New app developers may feel overwhelmed trying to get their apps discovered on the stores. They may have heard that App Store Optimization (ASO) is important to succeed, but might not know what ASO is or how to get started. As such, we’re here to answer the first question every developer looking into App Store Optimization needs to ask: what is ASO?Continue reading
With so many companies offering app marketing services, evaluating not only the providers but the service can be overwhelming and even subject to circumstance and debate.
There are; however, several common services that marketing agencies should offer and demonstrate strength with as they are crucial to mobile app ROI.
Marketing Strategy Development
App developers can expect just about any app marketing service to offer assistance with marketing strategy development.
Some companies offer initial marketing strategy development and ongoing strategy development as two separate services while others combine the two; however, successful app marketing starts with a jointly built strategy.
Marketing strategy development is not something that an app marketing service does in a vacuum, but works collaboratively with the marketing, design and development teams or project management staff.
After the marketing plan has been created, quarterly reviews (at least) with the marketing agency should be scheduled to re-evaluate and adapt the plan to market changes and customer feedback.
App Store Optimization
The way in which an app is listed differs depending on which platform it is sold on.
Google Play has different rules than Apple’s app store; however, both stores offer opportunities for creators to optimize an app’s title and description so that the app will be highly visible both in the app store and on Google’s search engine.
Given that the app stores are the main way users discover and search for mobile apps – ASO should not just be an offering but a primary strength.
Of course Gummicube leads with enterprise-level app store optimization and also partners with some of the world’s largest marketing agencies to provide ASO research, tools and data to compliment and extend their offerings.
Other Forms of Optimization
As mobile apps have taken over how we interact with almost every facet of our lives, the path to apps and the content in apps have started to grow as well.
Partnering with thought-leaders in your niche, building new channels for acquisition and engagement outside of the mobile app, and even traditional SEO efforts are starting to become a bigger part of mobile app marketing plans.
Increasingly, the same forms of marketing that are employed to sell other goods and/or services online are used to create awareness of mobile apps as well.
Many of these “off-app” efforts can have a positive impact on ASO as well, as Google uses social signals (“backlinks”) in their Google Play ranking algorithm.
The partnership with a thought-leader has the potential to drive downloads and a strong social signal as measured by links from their site and social accounts to your app store listing!
Between offline and online marketing efforts, website analytics, and now mobile user and app store data – it is easy to drown in numbers.
Your app marketing service provider should help you navigate through mobile app and app store data to uncover actionable insights.
In many cases, data collected in the mobile app and from the app stores can help identify and prioritize issues and opportunities.
This data includes not only number of sales but also geographic location of buyers, which days the sales were made on, how many people actually use the app on a regular basis, why and where users drop off, which features are the most popular and what potential users are searching for.
While an app creator may be able to gather this data without professional help, app marketing companies (should) do more than just register and compile data.
Market research goes beyond collecting and analyzing stats.
It may involve conducting surveys, running focus groups, analyzing competitor performance or using app store data to research the preferences and needs of a company’s target audience.
In any case, it is a useful way to determine how an app can successfully reach its target audience and how to optimize or adjust for discovery and use.
Market research – specifically app store research using app store data – can help a company stay ahead of competitors by locating areas of demand or weakness ripe for solving.
There are many cases where working with several marketing partners or agencies is not efficient (time or expense). If you have a significant investment in mobile, or your company sees the opportunity in developing mobile apps – your marketing partners should be able to address at least the above.
If they don’t have convincing answers or approaches to address the mobile opportunity, consider partnering with an agency just for mobile until your current partner either catches up or you move to a more modern agency.
You’ve spent months, perhaps even years, developing an app that you know is the best thing since sliced bread.
Your team has poured heart and soul into this project and cannot wait until launch day.
However, without an effective pre-launch strategy for your app, it will more than likely flop.
To be sure your app launch goes swimmingly, follow these top 5 steps for app launch success and mobile app promotion.
1. Begin Marketing Early
Many app developers wait to market their product when their launch date gets close.
This can turn into a major mistake as they are wasting valuable time. Ideally, the marketing of an app should start when development begins.
From day one, you should also begin to develop a marketing strategy and implement it as soon as possible. Experts suggest viewing your marketing efforts as a crescendo; something that will start out small, grow over time, and peak with the release of your app.
It’s never too early to start building a loyal fan base for your app.
2. Consider Exclusivity
You can create a buzz around your app if you choose to focus on word-of-mouth marketing.
For example, Spotify started in the USA by invitation only. The exclusivity of Spotify got people talking about this app and got people sharing it. This strategy ensured people wanted it and made people feel important if they had it. Spotify’s creators lit a match and sat back to watch the world catch fire with their exclusivity.
You could do the same with your next app.
3. Make Sure Your App is Optimized
If you want your app to be found, you need to optimize it to be found in the app store. If your potential audience cannot find your app, it is worthless.
Make sure your app has keywords in its title to help it be found as well as relevant keywords placed in its description. This marketing step is so important that app development companies have added app store optimization as a step in the development and marketing process.
4. Incorporate Calls to Action on Social Media
Another key to increasing your user base will be to include social calls to action within your app.
Many existing apps have found clever ways to do this. Users can post their game progress or newest virtual fashion accessories they have developed on their Facebook page or they can share the route they took on their morning jog and how many miles they conquered.
Building a social action call into your app will create free marketing for you. Friends and acquaintances on social media platforms will see your app posted on a page and want to find out more.
Many people also enjoy an app more if they have the ability to share something they have done with it on a social media platform.
5. Get Beta Testers
Along the same lines as exclusivity and word-of-mouth is beta testing. Select some users to get on board with your app early and grant them beta testing rights.
Not only will this step give you feedback before your app is released to the general public, but it will also help spread the word about your app’s release and help build excitement about it.
Having exclusive beta testers can make other potential users want your app even more as people always want what they can’t have yet. In addition, people want to be able to say they were a beta tester for the greatest new app or that they got in on the ground level when an app hadn’t even been released to the public yet.
Beta testing is a way to not only add more users but also to build a base of loyal users.
While you may want to focus solely on your app development and not touch its marketing until closer to the launch date, you need to start now and incorporate the aforementioned steps into your app development. Doing so will make it more successful in the long run by builder a larger, more diverse, and loyal fan base.
In the early days of mobile apps, marketers used Flurry Analytics in their iOS apps and Google Analytics in their Android apps. Apple released an analytics module in iTunes Connect (where marketers and devs manage their apps) that only worked for iOS apps. Then Facebook started offered event-driven analytics as part of both Parse and the Facebook SDK.
The mobile analytics space has been fragmented by platform, and challenged with incorporating app data back to a multi-channel marketing campaign or a web property.
There were signs that Google was going to start to view their (primarily web) analytics service differently when KPIs like “visits” – which describes a web site visit – were changed to “sessions” – which was the way most referred to opening/starting a mobile app.
Google’s aim is to have access to data – which they monetize by organizing and aggregating for discovery. Google did this with the web and became one of the most valuable companies in the world.
Social media and their walled gardens, and mobile apps and the information essentially hidden from Google in the app silos presented real challenges to Google being able to collect and aggregate data.
To make things worse for Google, the market was flocking to mobile apps, not just for games but for reading and watching videos and even search.
One of the places Google is uniquely positioned, Google Analytics is the most popular website analytics service by far. GA offers all the basics one would expect from an analytics package – like number of sessions, when and from where, how long a session lasted, where they came from etc.. But GA also provides (free) tools for attribution, funnels, segmentation and more, all tied back to AdWords and AdSense.
Where Apple provides a basic analytics service for just iOS apps, Google’s mobile offering works across Android and iOS (connecting data from the same app across platforms), and the web.
A content publisher who both sells ad space and promotes content can now see how an article (for example) performed on their website, and in their app (both iOS and Android).
This is all free from Google.
If app downloads are the ultimate vanity metric, then user lifetime value (LTV) is the ultimate KPI. It is just that measuring LTV is not so easy, especially across marketing and consumption channels.
Google’s Mobile SDK gets marketers closer to a holistic view of their digital business and marketing efforts.
How Google Mobile Analytics Can Help Your Mobile App Marketing Campaigns
More than just merely providing data the volume of users of a given app, Google Mobile Analytics help marketers segment their audiences and maximize their mobile app marketing efforts.
Quick Quiz: who knows you better? Google, Facebook or your spouse?
They each know you in different ways, but the three (2 companies and your partner in life) are probably closer than you think.
What that means here is Google can provide insights to who your audience is by broad demographics, but also with very specific personas.
LTV takes on a whole new meaning when you can not only track user LTV by source or funnel, but by persona. Persona X converts with the highest LTV from Facebook ads, Persona Y via web ads, Persona Z shows the highest LTV when acquired organically in app store search.
- Which channels created the highest number of downloads and which drove the most in-app purchases?
- Which channel and persona showed high downloads but low retention?
- Which channel can you scale, or what other channels can you use to reach a valuable target persona?
Google Mobile Analytics enables marketers and app developers to wade through data and make informed decision for better apps and better marketing.
Google Mobile Analytics Features and their Benefits
Marketers using Google Mobile Analytics stand to benefit from the data gathered from seven major features. This data when gathered provides the marketer with important information regarding the success or lack thereof of a given marketing campaign. Google Mobile Analytics features include the following:
Mobile app install attribution tracks user interactions with an app that has resulted from specific marketing campaigns or activities.
The user interactions that can be measured include anything event driven:
- App installation
- In-app purchase
- Repeat launch app
- Level completion
Native Android and iOS SDKs help marketers measure the level of user interaction with an app and its content.
For app publishers that have content parity on the web (a website), this feature helps connect in-app events and locations with the corresponding location on the web. An example question – Did users read the recent article on Tesla longer in your app or on the web?
Cross-device data employs a Measurement Protocol that uses a user ID feature to monitor data across devices and sessions when they are logged in. Measurement Protocol measure usage across digital platforms beyond apps and web log ins. This allows marketers to measure a user’s online activity and offline conversations.
Events in the world of mobile apps measure in app activities by users. These events can include passing levels, adding items to cart (in the case of ecommerce) or up-voting. All of these and more are measured by Google Mobile Analytics’ event tracking feature.
Demographics and Remarketing
Demographics and remarketing is a two-fold feature of Mobile Analytics that provides marketers with data regarding:
- The gender, age and interests of a user
- Tools to build audience lists for retargeting
Facebook’s SDK is amazing at building audiences, but any app that spends to acquire users should use both Facebook and Google SDKs for analytics if for nothing more than the insights to users (in aggregate) these services provide.
Lifetime Value and Retention Analysis
As the name suggests, Lifetime Value and Retention Analysis is a report feature that allows developers and marketers to get insight regarding just how much revenue a given cohort have brought to the app since making their first visit.
The report shows retention rates for different groups and uses and allows developers and marketers to develop a long-term picture of how users value the app and the features therein over time. This feature supports making positive long-term marketing decisions.
As users have flocked to mobile and mobile apps, the number of apps have exploded.
Sure – there are tons of silly apps, “reskinned” apps and other apps with very questionable value, but there are also several mobile-first companies, and brands are just now entering with conviction.
Competing in the app store is not about rising above the volume, but connecting with your target audience.
App store search still leads in app discovery, so any app promotion should be built on the solid foundation of a well-designed app and an optimized app listing.
Where to go from here? How do you promote your app after app store optimization?
App promotion free
There are several channels for paid install or impression campaigns, but let’s start with free ways to promote your app(s) that ultimately make any paid efforts more effective.
Add web interstitials
When someone from a mobile device navigates to your website where the content also is available in your app – suggest they install or open the app via an overlay, banner or other prompt.
Yelp provides a good example.
The majority of local Google search (a search with a location component like “breakfast North Park”) is via mobile devices. Let’s say the first result for the search “Breakfast North Park” is a Yelp listing.
When selecting the Yelp result, Yelp’s website recognizes the request is coming from a mobile device and presents an overlay suggesting the user open the result in the Yelp app (or install it if not installed).
Not unlike redirecting mobile vistors to a m.domain.com site, with the added step of asking the user to decide to install/open the app or continue to a web version of the content.
Set up incentivized sharing
Almost like an in-app affiliate program or viral sharing tool – incentivized sharing encourages users to share your app with their networks and rewards them for it.
A simple example is giving a user 100 gold coins for every install that is generated with sharing to their network. Sally shares her new favorite quiz game with 10 friends, 3 of whom install – Sally receives 300 gold coins.
Here is an example from Branch.io who provides feature in their service amoung many other app promotion, retention and engagement tools.
Find a Social Network Channel
For many marketers, “social media marketing” all falls in one marketing bucket next to PR, SEM, content marketing, web etc..
What tends to get lost is your app may find much more traction on one social network than another. Facebook and Twitter are huge with lots of engagement, but developing a profile on Pinterest or Instagram may provide a better return on your investment.
Nathan Chan started Foundr magazine – a subscription app with new issues monthly, and drives thousands of new installs weekly by cultivating Instagram.
Driving traffic and installs via a social media channel only works when you find the balance of fun, engaging content with clear calls to action. Nathan shared in his strategy for Instagram the balance is 5 posts to 1 “download this app” post.
Email your list(s)
Perhaps stating the obvious, but worth mentioning. You have a huge group of people extremely likely to use your app – your company’s leads and current clients who are already using or familiar with your service.
A study of major retailers with mobile apps showed shoppers with the stores’ mobile apps shopped more frequently, longer and spent more than non-app users.
These retailers now include links to install their app in their weekly email “flyers” – as mobile users are valuable enough to make a prominent call to action.
Not unlike how you would have a link to your company website in your signature, consider adding a link to your app in your email signature as well.
The above are just some of the trends for app promotion in 2016. We’ll cover more app promotion tips, including deep dives into the specifics of implementing in future posts.