13 Sept 2012

Event Round Up - 3rd September Mobile Apps Marketing

Once again, many thanks to our annual sponsor, Samsung for their support in everything, and in particular this event.

Our special investigator, Valentina Ciolino, also known as @missfog has some questions as to your whereabouts last Monday week:

Where were you ten days ago between six-thirty and nine-thirty in the evening? If your answer isn’t “Centre Point”, then probably you are missing some of the tips and tricks on mobile apps marketing that our five panellists shared with the audience at the 76th Mobile Monday London. But fear you not! Here’s a summary of the discussion.

Introductions and preamble or “the need for quality”

As Tim Green, moderator of the panel, better known as Executive Editor of  Mobile Entertainment Magazine put it, for journalists - even for those interested in mobile apps - a new app is not a news story.

[In what must have been a bit of a shocking announcement, to some of the audience, at least, Tim also noted that he's moving on from that position, and we all wish him well in his new endeavours! ed.]

There are a half million apps on the Apple App Store and around the same on Google Play, Richard Firminger Flurry’s MD noted, and yours is just one more. In order to stand out, your apps need to do something very well, have quality design, user-friendly interface, a smooth user experience and a great icon. Or, as Keith O’Brien, Head of Content at Samsung said: be "...unique, be interesting..."  Your core value must be clear and clearly conveyed to your audience suggested  Mindshare’s Head of Social, Paul Armstrong, even if it’s a simple and common one.  But it’s better if you can offer unique features that can get traction with the press and the customers, added Oded Ran, Touchnote, giving the example of the handwriting capabilities with their app for Samsung Galaxy Note.

But first of all, there’s nothing better than a quality application to get sincere positive reviews and high ratings - things that fuel media attention and get you additional downloads.
(Left to right) Tim Green, Paul Armstrong, Keith O'Brien, Oded  Ran & Richard Firminger

Start with the right foot or “pre-launch tips”

So you have a break-through idea for a quality app? Sweet! Before you even think of starting the production, there are questions you need to answer and issues to address:

  1. What would be your ideal client, and how many of them are there? Get data about your users, and study your competitors.
  2. What’s the best business model for your clients and can you apply it to your product? Would they pay to get the product immediately, or would they want to try it first? Is it better to release it for free with in-app purchases or with ads?
  3. Did you think properly about your product name - is it understandable enough? Is it an obvious description of your app? Think about famous apps, you’ll find some crystal clear names such as "Draw Something". You want something as simple as that, but …Have you searched for the keywords online to see if they’re available?

If you are happy with your plans and your strategy, you finally can start coding, and while you’re at it, here’s some more things to consider:

  1. Are you implementing social sharing? Oded suggested that you’d better be obsessed with the process to get each of your users to share the app with more than one friend. You need a virality mechanism built in your product, you need to make it pleasant for your users to send content from within the app.
  2. Have you tested enough? QA is essential. Bad reviews due to bugs you could have fixed before the launch won’t be easily forgiven.
  3. Don’t undervalue analytics! It will very important for you to understand the behaviour of your actual users, to see what you need to change, what is working and what you can do to improve their experience. Oded told us that they track everything on Touchnote: ranking, customer acquisition and ads costs and effects, revenues and so on.
  4. Your presentation on the app store is crucial. Are your images good enough? Do you have a video? People do not want to read, stressed Keith, so don’t rely on them scrolling down your app store description to find out what your product is about, show it visually.

Free Apps Marketing or “You Really, Really Need a Launch Budget, Really”

Too often developers spend all their money on what they love: development. However, when it comes to launching a product in a crowded market, a small budget can make the difference. Even if you only have few £s to spend, try to make the most of them and it will be better than not doing anything.

If you have already spent all your coins on production, though, you can still invest something else: your time. In fact, if you have time, you can still do some basic promotion for your apps by yourself. You can use social networks. You can find the addresses of a number of apps reviewers online. You can produce an in-house promotional video. You can find fellow developers to cross-promote your apps. You can find sponsors. You can find clients, if you have enough patience to search. There even is one free promotion service, called appromoter, that can help your app being noticed by journalists, suggested Tim.

About the Best Advertising Model or “There isn’t One Answer”

So what’s the best strategy to launch and market your app? You shall find the answer yourself: try a few ones and see what happens.

You may need to bet your money on ads that rely on recommendation engines or segmentation, as Richard suggested, or spend it to find a small group of your ideal clients, which is what Paul recommended. You may not need huge numbers to start with, you may as well contact ten willing-to-spend customers at a time instead of showing a banner to millions of not interested gamers, but do you know what’s which ones are the most expensive?

Ads may work for some apps categories, especially games and social apps in travel, dating, music, e-commerce … for all those sectors where you need a large customer base. Or incentivized downloads may not be what you need, after all.

The Halo Effect (which brings the masses to download apps on the top lists just because they are there) is too weak for some categories, Oded pointed out, so in the end you may not need to be in the top 5 apps to make a profit. If you have your analytic mechanism in place, it won’t be difficult to find out the best solution for you.

You’re not an Expert in Everything or “Get Professional Help”

While the panel agreed about the risks of spending big money on random advertising and getting back few downloads, or useless downloads (i.e. by people who won’t spend money within your freemium app), there was consensus about the value of paying people who know their job to help you. You may be a professional, but you can’t know everything.

Other people can help you with localisation, QA (if you submit your app to Samsung, they have a free QA and testing service across all their devices), PR, marketing, ads, social (Mindshare itself is one of the experts), analytics and so on. Some advertising networks works for some apps and others don’t…an expert can tell you what the best option is for you.

Use the free tools you have to find some professionals online, search for companies specialized in what you need, and always chat with your peers and ask them for advice ...... Mobile Monday London is perfect for that!

Thanks again to our Sponsor, Chair, Panellists and all of you for making it such an interesting (and full) session.