For content owners, achieving visibility within app store listings and key social spaces is essential to downloads and engagements.
For content owners, achieving visibility within app store listings and key social spaces is essential to downloads and engagements.
Yet 26% of app users are loyal customers – identifying those users and crafting content that appeals to them as early in the app lifecycle as possible is the key to success.Community activation – i.e. sourcing the concept and content for your app based on knowledge of your target users – will result in a high level of engagement with that audience. Active Listening throughout the process pinpoints opportunities to improve the content and app experience thereby forging a closer connection with current users and reaching new onesEngagement (recurrent usage) is minor ranking factor but has a strong effect on brand advocacy and fosters a stronger connection between brand and consumer.
Proper documentation enables you to remain focused on your original goals as you move through the design and development phases.
Making and Marketing Mobile Apps - Time Inc. 2012
Making and Marketing Mobile Apps Rachel Pasqua 11 January, 2012
The app ecosystem is highly competitiveMost app discovery and downloads happen within the native mobile app stores wherevisibility is based almost entirely on how many downloads you have. Rank = + + Downloads Today’s Yesterday’s from Downloads Downloads 2 days ago A marketing strategy for any kind of mobile app needs to have a strong focus on driving downloads.
Understanding discovery paths is essentialMost searches for apps start outside of traditional search channels.A successful app marketing strategy focuses on the areas proven to be key channels forreaching the right potential users. How do you discover the apps you download – choose all that apply (% of 80% respondents) iOS 70% Android 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Browsing through top app Searching for a specific Word of mouth Seeing ads while using News articles or blogs A brand I know Other store rankings type of app other apps introduces an app to me
But it’s not just about downloadsThe end goal for all brands that develop an app is engagement – an always-onconnection with a user and a permanent spot on their mobile desktop.Most brands fail in this regard – the average app is used a handful of times beforebeing deleted. Less than 10% of apps see repeat usage 6 weeks after download. Retained mobile app users per month – Android and iOS Stats courtesy of Flurry, February 2010 50% 45% iOS 40% Android 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6
Content Strategy = Engagement 26% of app users are loyal customers – the ones that will use your app consistently and become - and stay - connected with your brand. Content Strategy focuses on identifying, understanding and communicating with these customers and using their insight to inform app development and marketing. Testing Researc Organic utilizes active listening, market research and targeted Testing app prototypes with groups of target user testing to develop and validate a content strategy for mobile apps. h and Competitive analysisusers to validate content industry insights. and functionality Active Listening Monitoring conversations in key social spaces about a brand/app.
Media Strategy Media Strategy results in a well-planned and carefully curated combination of = Downloads Bought, Earned and Owned media which together create the downloads required for natural visibility and create a consistent level of awareness that captures new users. Earned Media Bought Media Targeted mobile advertising Blogs, Directories, email, PR Organic utilizes active listening, market research and targeted user testing to develop and validate a content strategy for mobile campaigns generate the high- and other earned channels apps. volume downloads required topromote awareness and brand achieve rank. advocacy. .com Owned Media Brand Web site, branded content and social spaces support natural search visibility and awareness.
The Mobile Application LifecycleA successful mobile app starts with a good idea – but making that idea a reality is acomplex process. To succeed in this competitive space, content owners mustunderstand the full extent of the mobile app lifecycle, from content strategy to post-launch marketing. Usability Testing Content Strategy Results applied to Research dev. process Development Launch Plan Bought Media Validation Beta Testing Dev & QA Design & Ideation Earned Media Owned Media Pre-launch Content Strategy Post-launch Media Strategy Active Listening & Analysis
Ideate: coming up with an app concept. The idea for Zynked was born when two Apple geeks couldnt find an RSS Reader that suited their needs. In the fall of 2009, there were 50+ RSS apps in iTunes...… but most had limited functionality and relatively poor design. Richard, a designer David, a developer & … felt they could do better.
Validate: mapping concept to marketDave and Rich did some research and discovered that most RSS apps: •Lacked intuitive design •Had no “image only” features •Were data dependent •Had no sharing functions •No ability to categorize or organize feeds •Would not allow adding of new feeds •Did not support offline readingThe comments made on the pages of the most popular RSS apps in iTunesproved that all these features were in demand among their targetaudience of media professionals like themselves.
Design and Develop: documenting your process Dave and Rich compiled their research into documentation that would define and steer the project – a Business Requirements document and a Functional Requirements document. Business Functional Requirements Requirements This document clearly defines: This document clearly defines: • Who the intended audience • User experience is • Content sourcing & • What the app does approach • Criteria for success (KPIs) • Tools, functions and featuresProper documentation enables you to remain focused on your original goals as you move through design and
Test: vetting your app with the intended audienceWhen a beta was ready, they asked a few friends who matched Zynked’s targetaudience to test it, asking them questions like: •Is it easy to navigate? •Are the tools user-friendly? •What feeds and categories we should add? •What social sharing tools should be included? •Do feeds load quickly? •Are there tools or content that are missing? The resulting feedback was applied to the final build of the application.
Pre-launch take-aways Ideate • Understand your audience • Focus on the user first and the brand second • Understand the tools and content that will appeal to your target Validation • Make sure there is a market for your idea • Understand the competitive environment Design and Develop • Document your process User testing• Vet a beta with your target audience and apply their feedback to iterative development and improvements
Zynked for iOS launched for November of 2009The developers knew they had built the very best RSS reader app for iPhone. Clearly, their high-quality app would outsell the competition.
But it didn’t. Not even close. • Zynked went on sale for $2.99. • Sold 1,723 copies in the first three weeks. • 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 had sunk so deep in iTunes that no one was seeing it.
Because you can’t buy what you can’t find.So what could Zynked do to stand 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 luck or having a close connection with Apple.
It’s a crowded and complex ecosystemIf you aren’t featured, your best bet is to appear on page 1 and no deeper than page 2of your two categories. You also want to appear within the top two pages of results whensomeone searches for your keywords.Achieving this depends heavily - if not entirely - on the number downloads you have. At 10+ pages deep, Zynked was practically invisible.
How many downloads do you need?No one knows for sure - according to the developer community, your rank is basedon the last 3-4 days of downloads, with today’s mattering the most. + + + Rank = Downloads Recent Today’s Yesterday’s from Usage/Engageme Downloads Downloads 2 days ago nt 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.
So content owners face a catch-22To get downloads, you need high visibility. And to get high visibility, you needdownloads. To achieve this, you have two options: 1million sold! Strike a deal directly with Apple to be featured in Make great apps, sell a lot of them iTunes and/or advertising campaigns – cost and keep users coming back – prohibitive for many and unachievable for most. easier said than done.
Success = leveraging Bought/Earned/OwnedThe key to driving downloads and engagement is to create the rightcombination of Bought, Earned and Owned media for each unique application. Storefronts Bought Earned On-pack Owned .com WOM Bought media Earned media Owned media Advertising channels Findability, awarenes Findability, awarenes that create visibility s and s and and drive downloads positive/negative positive/negative of a mobile app – brand perception brand perception includes driven by word of driven by word of display, search, spon mouth, social mouth, social sored spaces, natural spaces, natural content, reviews, etc. search, blogosphere search, blogosphere and press/media. and press/media. 23
The symbiotic balance is the same for any appBought drives the initial downloads required for visibility. Earned and Owned create an organic framework that drives awareness and engagement over the long term.As Earned and Owned tactics ramp up, Bought can scale down to a maintenance level. LAUNCH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 ….. 12 Bought Bought Bought Bough Bought Bought t Earned Earned & Earned & & Owned Owned Earned & Earned & Earned & Owned Owned Owned Owned Ongoing tracking, conversation monitoring and analysis
Bought Media: Premium OptionsA significant Bought media spend – e.g. $50K+ per month for the first 6-8 weekspost launch can generate enough downloads to propel an app into the top 25apps in its main category or higher. Many of the top networks now offerspecialized cost-per-download or cost per install campaigns for app promotion. 25
Bought Media: Affordable Options Since Zynked has a very small media budget, we explored more affordable options, including paid video demos, incentivized reviews, and banner ads on app directories. Lots of Downloads Easy High HighDiscovery App StoreFor Users App Rank Store Multiplier Effect Rank of Bought Media 26
Owned Media: App Store Real EstateThe most important owned space is your app store landing page – this is where themajority of users convert! The key is to ensure that it contains all the right keywordsand content to attract people searching for your particular type of app.An estimated 80% of app search happens within the App store.
Owned Media: Keyword ResearchFor Zynked, we identified the top RSS apps, assessed their content and compared thekeywords used to those used for Zynked. This enabled us to add what was missing aswell as to assess opportunities to add 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.
Most placed in the searchusebyan consumer must all be found in one of yourThe words app stores box the exact search modelsearchable fields. Understanding how consumers search for you here is extremelyimportant. Example: a search for “NY Times” vs. a search for “NY Times Newspaper”
Owned Media: App Metadata 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 recommended (not searchable but visible to users via iTunes) 100 characters only forkeywords including spaces and commas (hidden) Company name (hidden) Up to 250 characters for App Name
Owned Media: Categorical PositioningZynked kept News as the primary category but switched the secondary category fromUtilities to Productivity where there is more demand for media-management tools.
Owned Media: Brand Web Site, Microsites 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.
Earned Media: Directory SubmissionZynked paid for expedited placement in the directories we deemed most valuable.This effort was key in driving traffic back to our owned space (landing page) in theApp Store.
Earned Media: Influencer OutreachWe 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. We also invested in several pressreleases. Premium app developers should always include a promo code that enables the reviewer to obtain a free copy.Apple provides you with 50 promo codes for this purpose with submission of a new app or an update.
Earned Media: Relationship and Link Building We followed up on our requests for listings and/or reviews to ensure that we had back links 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 to these sites is an important part of app marketing strategy (mentions should always include the iTunes direct download link).
Earned Media: Twitter40% of tweets come from a mobile device – these users are 1 click away from adownload. For Zynked, we created a unique Twitter identity but tweeting from yourbrand 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 spreads the word.
Earned Media: FacebookHere we posted about the new version, its features and the many benefits of usingZynked, plus our ideas for the next release. For brands with an existing FacebookPage 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.
Earned Media: Social Sharing ToolsThis turned every user into a brand ambassador and every tweet and share into anendorsement for Zynked within their social graph.
Earned Media: Community ManagementPrior to launch, Zynked was tested not just for bugs but for validity.The content owners put beta builds in front of people they knew who matched thetarget demographics and we asked them: •Would you buy this app? •What would you change? •What would you add? They responded to every Facebook post and tweet. They took every review seriously. And applied what they learned to making a better app.
Zynked ran Paid Media for 1 month.The effect on rank and sales was obvious - from an average of 0-5 downloads per day tobetween 50-70. But once the spend was over, sales 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
Campaign ResultsIn one month of paid media placements and incentivized reviews, Zynkedwent from less than 20 downloads per month to 700.But the content owners were still barely breaking even. Price of Zynked: $2.99 - CPA: $1.99 Profit: $1.00 - 30% Apple rev share: $.89 Final Profit: $.11 Zynked moved up in natural search results page for the keyword “RSS”. But the lift would only last as long as spend continued. Note: Apple’s rev share is 30% of sales – not 30% of profit
Increased sales did equal increased natural visibility Daily downloads + rank from January 15th 2010 to February 18 2010 Downloads Rank30025020015010050 0 4-Feb 15-Jan 16-Jan 17-Jan 19-Jan 20-Jan 21-Jan 22-Jan 23-Jan 24-Jan 25-Jan 26-Jan 27-Jan 28-Jan 29-Jan 30-Jan 31-Jan 1-Feb 2-Feb 3-Feb 5-Feb 6-Feb 7-Feb 8-Feb 9-Feb 11-Feb 18-Jan 10-Feb 12-Feb 13-Feb 14-Feb 15-Feb As our downloads increased our rank moved into double-digits but we never cracked the top 50.
Meanwhile, Earned and Owned ramped upDespite a noticeable dip when the Paid campaign ended, we began to see anotheruptick as the Earned and Owned tactics fell into place. Zynked never rose higher than6 pages deep again, and the numbers were lower by half but we still saw consistentdownloads over time through Earned and Owned efforts alone. Daily downloads from February 19th 2010 to March 22, 2010 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
In the end, Zynked became a free application.In the Spring of 2010, we withdrew the premium version of Zynked and re-launched asa free app with iAD. This version generated more profits than the premium version everdid. 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.
Key take-aways for launching a new app • Do your keyword research assess competitors and similar apps – don’t rely solely on brand keywordsPre-launch • Use that research to build keyword rich app store metadata • Create a list of target blogs and app directories • Create a dedicated Web page or separate site for your app • Plan and budget your Bought 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 Post-launch • Reach out to influential bloggers and request reviews • 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
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
Mobile app marketing program snapshotContent marketing strategy in the pre-launch phase and tactical execution ofmarketing initiatives post launch. Pre and post launch initiatives work in harmony todrive download and1engagements. MONTH 2 3 4 5 6 … Usability testing Market Research Ongoing content strategyContent Strategy Promotional campaign and content Promotional campaign execution and content planning & development seeding LAUNCH Bought media planning Ongoing campaign execution, management Bought Ad asset concepting & creative and reporting Keywords and SEO App store Post-launch SEO Planning metadata and copy (link building & optimization) Owned Owned Media Recommendations Engagement in Social Spaces (Web site, social spaces) Outreach planning Earned Influencer & Directory Outreach Optimization of PR, Email etc. Active Listening Dashboards
The future is already here - it’sjust not evenly distributed yet. - William Gibson