iOS

Resist Launching Prior to Completion of Pre-launch Promotion Plans—Applying the 4 P's of Marketing to Apps, part 4a

Developing mobile apps is a business. Many mobile devs are one- or two-person shops, so in addition to the coding hat, other hats must also be worn, to be successful. Great apps won't sell themselves, especially in the sea of apps that have come to fruition in the most recent three+ years. When we learn to develop, we read books, we self-teach, we take classes, we attend conferences. Marketing is another side of the business that must be learned, in the same manner. As a dev, you usually have a game plan and timing plan for the development process. A marketing plan must be also woven into this process. In my past Applying the 4P's of Marketing to Apps blog posts, I've covered using Product to enhance your marketing, which should be addressed deep in the early app design process. I've covered Place (distribution) both in shelf-space prep (pre-launch set up), and in where to list your app (pre- and post-launch). Most recently I covered Price (pre- and post-launch). In this post I'll start the process of covering Promotion, an extensive topic, too long to cover in one post. At the end of it all, I'll provide to you a 4P's of Marketing Checklist that you can download for your own use.

The Story of Serving Sizer, Lessons Learned in Successfully Evolving an App Over Time

My brother is always calling me with app ideas. One day, way back in late 2003, he suggested writing a calculator that took recipe ingredient amounts and adjusted them by changing the serving size. My husband, our developer, is an avid cook, so the idea intrigued him. He wasn't satisfied with just a multiplier, so he started creating a complicated algorithm for the Palm PDA that would also factor down the result into the simplest amount of steps. So, if you size up a recipe calling for 1-1/2 teaspoon from 4 servings to 14 servings, the little app would tell you “1 Tablespoon and 2-1/4 teaspoons”. He wasn't satisfied with just that, so he displayed the result also converted into metric. Thus Serving Sizer was born and released in February 2004, at the inexpensive price of $9.95. We've since 'ported the app to iOS, both for iPhone and iPad, learning many lessons along the way. Being able to react quickly to market realizations, potential for features, and more, has helped us along the way. This post will cover some of those lessons learned on the road to making Serving Sizer a successful app.

Market Pricing – Perception is Reality! Applying the 4 P's of Marketing to Apps, part 3

Your gut reaction is “Hey, I put in a lot of time and effort into this app, there's no way it's only worth 99c.” Yet in many cases, if it's not 99c, especially a game, it's dead-on-arrival at the AppStore. You can rant and you can rave, but market pricing rules in the mobile universe. On the plus side, the “wealth” is spread amongst many developers as consumers consume more apps than they would have if they had spent $35 or more on one game or app. The trick is to get more of them to consume your app! But let's start at the beginning, should all apps price to the bottom? If not, how do you select that perfect price? And how do you take advantage of that price selection (or change) in your marketing efforts? In this next post in my series, “Applying the 4P's of Marketing to Apps,” I'll focus on the third “P”—Pricing. I'm not covering business models (freemium vs paid, or free version vs IAP upgrade), but rather, how to pick your price from a marketing perspective.

Tackling Distribution Channels—Which Place? Applying the 4 P's of Marketing to Apps, Part 2b

Because the AppStore is the only store that we are allowed to actually sell our iOS apps directly, many developers choose to only list their products in the AppStore. However, by doing so, a developer has ignored many distribution channels where an app can be marketed. In addition, if a mobile developer is on a different platform, many app stores exist for which to list apps. In my last post I covered designing the shelf space of the Place “P” of marketing. In this post I'll suggest various first tier (app stores) and second tier distribution channels in which to target the Place application of marketing.

Distribution is the Place! Defining your Shelf Space—Applying the 4 P's of Marketing to Apps, Part 2a

The structured approach to marketing should appeal to most technical people. Marketing can seem like a magical black box, but the 4 P's: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place (aka distribution) are what's inside. The best marketing plan can be broken down and addressed in each area. Let's tackle Place—anywhere your app has a virtual space on a shelf, with a link to buy. Foremost is the AppStore, but it's not the only Place. Place is everywhere your product is listed from your website, aggregate app listing websites, and perhaps inside app-listing-apps. Free apps have additional areas where they can be listed, such as the free app a day sites. If you develop for other mobile platforms, place includes other paid storefronts. In my last blog post I covered Product; this post will move onto Place, which is essentially the distribution channels and your virtual “shelf space” within them. Because a lot of details can be covered concerning Place, I'm going to divide this topic into two posts, shelf space and channels. “Shelf space” will describe how to apply marketing to the design of your app's presentation in a single distribution channel. “Channels” will cover applying your shelf space across multiple distribution channels, discussing your varying options.

Applying the 4P's of Marketing to Apps, Part I: Product

Many developers are using a “shoot from the hip” approach to marketing their apps, if anything at all. It's not that developers don't want to market, but the question often is, where to start? As an engineer, I was always excited when encountering a formula or a structured method in my business classes. In marketing, there IS a structured approach—the 4 P's: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place (aka distribution). Often we think of Promotion as the only form of marketing, but three other areas can also be tackled. In order to have a strong marketing plan, each area must be addressed. Oftentimes, many techniques in each area are overlooked. Starting with the basics, ensuring thoroughness, is the best way to begin the marketing process. Over the course of several posts, I'll outline specifics for each of the 4 P's. Today I'll start with Product, which is key to consider in the design process, and often glossed over with a sweeping statement, “Make a good product and they will come.” Although it may appear be simple, the devil is in the details.

360iDev Conference: iOS Tech, Design, Business, and Mariachi Bands

Last week I attended 360iDev, an iOS developers conference, in Denver. In my last post I covered all the great things that happened as a result of attending conferences. Not only are they valuable education, but also a indirect marketing benefit. Nearly every person I spoke with at the conference this week agreed that the return on investment, although unmeasurable, easily covers the cost of attending the conference. 360iDev is not only a conference focused on technical sessions for developers, but also runs the gamut of sessions from UI/UX design, to graphics design, to management, to great business-side information from contracting, to marketing, to business models. In this post, I'll go through some of the tips and tricks I picked up from this year's conference.

Making Choices in UI Design: You Can't Please Everyone

Designing an iPhone UI for a productivity app can take many directions and each time you make a choice, someone will not like it, yet others may think it's brilliant. (Of course, you hope the latter are the ones leaving reviews.) Today the landscape in the app store affects how you design your UI—you need to stand out to get noticed. However, the other edge of the sword is that if you go totally radical, people won't have that comfort feeling of familiarity of a iOS app. So the key is to get a balance of familiar, with a dose of 'zazz. Of course, it helps to have some luck of being in the right place at the right time, so someone with influence also sees your app, but this post is going to tackle areas WITHIN your control—the design of the User Interface (UI).

On Sales and Use Tax, Nexus and Affiliates

Discussed this week on twitter was the recent nexus sales tax law passed in California that may affect affiliates who promote products on their websites. Through a series of tweets, I explained why using Linkshare's affiliate program for iOS products is unaffected. That said, I thought sales tax deserved further explanation and would be a good topic for this weeks #idevblogaday post. Sales and use tax can be confusing, so I'll try explain from a layman's perspective.

Pricing Experimentation, a Game We All Must Play

Maximizing revenue on the AppStore is the goal of every developer. Setting the right price and changing it at the right time (increase or sale) is truly an art. Many variables are at play, but if you experiment carefully, you can find the sweet spot for revenue. This sweet spot may surprise you, so it's important to experiment, or you'll miss out on your revenue potential. Of course, when a competitor comes into the mix, you may have to adjust. It's very important to monitor things regularly, so you are not caught unawares. This post will reiterate a few things from a previous post of mine on pricing, and share some of our experiences with iOS price experimentation.

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