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6 key mobile advertising insights for app developers

When it comes to app marketing Mobile advertising is a minefield. You have multiple networks, multiple methods of advertising (CPA, CPI, CPC) and an enormous mountain of cost. We get asked a LOT about mobile advertising here at appromoter so we thought that we would give you our thoughts on what does and does not work for mobile advertising as well as an outline as to what you should be considering.

Define what a customer actually is ? 

Might sound obvious but on mobile, you need to really understand who your customer is. Ultimately someone who spends money to buy your app or spends money on in app purchases is a ‘customer’, versus someone who downloads your app and never uses it. You also need to understand where being a customer starts and ends. Many networks will offer you two ways of paying them for acquiring a customer. One way is CPD or ‘Cost Per Download’. This means that once your app has been downloaded you then pay up. We prefer CPI or ‘Cost Per Install’ because at least the app has been successfully installed. In an ideal world there would be an even better measurement such as  ’cost per engagement’ or ‘cost per transaction’ so you pay when someone has actually interacted with your app or bought something in it. Ultimately, you need to be clear on your business objectives and what you want to achieve. What you really want is an engaged customer, one who keeps using your app and spending money (this is assuming that you have in app purchases).

Understand your users 

There is little value in paying a sum to acquire a customer and then not getting your revenue back on them. If you want to know how many of your customers are engaged or why they are downloading our app and then not doing much more or are dropping out then  you’ll need to put analytics in your app. By far the best solution is Flurry’s free analytics. However, you’ll need to really need to invest time in getting the most out of Flurry and understanding what it can do for you. It’s an incredibly powerful tool but you need to get the best out of it.

Premium versus Freemium 

Most of the time, there is a fixed cost that you will need to be allocated for acquiring a customer. This is called the CPA (Cost per Acquisition) and is essentially saying how much you can afford to spend to make someone a ‘customer’.  Often, this is based on actual or projected lifetime revenue of the customer or ARPU (Average revenue per user). It is really just a margin call like any business would make. If you have an app that you know can generate $15 per customer per year, then spending $3 to acquire a customer is going to work out for you. The main point here is that ARPU really comes from freemium apps with in-app purchases and tends not to work with premium apps. Premium apps have two disadvantages. Firstly, it is extremely hard to convert a customer in an ad with a premium app. Sure, you can get them in on a free trial for an enterprise app or a game demo, but then you need to upsell them to spending $5 which is hard. Once you spend money to acquire a customer and then have to net out your revenues based upon rev share to Apple or Google and other costs then you likely have little or no profit and could even make a loss. Freemium apps are much easier to get people to download and you can work out the ARPU based on an average of very heavy spending customers right down to those that spend very little. The bottom line is that one-off payment/premium apps don’t really work for mobile advertising.

Work with Experts 

Because Mobile advertising is a minefield then you should be working with someone who will offer you impartial advice. If you work with a dedicated planning and buying agency like M&C Saatchi Mobile then they will give you impartial advice on which networks will work best for your particular app and what you should be doing. Many agencies will also have global offices which is really important so that they can understand the nuances of local flavour. Running a campaign in Brazil from the US without someone local would potentially be a waste of money and this is is the value that a global agency can bring you. Typically, a media planning and buying agency would not be charging you a fee on top of what you spend in advertising. Instead, agencies tend to work by getting the costs per install or per click at a percentage beneath what you would pay direct and so they simply charge you what you would normally pay and their margin is factored in – a bit like a wholesaler. We would typically advise against engaging direct with a single network or supplier as a media planner or buyer will have the best view.

The dark side of ‘incentivised downloads’

There are well known companies out there who will offer rewards such as virtual currency to users in other apps in return for them installing your app. Whilst this sounds good in theory, in practice there are some very big downsides to this. Firstly, Apple is cracking down on incentivised installs. It is a practice that is widely disliked by many in the industry and will be almost certainly be abolished. Secondly, you  need to acquire the right kind of customer. Some networks use a blind ‘offer wall’ in apps and they have no clue who they are pushing your app to. This may mean that your dress up dolly app is being pushed to loads of hardcore male gamers playing an RPG. So, they see an offer to get some in-game currency, download your app and then claim the reward and never use it. Targeting the wrong customer will also mean that they feel let down or disappointed so you may inadvertently attract lots of bad reviews because of a demographic misfit. Lastly, we see tell-tale signs of low quality apps rocketing up the charts and getting terrible reviews. So, a developer with a not so good app will artificially inflate its position to get up the charts, only to then cultivate a lot of one and two star reviews which will kill the app and send it plummeting back down the charts. Whilst incentivised downloads are being killed off, offer-walls that simply show relevant apps can work well. Someone like Flurry, uses the massive data in the huge amount of apps they track to only serve you relevant apps based on what you have installed and engaged with – thereby ensuring that you are a good fit for the app they are promoting. In general, we say that incentivised downloads are problematic and many well meaning developers will ultimately get stung.

Prepare to spend BIG

The era of cheap mobile advertising is over and developers need to realise it. Distimo ran a report a year ago (December 2011)  on how many downloads you need to break into the top slots in the US app store. In it they said “As expected the most volume was required to reach a top 50 position in the US free charts, your game will need to be downloaded on average 120,000 times daily. A top 25 position will require 200,000 daily downloads, whilst those elusive top 10 spots average out at 400,000 daily downloads.” Just stop and think about that. In the US alone, if you were paying to acquire a customer for $1 then your spend would need to be several hundred thousand dollars a day. Many companies are routinely spending millions each month on mobile advertising. Even more so, the distimo data is a year old so the volumes would only have increased. Pocketgamer.biz recently reported that companies such as Supercell are estimated to be making $500,000 a day through in app purchases so for someone like them it is a highly sustainable proposition. If you’re going to try a mobile acquisition campaign then we recommend setting aside at least $10,000 to try out different suppliers as well as different creatives. You will need to run different banners and different messages in lots of different places. It might be better to focus on one territory at a time rather than spread yourself thin and not be able to push up the charts or have any meaningful impact.

In summary 

If you’re reading this and you’re a developer then it all might come as a bit of a shock. To be able to effectively monetise your app you really need to ensure that you have a good marketing/commercial brain as well as deep pockets. Not only will you have to work out your ARPU’s and your CPA’s but you’ll have to be able to manage agency and network relationships as well as have a good understanding of how to make good creative advertising that will hook people. Not only that, but you’ll need to spend time investing in analytics both in your app and also in understanding what is and is not working in your campaigns. This is why we recommend using a dedicated planning and buying agency.

8 top tips for launching your app with the media

There is a distinct art to getting your app launch correct. You’ve spent months getting your app ready to go to market, you’ve spent weeks tuning it until it is just right. So why waste it all and blow your chance of creating impact with the media. Check out our five tips to getting your app marketing right as well as approaching the media correctly.

Create a media strategy 

Most self-published developers may not even consider how they are going to launch their app. From writing the release to getting lists together and reaching out to media it can all be a bit daunting and it is massively time consuming. This is why appromoter is here to take a lot of the pain away from you. We can help you write a great release, generate the best keywords and then get your app in front of the media. Of course, you may want to do all that yourself which is absolutely fine. Still ,we recommend that you have a clear plan in place for when you are launching, how you are launching and who you are going to target.

Generate some pre-launch hype

You launch need not be the first thing people hear about about your app. All media are on the lookout for news on forthcoming apps and you have a chance to get some awareness up. Don’t send out a press release- a note is fine to tell the media what the app is, the rough release date (can be Q1, Q2 etc or a month) and then give them some screenshots (3 or 3 will suffice) and even a teaser video. You can begin using your dedicated appromoter microsite to host these assets and direct journalists to them.  We also recommend that you have a Facebook page ready for your app when you send out the news, This way, anyone who is interested can go and ‘like’ your app and be kept up to date. Nothing worse than having interested customers and nowhere to send them!

Timing is everything 

For iOS developers, The number 1 things that constantly surprises us is that developers think you need to launch your app as soon as it is approved by Apple – you don’t! once your app is sent for approval then set it to launch in the far future. As soon as Apple approves the app then your app will be hidden on the App Store and you’ll be allocated your promo codes. This is the time to reach out to the media and offer them your app for review. Set a launch date and tell the media that the app is launching on that date. Ask them if they want to review the app and if so then to keep it under embargo until launch day. Under embargo means that media agree not to put something into print until a date you have agreed (as long as someone else has not written about it first) If they say yes, then send them a promo code. The point of the single launch date and the embargo is that you can create a single day where multiple reviews will appear and help drive a spike in sales and awareness. Once you hit launch day then hit the button to make the app live and contact all the media to tell them that your app has launched and remind the ones who have reviewed it that the embargo is lifted. Don’t just put the news out there on launch day with no pre-lauch activity or put the news out in drips and drabs. If you haven’t read our post on the best time in the calendar to launch your app then you can read it here 

Prepare a great press release 

No disrespect to developers but they’re not always the best people for writing snappy copy. This is why it is good to get a specialist to write a snappy release that really helps sell the app to the media. The release should be concise and explain clearly what the app does with some bullet point features. If you’re not a native English speaker then we very strongly recommend that you do use someone who can write in good, local style English. This is really important for communicating with the key media in the UK and the US.

Have a press kit ready 

Journalists like to have all the assets in one place- screenshots, press release, video, contact details – which is why we created appromoter. Every single app on appromoter gets a FREE microsite for you to use with your media. You also get a dedicated URL for your app. Include the appromoter URL in your release for the media to get all the assets as well as a separate link to the video file download. Many sites often have their own video channels and they like to host the video rather than linking from your youtube page. If you don;t have s video then DO – it is essential now if the media are going to consider your app. Read our blog here about the importance of creating a great video.

Be sparing with your promo codes 

You’ve got 50 promo codes to use as you see fit – with media, for competitions and with friends. Thing is, promo codes only last 30 days from when they are downloaded so the number 1 rule is to keep them there until you need them because once they are drawn down then the clock is ticking. appromoter automatically handles allocation of codes for you, so pop a few in and top them up as and when you need them in your account.

Target your media carefully 

You should ideally create multiple lists that target the specialist sectors that relate to your apps. So, for a game it will be for the bloggers and reviewers that cover mobile games as well as lifestyle media who are increasingly covering apps. Don’t forget that you’re not just targeting websites – there will be TV, radio, podcasts, YouTube channels and good old fashioned print. Building this list can take a very very long time so you might want to use a specialist agency for this job.

Understand the media

Journalists are people like you and me. Simple. However, they are bombarded with requests from PR agencies and developers all day. game review sites will be inundated with requests to review their game. If you decide to communicate with a review site then first of all check their guidelines on how they want  you to send them information. They will often have a dedicated email address for news, another for reviews and they may even have a form that they want you to fill in. Filling in forms can be a huge time sucker so beware. When you mail a journalist, so not add any attachments (you may annoy them or go into the spam folder) and keep the email very short. Tell them what the app is in a sentence or two and then paste the press release below. Also include links to appromoter, the video file for download and the app website if you have one.  Remember to offer them a promo code as well and perhaps ask if they want to run a promo code competition. That’s it. If you don’t hear back then chances are they have decided not to review your app. Don’t take it personally. They have a huge amount of requests and simply cannot respond to everyone. Please don’t bug them or drive them crazy!

Launching your app to the media is never easy. It can be incredibly time consuming as well as intimidating if you have never done it before. Badly written press releases, a lack of media assets, not having a video and approaching the media badly can all be things that can kill your app dead on the water. If you want to launch your app then do it well and do it properly so that you give it the best chance of success. If you want to do it yourself then we salute you, but if you want a little bit of help then feel free to look over our services and get in touch to see how we can help you.

 

 

 

6 things developers should know when naming their app

Hundreds of apps pass through our doors at appromoter every week. The one thing that we see time and time again are badly named apps. It never ceases to amaze us how little thought goes into the name of an app ,so here are our top tips to making sure that your app has a great name and helping you develop a great app marketing strategy.

Don’t try to be too clever 

We’ve mentioned in other blog posts that customers spend just a couple of seconds looking through categories on the app store with little or no patience. The name has to tell the customer quickly and clearly what it does or they simply won’t bother. We’ve seen some awful app names (which we won’t name and shame here) to the point where some simply have a couple of letters as the name! If you have a cookie recipe app then call it ’100 cookie recipes’, ‘Amazing cookie recipes’ or something obvious. Calling it something obscure like ‘Mamma’s cookie bake’, ‘cookie kitchen’ ‘cookieland‘ or anything else that does not help the customer will not go very far to helping you. The name you choose will also reflect the category that you’re in – so something that is around productivity or a utility is going to have a more functional name. So, looking at the utilities section, the apps that have sat in the top ten have a very clear description – ‘Battery Power Pro’, ‘Alarm Clock Pro’ and ‘Flashlight’ all clearly tell you what they do.  We appreciate that this will not work in all instances, especially for games that are character based or may have more abstract titles such as ‘Horn’ or ‘Infinity Blade’. Still, if you can use the title to give a hint of what the app is about then it can be a big help.

Understand the App Store Funnel

In another post we spoke about the fact that each and every customer needs to be channeled down a funnel and what the component parts are to that funnel. The app name and the icon form the first line of defence in helping push your customer down that funnel and get them to click through to the next part of the funnel. Read the post – it’ll make sense

Optimise for SEO Benefits 

Well chosen keywords on the App Store can go a long way to helping your app appear, but one of the most important factors in getting your app to rank well is to include some popular search terms in your app title. If your app is a camera app then it makes sense to include ‘camera’ ‘photo’ or similar in the actual app title. This has the double benefit of helping with SEO, and it also ties into our first point about the fact that the name should clearly help tell the customer what the app does.

Do not ride on the success of others

One of our pet hates is when apps rip off the names of other successful apps. Obviously, some names will contain key search words that may resonate with other titles that have done well- namely ‘insta‘,’zombie’, ‘farm’, ‘ninja’ or birds’ but don’t think that you’re being really clever by calling your app ‘Angry zombie Ninja Bird farm’ or ‘instacamera‘. Journalists will likely not like it (just see what we mean here) customers will just think it is a rip off of something else and it does not demonstrate any thinking on your part. You could also face rejection by Apple or Google.

Check your name first  

Shocking but true this one, some developers name their app and do not actually look to see if the name already exists on the App Store, Google Play or even on the web. If your name is not unique then you run into all sorts of problems. At the most basic level, you won’t get the name through Apple that you want. You might also want the URL for creating a microsite for your app and that name could be taken. There is a way round it  - you can do what movies do by adding ‘movie’ or ‘the movie’ to the end of the movie name and simply add ‘game’ or ‘app’ to the end of your app name for something unique such as they have done at www.realboxinggame.com. On a more serious note, a name or brand may be trademarked and you could land yourself in legal trouble. At the time of writing this, we just saw that Apple is clamping down on games containing the term ‘memory’ – see more about it here

Use space wisely

You only have a very short space to name your app, 11 characters or less before it gets truncated. This means that you need to be really clever with how you use the space once you take all the considerations above into account.

 

 

 

 

 

App marketing essentials – understanding the app store funnel

It won’t shock you to know that we’ve launched a lot of apps here at appromoter. The key way to get a developer to understand the basic approach to app marketing is to visualise the average journey that the customer will undertake when looking through an app store. The approach is pretty simple, you’ve got a customer entering the store at the top of the funnel. You’ve then got a series of decisions that they are going to make between pressing the App Store/Google Play button on their home screen and pressing the ‘install’ button that will then make them download or purchase your app and begin using it. Once you understand this decision making process, then it is simply a case of understanding what conditions them to move through that particular gateway and then optimising everything that is at your disposal to get them through.

 

Looking at the simple graphic above, there are several key stages to get the customer to download your app.

Keywords

Ensure that you have used a proper keywords tool for the App Store. For Google Play, it is not so easy, but the title should carry a keyword and the main copy should be rich in terms you want associated with your app.

Name and Icon 

The name and icon can literally make or break your app and require a lot of time and thought. For more of our thoughts on this, look at our earlier blog post here . Your app title and especially your icon and the amount of stars it has will ultimately govern whether a user even clicks through and decides to take your app for a spin. Once again, we never know how many times your app may have appeared in search, and we will never know what your conversion rate is – meaning how many people see it and actually click to look at more info. But you can affect this conversion rate by having an amazing icon and good reviews. Even if they click through to your app, you then need to have great copy to entice them and good media and customer reviews to push them into the final decision.

TOP TIP FOR GOOGLE PLAY! – Google Play allows you to embed video in your Google Play page. By using a unique link for that YouTube video, you can tell from the number of views roughly how many people are looking at your app on Google Play. Granted, not every person will watch the video, but the good thing is that you know that more people will hit the page than watch the video. You can then work out a very rough sales conversion from there.

Good customer reviews 

This all ties in the ultimate inescapable truth – quality. We’ve spoken at length in the past about the essential need for quality but what good apps do is generate good organic reviews and this means lots of stars. A great name and icon, coupled with great reviews will push someone onto the next page – your actual app landing page.

App Store copy & Screenshots 

Once the customer is on your page then you only have a short space in which to win them over. This includes snappy copy which we explored in another post as well as crafting great screenshots to capture the essence of your app. Of course, by securing press coverage and good reviews, you can then put good media comments and scores at the top of your app to show customers the great things that app review sites have said about it.

Price 

We haven’t included price in the funnel but it is worth mentioning here. We can’t tell you one way or another whether your app should be free of freemium or whether there should be a free version of a premium app. This is dependent upon where you are and what category your app is in.

and finally……….

As you can hopefully see, the app store funnel is not rocket science, but it hopefully helps you better understand the basic process that a customer goes through before they make a decision.  Sure, there are other factors such as price, word of mouth, brand recognition and other factors at play, but the key fact is that the challenges go far beyond discoverability. Effective keywords may bring people in to the top of your funnel, but we need to get them all the way down to the bottom, which is ultimately going to result in a download/purchase. appromoter can help you with each stage of the funnel and we’ll be only too happy to see how we can help you optimise your app for the app stores. To view our list of services then click here 

 

4 essential tips on the best time to launch your app

They say that the secret to good comedy is timing, and so is the launch of an app. We’re often asked by customers when is the best time to launch an app so here are our thoughts on the dos and don’ts of launch timing so that you can have the best possible app marketing strategy.

Thursday is good for iOS. Apple tell us that Thursday is a good day to launch. Likely that’s due to the fact that the App Store changes the editorial round every Thursday so people check for new changes. We also think that Thursday is good because if you send out a release then you will hopefully capture people as they tend to browse the store more over the weekend.

Watch out for public holidays. Lots of people get caught out by this. One trick that some of the big guys use to boost sales is to hold a price promotion around a big holiday in the USA. Black spots include Easter Weekend, Christmas and Thanksgiving. We tend to advise against launching in these periods as the charts become full of AAA games on sale and your app won’t get much of a look in or will need many more downloads to chart. Christmas is especially hard for most developers. You’re going to be faced with a mass of new titles launching a week or two before Christmas to capitalise on all the major gifting of phones and tablets that will undoubtedly happen, as well as the price drops between Christmas and New Year. Our opinion is that it’s best to steer clear of Christmas/holiday periods unless you have a heavy hitting AAA with a big budget behind it.  If in doubt, check the US calendar before your launch to check there are no public holidays. If you are interested in the price fluctuations of any app, especially your competitors (unless they are free of course!) then take a look at the ever-excellent Appshopper.

Hardware updates.  This pretty much applies just to Apple. Apple has largely settled into two main times of the year to update their hardware, April for the iPad  and September/October for the iPhone and iPod. Launching at this time can be a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because Apple are looking for anything that will leverage and show off their new tech so they invariably pounce on apps that have anticipated hardware changes such as the retina display. Take a look at our Pocketgamer.biz blog for more about this. On the other hand, it can be a curse because your press release will simply get drowned out in the tsunami of news that invariably accompanies any kind of Apple hardware launch so we say steer clear of hardware launches unless you have Apple drooling over your latest innovation.

Once approved, don’t make your app live immediately – This is an extremely common mistake that a LOT of developers make,namely that your app is approved and you put it out as soon as that happens. Instead, we recommend to wait a week or two and use that period to generate hype with the media and offer out promo codes (which you will have been given when approved) for review. This way, if you secure some reviews before launch then you can put positive review scores at the top of your app description as well as try to coordinate your launch on a single day.