With thousands of new apps being released every week, how to make yours cut through the app store clutter? John Ozimek from apps marketing and PR firm Dimoso gave some key tips tonight at our Publishing Apps event in London.
His first quote: “Hope is not a strategy” (that’s Rudolph Giuliani by the way). A lot of app developers don’t plan marketing or set budget aside. He suggested that a minimum of 10% should be set aside for marketing, and also that marketing an app is “a specific skillset at this point in time… You do probably need to consider some kind of specialist input.”
He noted that large companies can struggle in particular: “we find that somebody in marketing or brand might commission an app, and then the marketing of that app is not fed into the marketing team, because they’ll be split into digital and social, or print and above the line. Nobody is really looking at apps, and they fall by the wayside.”
Ozimek returned to a graph shown by Flurry on apps retention, hammering home the point that an app’s quality is the key factor in driving engagement. “Brands cannot shoulder small publishers aside. It becomes an issue of quality, and quality drives word-of-mouth… Generally if your app gets poor reviews, it is going to sink like a stone.”
He also talked about first impressions, right from the icon people see on an app store when browsing apps, and which is then how they find it on their smartphones or tablets. It also comes down to the name: Dimoso worked with a developer of a Cristiano Ronaldo game, and had to persuade them to put ‘football’ in its name, to help people find it who weren’t just searching for Cristiano himself.
Ozimek advised that it’s important not to just target mainstream journalists when doing PR – consider bloggers, fan sites, forums and other touchpoints. “We find it’s actually bloggers at the moment which are driving a lot of it,” he said, noting that mainstream newspapers and sites are still figuring out how to treat apps in terms of news and reviews.
Dimoso has looked at how apps are presented on the websites of some of the major book publishers. “Only Penguin has any information about their apps on their website… and that just took me through to the App Store,” said Ozimek.
Publishers should be thinking of ways to encourage happy customers to review their apps on the app stores – without stepping over the line and encouraging fake reviews from staff or outside agencies. He added that cross-promotion across a family of apps is essential – or for independent developers, working with a publisher who can do that for them.
In summary: make apps really good, and then use the great reviews at the start of your app store description – “the most effective thing we’ve seen”. Downloads are often driven by word-of-mouth recommendations, rather than press coverage. There are lots of non-traditional outlets writing app reviews, but they can be hard to reach.
And to finish: “Your best fans are your best marketing tool: work out how to use them.”