, most of the, depending on how you define Fab, is doing well right now. But Fab has done tremendously well on mobile.

Shopping app 1-ILO seems to be killing it in the App Store. So, not just the fact that overall, it’s at 16 percent. But the fact that there are pockets where it’s even higher is incredible to me.

Robi: Right, right, and I think, again, in every one of our segments, we’ve brought up Amazon, I think. The stats on Amazon’s mobile are really extraordinary. So, that’s another place where people are buying really quite a bit of stuff from Amazon directly through their mobile apps.

I did a number of times did this holiday season. It’s like, “Oh, this is something I’m going to buy. I’ll just do it now as I’m waiting for the bus.” Super convenient.

So, yeah. I think the overall number hides the extraordinary success some of the people are having underneath the covers. And that means, for an app marketer, you should be wondering why you’re below 16 or 17 percent if you are. What are you doing to actually boost that up and take advantage?

So, what we can give advice to marketers around using the mobile device to stay engaged with these customers, and get them to spend $120 with you?

Ryan: I don’t know whether I am the right person to be giving advice on any of that. But one of the other things that I read, which I found quite interesting was that, especially for clothing, people are two or three times more likely to buy using Touch-based devices versus PC.

Because for something about touching the shirt, or the pants, or whatever makes you more likely to buy it.

Ian: There’s a tactile, like the zooming of the images. That makes a lot of sense.

Ryan: The point I’m trying to make there is if you’re not making a mobile-optimized experience, either from a Web perspective, or even just an app perspective, and you’re trying to sell clothes, or things that people kind of touch, and feel as part of the experience with the actual product, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You need to do that now! Or a year ago, probably.

Ian: Yes. I think the two things that I think of when I think what advice marketers can pull from this first, is along that line which is…I mean not the vast majority, but a large percentage of eCommerce is through very small, independent, kind of crappy-looking websites, and things like that. And obviously, individually, they don’t make up a lot, but collectively they make up a good amount.

If those folks–and I think a wide margin of those folks have not yet implemented any sort of app strategy or mobile strategy at all. If they don’t, it’s going to be killed by the folks who do and come in with that. So, for them, I think they have to do it.

And then, the other piece of the puzzle is, I think, eCommerce, perhaps better than anybody else on the Web, has always done a great job of personalization, of targeting, of things like that. And whether that’s e-mail, or whether that’s the recommendation of a website, whatever it is.

And I think that stuff has to transfer to a mobile-focused orientation. Like, you have to port that to mobile in a way that’s friendly to mobile as well.

Robi: Yeah, absolutely. And in some ways, it’s easier on mobile. At least with phones, you can generally be assured that it’s one person using that device. Tablets have more sharing for sure. But like on PC, that assumption isn’t always there.

So, you get a lot of work to get people to register, and get them to log in on websites. And I think to a large extent, apps have less of that on the phone as a requirement. I still see a lot of apps that ask me to register the first time, and I think that that is generally kind of crazy.

Because to start with the assumption that that person is the owner of that phone. And if you want them to log in, show them some value later on. But you can personalize, already, just from having them use your app without them logging in and registering.
So, I think there’s a lot more opportunity on mobile to do that well.

It also seems like, because we were in the previous segment talking about television ads. Some of these premier brands that have been doing TV ads for years, if not decades, should be thinking about using those ads to engage their shopping base through the advertisement to get their app, to start spending money there.

Did you see…because we were talking about this, did you see any of these mainstream retailers talking about their apps?

Ian: Yeah, I think a lot have. And Macy’s has a lot of TV ads it’s just another app. Home Depot actually has a good amount of ads about their app as well.

It feels like there’s a solid traction there. And I know Target does a lot of ins, like part of Target’s app strategy is to really just be a companion to the in-store experience. So, they’re certainly doing some of that. Yes, I think a good amount are doing it.

Robi: Anything else we should cover on this topic? I think the general point is, thanks to IBM and their data, really quickly, lots of sales are happening through mobile devices. And if you were one of the companies that’s not seeing 15, 16, 17 percent of your online sales coming through mobile, it probably means, not the market hasn’t gotten there it’s just that you haven’t. You probably want to focus more on your mobile efforts and they’re best.

Ryan: It’s a little bit like SEO strategy and being held heavily reliant on Google search for your business. Because if you didn’t do it you were screwed. And we’re kind of almost at the point with mobile where, if you’re not doing it you’re screwed. You have to do it.

I think the numbers that I would like to see are what are the average sales for people on PC? If the average iOS user was spending $100, and Android was spending $80, or whatever it was. What is the average PC user spending? Because that’s…I’d be interesting to see that.

Ian: Yes. I don’t know if that 16 percent is percent of online sales revenue, or online sales numbers.

Ryan: Yes, because if it’s revenue and it’s 8 percent of numbers, then it’s like, “This is a totally different story than the one we thought.”

Robi: Yes. Good questions for sure. And if I find some of those answers, I’ll put them on the post. Great, well thanks for tuning in, be sure to “Like” this and share it. And check out the other installments this week and Happy New Year.

Ian: Thanks.

Ryan: Thanks.

App Marketing

App Marketing Conversations: Q4 & Holiday Planning

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

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

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

Ian: It’s a good thing.

Ryan: Darwin’s in the corner.

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

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

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

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

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

Robi: What about you?

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

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

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

Ryan: Yes.

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

Robi: Well, so…

Ryan: Prediction time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robi: Okay.

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

Robi: Right.

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

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

Ryan: Yes.

Ian: Huge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robi: Our data says that’s horrible.

Ryan: Okay.

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

Ryan: Yes.

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

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

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

Ryan: Right.

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

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

Robi: That’s great advice.

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

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

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

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

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High App Store Ranking

3 Ways to Rank Higher in the Apple App Store

Rank Higher in App Stores

It’s common knowledge at this point that ranking higher in the App Store is a key ingredient to accelerating your app business’s growth. However, with more than 1,000 apps being launched every day, ranking highly is a daunting task. Smaller or independent developers lament the current state of affairs, sure that they can’t hope to compete with companies who have large advertising budgets or pay-per-install campaigns. Fortunately, paying for installs is not the only way to climb up the rankings. Here are three key strategies to ranking higher that don’t require a huge investment to implement.  Here’s how you can compete with the big boys and not break the budget:

1. Engagement & Retention

Apple has been experimenting with the app store ranking algorithm and there have been rumors that increasing engagement and retention statistics will play a part in increasing your ranking directly. Regardless of these rumors,  improving your engagement and retention will still have an indirect effect on your ranking.

The obvious path to more engaged customers is to make an app that people love. The hard part is creating an app that people love, because it doesn’t just happen on the first release. You need to discover what customers care about and iterate quickly. How do you do that? By engaging in conversations with your customers, soliciting feedback, and listening to what they have to say. Your early fans are an incredible resource for learning how to create an app that more and more people will love.

People who love using your app can’t help but talk about it. Customers who use an app often and love it will share it with their friends. Word-of-mouth is the second largest driver for mobile app discovery. Face to face sharing is far more effective than a “like” or a tweet. Engage with your customers to learn what drives them back to your app and iterate from there.

2.  App Store Optimization

App store optimization is a powerful yet often overlooked weapon to rank higher as app store search is the number one discovery method for mobile apps. There are two important steps to ASO: optimizing your keywords and tracking your competitors. Using ASO to rank higher is a relatively simple process that requires time and patience instead of money.

The most important key performance indicator to track are your keywords. Apps that incorporate a keyword into their title rank on average 10% higher. Working keywords into your title and app description can make the largest immediate impact to ranking higher for specific search terms. Track your rankings for specific keywords over time and you’ll begin to see which keywords are more effective for bringing in downloads.

Tracking your competitors ranking for keywords can take more time than tracking your own, but understanding the keywords your competitors are placing an emphasis on will give you a competitive edge. Gathering intelligence on what keywords your competitors are using allows you to either try to rank higher than them on those keywords or choose to target other words altogether. Here’s a more in depth post we wrote on ASO.

3. Improve and Increase Your Ratings & Reviews

Ratings & reviews affect your ranking and can influence the decision to download your app. Building an app that people love is HARD work, and your efforts should be acknowledged. You have an audience that may use your app everyday, loves it, but still never takes the time to give you a review. It’s your job to go out there and proactively reach out and lead your customers to action. Sometimes all it takes to increase your ratings and reviews is a simple question asked in the right way and at the right time.

You’re most likely missing out on a huge opportunity to both improve and increase your ratings & reviews. However, you’re not alone in this struggle to get more ratings and reviews from your customers. Apps with customer bases of all sizes, even the big boys, experience this same problem. Download our customer story  to see how Urbanspoon reached 5 stars in the app store and increased their daily reviews by over 1,000%.

See how Urbanspoon:

  • Moved up the Apple App Store rankings
  • Improved to be a 5-star mobile app
  • Increased daily reviews by over 1000%
  • Consistently receives quality feedback

Get the Story:

App Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robi: Got it. What do you think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

App Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

The Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

Robi: Interesting.

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

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

Ian: Exactly.

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

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

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

Ryan: Yeah, exactly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ian: Thanks.

Ryan: Thank you.

App Store Rankings

Ratings to Affect Apple App Store Rankings

The rumor is that Apple is tweaking the app store algorithm to include ratings. According to app marketing firm Fiksu, starting in July there has been a noticeable shift up the ranking charts for apps averaging 4 stars and higher while apps that are rated 3 stars or less are dropping.

App Store Rankings

There are also reports that Apple is experimenting with engagement as another factor for rankings. According to a post from TechCrunch, new user engagement (i.e. time spent per session, number of sessions per week, etc.) is increasingly affecting category rankings.

Engagement Affecting App Ranking

All in all, Apple seems to be experimenting with creating an app store ecosystem that places quality apps at the top instead of just the apps that get downloaded the most. Including ratings in the ranking algorithm places Apple down the path for rewarding apps based on quality by gauging engagement and retention levels.

We are all aware that there are services available for gaming the download system and we must assume there will be instances of buying ratings as well. One argument is that adding ratings into the algorithm will damage the ecosystem further as apps with mid to low-level budgets will get pushed further into obscurity as ratings increase for apps that have the budget.

It may well be the case that apps will buy ratings to try and move up the rankings, but I am sure (I hope) that Apple will invest time and effort into catching apps that use black-hat tactics to increase their ratings. Even with the potential for apps to try and game the charts, including ratings into the algorithm is a necessary step forward to having the best quality apps reach the top charts.

With ratings (and engagement) becoming  factors that will affect Apple App Store rankings, here are 5 tips to get better ratings for your mobile app.

5 Tips for Better App Ratings

 

 

  1. Learn which customers love your app and which ones do not. If you ask every customer to rate your app how many ratings will end up negative? Negative reviews will no longer just dissuade new customers from downloading your app, but also lower your rankings. With Apptentive you can talk to unhappy customers to gather feedback about what could be improved while guiding happy customers to the app store.
  2. Ask for ratings at the right time and in the right place. There is a right time and place for everything and this holds true when asking for ratings. As a general rule, don’t ask for a rating the first time a customer uses an app. Let them experience the app before being prompted. Also, try to avoid prompting customers while they are busy interacting with the app. For example, prompt a customer after they finish the checkout process and not when they add an item to the cart.
  3. Give your customers a voice. By making it easy for your customers to contact you in-app, frustrated customers will vent to you about your app instead of leaving a negative review in the app store. This gives you the opportunity to solve a problem, create a happy customer, and then ask politely for a rating.
  4. Respond with respect. Always respond with “thank you” to any message received from one of your customers. Whether a customer complains about a problem or suggests a feature for the hundredth time, responding respectfully and courteously can disarm an upset customer. This gives you the opportunity to providing amazing service and “wow” the customer with your support and attention to their problem. Giving them a great experience can often lead to a positive review later on.
  5. Ask after each new version release. With the current reports surrounding the changes in the Apple App Store there is a belief that ratings of the most recent version of an app will harbor the most weight. New ratings and reviews from your loyal community could become very valuable if this new system is put in place. If so, be sure to ask your community for ratings after each release, but remember to not over do it or spam your customer base.

How do you feel about ratings being included in the Apple App Store ranking algorithm? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below.

App Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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



Transcript:

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

Ian: More than occasional.

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

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

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

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

Robi: What about you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan: Yeah.

Ian: So, why wouldn’t you?

Ryan: Yeah.

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

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

Ryan: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

Ian: Yeah.

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

Ian: Yeah.

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

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

iOS7AppStoreChanges

iOS 7 Apple App Store – Changes and A Missed Opportunity

The Apple App Store has undergone a few changes with the release of iOS 7. The new design is overhaul for the entire OS, but those hoping for changes to the App Store structure will be disappointed. Before we get into the discoverability issue that has long plagued developers in the Apple App store, let’s take a look at the changes.

The Changes

First off, Apple replaced the “Genius” tab with the “Near Me” tab. Unfortunately, this new tab looks to be less useful than the tab it replaced. It is unlikely that anyone will want to download an app simply based off of what people are using near them. And if you aren’t near anyone the function is completely useless.

iOS 7 Apple App Store

Another new feature is the “Wish List.” You now have the ability place paid apps that you can’t afford or that you want to take a closer look at later on your “Wish List” for easy organization. In general, I find it highly unlikely that this feature will be used very often. How often is that $0.99 price tag too much to afford if you actually want to install the app?

Apple App Store Wish List

The “Top Charts” have reverted back to the standard vertical scrolling it had before iOS 6. The transition back makes sense. More applications are visible at a time and displaying the ratings and number of reviews gives people an easy way to gauge the quality of an app.

Apple App Store Top Charts

The most major change in the Apple App Store on iOS 7 is the ability to have automatic updates for your mobile apps. For consumers who hate red badges this update takes care of that, but from a company standpoint one of the only touch points with the entire mobile customer base has been taken away.

In general, the changes in the iOS 7 App Store are small and failed to address the discoverability dilemma that the majority of app developers and publishers face.

Missed Opportunity

A redesign to the app store ecosystem could have solved many problems. To begin with, the “Top Chart”s lists should be done away with as they hurt both the consumer and developer alike. As John August said,

These lists — a sidebar in iTunes, a tab on the App Store — show what’s downloaded the most. But let’s not mistake downloads for popularity. These are apps that people may have downloaded, used once, then deleted. What you really want is a list that shows what apps that people like you are using and enjoying.

Once an app makes it on to one of these lists it is likely to stay there by virtue of just being there. Through different scams and gaming the system, subpar apps manage to get hundreds of thousands of downloads, get deleted, but stay on top of the list, while quality apps that people enjoy for extended periods of time may continually struggle to reach new audiences.

With the current app store lists the download metric is too heavily rewarded. This is driving a breed of apps where the download is more important than retention or long term engagement. As Marco Arment stated,

Developers will optimize for whatever factor is being rewarded. The “top” list simply rewards developers for getting as many people as possible to buy or download the app once. There’s no reason to optimize for longer-term satisfaction or higher engagement after purchase.

It’s time for new categories. I want to see games listed by the average length per session or utility apps categorized by the percentage of people still using them 6 months later. Nick Dalton has a couple of other great examples on possible categories such as “Longterm Relationships,” which is what we help enable at Apptentive.

There are multitudes of quality apps available, but only a few of them are ever seen or gain traction. The current lists keep the top on top and keep the revolving door spinning too fast for anyone else to get in. Perhaps a new organized App Store will be something to look forward to in iOS 8. A store that places an emphasis on quality, gets rid of the current business model, and allows more app developers to be successful in the marketplace.

What are your thoughts on the Apple App Store “Top Charts” and other features. Will Apple makes changes to better support app developers or is the current organization of the app store the way Apple wants it to be?


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Revolution

Revolution

The Mobile Revolution, Powered by Apptentive, to give mobile app customers a voice

Giving mobile app customers a voice

It’s the 4th of July. The day we celebrate America’s independence and remind ourselves why revolt is sometimes necessary.

We fought for a voice. To be heard. To be respected. To be treated as equals.

Mobile devices have accelerated this fight, empowering more people around the world every day to have a voice. They’re with us whenever and wherever we are. This is why they’ve quickly become the most personal devices we’ve ever owned. We love our phones.

Mobile has also introduced us to a new breed of software: the app. Over a billion people are using apps every day, thanks to the hard work of more than a million publishers.

…but there is a barrier between customers and those hardworking app publishers.

Welcome to Message Center - Apptentive's In-App Feedback & Conversation Inbox for iOS and Android

This is where Apptentive comes in

With most mobile apps, consumers feel voiceless. It’s too challenging to give feedback, leave a complaint, or even give praise. Where do people find themselves when they want to say something? All too often, the answer is: the app store – a communications dead-end that frequently results in poor reviews and hurt feelings.

At Apptentive, we’ve been hard at work solving that problem and it’s time to introduce you to a revolution in customer communication: Message Center – a voice for you AND your mobile customers.

With Message Center you can have a two-way conversation, in-app, to gather feedback, listen to problems, and create great mobile experiences through the development of a meaningful relationship. You can earn the love of your customers by doing something you already want to do: listening, learning and conversing with them.

Higher Ratings are just the start

Over the past 2 years, we’ve learned firsthand with thousands of customers that when you talk with the people using your apps you end up generating higher ratings and reviews. But there’s more to it than that.

Listening to your mobile customers gives them a voice. It engages them in the partnership of making a better app, it empowers product management teams to be customer advocates and it increases your app’s retention. Customers come back to an app when it demonstrates that the people who made it care, listen and respond.

Our Message Center turns your app into a living, breathing extension of your team – one that shows your customers that you care and that you’re listening.

We will help you deliver on the promise of mobile: a more relevant, timely and personal experience for anyone using software. It’s time to free yourselves from the boundaries of the app stores and to break down the walls between you and your customers.

Everyone deserves to be heard, especially your customers. Please join us in leading the mobile revolution today.

Sign up for Message Center

Onward,
Robi Ganguly
CEO, Apptentive

IndieGameGirl

How to market your app without a budget with Indie Game Girl #AppsOnAir

Indie Game GirlHave 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.

Q2When 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.

Q3What 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. CompetitorsThis 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.

Be sure to visit Indie Game Girl at www.IndieGameGirl.com, and connect with her on Twitter @IndieGameGirl and Facebook!




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