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.
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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!