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.

competitor-apps

In marketing, it’s always worthwhile knowing what your competitors are up to. Their messaging and ads may inspire, or provide fodder, for yours. Their new channels may prove or disprove an audience. Of course you don’t want to be playing catch up or entering the market late but it’s unlikely you’ll always make the same choices as your competition when it comes to marketing and knowing what they’re up to can be powerful.

You might think that studying the competitor’s app is a job for the product, rather than the marketing team. For the same reasons it’s important to pay attention to your competitor’s marketing strategy, their product strategy can influence and caution yours as well. But there are a number of important reasons why marketers should be fully aware of competitor’s apps, and use them regularly. Here are my three top reasons for downloading and using my competition’s apps:

1. In-app user acquisition

Word of mouth is one of the most important drivers of app downloads. If you think the marketing stops when someone starts using the app, you’re wrong. Inside the application are often clever tricks, features and text to drive the user to invite their friends and share the app or its content with others. Monitoring your competitors, and how they encourage viral sharing of their app, can give you ideas or, in some cases, show you what you really shouldn’t be doing (*cough*Path*cough*).

2. Onboarding / Sign up copy

Just like marketing isn’t finished when a customer starts using the app, as there are plenty of opportunities to turn that user into many; marketing isn’t finished when someone downloads the app. If you require a registration, or if someone never plays your game, it’s as if they never existed in your userbase. How do your competitors convince downloaders to become engaged users? While you never want to directly take their copy, understanding what language they use, where copy is placed and the imagery included can give you some ideas for your own app.

3. What’s New Messages

One the most underrated places to communicate with customers is through the What’s New messages in both the App Store and the Play Store. More and more apps are getting quite creative with their What’s New text – including little asides to their loyal users as well as simple feature updates. If you’re not making full use of this space and your competitors are, you’re missing a trick. Do you competitors do a good job of encouraging their loyal users to upgrade the app? Does their What’s New text work harder than a simple feature list? If not, is this a place where you could overtake them?

competitor-updates

My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: Download your competitor’s apps. Yes, all of them. Even if you don’t use them all, you’ll get to see their ‘What’s New’ text. Now use them. Maybe not all of them – but at least those of your main competition. Look in particular at the messaging that takes a new download to a registered/engaged user, and the messaging that helps users share the app or app content.


A few weeks ago, at the App Promotion Summit, I was interviewed by George Osborn of MagicSolver for The App Show on Star Radio. The show aired on 30 July and here is my clip from the show where I speak about how developers can go about getting their apps featured in the App Store.

listenButton

You can listen to the full show, or subscribe to The App Show here.


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 for me (and what hasn’t).

iphone-app-icons

Arguably one of the most important elements of your entire app is the icon. You may have a brilliant application, but if no one bothers downloading it because the icon is unattractive or misleading, it doesn’t matter. On the flip side, a brilliant icon can make the difference between an app that gets passed over in the App Store or one that gets downloaded purely because it looks interesting.

Creating a great icon isn’t easy, but even when you have a number of designs on the table, it’s hard to tell which one will be the best for your audience. And with the App Store approval process taking seven days or more, it’s hard to quickly test different variations (or change your icon if you think things aren’t going well). You also don’t want to change your app icon too often if you can help it as it’s the primary branding material that customers use to recognize your app.

However there is a way to test a variety of icons without actually uploading them to the App Store, and that is to run a small ad campaign where all of your creative elements are identical except for the icon. For a small cost, this will allow you to quickly determine which version generates the most clicks (and therefore is likely to perform best in the App Store).

You can run these ads through AdWords, Facebook, or another platform of your choosing but with a small budget and in a short amount of time, you have a much better idea of which icon will work for your app and audience.

My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: Create an ad campaign on Facebook or Google AdWords to test different variations of your app icon. Is your current icon performing as well as other variations? Use this campaign to decide on the most effective icon before releasing it into the App Store.


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.

20130622-063142.jpg20130622-063029.jpg

This one isn’t strictly marketing but getting this wrong can seriously impair your user acquisition efforts. Regardless of whether you consider yourself in beta, midway through your product roadmap or done with the final version of your app, your app had better work as expected on any device for which it’s available.

Both in the early days when you’re first promoting your app, and later when you’re more established, the number one deterrent that will keep people from downloading is a ton of bad reviews. Reviews are the only things besides your app description and images at the point of download to help potential users make a decision. If your brand new app has a bunch of one or two star reviews, all of your promotion efforts will be completely undermined by what people see when they get to your page in the App Store or Play Store.

What I’ve noticed is that people very rarely leave one or two star reviews for not having a feature they want or how an app looks. Usually these types of comments will appear in three and four star reviews of people who are generally happy with the app and idea and want to see more added going forward. In most cases, one and two star reviews, the ones that keep other people from downloading come from performance issues. This can include crashing, broken screens or links, and features that don’t work.

There are three primary ways to ensure your app is Store-ready before you submit and promote.

First, you can test in-house or yourself. You shouldn’t simply be testing your app on a virtual environment – set up an account on TestFlight so you can install a test version of your app on multiple devices. When testing your app, you shouldn’t simply be looking at whether or not the app works as expected (although that is critical) – you should also be thinking about load times, how the app performs on 3G vs 4G vs Wifi, how the app performs on a slow network, or how it works on older devices like iPhone 3S. When testing for Android, there are literally thousands of devices that have almost as many variations. Does your app use the camera functionality? The Nexus 7 doesn’t have a back-facing camera – how does your app perform without one? Use video? The Samsung Galaxy records such high quality video by default that a 3 second video can be more than 10mb – how does that affect upload time and app performance? Every time we release a new version of the app, we test extensively in-house; easily spending a week or more in staff hours going through each screen and feature.

If you want to keep the process in-house but don’t currently have the expertise or time to test properly (here’s a tip – if you tried doing testing and quality assurance yourself and still got a bunch of bad reviews, this is you) then consider hiring a freelancer or a full time QA specialist. The benefit is that you have an expert who also gets the chance to know your app quite well, a major plus to make testing faster and more effective.

Finally, you can hire an agency which specialises in testing apps, of which there are many. This may be cost prohibitive for small startups or individual developers, but might be worth it particularly if you’re just starting to develop for Android, as an agency has the resources to test across dozens of the most popular devices.

My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: Test, test, test before you launch or update your app. Perfect your product with either in-house or agency support because there’s not a lot of point in doing tons of marketing to send someone to an App Store listing full of one star reviews.


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 for me (and what hasn’t). This one actually applies to any number of small businesses but is based on a lesson learned for marketing our app.

Image 2013-07-13 at 6.40.12 PM

Not all of our our marketing and app promotion efforts have been successful (by a long shot!) and one of the channels that didn’t work out, for a slightly unusual reason, was Twitter ads.

Twitter was a very attractive channel in my opinion. It offered a huge amount of targeting; Twitter has their own subcategories that include interests that range from home education to men’s accessories to comedy films, and you can select Twitter users in order to target users who are followers, or similar to followers, of that particular account. Additionally, I had seen a number of apps advertising on the platform. Most active was YPlan, an app that helped users discover great events going on that day but Twitter’s advertising team had provided a case study suggesting Hailo, the taxi hailing app, had achieved great success advertising on the platform as well.

There’s a significant barrier to entry for many small companies before even considering the pros and cons of the platform itself – and that’s the required advertising spend commitment. This makes sense from Twitter’s point of view – Twitter’s ad platform is very new. They want advertisers who are committed to buying large volumes of ads and spending a great deal of time learning and using the ad platform as Twitter learns from those early advertisers. Unfortunately, this also prevents smaller companies from getting started (the initial spend commitment in the UK is in the tens of thousands of pounds although this can change very quickly as Twitter opens the platform to more advertisers).

But, the amount of money is less relevant than the success of the platform in driving downloads so we decided to give it a try. Initially I was incredibly impressed by the targeting options (as expected) and the response rate. Twitter measures ad success on what they call engagement rate. Successful engagement can include a retweet, a click or a follow and most advertisers can expect anywhere between a 1-3% engagement rate while some advertisers can see up to 20+%. Of course we were also tracking app downloads that resulted from a click but the click to download rate was close to 10%, a pretty strong metric comparable to Facebook. Costwise, CPA was slightly higher than other channels but there was a lot of room for optimization. The volumes of downloads we were driving were quite small but overall it looked promising.

However there was a problem that ultimately made Twitter a channel we had to write off, and it’s probably not what you’d expect.

It was way. Too. Slow.

Scheduling a week’s worth of ads could easily take half a day or more. Each campaign change took 10-30+ seconds to load. This may not sound like a lot but imagine trying to target 100 Twitter users’ followers and this kind of delay after entering each user name. Additionally, because there was no way (when we started) to choose which hours you wanted to run your ads within a long running campaign, I needed to create an individual campaign that started at 5pm and ended at 11pm for every day of the week, in order to reach users while they were at home on their wifi and more likely to download an app that they saw advertised.

A small startup has limited staff resources and numerous demands on its staff’s time. I put a great deal of effort into learning about and building campaigns on the Twitter platform and was not unhappy with the performance. But for the number of downloads I was generating through the platform compared to the time it was taking to create the campaigns, it made no sense to renew the purchase order and continue using the platform. It was even more frustrating to spend 80% of my day waiting for a page to reload while trying to get our campaigns set up, when I knew how many other critical projects I wasn’t working on. This might have been a justifiable use of time had Twitter been driving large volumes of leads and signups but for all this effort, we were only able to see a boost of a few hundred sign ups per week.

twitter

For larger companies that have lots of resource to dedicate to running Twitter ads, it’s not a bad platform. But for a mobile startup with a small team, until Twitter makes some major updates to their ad platform, it is a time sink that might pay off from a money perspective, but not from a time one.

My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: worried about whether or not you should be using Twitter ads? Don’t stress. You can use it when you’re bigger or if you want to hire someone to manage them pretty much full time.

Have a different opinion about Twitter ads? Let me know in the comments!