Normally I blog exclusively about our business, offer my experiences on what worked for us, what didn't work, or how I've applied my MBA studies on the marketing or promotion of mobile apps. Today's post is a bit of a departure on that. However, there is some relevance to our apps, since our biggest seller is our cooking app, and I've spent the past week delving into cooking and diet and how to improve our eating habits and consequently, our health. This post will go through my hilarious (my opinion) escapades in trying to find time to cook and run a business at home, while keeping up with the family's busy schedule. It's a practical application of what we do for a living.
Clean Eating, so I'm informed, is more about lean meats, vegetables, and fruits, proper portion sizes, and eliminating processed foods, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, and pop (including diet), rather than calories. I ate more food this past Monday thru Friday than I have been eating, and I lost 5 pounds! Read on to find out how...
Launch an app, tell everyone about it, hope for an Apple feature, and spread the word. The three key promotional aspects of marketing your app are Launch Blitz, Apple Features, and Word of Mouth. A developer has the most control with the first, very little control with the second, and indirect control of the third. All three feed each other, and using the 4 P's of Marketing: Product, Place (Distribution), Price, and Promotion will help in working these three aspects, which I've covered extensively in my seven part series, Applying the 4 P's of Marketing to Apps. This final post of the series will touch upon the loose ends of promotion and conclude with a spreadsheet you can download and use to make your own marketing plans.
App complete, check. App tested, check. App submitted to Apple, check. Pre-launch promotion prep work done, check. Now what? It's all about the timing. Based on our experience in the AppStore, there are three things that contribute most to sales numbers: 1) Getting noticed by Apple (and being featured) 2) Word of mouth and 3) Launch Blitz. I discussed the strategy for getting noticed by Apple in previous 4 P's posts: make a great product, include new iOS tech, follow the HIG, have a polished icon and screens. Word of mouth is just the snowball effect—the more people own (and use) your app, the more they tell their friends, the more you sell. Ensure this by making a great product, providing excellent customer service, providing convenient ways to share your app with others and cross-selling, up-selling within your app. This post will focus on the third item, the blitz of promotion at launch, where you bring out all your promotional tactics at the same time, to get your app noticed in bulk.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, the AppStore review system is archaic and out of our control. Yes, the discoverability is frustrating and when the store breaks, we're out of luck. But would you really want to go back to the 'old way' of distributing mobile software? Let's look at what the AppStore fixed in terms of mobile software distribution.
Getting one new app noticed in a sea of 100,000 apps is impossible. However, each app gets one (guaranteed?) opportunity to gain a certain sales momentum through exposure on the by Release Date (aka new releases) list. If you're in a competitive category, your app may get a few days on the front page, or perhaps your app gets nearly a week. Either way, without this jumpstart, your app is destined to only garner a few sales. However, the Release Date lists are now broken--many apps appearing on the list have 2008 release dates (some are outdated releases for 2.0 only--not even updated for 3.0 software update for the iPhone and iPod Touch). If this problem is not fixed soon, ALL apps released in this current timeframe will be DOA. Our Serving Sizer Recipe Converter app falls under this predicament! Our first day of sales can be counted on one hand, instead of 10x that amount for a partial first day of sales.