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.

App Marketing 101 Series: Analytics & Monitoring (Pillar 10)

App Marketing 101 Series: Analytics & MonitoringWhat all marketing efforts boil down to is results. For applications, the most common metrics are usually either downloads or activity. In this final article in our 10-part App Marketing 101 series, we break down what you need to know to properly assess your marketing efforts for your app.

Although results are gathered at the end of any marketing campaign, it is imperative that analytics and monitoring be considered right at the start of any effort. Metrics are intrinsically tied to the goals and objectives of the campaign. It is during the planning phase of your marketing effort where you not only identify these goals but should also be detailing how you will measure each objective in order to determine if they are successful or not.

Once you understand what data you need to collect, you will need to pinpoint what methods or resources you will need to gather that information. Understanding the methodology you need will ultimately influence the decisions you make in implementing your marketing efforts – which is why it is important to do this all upfront.

When the campaign is underway, don’t wait until the end to start to look at the data. Monitor your results throughout your efforts to see what is working and what is not and make the necessary adjustments. Just be sure that you give your choices enough time to culminate before changing them up again.

At either the end of your campaign or at particular milestones in your ongoing marketing, you will want to put all the pieces of information together to gauge the full impact of your efforts. Identify and celebrate your successes but don’t be afraid of points of failure as these are valuable learnings to take into your next attempts.

 

What to Measure?

The short answer is to this question is everything possible, but here are some typical metrics you should be collecting and analyzing in your marketing efforts.

  • Product: Downloads, unique users, page views, session length, time of use
  • Pricing: Purchases, in-app purchases
  • App Store Marketing: ratings & reviews
  • Social Media: Fans, followers, active users, post views & impressions, retweets, demographics
  • Paid Media: impressions, clicks, click-through-rate (CTR), cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-acquisition (CPA), social impressions
  • Search Engine Marketing:
  • Contests: participants, page views, session length
  • Press & Blogger Outreach: media deliveries, online pickup, positive/negative sentiment
  • Community & Networking: thread/discussion activity

 

Analyzing App Downloads

When it comes to apps, the first metric that comes to mind is downloads.

When looking at your downloads, consider more than just the total number. Look at what your peak times are for downloading to help determine key time slots for future marketing for your users.

All app stores provide geographic information that should be taken advantage of. Breakout your downloads by country to determine your geographic heat spots. Doing this will help identify where the most interest is from your users, another insight to take into future marketing and product efforts.

If your product has both a paid version and a free trial or “lite” version, analyzing your downloads for both during the campaign will help you assess your pricing model. Are  those that are downloading your lite version converting to paid? If not – look to either the process to upgrade or the price point.

Ultimately, while running any elements of your marketing campaign, you will want to look back at the impact of these efforts on your downloads. To gauge the full impact, compare significant amount of download data pre-campaign against the campaign period (and if possible also against post-campaign results). Additionally,

Before any marketing effort, be sure to baseline your downloads to allow you to quickly identify if your efforts are producing growth. Calculate both the total downloads prior to starting your marketing efforts as well as your average daily growth and use these numbers to compare against results during the campaign.

 

Looking at activity to understand your true user

Although downloads are a good stat to focus on in terms of interest in your app, if your goal is to understand the use of your app you are going to want to include activity as a core metric in your monitoring.

There are two main places to gather information on usage of your app. The first in in the app store via the reviews and ratings attributed to your app. Keep an eye on these as you continue your marketing. Are you increasing the number of reviews and ratings? Have these improved with your marketing efforts? What are your users telling you during this time?

As ratings & reviews are being calculated along with downloads to help position applications in storefront charts and features, it is definitely something you will want to include as part of your marketing goals.

The second place collecting data on your user’s activity is within your app itself, well that’s if you planned ahead in your product development to include statistics to do so. Implementing an analytics package when developing your app will go a long way in helping you truly understand the success of your app.

Take a look at the activity within your app during your marketing. Do you see spikes in activity that correlate to your campaign elements? How do these compare to the increase you may be seeing in downloads? Are new users staying an using your app or downloading it and leaving it behind? What areas are they most interested in?

By analyzing user activity – you will get a better sense of the longer term impacts of your marketing efforts. These metrics give insight to your users rather than those that are simply interested in your product, perhaps because of compelling positioning in your marketing campaign (short-term impact of marketing).

 

Analyzing PR & Online Buzz

A core part of any marketing campaign is to get the word out. Whether this is through a formal press release over the wire or through a more personal outreach to bloggers and online publications you are going to want to understand how successful your PR efforts have been.

If you are using a PR distribution system to send out a press release, some of these metrics are easily available via the reports they provide. Look especially to both the number of online pickup achieved through their network and the types of sites that ran your release.

If you are reaching out to press and bloggers through an email system, look to your open rate to gauge interest and then search online using keywords from your release to understand who ran your story.

Without investing in tools or systems that are devised to do so, the best way to gauge online buzz is through good ol’ fashion search engines. Search for your app name or other keywords during your campaign and make note of the sites that mention your product.

A great way to track reader usage is through URL tracking sites like the use of bit.ly. By converting your download page link, for example, into a bit.ly URL you will gain a better understanding of the traffic pushed to download your app from referring sources.

Of course, you will ultimately want to look to your downloads and usage during this time to gauge impact of the posts achieved to see if they result in achieving your overall campaign goals. This won’t be a one-to-one correlation but you will be able to infer spikes of download or activity during peak periods of online buzz, especially if this is isolated from other marketing campaign elements.

 

Understanding data from Paid Media

Out of all of the marketing resources you utilize in your campaign, paid media will come with the most amount of readily available real-time data.

When running mobile, online or search ads – it is best to split-test. Run a couple of versions of your ad at the same time and then look to the analytics provided to decide what is working and what needs to be stopped or changed. Monitoring this continually through your campaign will not only improve the active campaign’s overall results, but it will also teach you what to continue in future marketing efforts.

Whether it is during the campaign or at the campaign end, you are going to want to look not to the impressions made during marketing (unless your goal is pure brand awareness) but rather the connections or clicks made during the campaign. This is where the click-through-rate is important or as it is usually denoted “CTR”.

You will want to understand what a good CTR is for a campaign in order to quickly make a decision if the campaign is worth putting money into. Although these are always specific to the network and ad trafficked, industry CTR averages are available for speculation online so take a look at these conversations to help put things in perspective. Ultimately, you will want to run a few test campaigns yourself on various networks to really understand what to expect in using paid media for marketing your app.

 

Measuring Social Media

Like online buzz, you will want to look to your social media efforts during marketing to understand how they helped deliver results.

Facebook makes this incredibly easy through the use of their Insight tool if you are a page administrator. This tool not only breaks out user activity, but can also provide data by post (impressions, activity) and demographic. Like Paid Media, you can use the data in Insights to see what type of posts are working for your community and which are not. Outside of Facebook’s Insight reports, use tracking services like bit.ly to understand who is entering your community to ultimately download your app.

For other social networks, like Twitter, you will need to lean on third party metric systems to really get a sense as to how your marketing efforts are doing within these communities. However, without investing too much money on these services, you will be able to look to your follower growth and perform searches to see what people are saying about your product. Again, the use of a tracking URL will also help to determine referral traffic to your download page. But unlike Facebook, most other social networks are not yet well set-up to provide you with additional data (like number of reads on your tweet etc.) so if this is of interest to you, you will have to look for alternative analytics solutions which do exist to integrate with.

Regardless of social network, you will want to look to follower or fan growth and sustenance as a metric to indicate interest in your brand and use of any download links

App Marketing 101 Series: Community (Pillar 9)

App Marketing 101 Series: CommunityYou don’t have to look to far for opportunities to market your app. The best place to start is with you and your networks. In part 9 of 10 of our app marketing 101 series, we look at how to leverage your own networks and find net new ones to help market your app.

 

Use your Networks to Spread the Word

No one can do a better job of selling your app then you which is why using your own network is extremely important to get the word out.

If you work for a company send out internal announcements to your team announcing the launch, success stories and feature updates for your app. Ask them to download, rate and review your product.

Use your own social networks to post announcements and send links. Both personal (Facebook) and Professional (LinkedIn) networks will come in handy here. Now’s not the time to be shy with your accomplishments. Use your network to push the word out and ask your network to help share the announcement with their own networks.

Update your business materials with a call to action to download your app using a QR code and/or the direct download link. Use this in your email signature, on your business card, and letterhead. Showcase your app on your social networks. Mention it on your voicemail. A good rule of thumb is that anywhere you would traditionally plug your website you should now start to include marketing for your app.

 

Market at Conferences & Networking Events

As a representative of your app, a great way to increase your network and gain visibility for your product is through attending, sponsoring and speaking at conferences, industry and network events.

If you are speaking at or exhibiting at an event, arrange for a giveaway of your app to the participants. Use promo codes if you have them available. Or issue a one-day sale corresponding to the day of the event. Be sure to update your entire event collateral with a clear call to action to get your app.

Beyond gaining downloads, these events are a great way to grow your communities so come equipped with business cards providing your Facebook page, Twitter and LinkedIn details.

 

Submit Your App for Awards

Nothing gives credibility faster to an app then awards. But you don’t need to win the grand prize in order to see the benefits.

Getting nominated for awards from credible sources is as much a marketing opportunity as winning one. Of course the latter is a bigger story.

Whether you are nominated or have won an award, update your marketing collateral to reflect this achievement including your app product page and even release notes.

 

Talk Directly to Users in Forums

Being active within forums related to your app is a great way to seed word of mouth directly with users as well as to gain valuable insight in what your audience would expect from your product.

Become a valuable resource within these forums to further your credibility and sell your app. Ask and answer questions. Add to the conversation.

Avoid hard selling your app. Make the community aware of your app by including it in the signature of your posts. Choose your avatar as your app icon and your forum name your brand or app name.

When you choose to explicitly use forums for marketing keep your messages beneficial to the community and in context to the conversation. Often times Forums have topics started specific for this purpose. It’s a great idea to post your releases here, as often bloggers are members and will crawl these communities for future stories.

 

App Marketing 101 Series: Search Engine Marketing (Pillar 8)

Search Engine MarketingIn Part 8 of our 10 part app marketing 101 series, we look at a SEM or Search Engine Marketing to help improve the discovery of your application online. A large part of discovery for your app will happen as a result of search. Your goal as an app owner is to make sure that your application comes up in the search results when users are looking for it. But as this is everyone’s goal, you will also need to find ways to make sure that you are not only in the results but that your ranking is high enough for users to find you.

Search engine marketing (SEM) touches on many aspects of your marketing campaign from app description, to press release to configuration of paid ads. So making sure that you spend some time and effort thinking about search engine optimization (SEO) at the start of your marketing will maximize your campaign.

Finding and Selecting Keywords

When it comes to search nothing is more important than the keywords you choose to attach to your product marketing destinations. Keywords are extremely effective tools to ensure that when a user is looking for your app or a service/niche your app fulfills, you show up as a result.

1. Make Your Own List

The best place to start when identifying keywords is to make a list. Think like a user as they approach a search engine. What keywords would they use to get your app as a result? What keywords are you already starting to use in your marketing efforts? Your positioning statement and elevator pitch you mastered describing your app’s purpose and benefits are a great place to gain some valuable keywords.

2. Look To Your Competitors

Add to this list by looking to your competitors. View your competitions keywords by using the Page Source option in your browser. Do some searches within the search engines to see who comes up. Leverage those words that work for you to be sure that your product comes up amongst the rest. You will also want to identify opportunities where relevant keywords produce little competition as these terms have a larger chance of pushing you up the rankings for this result.

3. Ask Your Network

Ask your friends, coworkers or users to describe your app and what terms they would use to search for it. Getting an outside opinion from someone not as close to the product is an optimal way to figure out what actual users need when it comes to search.

4. Use Online Resources

Finally, using Keyword Tools like Google’s AdWord Keyword tool found here: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal is a must have resource to utilize when you are selecting your keywords. Use this tool to help choose and validate keywords. In using keyword tools like Google you will be able to learn upfront which keywords should result in the most searches and what the competition is for each. These factors are great ways to focus on

When selecting keywords, be as specific as possible. Avoid focusing solely on vague terms like “app”. Leverage terms that are unique to your product and product offering. Key industry terms are extremely useful as are any sub-brands that may be associated to your app. If you’re apps is a game, for example, use your character names as keywords. If your app is content-based, use your topics and authors.

Additionally, it’s inevitable that your list of keywords will be long. Make sure you understand what your top or priority keywords are versus the long tail terms. Consistently echo the top keywords in as many places as possible.

Keywords will grow as your product grows so don’t see this exercise as a one time deal. Whenever your product grows to add new features or your industry changes to include new terms, make sure that you update the metadata for your marketing pages, product descriptions and other sites.

Maintaining and grooming your keyword list will come in handy for future press releases and paid advertising like AdWords when the time comes for your next marketing campaign.

 

Where to Use Keywords

The answer is everywhere you can online.

You will definitely want to incorporate these keywords in the metadata of your web marketing site for your application. The most effective way to do this is:

  • Add your keywords to the metadata of each page
  • Include keywords in your title tags
  • Use your keywords in the content on your site
  • Leverage your keywords in the alt tags for your site’s images

But your site is not the only place you should be using your keywords. Consider anything that will be posted online as possible search results. If this is the case, then you will want to make sure that your keyword strategy is consistent in the following places:

  • Facebook posts
  • Tweets
  • App description within the App Store
  • Blog posts
  • Press Releases
  • YouTube video descriptions

 

Search Engine Optimization for Mobile

As app owners, the best place for a user to find your product is on their phone. This will increase the chance to download which is your main goal. As your product is mobile, it is definitely important to make sure that you optimize for mobile search.

The biggest step in mobile SEO is to make sure that you have a mobile optimized marketing page. A fully optimized mobile page will rank higher in the mobile search results than that of a desktop page so it is in your best interest to have this created when you are developing your online marketing presence. In addition, this page will be of better use to the users who click on it, as they won’t have to work (pinch, zoom etc.) to use it.

When building your mobile site make sure you consider site performance, rendering and speed. You will also want to leverage the keywords you are using on your desktop version but cater it for mobile.

Remember that search on mobile is on average much shorter than that on web so you will want to think about fewer and shorter keywords for mobile

You should also utilize Google’s Mobile Keyword Tool to see which desktop terms work and don’t work as well using this medium and perhaps what new keywords should be added.

 

SEO Takes Time So Plant Seeds Early

The key thing to remember for search engine marketing is that it takes time for the keywords to be crawled and used by the search engines.

Knowing this, make sure you give enough time to start to judge your results and make modifications. Also, you may wish to start your efforts early through a coming soon page both for desktop or mobile even before your product is released – including your priority keywords both in the metadata and visual text on these pages.

If you are in a hurry, you can try to speed things up by submitting your sites to the engines directly but there is no guarantee on the turn around for these requests.

 

App Marketing 101 Series: Contests & Promotions (Pillar 7)

Contests & PromotionsOne of the most effective short-term marketing tactics is the use of promotions or contests to spike activity for your product whether this be downloads, purchase or in-app usage. Attaching a sense of timeliness or urgency to any marketing campaign is a proven way to maximize your results.Whether the time of year provides you with an opportunity to promote your app or you choose to create a moment to put attention to your app through a contest – a valid reason to market your app. In this week’s app marketing 101 series article, we review the ins and outs of using promotions and contests to effectively market your application.

Leverage the Calendar Year

You only have to look as far as your calendar to find key marketing opportunities. Promoting your app around events that are relevant to your app niche or purpose is a great way to increase visibility in context to the right audience.

Some great event-based marketing opportunities are:

  • Holidays (Christmas, Valentines Day)
  • Seasonal Milestones (Back to School, Winter)
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Conferences
  • Industry Events
  • Company Anniversaries & Milestones

Promotions during this time can take many forms but all use the calendar event to form positioning for the market campaign. For mother’s day, as an example, you may run a paid media campaign focusing on why Mom’s use your app. Later on that year you might run a campaign focused on how this is a must-have app for students during Back to School.

Identify the event, find true relevance in it as it relates to your product and then run a promotion around it.

Some promotion ideas include:

  • Contests
  • Price changes and discounts
  • Giveaways
  • Advertising Campaigns
  • Press Release
  • Media & Blogger Outreach

 

Price Promotions

Discounting your price, or putting your app on “sale” is one of those ways to promote your app around an calendar event. But you don’t always need to tie it to a seasonal milestone.

Price promotions can take many forms. You can offer your audience a limited offer, free trials, discounts and markdowns or even a giveaway.

It is important that when entering a price promotion you have a plan with clear goals in mind and you have also analyzed the download and usage data and feedback from your users to see if this is the right thing for your app.

If your app is doing well with the pricing model you have established, it may not be the best time to alter the price. Pricing changes are best used when traffic is low and you are looking to increase new users.

Frequent price changes can signal a weakness or deficiency to your users and competition and can also start to train your audience to wait till there is a sale to purchase so be wary of how many times you go to make a pricing change.

 

Contests

There is a reason why contests are the first thing that comes to mind when you start thinking about putting together a promotion for your app. If done right, contests can create a flurry of traffic and downloads due to their time sensitive and often urgent nature.

When thinking about running a contest, make sure you have a specific goal in mind. Are you looking for downloads? Activity within the app? Viral sharing? Feedback?

Once you have your goal in mind, it’s time to be creative to come up with the contest model and prizing.

Keep these in mind when developing your contest:

  • Keep it simple
  • Get people engaged
  • Encourage sharing
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Make it fun and exciting
  • Keep it legal – know the rules and make sure your users do too

Ultimately a contest is only good if people know about it so make that part of the contest plan includes how to get the word out. Using a social network, like Facebook, to run a contest is effective in this way, as interactions with the contest will instantly become available in the participants wall featuring it to their friends.

 

Prizing

Prizing is a key element in any contest. You will need to gain prizing that is both enticing enough to make people participate while still keeping the prize relevant to your app to ensure that you are attracting the right users.

If your app is premium, always give away the app for free as a lower tier prize in the contest.

Beyond what the prize is, make sure you understand the legalities around giving it away. Be familiar with contesting regulations in the regions you wish the contest to run in.

App Marketing 101 Series: PR & Blogger Outreach (Pillar 6)

An important part of getting the word out for of application is the use of press. In this week’s App Marketing 101 article we look at how to write an effective press release and use PR and Blogger connections to maximize visibility of your app online.

Whether you take a formal route of writing and distributing a press release or informally reach out to your favorite blogs, the value of being featured online is both immediate and long term.

Short term, readers of blogs, news sites and traditional publications where your release was picked up will read your story. Longer term, however, those stories that were published online will be an important part of your search engine marketing, being available as results when users search for keywords related to your product.

 

Writing a Press Release

Before writing any press release, make sure you clearly understand what message you want to convey to your audience. Ask yourself:

  • What is the news?
  • Why is this important to my audience?

Launch announcements, success stories, use of new software features or technology or how your app may be advancing efforts in your industry are all great ideas for a press release.  But really, anything is release worthy as long as you clarify the benefit for users to read your story.

Press releases are best when kept short and to the point. Usually between 400-600 words is effective. It is also wise to organize your release into small paragraphs so readers can quickly and easily digest your story. Keeping your release shot will help you focus on only the most important information as well as have it all ready for republishing online especially as a blog post.

The two most important elements of your press release are your headline and your first paragraph.

Your headline needs to be catchy, descriptive and illustrate what the news is and why it’s a benefit to the audience. It should always include your app name.

If your headline provides the what and why, your first paragraph will focus on the who, where and when. Your first paragraph continues to flush out details related to your headline and should always include your call to action, which, most always will be to download your app.

Your press release should be written so that it provides all of the salient points of your story. For your app, you will want to make sure it’s clear:

  • What your app does?
  •  Why is this app needed?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What platforms is it available on? And where is it available?
  • What are the features of your application?

You will want to make sure that you have all the necessary elements in your release for bloggers and the media to use to create a story. This should also include a quote from yourself, a brand owner or C-Level executive that can easily be lifted to include in any story.

Lastly, be sure to include a valid and available contact at the end of your press release that can answer questions, provide more information or arrange for an interview.

Above all else, make sure your news is interesting, spelled correctly and is accurate.

 

Your Release & Search Engine Optimization

A significant benefit of your press release is that it will exist on the internet as a search result. This is why writing your release with keywords in mind is extremely important.

When it comes to optimizing your release for search, focus on your headline and your first paragraph (especially the first few lines of your press release).

Leverage keywords you have confirmed work through paid media campaigns and your website if they are available. Lean on available online tools like Google’s Keyword Tool to help identify what words provide the most results.

Using your keywords will take some creativity. You will want to make sure that these words aren’t just listed randomly. And especially do not want to risk

 

Distributing Your Press Release

The most effective way to distribute your press release is through the use of online PR sites.  They are especially useful if you don’t’ have connections with the press or have a press list created.

PR sites not only distribute your release to their network. They will also provide analytics and reporting which will illustrate the number of impressions your release has been read, the number of media deliveries as well as the number and names of publications that have picked your story up.

 

Bloggers & You

PR websites are great for distribution, but their networks often don’t focus on the independent blogger.

Gaining blog attention is critical when it comes to today’s press.  The intimate, independent and niched nature of blogs has made them an essential information online source for all audiences.

Identify blogs that are related to your app. Mobile blogs, technology blogs and blogs by platform are a great place to start before looking to industry and subject matter verticals.

Start building relationships with those bloggers by reading, commenting, following and liking their site.  The better your relationship with a blogger, the more likely they will pay attention to an email from you when you have some news to share.

When contacting bloggers with news, don’t just send them your press release. Do some of the work for them but providing a synopsis in your email focusing on the five W’s: who, what, why, when and where questions any story needs. Include screenshots, links to videos and your app store product page and most importantly, promo codes or actual binaries to test and try out your app.

Maintaining a list of bloggers that you have reached out and noting your success or interaction with them will come in handy for future stories you will want to run. Overtime, this will become your own press list you can you use for ongoing press for your app.

 

Prepare for Interviews

With the word out to the media and bloggers, you will need to be prepared for interviews. Interviews can come in many forms: over the phone, via webcam, in person or by email.

A great interview tip is to minimize the amount of talking you are doing and let the interviewer guide you through the process. Stick to answering the questions. Keep it simple and to the point.

Requests for interviews happen most often after your press release or outreach so make sure that you are accessible and are on top of your emails and answer unknown numbers on your phone.

 

Utilize Review Sites

Beyond blogs a great online resource for app discovery are app review sites.

Most app review destinations have a link on their site to submit your app. Don’t forget to include promo codes if your app is premium. Most often, your press release won’t come in handy for these types of sites, but the elements in your press release – app purpose, audience, benefits and features, will, so be sure to leverage this information when you submit your app.

Although most of these sites are free, many of them have started using an advertising model where you pay to be featured or reviewed on their site. Prices are usually less than paid media but do your research before paying for placement. You will want to know the traffic and the audience of the site before sending the funds.

 

App Marketing 101 Series: Paid Media (Pillar 5)

Welcome back to our weekly App Marketing 101 10-part series. In part 5, we tackle best practices in use of Paid Media to increase discovery of your app. Unlike some of the other marketing opportunities we have outline in our 101 series, advertising almost always requires funds to include in your marketing plan. That being said, paid advertising is both a great way to create discovery en masse and gain valuable insights on keywords and your demographic.

 

How to Create a Successful Ad

If you have some budget available, you can purchase ad space via the many ad networks that exist. Most are self-serve and are easy to access and utilize.

In order to maximize return on your investment for your ad purchase, most of your effort should go into creating your ad.

Before creating any ad, make sure you have a clear idea of your campaign objective. For the most part this will be to increase downloads for your app. Whatever the objective, make sure you keep your ad creative focused on achieving the copy you write to the image you select.

Keep your ads simple. There is not very much real estate to play around with for most of your ad opportunities, so you won’t want to clutter your ad with a lot of copy, busy backgrounds or too many images. Many ad networks cap the character limit image size forcing you to be extremely creative in how you get your message across.

Despite character and image restrictions, you will need to play around with copy and design to ensure that your ad grabs attention and is enticing enough to meet your objective. Images are the first thing that catches a users eye online and play a powerful role in the feeling and mood you are trying to convey with your message.

Mention your pricing or call out the promotion you are advertising in your ad. This is especially useful if your app is free or if a price change such as a giveaway or discount is in place for your product.

Above all else, include a strong call to action. If you are looking for downloads of your app, make sure you say, “Download this app”.  Be clear on what you are asking your audience. Ads are not the place to be vague, so don’t be afraid to be direct and ask for what you are looking for from this ad campaign.

 

Select the Ad Opportunities Best Suited for Your Audience

When it comes to advertising online, there are many opportunities to consider. Think about who your audience is and where they are more likely to find you to make your decision on where to spend your budget.

Paid Search: Search ad opportunities like Google’s AdWords allows you to purchase simple text or text & image ads. This is a great way to test out your SEO strategy and the results from these campaigns should always go back into making future search decisions.

  • Facebook Ads: These ads are best known for their social reach as interactions with the ad appear on the users wall causing a ripple effect with their network. Facebook ads also allow for extremely specific targeting based on the wealth of information it knows about its users.
  • Twitter:  Promoted tweets and followers as ad opportunities to consider with this social network.
  • YouTube: Paid promotion of your demo video or your channel connected acts similar to AdWords with the ability to choose keywords seeing YouTube is as much a powerful search engine as it is a social network.
  • Mobile Ad Networks: Since your product is mobile, it makes complete sense to advertise using this medium. Mobile ads see much higher click through rates (CTRs) but have the most limited space to express your message.
  • Incentivized app advertising: Although this area has been under some heavy scrutiny from some OEMs, purchasing ads which reward users with points within in-app game experiences for clicking or even downloading your app has proven to be quite successful for many app owners

 

Always Target Your Ads

Almost all ad networks will allow you to target your ads based on demographic. Always take advantage of this feature when trafficking your ad. This will, of course, mean that you will need a good idea of who your audience is for your app.

For ad opportunities, like Facebook, this will not only mean the basics like country, gender, age group and education level but also includes interests, martial status and workplace/occupation.

At launch, the choices you make for your demographic will most likely be based on stereotypes, commonsense and experience. But as your app matures in the marketplace and through the various marketing and ad campaigns your run you should be looking to the data available to you to refine your target.

 

Testing Ads is the Key To Ad Success

Testing your ads is an important tactic to ensure that you are maximizing your budget. Its extremely common to traffic one or two campaigns that have minor changes between the two to understand what works and doesn’t work. This method is called split-testing and should become a common practice to exercise when purchasing an ad campaign.

When split-testing ads you will want to keep on top of the metrics your ad provider has available for you in order to make decisions on what is working and what needs to change. Split-testing works by taking a single ad campaign and running multiple versions of that ad with minor changes. The easiest and usually the most effective change is through the ad image you decide to run with your message.

Before making any decision on the ads you are testing, let them run for a while. A couple of days is usually all you need to see what response you are getting from the ads you have running. Look at the click through rate (CTR) as the key metric for success with your ads. Compare this interaction between ads and keep those that work and kill those that are not maximizing your budget.

 

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