Today we’ll be sharing the app marketing interview we did with Michael Tyson, who developed the Loopy and The Cartographer apps, and is also currently working on a new (awesome) project called Audiobus.
This interview dates back to November, and was conducted to evaluate the needs in marketing tools (like videos and websites) for mobile app developers. All websites and videos featured here are Michael’s, and not the work of the Apptamin team. Hopefully I’ll get to talk to Michael soon about his approach on the promotion of their new project, Audiobus.
A little background
Sylvain : How many people on your team ?
Michael : We’re 2, more or less. It’s mainly me, and Katherine who works about 5 or 10% on it. She was working almost full time for a while, doing PR, etc. back to when we launched the app.
Sylvain : How long have you been developing?
Michael : Loopy was the first app, and I started it in 2008. We left in 2009 to travel Europe in a motorhome. That’s when I decided to do it as a business.
Sylvain : How many apps have you launched ? Any apps coming soon ?
Michael : We currently have two apps : The Cartographer and Loopy (also an HD version, Loopy HD). A while ago we launched another app with a friend : Talkie. But this one never took off.
We’ve been following the roadmap and focusing on these two apps, and now we have another project on the way called Audiobus.
Some mobile app promotion advices
Sylvain : Ok, so as we launched our app the first problem we encountered is that with more and more apps being published on the App Store or the Android Market, we couldn’t rely only on our “app page” to market it. We knew and read that it was critical to use other tools to sell them, being to app reviewers or to mobile users. What’s your take on that?
Michael : With our first experiment with Loopy, that’s what we did: nothing. Some people would be making bucks because it was 2005. But we put up the app and nothing happened, and really realized that the App Store was just a distributor.
We had a different approach with The Cartographer, and the difference was huge. Katherine did a lot of marketing work on it, spent a lot of time getting to know travelers and we also worked with PRWeb for our press releases. We spent a lot of time doing a beautiful website as well as a demo video, which got huge response.
Sylvain : Why the video ?
Michael : We got the impression that the travel crowd wasn’t too technical so we wanted to do something “flashy”. It took me about 5 days on Adobe After Effects to create it, including the learning curve. We got a bit lucky with this video, as it got picked up by people who liked it posted it on Twitter and Facebook. It’s not enough to produce the video though, you then have to promote it. So we spent a huge amount of work on researching who were the influencers, and sent it to travel blogs and app reviews websites.
For the Loopy app, there was no better video possible than videos from artists actually using the app.
Sylvain : I noticed that you created a different website for each of your apps, even though you had the “A Tasty Pixel” blog where you could talk about them. Why ?
Michael : At first I wanted to keep all the apps in A Tasty Pixel, but then I wanted to style it so I made different websites. I didn’t want just a product page. I did it for The Cartographer, so I did it for Loopy too. One of the good things it brought me is being featured on app sites galleries which brought traffic. I spent about 4 or 5 days on each website, and I would definitely create one for a new app, as it looks more professional (Note : that’s exactly what he did for his upcoming app Audiobus, you can check out the launch page here). When we do press releases, we put the appsite at the top, and the iTunes link at the bottom stating “available on”. You could spend unlimited time on app marketing, but websites and video are the basic foundations.
Sylvain : Ok, thanks. Have you ever used “app marketing/promotion services”?
Michael : No, I choose to do these things myself because I’m hands-on. We felt like we didn’t have the PR skills at the time, so we worked with someone.
I believe it’s important to interact with customers directly. There are so many apps that it’s not enough to do a standard set of things, you also have to be creative. I would advise developers to do it themselves so they can focus on their market and pay attention to details. I like to do several different things, so I did the videos and websites myself.
Sylvain : Ok, wrapping up : what would be the pieces of advice you’d give to developers or brands to promote their app
Michael : First of all, I’d like to say there is no point in doing anything else if the app itself is not good. That said:
- Having a website and an online presence
- Identifying the influencers in a field. For Loopy, it was the top loopers and app influencers (app reviews blogs)
- Publishing press releases regularly, staying in the media. That’s why we had a subscription with PRWeb, and issued one PR a month. You stay active, as a service representative comes up with ideas.
A big thanks to Michael for answering my questions. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below if you’d like to react to what was said.