agile

It’s been a while since I’ve written much about agile marketing techniques. But this week I had a really fascinating conversation with Satish Jayakumar who got in touch to chat about using agile methodologies for marketing teams and a couple of interesting topics came up. In particular, we talked about how social media activity can fit into an agile marketing plan.

As a quick recap, agile, the project management methodologies adopted by many engineering teams to quickly iterate and deliver many small, value-add projects called stories while working towards an overall milestone. It’s valuable because of the ways it allows developers to test the value proposition of a milestone, deliver more features more often to the rest of the business and manage deadlines and expectations more effectively. I’ve written before about why this style of project management appealed to me as a marketer and how I’ve tried to apply it to marketing teams I’ve worked with.

It’s not hard to see how some marketing campaigns can be broken down into smaller, iterative, value-add steps. An example I always give is that of preparing to attend a conference where small stories might include researching the delegate list (adds value as this can be a list of leads for sales, iterative and a checkpoint as it’s a time to reevaluate the benefits of going to the conference); create marketing collateral to bring to the event (adds value as can be used by the sales team as sales collateral); or submit the founder as a speaker (adds value with promotion of the company, might help the team deprioritize the event if they can’t get on a panel). Here is an example of what this might look like in Pivotal Tracker:

agile-marketing-demo

But one question that often comes up is; how do marketers create stories for ongoing marketing activity such as social media? Keeping services like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterst, Google Plus, LinkedIn, etc up to date is a time consuming task and often underappreciated by others in the company. In fact, using an agile approach can not only cater to stories for social media activity, it can drive more value from social media activity overall and help other departments understand social media’s value.

The trick is in having clear milestones – often times these will be the same as marketing campaigns. In the example above, the milestone is “Attend Mobile World Congress” but it could easily be something like, “generate 500 leads from a new territory,” “increase brand awareness among moms by getting  10 placements in press and blogs” or “Increase usage of the new feature by 10%.” These milestones provide the framework for all of the stories in each sprint, and social media should be no exception.

Instead of having social media sit outside of ongoing marketing campaigns, marketers should be looking at how social media can directly enhance each campaign/milestone. In the sample Pivotal Tracker lists I’ve set up, there are the following stories:

socialstories

Now these are very basic examples, but it suddenly provides a framework for social media activity – it relates directly to a milestone and iterates on previous work (i.e. a delegate list is required before this is possible), provides value (increase Twitter followers, greater awareness of the company before attending, increased opportunities for meetings at the event) and allows for further iteration (people who connect should get a follow up to schedule a meeting at the event itself). It also tests the market. If the team is struggling to generate interest and conversations though social, and getting the sense that the conference audience isn’t right for partnerships or sales opportunities, it might be worth reconsidering how big a priority this event is.

The same concepts can apply for other milestones. Instead of having part of the marketing team focus on a campaign to, say, generate leads from a new territory, while the social media manager carries on with general account promotion and content, the visibility provides through agile project management allows the teams to work together – with the social media manager focusing content creation and follower acquisition solely in that new territory.

It’s basic stuff but quite powerful – instead of social being a stand-alone chore that has to be maintained week on week, social stories should fit under each milestone; providing a test market for campaign ideas and messaging, feeling out new sales leads, supporting a PR campaign, engaging experts or attracting followers that are being targeted by other marketing activity.

If you are trying to do agile marketing, and find yourself creating a story called “Do social media” and tagging it as a chore, take a closer look at your milestones and campaigns and make your social efforts part of the storyboard. Your social media team will feel more involved, drive greater value and other departments will instantly see how social media can contribute to the overall marketing efforts week on week.


As many PC users may have noticed, the Google Play Store has undergone a massive update to its layout and design. The old version of the Play Store did have its issues. Poor navigation, limited access to subcategories, difficulty in discovering free apps and over-reliance on editor’s choices (problems not dissimilar to other app stores, by the way) made it difficult to discover new and useful applications.

The old Google Play Store

The old Google Play Store

The new version however has been, well, less than well-received:

Here’s a glimpse of the new Google Play Store homepage layout:

 

The homepage itself actually seems to include a number of solutions to the problems that plagued the old Play Store.

A recommended section is forefront, rather than hidden away, helping users discover apps that are more relevant to their personal preferences and use cases. There are also a greater number of categories on the home page, rather than just editors picks and top downloads. Now, new groupings of apps, including Movie Apps, Communication, Personalisation and Apps to Watch. A greater number of apps now appear on the homepage increasing exposure for developers. There are fewer display characters for app titles, a change which may impact how some developers have named their apps, but overall the homepage looks like a step in the right direction.

Yet for all of the improvements in navigation and discover-ability, there is a hugely critical flaw with the new Play Store design – and that is the updated individual app page.

23snaps   Family Photo Book   Android Apps on Google Play

From my point of view as an app creator, here are a few of the problems:

– G+ recommendations no longer show at the top of the page. A few hundred ticks of social proof seem to have disappeared with the new G+ button at the top.

– New layout for screenshots is ungainly and unattractive, and developers with less than 6-7 screenshots will need to rethink that real estate.

– Additional information, which previously sat alongside the description and made it easy for users to see number of installs (social proof), device compatibility, rating and file size are now almost hidden at the very bottom of the page.

– Reviews are displayed in an ad-hoc, almost Pinterest-style next to the star rating. This alone isn’t a huge problem but one of the Play Store’s greatest features was that it allowed developers to respond to reviews on their app page, indicating both a solution for previous issues and an involved support team. These responses have now vanished unless you click on the reviews themselves. Likewise, the ability to rate reviews for their usefulness is hidden too.

Overall the new layout seems to provide less information in a larger amount of space while diminishing the importance of developer involvement.

Besides the new design changes, the rollout of these Google Play Store updates seems to have introduced quite a few bugs. While we can expect these will be dealt with swiftly, expect some issues if you decide to take a look at the new Play Store.

What are the takeaways for app creators?

There are a few important steps app creators should take right away.

1) Do a search for your app. In search results, has your app’s name been truncated by the new title length restrictions? You may need to update your app title.

2) Check your app screenshots. Do you have enough to make the page look nice? You may need to add some new screenshots to the page.

3) Check your app description. The new Play Store is currently experiencing a number bugs that are affecting font and style, particularly if you previously had any special characters in your app description. You may need to remove those characters (like stars or bullet points) to get the description to display correctly.

4) Get familiar with the new Play Store layout. This may be your app’s new home for quite a while, regardless of how you feel about the layout, so it’s worth taking a look!


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.

push-notifications

I am wary of push notifications, the popups that appear on your phone alerting you or reminding you about a particular app you’ve downloaded. When used ineffectively or to often, they are possibly the most annoying thing on my phone and a surefire way to get me to delete an app.

However when used well, they can engage uses, increase retention rate and introduce new features much more effectively than email marketing. Even better, when used correctly, people actually like them. We recently spoke to a large group of our most active users to learn what they like about 23snaps, what they don’t like and what they would add. On a number of these calls, I was surprised to hear our users specifically (and without prompting) say that they really liked receiving a notification reminding them to add a photo or update of their child, if they hadn’t for three days. Apparently this has been one of the key ways they remember to keep using an app they already love.

Another application that has recently started using push notifications in a new way is Temple Run 2. This insanely popular game has topped app store charts for months, so why are they changing what works? Well to get users like me, who have the app on their phone, enjoy it, but rarely remember to play, it to take another look. Their new notifications alert users to daily challenges and, more significantly, remind users who have been completing daily challenges regularly to log back in and complete that day’s task (as rewards for completing challenges accumulate if completed consecutively).

Notifications should be more than a simple reminder of the app’s existence. They should reference the core reason why users love your application. With 23snaps, we ask what a user’s kids have been up to lately, reminding them of the value they originally saw in building a living timeline for their kids. For Temple Run 2, their notifications say “You still have two hours left to complete today’s challenge,” combining a sense of time pressure and invoking the desire to get a high score that drives the active gamers.

If you aren’t able to build notifications into your app immediately, there are a number of third party tools that help you send push notifications, without coding it into the app itself (although they do require you to add an SDK). One of the best is Mixpanel. They also collects additional user data which can be used to segment, target and customize the push notifications you send.

My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: determine a key value of your app and the best time to remind someone about that value (is it after a few days of inactivity? When something changes in the app? When a new feature is available?) and set up ONE automatic push notifications to reengage your users.


Yesterday I spoke at the App Promotion Summit, the first event of its kind to bring together app developers, marketers, promotion agencies and networks to discuss how to effectively drive app downloads and engagement.

I was invited to give an overview of the app store landscape, covering the obvious (such as the App Store and Play Store) but also the less well-known (such as Opera Apps and Amazon App Store). I also provided some insight into how 23snaps got featured in the App, Play and Windows Stores, and how other apps could position themselves for featured placement opportunities.

Here are the slides from the talk, with video available shortly.


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.

getjar

While the vast majority of downloads for apps come via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, there are actually a number of other directories from which users can directly download apps. These alternative directories offer users incentives, like free or cheaper versions of apps that are usually paid, or a better browsing experience, making it easier to find apps that users will love.

We’ve had some moderate success submitting 23snaps to other app store. In almost all cases, submission is free although if you have a paid app, the store may take a cut of the sales. Here are some alternative app stores and directories where users can download your app directly:

Opera App Store – Opera (yes, the browser) is trying to get into the mobile space with their own app store that carries iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows 8 and HTML 5 apps. Opera claims to be generating over 2,000,000 downloads per day, mostly in emerging markets.

Amazon App Store – Amazon has a robust app store of apps that can be installed on their Android-run Kindles. A great way to get some additional distribution for your Android app.

GetJar –GetJar doesn’t have a web directory of apps but it is probably the largest third party app store. Their mobile app and page make it easy for users to find new Andorid apps. Unfortunately you can’t submit iOS apps to GetJar.

My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: submit your app to third party app stores – it takes just a few minutes, it’s free and it’s a great way to get some additional distribution.