Marketing with an App

Tuesday 12th, July 2016

apps photoApps are huge today – that is just stating the obvious. Mobile Apps are also a great marketing tool. It is a great way to build demand for either a product or a service. With the technologically evolved customer being hooked onto his mobile device and is always on the go, Mobile Apps are a great way of engaging with them.

But how do you make sure that your App is noticed among a sea of Apps that spring up every day? The sobering fact is that there are already millions of mobile apps in existence today – with more and more apps being added on a daily basis. So how do you ensure that the app that costs $6,453 to create – is unique, interests users, interests them enough to get them to download and actually use it regularly? The ideal situation would be if the happy user is so happy that he talks about it with his contacts and becomes a kind of evangelist for you.

And it cannot be one that blatantly promotes your business – today’s evolved customer can spot a sales gimmick a mile away!

You create an App that is USEFUL to the customer – something that offers him genuine value.

Teach him something. Or make it work for him. It should either help or entertain him. People want to spend their time doing something useful. So think out of the box and find something for him that is related to the product or the service you offer, and is also something that will be useful for him to use. Keep in mind that the App should interest him, but should also be something that generates leads for you. It should also be something that you can track – and monitor. You need to be able to set goals and track the process and finally analyse results.

Keep in mind while designing the tool, that –

  • It should have a definite marketing goal.
  • It has to be useful to your customers
  • It should preferably be a free-to-download kind of App.
  • You should cleverly highlight your product or service in the App but in a very unobtrusive way.
  • It should never resemble a website – remember that the customer would access this on his mobile device. Your App needs to be optimized so it works great on such devices.

So how do you create such an app?

Have a great plan for an App first. It needs to be unique – and useful. It has to be either the first in your category of product or it must re-invent the category with a unique spin on it. Since it is very difficult to find a new category of app, it might be worthwhile to design an app with a cool feature – something that isn’t there on existing apps. You can do this by capitalising on the interface or the accelerometer, the GPS or the  proximity sensor and multi-touch gestures; tapping the storytelling or multi-touch functionality (features that most smart phones have) to produce a unique user experience. Maybe even do something totally different from the market leader!

Set the bar very high when designing the concept of your App – if it ends up looking like a launcher for your mobile website, it will put people off very quickly and send them looking for an app that is native. (Native apps are those that have been designed and coded for specific devices).  Native Apps work great even when someone has very little time to be on it – or when they move around, are on a plane – even in places where the internet doesn’t connect! Looking to build an App for multiple platforms can be tough – instead focus on one platform. If you must work on multiple platforms, use a cross-platform programming language which will help make native apps work in multiple environments such as Corona Labs, Appcelerator, PhoneGap, Xamarin, and Icenium.

A great app is one that is distinctive. Is memorable and has a great story behind it – tell your story everywhere – your website, in the app’s description page, and as part of your PR efforts.

Get people to talk about your app. Be tweetable and cater to a blog! Some of the most successful apps are those that are easily shared through social media or the blogosphere. The copy must be good – have a great tag line – and you need to have a solid, useful and attractive landing page. Get a great press/ media package ready that’s filled with everything that they need to talk about your app including high-res versions of the icon, screenshots and press-related texts.

The app should have its own website – show the app in action, and think outside the box. The website must be an extension of your app, and it will be a great tool in your marketing toolbox. A website is a great place where you can describe the app and its features freely without being confined by the limitations of the app market description page. You could have banners and SEO and link exchanges on it, which should be simple, effective and act as a well-designed, unique landing page. Even a single page with one large download button would work! Design great looking banners and put them in blogs and niche websites where your potential audience is likely to be. A great place to source some traffic from is the Paid Discovery from Stumbleupon – which helps get you hundreds of visitors every day!

And then there is the whole business of App Store Optimization (ASO).

App Store Optimization is the process of optimizing a mobile app so that it ranks high in the app store listings or search results. The higher it ranks, the more visibility the app has and the more visibility the app has, the greater the chances of it being downloaded. Searches in the app store are the most commonly used method to find and download an app. And there are hundreds of thousands of apps like your own! Through the ASO process, it is possible to meaningfully impact your app’s ranking and overall success.

So how do you do this?

It starts with understanding your customers – when you understand them, you know what they need and will value. And your App should offer them just that! You need to know the kind of keywords that they would use while searching for an app like yours. This involves listing keywords that you think your customers might be using to find you. Might not be right. May need changes and tweaking – will take a while to try all kinds of options until you find the one that works. You need to track and study your app’s ranking along with the ranking of your competition. Tons of new apps appear every day – and this has an effect on your search listing. (There are tools such as MobileDevHQ that can give you a single dashboard that tracks the performance of your app: Top Charts rank, Search Ranking, competitive intelligence, downloads, revenue, keywords analysis, paid vs organic performance, and so on.)

Here are some main aspects of your app that you need to pay particular attention to –

Choose the title / app name with care. Don’t change it often – once your app starts to rank better and you start getting more reviews, the news of your app will spread by word of mouth – and if you change it, they won’t be able to find you! Keep it short – something that can be read in a single screen, as long titles get truncated. The iOS store allows only 33 characters – the rest of it is just cut off! Titles must be creative, unique and clever for them to stand out or be remembered! (Think “angry birds” as opposed to “games of tossed birds”)

Don’t use special characters in your title. Apple uses the app name to create your app URL – so if you include any special characters, Apple disregards the name and uses your ID. Don’t use names or parts of those that have already been used. Apple flags and disables the concerned keywords at once!

Keywords are another important component of an app. Google Play processes six million unique search phrases every month. Most users search for apps, and all App stores have algorithms that use keywords to search. The title or the name of your app should contain the keyword that draws the heaviest traffic. So find the most relevant one and put it there.  Apps with keywords in the title ranked better than those without.

Apps that have been downloaded more rank higher in the listings in an App store – the greater the number of downloads, the higher the ranking. To increase downloads, traditional marketing is the way to go – social media, content marketing, Pay Per Click, mailing lists, etc. Some heads up – artificially building up downloads just to boost rankings won’t work as algorithms in App stores are programmed in such a way that they spot any automated methods of downloads!

According to Search Engine Watch, the second factor that affects app store ranking is the description of the app, which be persuasive or attractive enough to compel a browser to download it. Use the 4000 word limit to clearly explain what the app can do for a user. Some other important hints

Every App must have a logo – one that people can easily identify with and associate with your app. When listing the app, choose the right category to list it. Add a great demo with some cool screenshots.

What it all boils down to, is that it is not enough if you have a great idea. You need to follow through and make sure you market your App even though the idea is to market through it!

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