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.

The Immeasurable Marketing Value of Networking

Next Sunday I'm traveling to Denver for the 360iDev conference. I'm looking forward to learning some new tricks when I attend the design and business tracks (my responsibility in our partnership). But better than the sessions is the networking. Through the eight years we've been in this business, I've attended several conferences and each one has proven to be invaluable. One could even consider attendance more of a marketing cost than an education cost. Despite having to rebook my main travel this time from train to more expensive air travel, plus add extra night stay, the networking return on investment will be well worth the trip. This post will share some of the effects networking has had on our business in the past.

App Stores, Then and Now, a Distribution Evolution

The AppStore to some, seems like a new phenomenon, but Electronic Sales Distributors (ESD's) have been around a long time. Selling software has evolved tremendously over the years and has helped make sales easier to complete. In the case of the AppStore, distribution has pretty much been taken out of the equation in how it can negatively affect sales. We've been writing mobile software since 1999, and writing it as Creative Algorithms since 2003. This post will explain how distribution and sales have evolved over the past decade, through our personal experiences.

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.

Getting Back to Nature

I'm going to go a bit non-tech in this week's post, since I just got back from a four day cub scouts camping trip to Camp Freeland Leslie, a boy scout camp in Wisconsin, where we attended Webelos Adventure Camp. Nowadays it's so easy to get caught up in technology and always being connected that we forget to sit back and enjoy nature and the basics. Playing games on your iPhone is great, but the feeling you get from looking at a sky chock full of stars is something you just can't explain to your kids unless they experience it.

Adding Screenshots to iPhone Device Artwork

In marketing an app, one of the areas that needs attention is your website. The AppStore description and screenshots are sometimes not enough for every customer to make a decision. Sending them to your website gives you another chance at convincing them to purchase your product. In addition, many people do discover apps via search engines, so a website is essential for traffic that can link to your apps on the AppStore.

On your website you have more options with text formats and sizes, layout, and, of course graphics, including screenshots and device shots. Apple makes available device artwork and AppStore badges that you can use on your website, but you have to insert your own screenshots and resize the artwork to meet your needs. (The link requires a developer login). This post will cover some tips on processing your screenshots for device graphics on your website.

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