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I’m thrilled with the response my Monday Mobile Marketing tips received last year, and with over six months of content, there’s quite a bit in there. But given I’ve covered a lot of the basics already, I’d like to branch out when it comes to blog and mobile industry topics. This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time, and is pretty much guaranteed to raise some strong alternative opinions.

I believe that, for a small, independent developer who wants to launch on a second platform after iOS, developing for Windows (8 or Phone) is a much easier process and better bet for the company in the short term than Android.

Let me break down this potentially heretical statement.

Windows, like iOS, lets you control what your customers see.

The fragmentation in the Android market has grown exponentially – from just under 4,000 different consumer Android devices in 2012 to almost 12,000 in 2013. That’s potentially 12,000 different screen sizes, types of screen hardware (did you know that your app’s colors render differently depending on how the screen is made), or types of skins manufacturers use to distinguish the device? Each variation could lead to a significantly altered appearance of your app. Some teams will test their Android apps on up to 4oo different devices to ensure that the experience is the same for all users.

Windows OS on the other hand, utilizes the structure in their slightly unique design paradigm (with the horizontal scrolling through menus and content types) to ensure the experience is consistent across devices. Added to that, the consistency in manufacturing will mean, for the most part, there will be no distortion of colors and layouts. A Windows 8 laptop and a Surface Pro user are both going to have identical experiences on their Windows 8 app.

So the question for small independent developers becomes: would you like to design once and ensure your users see what you intent, or design once and test on over 400 devices making constant tweaks to your APK for each device supported?

Windows hardware will operate consistently across devices.

Let me reiterate: your users can choose from almost 12,000 different Android devices. If you think visual appearance is your biggest problem, think again.

Each Android device can bring with it slight (or dramatic) variations in how the operating system and the hardware interact. The operating system of the Galaxy S-series, one of the most popular phones on the market, has their own, non-standard methods of interacting with the video recording hardware. This means that you need to modify your APK for Galaxy S-series users otherwise any functionality you have in your Android app that accesses video recording could fail.

Video not a big deal? What about the Nexus 7, the most popular Android tablet, which has custom operating methods to interact with the camera hardware as the tablet has no back-facing camera?

Unlike the cosmetic problems that can be more of an annoyance, these hardware and OS inconsistencies can cause loss of core functionality, or cause your app to fail all together.

Windows, like iOS, is for now an operating system only available through certain manufacturers who keep the OS and hardware interactions consistent. When you develop for Windows, you know that the functionality you provide users will work no matter which Windows Phone or 8 device they are using.

With a need for more developers, Windows can help promote your App.

It’s no secret that Windows has been working hard to get more developers to create content for the Windows App Store (even going so far as to bribe developers with cash). The Google Play store, on the other hand, rivals Apple in terms of sheer volume of Apps available.

This can work in your favor. The Windows team is eager to support its fledgling developer community in a number of ways. We’ve found the team to be highly engaged with our app – to a degree we could never expect from Apple or Google – which has led to numerous opportunities for promotion and growth.

Better to be a first mover and on good terms with the Windows App Store process and team than to miss out on the opportunity to build early support for your Windows app.

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Windows OS on mobile devices is gaining traction in the market.

Depending on what you read, the Windows Phone is on it’s way up… or on it’s way out. Despite the mixed market signals, there are a number of signs mobile developers should take a chance on the Windows operating system.

2012 was Windows Phone’s strongest year yet, and while 2013 didn’t quite live up to expectations overall, their Q3 reports had tech journalists praising the affordable phone as the fastest growing phone operating system in the market (yes, beating iOS and Android).  Also, by the end of 2013, analysts were becoming positively impressed by the Surface and Surface Pro tablets’ market growth.

Regardless of how fast you think the Windows mobile OS market is growing in the future, it’s suggested that there are over 125 million Windows 8 users globally (that’s bigger than Apple’s OS X entire user base by almost 2x by the way) – a market that any independent developer shouldn’t sneeze at, particularly if there is much less competition to access it.

Ok… there are some downsides.

Of course, when it comes to developing for a new platform, whether you’re choosing Android, Windows or web, there are always downsides to each. While I believe that Windows is a much better bet for independent developers that Android, there are some downsides compared to the Google OS.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly to most developers, the design paradigm is radically different. While Android encourages a customized look and feel to sit in line with Android design best practices, in reality many developers simply create a carbon copy of their app’s design when moving from iOS to Android. That won’t cut it with Windows which has a series of very specific design requirements. While some of these can provide interesting new ways to showcase app content, others are simply annoying and require a rethink of many aspects of your app. The danger of ignoring these design paradigms is that you aren’t selected for any of the developer support efforts run by Windows and are shunted to a lesser section of the Windows App store.

Secondly, finding development resources for Windows OS is much harder than it is for Android. There are many fewer Windows 8 developers available for hire, although there are a number of freelance resources.

Thirdly, Windows 8 for Surface and laptops, and Windows Phone 8 do not actually have overlapping app stores, nor are apps developed for one immediately compatible for the other. If you are committed to the Windows 8 platform, you may find you need to develop both versions to be successful in either market.

Finally, there’s the elephant in the room – market share and growth. For all of Window’s pretty numbers and improvements in the last two years, Android is still globally the operating system with the most users. If your existing users are clambering for a way to connect with their friends on other systems it’s most likely a request for an Android app. Windows just doesn’t have the reach yet to compete with Android.

Overall, however, for equal time, money and effort, I feel that Windows is a better opportunity for small independent developers looking for their second platform after iOS.

Have you launched an app on iOS first? What are you choosing as a second platform? Why?

Header image credit: Animoca


Every Monday, I write about something new you can try this week to drive more downloads for your mobile app and increase engagement with your existing app users, based on what has worked (and what hasn’t) for 23snaps.

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Last week I gave a lecture at The Mobile Academy about app promotion and marketing. It was a crash course in getting your first downloads and while much of the content I’ve covered here; one new piece that I addressed during my talk was getting tech press for your app. There has been a ton written by people much more knowledgeable than I about bootstrapping PR, getting press and connecting with journalists so I’m just going to cover a couple of elements that I found particularly relevant for independent app developers when it comes to getting tech press.

1. Be a company, not an app

It’s very rare to see press about a new app launching. You see coverage of new companies trying to solve a problem. If their solution happens to involve an app, then that’s addressed but an independent app developer creating a new game isn’t news. Describe yourself as more than an app – figure out how to position yourself as a company.

2. Do something different

Kind of a no-brainer but if you are making an Angry Birds clone called Miffed Mice or something, you’re not going to attract much attention. What are you doing that’s a bit different or unique? Do you solve a problem that exists in other services? Figure out how you stand out from the crowd.

3. Share statistics

If you’re willing to share real, legitimate statistics from your company’s growth and usage then you give journalists more context.  Take a look at popular stories on TechCrunch or The Next Web – most will have some sort of statistics from the companies mentioned. Numbers not only validate stories but help other companies and readers understand the ecosystem and benchmark themselves which is one of the reasons stats make popular reading.

4. Target the right journalist

Usually rule number one of bootstrapped PR – make sure you’re talking to the right person. If your emailing a journalist who only covers hardware about your app, you’re just cluttering up their inbox and you certainly won’t get a response. Get familiar with the journalists who cover your beat and write them personalized pitches when you have something relevant to share.

5. Define your audience

Another ‘duh’ concept but it’s very easy for journalists (and readers) to be skeptical of apps and businesses that claim to solve a problem for everyone in the world, or a new network that “everyone” will want to join. Niche is the current buzzword and it’s because it’s a much more interesting and believable story when a company recognizes a problem that affects a specific group and then goes about solving it. Who are you solving a problem for ? Who are you creating content and entertainment for? If you answer is everyone, then you’d better have some pretty impressive stats to back up that claim.

6. Pick a fight

While you should avoid actually throwing punches, sometimes some healthy competition can help garner some publicity. Whether you place yourself at odds with a bigger company or app in your space (such as a Facebook, Instagram, Candy Crush or similar), play off of another company’s misfortune or mistake to highlight your own offering (such as the news highlighting Amazon’s poor staff conditions or Google not paying UK taxes), or do (or provide) something slightly controversial (such as Snapchat being associated with sexting), any conflict can help you grab headlines.

This week, make sure you’ve set up your company to address the six points above to generate tech press for your app.


Every Monday, I write about something new you can try this week to drive more downloads for your mobile app and increase engagement with your existing app users, based on what has worked (and what hasn’t) for 23snaps.

When trying to gain new users for your app, little is as powerful as word of mouth recommendations. While it’s fantastic when these come from your users, it can be even more useful when they come from a trusted press source. But how do you capture the attention of busy journalists who are inundated with dozens of requests each day from independent developers looking for some coverage of their app?

One way is to provide them with the ability to truly visualize your app and the problems it solves (or fun it provides) without forcing them to take the time to download it and give it a go themselves; or worse make a guess at what your app does and looks like from a few lines in an email. You can do this by making a compelling demo video.

But a demo video is more than just a bit of collateral to add to a press release (although that is a serious benefit). It’s also a way to educate your potential users. More and more app stores allow you to include videos along with app screenshots – the Google Play Store puts video front and center – it’s the most prominent preview on the page – and the Amazon App Store allows developers to include up to five different videos for a single app. App stores recognize that videos can help drive downloads from their end users – so don’t miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of this important app store real estate.

Finally, a video can help sell your app and the brand or people behind it. A demo video can be more than just a demo of your product, it can tell the story of why you created your app, making your team or product more relatable or appealing to your core audience.

We’ve just launched our first video for 23snaps and so far the results have been incredibly positive. It’s helped us reach out to more journalists, is tracking plays from the app stores where it’s been embedded, indicating that potential users are engaging with our content and we feel it does more than just walk users through the app but is a slightly cheeky way to show the problems we solve in an aspirational way.

Here are a couple of lessons I learned creating our video:

– If you’re making a demo video, don’t forget the demo.

It’s important to get the culture and feeling of your brand and app into the video so it stands out from the dozens of basic demos out there – but don’t forget to actually show off the app. While a bigger brand can spend more time telling the story than showing off the product, at the end of the day, you want people to understand what you do and how you do it.

– Stand out from the crowd.

There are thousands of app demo videos, some better than others. The ones that stand out are the ones that do something a little different, that tell a story or that are visually interesting. A quick scan of the other demo videos out there show thousands of fingers poised over thousands of smartphones. What can you do that still showcases your app but does it in a different way?

– Be relatable.

A disembodied finger is hard to relate to. So how can you get a real person, user case or problem in your video, to help users understand who your app is for and why?

– Tell a story.

The phrase ‘content is king’ has become such a cliche in digital marketing I’m loathe to use it, but it’s more appropriate here than ever. Think about the adverts that you’ve related to recently – whether it’s the Spock vs Spock Audi commercial or the John Lewis Christmas advert  – many have a sense of narrative. What can you do that wants to make your viewers watch until the end?

Have you created a demo video for your app, or do you have some favorites? Share in the comments!


Every Monday, I write about something new you can try this week to drive more downloads for your mobile app and increase engagement with your existing app users, based on what has worked (and what hasn’t) for 23snaps.

page_performance

You might know how much you pay per install, but do you know how much you pay per user that registers, or completes an in-app purchase? Do you know exactly how much you pay for those users per campaign?

I’ve written before about how you can use Google AdWords to place adverts within other mobile applications, and even target ads to specific apps. And with the Google AdWords SDK, it was pretty easy to see which ads were driving app installs. However recent updates to Google Analytics for Mobile combined with Google AdWords now allows developers a killer combo – using events and goals tracked within Google Analytics for Mobile as their conversion goal in AdWords. In otherwords, you can track your conversions in AdWords through to a specific event in your app like a registration or an in-app purchase.

This is a huge deal, and something that allows Google to steal a march on Facebook’s mobile ad platform. While some preferred Facebook developers (of which there are only about a dozen) have built tools and their own SDKs to link campaign management on Facebook to app KPIs, this still needs to be managed by a third party (and one that often times will charge many thousands of dollars for a “test” campaign). With Google, you can now self-manage a small campaign to see EXACTLY how much you have to pay to acquire a user that achieves your app KPIs, plus with enough conversions, you can start to take advantage of Google’s automated algorithms that optimize for conversions, meaning that Google will automatically target your campaigns at an audience more likely to convert to a registration, in-app purchase, or other KPI.

This requires a couple of different steps, but once you have all of the different pieces set up, you will be able to see exactly how much you are paying in AdWords for an event-related conversion in your app – something that isn’t possible yet with Facebook’s mobile ads. Here’s how to get set up.

1. Set up Google Analytics for Mobile

You will need to download the SDK that gives Google Analytics access to your application. While you may be familiar with Google Analytics for websites, the mobile version is quite different, although the sentiment – in depth, free tracking for your property – remains the same.

2. Create some basic event tracking in Google Analytics so you can set up goals

If you are not the developer of the app, this will need to be implemented by your development team. The Google Analytics for Mobile documentation is quite good (and available here) and outlines how to track events. Make sure you are tracking events for KPIs relevant to your app (such as registration, in app purchase, plays a game, invites a friend, etc). It’s most effective to optimise for just one KPI but you can track as many as you’d like in Google Analytics.

3. Create a goal for your KPI

Once you have Google Analytics for mobile tracking your app and app events, go to your Analytics admin section and create a goal for the KPI you want to optimise for.

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4. Link Google Analytics and Google Play

You will want to complete the loop between AdWords, Google Play (and the download) and Google Analytics. Follow the instructions here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2956981 to link Google Play and Google Analytics. As an added bonus, this will start to show you more of the referral sources that are driving traffic to your Google Play page.

*You can follow these same instructions (and skip this step) for iOS apps as well.

5. Import your goals to Google AdWords

Now log into Google AdWords and in the Tools section, under Conversions, you can choose the option to import goals from Google Analytics.

link-adwords-goals

If you haven’t ever connected your Analytics and AdWords account before, you will be prompted to a this point. Then you will be presented with a list of your Google Analytics goals, and can select the ones you want to track as conversions in AdWords. As I mentioned in earlier, it’s best to optimize for one conversion at a time and stop tracking conversions for installs. AdWords does not differentiate for different types of conversions within a campaign which means if you are tracking an event and installs, you will be double counting conversions for some of your acquisitions. For the right KPI, installs shouldn’t matter anyway – you just want to know how much you are paying for the real thing.

6. Create (or watch) your AdWords campaigns

You’re done setting up tracking, now you just need to start monitoring the results. If you haven’t created a Google Analytics campaign to promote your app, you can create one now, otherwise your existing campaigns will start tracking and reacting to your new conversions within 24 hours.

Keep an eye on your Cost per Conversion metric – it will likely jump up quite a bit over your previous cost per install but it’s a much more realistic way to understand how much you are paying for your active users.

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I haven’t come across any other self-managed ways to see automatically on a campaign level how much it costs to acquire users that achieve KPIs. Have you found any other way to track the cost of acquiring your most valuable users?


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PandoDaily has recently started a series on “Anti-Social Networks;” that is, the online networks that don’t really fit the mold of the big social networks that currently dominate the landscape. Sarah Lacy writes:

“An anti-social network isn’t as simple as being a mere Facebook alternative, or a niche social network. Those have both been tried in spades, and have failed along the way, even when Facebook was weaker…. When it comes to  building a consumer Web company around human relationships, the smartest entrepreneurs aren’t thinking niche. They are thinking orthogonal. There’s a difference. Look at the core things Facebook does well: photos, connecting you with everyone you know, providing a permanent record, and real identity. These are the exact four things that have made Facebook a powerful company with users and advertisers; these are the four things it can’t betray and hope to succeed.” (Sarah Lacy, Screw virality! Antisocial networks are on the rise, PandoDaily)

PandoDaily has explored some interesting examples (like SnapChat and Nextdoor) of services that offer alternatives to Facebook’s way of approaching photos, connecting with everyone and a permanent record, but have yet to explore the ways some networks are approaching alternatives to your real identity.

Facebook’s focus on a real identity and building a permanent personal record means that there are opportunities for online communities where the individual user themself is not the focus, but instead the community revolves around the content they create.

A few examples of this type of network include our company, 23snaps, where small groups of users (such as parents and grandparents) create and manage a profile and photo timeline on behalf of their child; communities like TripAdvisor where the interaction centers around a travel destination or venue; or networks like Fanfiction.net or DeviantArt where the focus is creative works.

In all of these cases, the primary focus is not the user participating in the community, nor individual relationships between the participants. While users may have a personal profile; engagement, interaction and discussion pivots around the content they’ve created.

This is especially powerful for subjects that cannot manage a profile for themselves. For 23snaps, parents maintain a profile for an infant or young child without the issues that would arise from actually creating a Facebook profile for a baby. A similar network could potentially exist for pet owners, or a classroom. For TripAdvisor, a community maintains a profile for a city or region.

While Facebook Fan Pages attempt to bridge the gap between an individual profile and a third party entity, the focus is too heavily weighted towards a personal timeline where the individual controls their own identity. Communities that jointly manage and interact with subjects that cannot manage their own online identity, or with creative content will always have opportunities for growth that won’t be infringed by Facebook.

“Anti-social networking” may be the wrong term for networks that deviate from Facebook’s core way of thinking but the successful networking services that do so are intriguing examples of both new revenue and networking models and what consumers are looking for.