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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.


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.


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!

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!

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.


The Holy Grail for mobile app marketers always seems to be a featured place in the Apple App Store. 23snaps has been lucky enough to be featured a number of times, and while we’ve seen fantastic boosts in downloads, featured apps don’t always gain long term active users from their featured placement. This is because so many people browsing the App Store for new apps will give a featured app a go, especially if it’s free, just to see what it is even if they’re not particularly interested in it.

There are, however, parts of the App Store that offer great promotional opportunities as well as a targeted audience – and those are the hugely underrated App Collections.

Apple introduced App Collections a little over a year ago to help counter the argument that the App Store was frustratingly hard to navigate. They have a number of collections that are more specific than the high level categories including Apps for Music, Apps for Heathcare Professionals, Apps for Kids and many more.

When I first started at 23snaps, I wanted more than anything to get 23snaps into the Apps for Parents Collection. This would offer us ongoing promotion in the App Store but to a targeted audience, exposing us to a group of people who would actually use and love the app.

Apple staff get hundreds of emails begging for featured placement but I took a guess that they get fewer requests for inclusion in a particular collection (you can contact an App Store representative through the Help and Support section of the iTunes Developer dashboard).

Before I reached out to Apple directly, I spent some time researching the other apps in the collection – what purpose did they serve? How many reviews and ratings did they have? What did they look like? I wanted to be able to clearly articulate why 23snaps belonged in the collection, both because it was relevant for the group and because it would complement the existing apps in the collection.

Since our inclusion in the Apps for Parents collection, we haven’t necessarily seen the same boost we experienced while featured on the homepage of the App Store, but we have seen a steady stream of downloads of, most importantly, engaged users.


My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: explore the App Store Collections and see if any are a good fit for your app. Research the other apps in that collection and make a compelling case for why your app should be included. Contact an App Store representative through the iTunes Developer dashboard and you never know – you might see your app featured in an App Store Collection.