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OPA Mobile Day: Paid, Earned & Owned Media Strategies for Content Owners – Rachel Pasqua - iCrossing


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“Marketing Mobile Applications: Paid, Earned & Owned Media Strategies for Content Owners” as presented by Rachel Pasqua, Vice President, Mobile, iCrossing, at the Online Publishers Association Mobile Day in New York on May 12, 2011.

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OPA Mobile Day: Paid, Earned & Owned Media Strategies for Content Owners – Rachel Pasqua - iCrossing

  1. 1. Marketing Mobile ApplicationsPaid, Earned & Owned Media Strategies for Content OwnersMay 12, 2011
  2. 2. You can’t buy what you can’t find.
  3. 3. Zynked, a tool to help you organize and synch your digital ink,launched in the Apple App store in November of 2009. The developers did a competitive analysis and knew they had built the very best RSS reader app for iPhone. Clearly, their high-quality app would outsell the competition.
  4. 4. But it didn’t. Not even close. •Zynked went on sale for $2.99. •Sold 1,723 copies in the first three weeks. •But by week 4, downloads had plummeted to almost zero. Stats showed that Zynked owners were heavy daily users and App Store reviews were positive - quality was not the issue. The issue was visibility. The initial friends & family download rush had subsided and Zynked was off the new list and buried so deep in iTunes that no one was seeing it.
  5. 5. You can’t buy what you can’t find.With 350K+ apps in the Apple App Store alone, what could Zynked do tostand out? Appearing in the New & What’s Hot sections or Top lists is a surefire way to get downloads.Unfortunately, it’s also a matter of sheer luckor having a close connection with Apple.
  6. 6. At best, getting listed or featured will cost a fortune andoften it is simply out of your control.If you aren’t featured, your best bet is to appear on page 1 and no deeperthan page 2 of your two categories. You also want to appear within the toptwo pages of results when someone searches for your keywords.But achieving this depends heavily on the number downloads you have. At 10+ pages deep, Zynked was practically invisible.
  7. 7. How many downloads do you need? No one knows exactly….According to the developer community, your rank is based onthe last 3-4 days of downloads, with today’s mattering the most.R = Today’s Downloads + Yesterday’s Downloads + + Downloads from 2 days ago Downloads from 3 days ago Recently however, there are whispers that it’s not just all about downloads anymore – that how often your app gets used is factored into your rank as well. So you need to drive downloads and encourage repeat usage.
  8. 8. So content owners face a catch-22. To get downloads, you needhigh visibility. And to get high visibility, you need downloads.To achieve this, you have two options: Strike a deal directly with Apple to •Make great apps be featured in iTunes and/or •Sell a lot of them advertising campaigns. •Keep users coming back
  9. 9. The Zynked developers decided to look at a few ways in whichwe could create awareness & drive more demand. Paid Media – advertising options that would introduce 1 Zynked to a wider audience. Owned Media – ways in which we could improve the 2 app and the content we owned surrounding it to increase awareness, usage and favorable mentions. Earned Media – ways in which we could engage current 3 users in social spaces and help them spread the word about Zynked within their social graph. The key was to strike the right balance of paid, earned and owned media for the Zynked brand.
  10. 10. We knew a big, well executed ad spend – e.g. 50K+ per month– could vault us into the top 1-2 pages of our key categories.But a display media blitz was a little beyond Zynked’s means.Google Mobile Ads for Apps were more affordable but wequestioned how many people were searching for apps via Google.
  11. 11. So we looked for more affordable paid media options in placeswhere we knew people were searching – i.e. app review sites.We placed display ads on app review sites as well as a video review ona popular YouTube channel.We also invested in incentivized downloads where for a small fee,plus the cost of the app, we were guaranteed a certain amount ofdownloads and reviews in iTunes.
  12. 12. The result of our Paid efforts? Success!!!In one month of paid media placements and incentivized reviews,we went from less than 20 downloads per month to 700.But we were still barely breaking even. Price of Zynked: $2.99 - CPA: $1.99 Profit: $1.00 - 30% Apple rev share: $.89 Final Profit: $.11 We moved up in natural search results page for the keyword “RSS”. But the lift would only last as long we continued the spend. Note: Apple’s rev share is 30% of sales – not 30% of profit
  13. 13. So we began to explore more organic options - Owned Media.The first order of business was optimizing our owned media space in iTunes –the Zynked landing page. Our goal was to ensure it contained all the rightkeywords and content to attract people searching for an RSS app. An estimated 80% of app search happens within the App store.
  14. 14. In the process we studied similar apps with a high rank.We assessed their content and compared their keywords to our own.This enabled us to add what was missing as well as to assess opportunities toadd a few strong keywords that no one else had. App Store SERPs show 5 results per search above the fold on smartphones and 12 on tablets. The process of digging deeper than the first page is very cumbersome, increasing users’ reliance on first-page results.
  15. 15. Be aware that the App Store uses an exact search model.The words placed in the search box by the consumer must all be foundin one of your three searchable fields. Understanding how consumerssearch for you here is extremely important. Example: a search for “NY Times” vs. a search for “NT Times Newspaper”
  16. 16. Then, we resubmitted our app with new metadata (and a few new features as well). Keep in mind that you can only change certain metadata when you submit a new build - but you can’t submit a new build just to change the metadata. Up to 4000 characters for App Description but no more than 700 recommended100 characters only for keywords Up to 250 characters for App Name
  17. 17. We also reassessed our categorical positioning.We kept News as our primary category but switched our secondarycategory from Utilities to Productivity where there appears to be moredemand for media-management tools.
  18. 18. We used our new keywords to enrich the Zynked web site. An app should have a dedicated, search-optimized page on the brand Web site that illustrates benefits and links directly to the download page in iTunes – these awareness elements create rich SEO content.
  19. 19. Then, we submitted to as many directories as possible.We paid for expedited placement in the ones we deemed most valuable.This effort was key in driving traffic back to our owned space (landingpage) in the App Store.
  20. 20. We also conducted an influencer outreach campaign.We contacted high profile mobile app and gadget blogs with a promo code and a politerequest for a review on their Web site and in iTunes.Premium app developers should always include a promocode that enables the reviewer to obtain a free copy.Apple provides you with 50 promo codes for thispurpose with submission of a new app or an update.
  21. 21. We kept tabs on any mentions of our app.We followed up on our requests for listings and/or reviews to ensure that we had backlinks in place to our App Store landing page and Web site.Any content that mentions an app favorably is anopportunity to drive downloads – building links tothese sites is an important part of app marketingstrategy (mentions should always include the iTunesdirect download link).
  22. 22. Then it was time for Earned Media, starting with Twitter.40% of tweets come from a mobile device – these users are 1 click awayfrom a download. For Zynked, we created a unique Twitter identity buttweeting from your brand account can be just as effective. Tweeting regularly about an app, or, if appropriate, creating a unique Twitter identity for an app, generates general awareness and facilitates spreading the word.
  23. 23. We also created a Zynked Facebook page.Here we posted about the new version, its features and the manybenefits of using Zynked, plus our ideas for the next release. For brandswith an existing Facebook Page a custom tab is also a great idea. Dedicated Facebook pages and/or tabs enable app developers to generate awareness and keep fans up to date on new features and content.
  24. 24. Perhaps the most effective Earned Media tactic wasintegrating sharing tools into the Zynked interface.This turned every user into a brand ambassador and every tweet and share intoan endorsement for Zynked within their social graph.
  25. 25. But most of all, we listened to our users and we responded.Prior to launch, we tested Zynked not just for bugs but for validity.We put beta builds in front of people we knew who matched our targetdemographics and we asked them: •Would you buy this app? •What would you change? •What would you add? We responded to every Facebook post and tweet. We took every review seriously. And we applied what we learned to making a better app.
  26. 26. We ran Paid Media for a month.The effect on our rank and sales was obvious - we went from anaverage of 0-5 downloads per day to between 50-70.But the minute our spend was over, we went right back to almost zero. Daily downloads from January 15th 2010 to February 18 2010 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
  27. 27. As more people downloaded Zynked our rank went up,increasing the possibility of people finding it by chance. Daily downloads + rank from January 15th 2010 to February 18 2010 Downloads Rank 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 17-Jan 23-Jan 2-Feb 4-Feb 6-Feb 8-Feb 14-Feb 10-Feb 12-Feb 15-Jan 19-Jan 21-Jan 25-Jan 27-Jan 29-Jan 31-Jan As our downloads increased our rank moved into double-digits but we never cracked the top 50.
  28. 28. As Paid Media ran, we worked on Earned and OwnedDespite a noticeable dip when the Paid campaign ended, we began tosee another uptick as the Earned and Owned tactics fell into place.We never rose higher than 6 pages deep again, and our numbers werelower by half but we still saw consistent downloads over time throughour Earned and Owned efforts alone. Daily downloads from February 19th 2010 to March 22, 2010 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
  29. 29. In the end, Zynked became a free application.In the Spring of 2010, we withdrew the premium version of Zynked and re-launched as a free app with iAD.This version generated more profits than the premium version ever did. The efforts of a sustained Paid, Earned and Owned media strategy were too much for a small mom & pop content owner. But there’s no question that they worked.
  30. 30. Key take-aways for launching a new app • Do your keyword research: assess competitors and similar apps – don’t rely solely on brand keywords • Use that research to build keyword rich app store metadataPre-launch • Create a list of target blogs and app directories • Create a dedicated Web page or separate site for your app • Plan and budget your paid media • Plan your Twitter strategy • Plan your Facebook strategy • Test a beta with your target audience – and be ready to make some adjustments based on their feedback • Integrate sharing tools into the interface of your app • Submit to app directories • Reach out to influential bloggers and request reviewsPost-launch • Use Google alerts to keep track of every mention of your app • Request back links from every place your app is favorably mentioned • Tweet, blog and post to Facebook • Engage your users and respond to their feedback • Apply what you learn to future iterations of your app
  31. 31. 3 key tips for improving an existing app Assess your visibility inside the App Store/s •Are your keywords on target? •Have you created engaging and keyword-rich App Store content? Assess your visibility outside the App Store/s •Is your app listed in the popular directories? •Has it been reviewed by top app sites and niche blogs in your vertical? •Have you created branded web content to promote it? •Do you know where your app is being mentioned? •Are you using your social spaces to maximize awareness? Connect with your customers •Conduct usability testing to validate your content •Engage your customers in social spaces •Listen to what they have to say •Enable them to evangelize your product throughout their social graph •…and connect with influencers who can spread the word
  32. 32. Thank You!Rachel PasquaVP, Mobile GroupiCrossing, a Hearst CompanyRachel.Pasqua@icrossing.com212.649.3892