What’s in a Name? Everything!

ASO 5-Part Series: Part 2 – App Name

It goes without saying that the name of your app is extremely critical. It is the first place metadata is collected for all search engines and will be the branding for your product for its existence (unless you are brave enough to risk a rebranding which could result in a loss of users). It also factors into the decision making process a potential downloader uses to decide whether to get your app

Naming your app is one of the most exciting steps of application development. Often publishers have an idea of what they want to call their app even before it is developed. The initial reaction with a name is to get creative and make it personal but this is the exact opposite of what you should do if you wish to optimize discoverability for your app.

When determining the name for your app you will want to be less emotional and more logical. You will also want to err on the simpler and straightforward side of things. Your name should reflect the functionality of your app in some way.

The best place to start when considering a name for your app is to make a list of search terms your potential users will use to find an app that has functionality like yours. You can create this list of keywords by doing some research yourself and leaning on some digital tools for some help.

Research Resources

  1. App Store Search – Go to the app store and search for apps that are similar to you. What words do you find yourself using? What terms are bringing up results?
  2. Google Search (or other Online Search Engines) – Similar to the app store search, use online search engines to help you determine what search terms you are using and what search terms produce results for brands and sites and apps that are similar to yours.
  3. Ask People – Ask people what terms they would use to search for your app. Also ask them to describe your app and even go as far as ask them to give it a name. Be sure not to just ask friends and family but other people in your network.
  4. Competition – Look to the competitors in your category to see what terms they are using and use them as inspiration for your potential name list. Look at both their names and their product descriptions.

Online Tools

  1. Google Keyword Tool – Using the Google Keyword tool you can either enter the URL of a company or brand that is similar to yours to be presented with possible keywords or enter a starting term to get some suggestions in return.
  2. AppStoreRankings.net – AppStoreRankings is a great resource to use for creating metadata for your app. This premium online tool let’s you spy on your competitors and also helps you understand which keywords will perform best in the app store environment by associating a traffic score to each.
  3. AppNique – Like AppStoreRankings, this company offers premium services to help provide suggestions for search terms for your app.

Starting with a list of keywords will help ensure that your app is rooted in search – a key discovery method for users. It will also help make sure that your app name is incorporating terminology which people attribute to your app’s main functions. In addition, you will be able to leverage this list for your product description which we will tackle in a later article in this series (Part 5).

Once you have this list of keywords, you can use them to create a name. In some cases, using some of the actual keywords in the name will make better sense. For example, if your app is a calculator app then you will most likely want to include the words calculator or numbers or math in the app name. For other app categories, like in the case of games, you may wish to use these keywords as more of a sub-title. For example Move and Shake – a Puzzle Game for Kids.

Using a sub-title in your name is a great strategy to include more metadata for your app but will also help to clarify an app that is given a more creative name for branding purposes.

Choosing the right name is a critical component of application development. With the help of this ASO exercise, you will improve your chance of selecting a name that will work for you rather than work against you.

The Little App Developer That Could [INFOGRAPHIC]

The results from this year’s Annual App Developer Survey showed the tenacity and long term success of app developers.

81% of app developers said that they would not abandon their app despite the same amount not making enough money to support a standalone business. Like last year, app developers are having a hard time breaking even with their app, but we saw that those developers that stick it out and market their app (3 years+) are seeing some great success, some earning over $500,000+.

The tenacity and long term success reminded us of the story the Little Engine that Could which inspired this year’s Infographic found below.

For a full review of results from our 2013 App Developer Survey, download our Free white paper “Slow and Steady Wins the Race”.

The Importance Of App Store Optimization

ASO 5-Part Series: Part 1 – What is ASO

Discovery is one of the major challenges for any app developer regardless of platform. Being able to be found and stand out in the sea of applications is critical to success for an application. This is getting more and more difficult as more and more apps go live each day.

The app stores were created to aid developers in discovery of their applications but as app inventory continues to grow at a rapid pace, they are unable to assist all of the applications in the same way they did when smartphone and tablet apps first launched back in 2008.

It has become more and more important for developers and app publishers to take matters into their own hands and market their applications to increase visibility to improve downloads for their application.

One of the ways that app developers can better the discovery of their app is through optimization of their product page within the app store. This is called ASO or App Store Optimization. The goal of ASO is to enhance the major product page elements to improve search discovery, increase chances of standing out in a list view and better the salability of the page to convert to download or purchase.

App Store Optimization touches upon all elements of your app’s product page – your name, category, icon, screenshots and even the product description & keywords you use to describe and sell your app.

The key concept behind ASO is to take a look at these elements from a user’s perspective to ensure that they are working hard to market and sell your app. In essence, ASO makes sure that your product page elements are clear, convincing as well as creative. It strives to remove any ambiguity in what your product offers and attempts to cut through the noise around you to ensure that your app can rise above the rest whether a user finds your app in search results or views it in a category list.

To perform App Store Optimization you need to look to your competitors, your users and employ the use of some key app tools. In this 5-part series, we will be breaking down the steps to perform App Store Optimization to improve the performance of your name, app icon, screenshots and your product description.

The benefits of ASO are great:

  • Improve search results and immediate app comprehension within app store lists with an optimized name
  • Take advantage of app ranking opportunities through our category and sub-category recommendations
  • Improve brand recall and rapid app comprehension and increase conversion with icon & screenshots suggestions
  • Increase salability and improve search discovery with a SEO focused Product Description

We hope to get you thinking about your product page as not just a bunch of last minute elements required to get your app live upon submission, but rather some key and free marketing opportunities which you have at your disposal to better the chance of app success.

2nd Annual App Developer Survey – On Now till May 5, 2013

Our 2nd Annual Developer Survey will look at how developers are financially performing (including by platform) with their app and is now open and running until May 5, 2013.

Click on this link to get started: http://svy.mk/ZcQutE

Last year we found that nearly 60% of app developers are not breaking even with the money they are generating with their apps. This news was illustrated in our “Wake Up Call” infographic which was picked up by the likes of Mashable, Into Mobile, Read Write, Venture Beat and more and our white paper summarizing all of the results has been downloaded over 2,100 times since its release.

This year, we hope to uncover some new powerful stats about the app publisher and developer community as well as to follow-up with app owners to see if more are seeing success with their apps.

We will be creating an infographic and white paper to publish these results which will be made available at the end of May of this year. If you aren’t already signed up for our newsletter to receive these results, you can do so by providing your information on the last page of the survey.

The survey runs from April 15 through to May 5, 2013. Please share it with your colleagues! Results will be made public the end of May 2013. As a thank you for completing the survey we are giving away the chance to win $1,500 in App Store Optimization services by a member of our team.

Thank you for all your support!

App Promo Wake Up Call Infographic 2012

 

What is Split Testing and How Do I Use It?

If you are thinking about purchasing paid media to advertise your mobile application to increase downloads, you are definitely going to want to spend your dollars wisely.

To ensure that you are getting the best bang for your buck, you will want to employ a common technique in the digital ad space called Split-Testing. By employing this technique you will drastically improve your app marketing efforts.
What is Split-Testing

Split-testing also known as A/B testing or bucket testing is a marketing technique to test out variations of an ad in order to compare results to determine what ad elements works best to get maximum results.

Basically, split-testing is when you run two ads competing against one another to determine which one produces the best results and is ultimately the one to continue trafficking.

To properly split-test, you will want to create variations of your ad that include changes to elements such as copy, images, font style and size, colors and layouts. Comparing results between the ads will confirm whether your change has made a positive or negative impact. You will want to continue with the ad that is doing well and stop with the ads that are performing less.

Split-testing is done to help you better your results from your ad campaign. By better understanding what is working and what is not with your ads, you can make immediate adjustments to improve results and your ultimate return on investment.

 

How to Split-Test

To split-test you will need to first start with an ad. Create an ad for your campaign that is compelling and conveys your messaging in an effective, easy to understand and powerful manner.

Take a look at this ad and create a variation on one of the elements. Perhaps you will use a different image or change a word in the copy or bold the call to action. Whatever you do, keep the changes effective but to a minimum as too many changes will not allow you to determine what modification has produced different results.

Run both of your ads with the same configuration in your network and watch the results of both. You will want to let your original (control) and variation (test) ads run for a fair amount of time to really start to understand how the audience is reacting to them. You will also want to make sure that a significant amount of the audience has been exposed to the ad before making any conclusions.

The amount of time you take to make the decision on which ad to continue with depends on the data that you are receiving but you should be able to start to make a decision within a couple of days.

Once your ads have had some time to live on the network, you will want to look at the data gathered during that time to decide which ad is doing better. For the most part, the metric you will be looking at here is the CTR or click-through rate. But if you are able to (as some networks have this capability), for mobile application advertising, your key metric should be downloads of your application.

Regardless of the metric you choose, compare results between the original ad to the test ad and continue with the one that produces the best results.

Depending on the length of time of your campaign, you will want to continue the split-testing process, creating variations off of the ad that produces the best results from the previous test.

 

Why Split-Test

Split-testing is definitely proven to help you produce the best results from your ad campaign but using available data from ad network reporting to gauge the impact of small variations to your ads.

It is obvious that as you take the time to improve your ad based on actual data you will only be left with higher conversion and click through rates for your campaign overall.

But beyond increasing immediate results, the learnings gained from the split-tests you perform in your campaigns will start to educate you on what direction to take your future advertising for the same audience. This information is invaluable as it will help to elevate your future ad decisions right from the start of the campaign. Of course, no campaign is ever the same but the more tests you run, the wiser you will be.

 

How to Be Friends with Bloggers

Just a few years ago, the average joe didn’t know the word blog. Today, you would be hard pressed to find an individual who accesses the world wide web who doesn’t visit blogs on a regular basis.

Blogs have been the webs answer to inspiring writers and communicators everywhere who have something to say about a certain topic.  No longer do you need to worry about the formal publishing process to be noticed as a writer on the web, you simply need a WordPress account and the ability to put together thoughts in a cohesive manner to be today’s journalist.

Audiences have embraced blogs as they have increased the point of views available on topics. They have become authorities on the subjects they cover and in a lot of instances have eclipsed the formal publications from which most the blogs have been inspired from.

Blogs are particularly important to the developer community as they serve as a key communication method to promote and distribute their applications. As such, the relationship between the developer and the blogger is especially critical.  Getting reviewed or written up by the right blogger will not only give you industry cred, but will dramatically increase the number of downloads for your application.

As you can imagine, however, bloggers are inundated with tons of requests to cover stories on various topics. Knowing this, it is extremely important to stand out from the crowd and build a relationship with bloggers so that you can partner with them to give them credible news while you benefit from much needed visibility.

Here are a few tips to get you started on your much needed blogger friendship to improve your app marketing.

 

Find Your Most Influential Bloggers

There are millions of blogs out there. You want to make sure that you choose the blog that is right of the app that you are developing. The bloggers you want to connect with need to be interested in your product and your product needs to make sense with their blog.

Most often these are the blogs you are already following. But if you are not an avid blog reader you are going to have to do your homework. Use search engines to find blogs that relate to your keywords. Make sure you read some articles and about the blogger/blog to decide if it’s a good fit.  See if the blog recommends other blogs to introduce you to other prospects.

Once you have selected the blogs that you feel your product is best aligned with, you are going to want to prioritize them according to reach. Often times a bloggers audience information is listed in their advertising opportunity section so check that out to help you understand what the reach is for the blog. You are going to want to put most of your efforts on blogs that will allow any posts on your app to be read by the most amount of people.

 

Get Introduced

Now that you have your list, find out who the blog owner is or in the case of larger blogs who the key bloggers are that you need to contact in order to start building a relationship.

Most often blogs don’t provide an email address or phone number so don’t be afraid of using the feedback box to reach out to the right person.

Keep things extremely personal. Bloggers want to talk to real people. Let them know who you are and what you do and what you are working on. Most importantly let them know what you feel you can offer to their blog and why they should be interested.

It’s best to reach out to a blogger as early on as possible to start introductions rather than right when you need them to post something for marketing purposes. Contacting them for the sole purpose of introducing yourself and asking if they would be interested in you sending them updates and information on your product will most likely produce the best results in terms of response and in forming a positive relationship.

In this way your first contact with a blogger is not coming from immediately wanting something from them but more that you have identified them as an influential part of your ecosystem and value their cooperation.

Getting bloggers to know you on a first and last name basis is half the battle in getting published.

 

Get Published

When the time comes for you to get the word out for your app – whether this be for launch, a major update or perhaps an important accomplishment – the contact you already established with the blogger community will come in handy.

Hopefully you have gained an email address from previous contact with the blogger, but if not, send them information on your “story” via the feedback form making sure you mention that you had previously connected.

If you are contacting them to get a post written about your app, be direct and ask for this. Include all the necessary information they would need to develop the story including screenshots, facts and links to your application.

Most importantly, make sure that you address again why you feel your app or app’s story makes sense for their publication.

 

Thank Them

Once your story has been published, don’t forget to reach out to a blogger and thank them. Sending an email to thank them is an important step in building that relationship with them.

In addition to sending a thank you, show your support for their blog by tweeting, re-posting on social networks and on your own blog if you have one their blog post.

 

The Power of App Icons

If a picture is worth a thousand words then your app icon is worth more than any other asset for you mobile application.

Your app icon is the most evident element of your branding both on the home screen of the users device and in the app store where they make the decision to download.

Consumers are making app purchase decisions based on icons similar to how they often judge a book by its cover. With mobile shopping behavior usually being extremely impulsive, even guttural, it is extremely important to be able to stand out from the crowd and convey as much about your app as possible in an instant.

How compelling and clear your app icon is for a user will translate not just to acquisition of new users but will also factor into the decision making process for which app to open from the device home screen.

When it comes to your app icon think how can I convey what my app does while making sure the icon says DOWNLOAD ME.

The first step in knowing what to do in designing your app icon is to understand what not to do. The best way to do this is to visit the application store of the platform you are developing your app for and browse. Look through categories you feel your app should sit within to see what your competitors are using. Take a look at the top applications to see what their app icon includes.

It’s best to keep your app iconic. Avoid being overly wordy. In fact avoid words at all. Using objects, symbols or letters is best to achieve a clear and easy to digest icon. Consumers should see your icon and be able to identify the imagery you are illustrating. But beyond recognition, they should get a sense as to what your app is all about or what type of app you are providing from your icon.

Keep your design simple. Clean, high quality icons will present your brand and product as a professional offering in the marketplace. As real estate in an icon is at a minimum you want to avoid cluttering your icon that will only confuse or frustrate consumers.

Don’t be afraid to be different or bold, remember you want to draw attention to your app amongst a sea of applications in the storefront. Use strong colors. Choose imagery that conveys a mood, tone or emotion indicative to your app’s purpose.

Give yourself choices by creating a couple of concepts for your icon before selecting the one that you will go forward with. Socialize your concepts with colleagues, business partners, family and friends and get their honest feedback. Getting an outside opinion is extremely important seeing that this icon is being created for your audience’s attention and not your own, so be sure not to skip this step.

Be open to any feedback you may receive regarding your app design – good or bad. Being overly committed to your app icon too early on could close you to some much needed opportunities to make your app better. It’s never too late to make changes or start over. Since icons are what users will look for to identify their app on their home screen, icons are rarely changed, so you will want to make sure you get it right the first time.

If you are not a designer and have the budget, seek professional help. Find a graphic designer who can help walk you through their process. A good graphic designer will meet with you to discover what your business is all about, who you are, what your app’s objectives are and what existing ideas or brand elements you may have already accomplished. Be sure to select a designer you trust. You will want to rely on them completely as your counsel in this field and in some instances you may not see eye-to-eye so someone you know is an expert in their field will be necessary.

Regardless of what you do when it comes to your app icon, make sure it is not an after thought. It may be small, but this icon could make or break the success of your app in the marketplace.

 

The Rise of App Search Engines

Despite the fact that on-device app stores are still the number one source to find applications, any user will tell you that the experience within these stores is extremely frustrating and fairly static leading to poor discovery of apps.

From the developer’s perspective, the process of submitting and updating their applications across different platforms is time consuming and can lead to error in messaging and updates. And as the volume of apps continues to grow, it is becoming more and more challenging to acquire the visibility their apps need to be successful.

To combat both consumer and developer woes, there has been a number of application search engines that have grown in use and attention.

The rise of application search engines is indicative of the problem associated with discovery of apps. They attempt to solve this problem by providing unique and more robust methods for consumers to find applications across platform. They also aid developers and app owners in providing a single point of access to multiple platforms as well as increased and additional insight into their app performance no to mention an additional distribution point.

The app search engine space is heating up with the latest arrival, start-up Quixey, just announcing they raised $400,000. We are sure to continue to see new search engine arrivals to the market with perhaps some of the more traditional search engine players like Google and Bing starting to play in this game.

If you aren’t familiar with application search engines, here is a breakdown of three of the heavy hitters in the market to help you get up to speed.

 

uQuery

uQuery is a social search engine for applications combining search with social networking. uQuery currently only indexes the United States version of iTunes App Store. But where it lacks in platform support, it makes up for in its ability to add a relevant contextual “friend” layer through Facebook Connect.

Like other app search engines, uQuery starts with the search field allowing users to search for applications by name or topic. It also allows users to search by predefined topics much more robust than what is found in the App Store and the ability to search by star ratings and price range. Users can also search by their favorite developer if they so choose to.

Where uQuery differentiates itself is on the recommendations that are offered either from your own network or from everyone in the uQuery network. The issue with gaining suggestions from your own network is that it requires others from your network to have joined uQuery. So it is in your best interest to get more of your network onto using uQuery in order to really benefit from this feature.

uQuery Search results present the same information you would expect to see in the App Store leveraging screenshots, star ratings and description. uQuery adds a social layer to this page by showing users who have liked this app. They have also made it easier to download by using QR codes, similar to what would be found on the Android Market.

Outside of its social search, uQuery also provides a “Trends” report that gives a quick look at what’s going on in the USA iTunes App Store. This report illustrates the number of apps published, number of developers, a breakdown of Paid versus Free apps and finally a run down of applications by category. A great resource to refer to when considering developing an app for iOS to get a quick understanding of the current landscape.

 

Quixey

Unlike uQuery and Chomp, Quixey is a multi-platform search engine that aims to be the source for functional search for apps no matter what device you may be using – smartphones, browsers, desktops and the web.

Quixey prides themselves on providing search results oriented to what you want to do in your own words. Users enter terms such as “baking a muffin” or “taking red eye out” into the search field and Quixey provides results accordingly.

Quixey’s results display not just the apps but also snippets about the apps which come from multiple sources which use your search terms to help you decide if the app is what you are looking for. They also allow you to filter by platform and price as additional criteria.

App pages on Quixey echo their mandate to provide you with as much information from across sources as possible. Pages provide information expected from the app stores but layer on additional insight from Tweets, blogs like TechCrunch, as well as questions and other links indexed from the web. All pages provide either one-click access to the proper store to download or in the case of Android, also the use of a QR code.

Quixey’s focus seems to be on not only creating www.quixey.com as a destination for app discovery but to gain partnerships around the web to use their plugin and API so that the Quixey search bar is readily available wherever you are on the web.

While the benefits to the consumer are obvious, with their multi-platform approach, Quixey also serves as an easier way for developers to manage their apps across platforms. This feature allows app owners a one-stop shop to control messaging for their apps across all versions as well as a backend that provides visibility into what people are saying about their app across platform.

 

5 Things to Consider Before Developing Your App

So you have an idea that is perfect for a mobile app and are ready to get started. You are full of ideas on design and know exactly what plaforms you want to tackle and want to get into market as soon as possible.

Before you jump full feet ahead, locking yourself into the decisions you have made, there are a couple of things you should think about in the planning phase of your app project that will help set you better up for success with your new mobile product especially when it comes to app marketing.

Market Positioning

There’s no doubt that you have captured a great idea to go to market with, but have you done your research to see what’s out there first? You don’t need to be the first in market, but knowing who else is playing in your space will help you take a look at your concept to see how you can differentiate yourself.

Perhaps your design will better. More improved user experience. Additional features not yet in play by others. Or maybe you will set yourself apart with pricing.

Doing your research before beginning development and design is a must as the output from this exercise should identify what is going to set yourself apart from the rest in the market. You will need to take this differentiator and use it to drive requirements for both design and development.

 

Branding

Once you have nailed down what you are building, you are going to want to use that same research you started on your competitors to understand how they are presenting themselves in the market.

What names are they using for their app? What colors are they using for their design? Take a look at their icons to see if there is a common thread between them all.

Use the information you gain from this exercise as input into decisions for your own branding. These branding decisions should govern your overall design from icon down to the colors and fonts used in your application.

 

Price Point

Figuring out your revenue model before you start to develop is extremely important. Again, you are going to want to go back to the competitive analysis that you performed for positioning and branding to find out what others are doing in your space.

Next you are going to want to ask yourself if you want to make money off this app and if so, how? Will it be through activity via ad revenue? In-app purchases to access additional exclusive content? Or will the app itself be paid?

After looking to your own monetary objectives for your app and seeing what is out there in the marketplace – your final decision will be required at the start of your project to be sure that the technical solutions are implemented to support it.

 

Monitoring & Analytics

No matter what your app is all about, you are going to want to track activities by your users. All app stores provide insight into downloads, but it is up to you to implement some sort of tracking capability within the app to understand use behavior.

Make the decision to implement analytics right at the beginning of your project. Determine what metrics you will want to collect. And then find a solution provider that has an SDK that you can easily implement to achieve your monitoring goals.

Implementing analytics in your app will provide you valuable information about what your users are doing in your app to help drive marketing, advertising and future product upgrade decisions.

 

In-App Marketing Areas

Before you have nailed down the requirements for your design and development, be sure to build in marketing areas in your app that will service you when you are live.

Marketing opportunities to your existing users like push notifications to pull users in via daily reminders or breaking news, for example and pop-up reminders to ask for ratings and reviews need to be decided well in advance to development to ensure that they are implemented without re-work.

In addition, you will want to consider in your design areas in the app which promote sharing of your application using social networks and email to utilize social networking as a marketing avenue for your product.

When considering the features of your app, take a moment to consider what you can add to your app that will help drive new users as well as keep existing users coming back. Focusing on these two objectives will help ensure that you have incorporated elements into your product which are aimed to achieve these goals.

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