App Marketing Insights From the 2013 App Promotion Summit

On July 11 I was in London for the App Promotion Summit, a 1-day event dedicated to mobile application marketing strategy.

Amongst the audience and speakers, several app marketing experts and successful people from the mobile app industry.

Which, even though the event started crazy early (8am – never seen that!) made for an interesting day, with great insights and advices.

Not really any hidden secret revealed, but good reminders or interesting tips that I believe are worth sharing here.

All presentations were not of the same interest, and below is what grabbed my attention (disclaimer : ad networks tend not to do that – especially after lunch).

Russia #4 in Downloads, Required to be in Top 25

I really like Distimo’s tools and reports. What I got out of this presentation though, is that Russia is definitely a big emerging (and therefore competitive) market.

If you see that you’re starting to get some downloads there, think about ways you could increase them. Like localization for example, or maybe just reaching out to Russian blogs to get reviewed.

No Magic Behind ASO. Do Your Homework.

Stefan Bielau did a great presentation on App Store Optimization.

ASO is still very immature, and very limited data is shared by Apple/Google on their search algorithm. Search also gives different results depending on OS, category, countries or languages.

All this makes ASO’s impact hard to measure because other marketing efforts are usually going on at the same time.

This doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it to get found more easily by users, both on the mobile app stores and in Google’s search result.

Your app store pages give you a chance to rank higher in Google’s results for your keywords. Ideally, you want a search for your app (and/or targeted keywords) in Google to give the following result:

  1. Website
  2. Google Play gage
  3. iTunes App Store page

We’ve talked a lot before on this blog about what you can and should do in terms of App Store Optimization. Stefan gave a good reminder though : ASO doesn’t sell shitty products.

ASO doesn’t sell shitty products” – Stefan Bielau

Clickable links

This one is something I had never really paid attention too : you can have clickable links on the Google Play Store.

Why should you care ?

Because they are dofollow links, and can give juice to your app landing page or website, your support page and your social accounts page. They are also a good way to cross promotes other apps that visitors should like. And of course, well, it’s easier to click or tap somewhere than type a whole address.

At the moment, there are a few rules you need to follow so your links can be clickable as well as some limitations:

  • In your app description text :
    • Use complete links (http & https)
    • This works for web & mobile view
  • In your app update text (What’s new)
    • Use complete links (http & https)
    • Those links are clickable only in mobile view

IAP in Apple App Store

This one I believe we’ve discussed before: the display name for In-App Purchases (IAP) are indexed and takend into account when you search on the Apple App Store.

If you have IAP, this is a great opportunity to

  • Extend your keyword list
  • Increase keyword density

Backlinks & anchor text

We saw that in Google I/O in 2012 and mentioned it in our Google Play Marketing advices, but a reminder can’t hurt: links from review sites, blogs or even your own website will make your app rank higher.

Especially if the anchor text is optimized. It might not be easy to ask a journalist to link to your app store page with specific keywords, but you can at least make sure that YOU do it. Also, that’s another place (besides ASO) where having keywords in your app name proves helpful.

Test your icon and screenshots designs. Use Video.

Stefan also gave a few very practical tips:

  • Test different icon designs in a mobile app banner. Spend a $100 and see which ones performs best by looking at the click-through rate.
  • Test different screenshots designs (here is how to design app screenshots that sell) as well as their order.
  • Display a video for your app on your Google Play page (and soon on the App Store?) – you already know how we feel about that 😉

Here are the slides:

Alternative App Stores and Getting Featured

Alternative App Stores

Meaghan Fitzgerald from 23snaps started her presentation by giving a quick overview of the different mobile App Stores. For them, even though the Windows App Store is a much smaller pool it still generates good downloads.

She emphasized the fact that alternative app stores like the Amazon App Store and the Opera store can good distribution channels to have for your app.

Amazon App Store

We’ve already talked quite a bit about why you should distribute your app on the Amazon App Store and how to market it. Their A/B testing tool lets you test multiple versions of your app at the same time, 1-click downloads for customers with an Amazon account make it frictionless to buy an app and they now have a Game Circle (extended to all Android devices, not just Kindle fire), a game center quite similar to the Apple and Android one.

Opera App Store

Developers shouldn’t neglect Opera neither:

  • It generates 2million downloads per day, mostly in emerging markets.
  • It “hosts” Android, Windows Mobile, Java, Symbian, Blackberry, HTML 5 and iPhone apps (links to the Apple App Store). It’s worth the effort to upload your Android .apk or link to your iOS app to get additional exposure and increase your distribution.
  • Their content-managers are even ready to assist publishing your apps on their store to save you time.

Getting featured

You already know it, getting featured brings big spikes in downloads. Which is good.

However, Meaghan mentioned that retention and engagement of the customers acquired when being featured is often not as good. Some users where just curious and don’t stick around.

Make a good case for your product, and let them know where you want to be featured

That said, it’s still something you want to achieve. Here are a few tips:

  1. Perfect your app. Apple or Google won’t feature you if you don’t have a great app
  2. Get great reviews. Customers need to love your app already. Make sure you do things right and that they have an easy way to give you feedback and rate your app. Especially now that Apple seems to take ratings into their app ranking.
  3. Check & meet requirements. Both the App Store and the Google Play Store have marketing or brand guidelines. For your app to be considered, you want to respect those guidelines as much as possible. Use the right app store badges, and don’t do things like overlapping iPhones or mixing iPhones and Android devices on your website, etc. If you have an app for both iOS and Android, put the iOS platform first if you don’t want to be disqualified.
  4. Make sure you’re a good fit. Don’t ask to be featured everywhere, try to target where it makes the most sense for your app to be featured.
  5. Get in touch with the App Store. If you don’t have the right contacts already, there are a series of different ways to get in touch with the app store staff through the developer console. Make a good case for your product, and let them know where you want to be featured (e.g. Apps for parents)
  6. Wait. 23snapps waited for 3 months.

Here are the slides:

“Hope is Not a Strategy”

After introducing a few numbers, James Kaye from Dimoso quickly got to the point: it’s a tough industry and the odds of success are against you.

The barrier to entry is rising, consumers move on to other things fast and are hard to retain, and a lot of small developers lacking core skills for app marketing. Worse, marketing is still often an afterthought.

Below are James’ 10 tips for app store success:

  1. Quality & more quality. That’s the number one rule: you need a great app. It also needs to be unique and different. Do a benchmark and some market research.
  2. Have a strategy. Write yourself a checklist. Don’t focus only on the initial launch, you need a long term vision.
  3. App store funnel. You need to retrace your customers’ path: understand and know how they get to your app, what makes them download it, etc.
  4. First impressions count. Video is really important to present your app. You need to select good screenshots and video. James shared a quote from a blog editor:

    It’s unfortunate, but I don’t have time to download and test every app that comes out…. A video takes just seconds to watch and can be the difference in whether an app gets a longer look.

    – Barbara Holbrook, Editor in Chief, at Appcraver

    We have a few others too:

    A video provides the quickest way to initially assess your app, letting [bloggers] know if it’s worth downloading and testing further.

    – Erica Sadun, Pitch Perfect

    Creating a video takes a little more effort, but it can be of tremendous value when you begin pitching your app.

    – Ken Yarmosh, App Savvy

    OK, enough explaining why we believe in the business we’re in 😉

  5. Understand the app store owners. You can’t expect Google to feature your app if it’s just a lazy iOS port. You need to understand that both Apple and Google want you to use the latest, whether it’s their latest API’s (like the iOS 7 ones!) or hardware features.
  6. Get to grips with ASO. We kinda covered that one already.
  7. Spread the word. Have a media plan, get your timing right. You need to CONTROL YOUR LAUNCH. I’m still amazed at how many developers and startups just submit their app and do not choose to control their release date! You need to know which day you’re launching so you can coordinate your marketing efforts. Plan enough time to create a video and share it: video is essential and YouTube is the 2nd biggest search engine in the world.
  8. Get to grips with mobile advertising. It only really works with freemium apps if you want an ROI. Know your ARPU and LTV, and be in it for the long game: test, tweal and test again.
  9. Cross-promote. Do it across all your apps (as long as it’s relevant), and use updates (the “What’s New”) as a cross promotion tool. Although with iOS 7, the latter could become quite useless.
  10. Knowledge is power. Track your app’s performance, how people use it, which app marketing channels work the best, and track your media coverage.

How to get Media Coverage

We’ve talked a lot about how to get press and how to pitch your app on this blog already, and Renate Nyborg had an interesting presentation with good reminders.

The first step is to identify why your app is interesting and useful. Why should people even care?

Why should people even care?

Once you’ve crafted your story and you’re ready to contact bloggers and journalists, do your best to identify that 1 journalist to contact.

If possible, try and find someone that can introduce you. If not, try to engage with them and not ask for something straight away: answer their questions on twitters, post comments on their articles, etc. Don’t stalk.

Pitch them right, and send the right assets.

If you’re a start up, Techcrunch and the likes can be interested in the founders’ background, your funding and your traction (real numbers, not vanity metrics). What makes you different from your competitors (yes, you have some).

Don’t Forget Latin America

Diego Meller’s (from Jampp) presentation was probably my favorite. He talked about a topic I knew little about, the app opportunities in the Latin America market. And he had a great delivery, both effective and fun.

But enough ass-kissing, here’s his point: Latin America is a big market, and it’s closer to the US/European market and easier to understand than markets like China, Russia and Japan.

They are heavy users of mobile devices (almost twice as many mobile phones than in the US) and twitter/facebook. It keeps on growing, and there are still a lot of users to gain. Brazil has already 55 Million smartphone users (the US have 172 Million).

It’s quite an Android world, as Apple devices are still very expensive (much more than in Europe or the US). Android has 53% of the South America smartphones marketshare, while iOS only has 12%.

What’s the most surprising is how much Latina American users are similar to users in Europe and the US: the top games are almost the same!

Latin American top charts comparison

If the same kind of apps have success, that most likely makes it a good additional market for your app. Or a good place to start and evaluate how your app is doing (we often talk about Canada, we know have another alternative).

Latina American users are similar to users in Europe and the US

It’s “only” 2 languages, so localizing your app for the Latin American market seems doable.

Those are the reminders, insights and advices that seemed the most relevant during this (very well organized) App Promotion Summit. If there was only one thing to remember it’s the following: it all starts with a great app.

You can check out all the slides on the App Promotion Summit’s Slideshare account.

A few other nuggets of wisdom, picked up during panel sessions and other presentations:

  • Ouriel Ohayon
    • App marketing starts way before the app is released, it should be a very early process, and a long term project. Have a video trailer, a website, etc. Improve your product constantly
    • App search is different than web search. Searching for an app is more about searching a need. Apple and Google very far from what app search is.
  • Top games aren’t successful because they went viral, they’re successful because they got good retention
  • Facebook as a target tool is great, but it can burn lots of cash while giving the impression that it’s working great. You need to test it with small cash, tweak it and relaunch it. Don’t blow everything in one go.

Were you there? What did you think of the presentations, and what other insights did you get? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments.

Sylvain Gauchet

Hi there, I'm Sylvain and I'm one of the co-founders of Apptamin. Apptamin is a creative agency specialized in app videos (video ads, app store videos, etc.) where we find engaging ways to present mobile apps and games so our clients can either increase their conversion rates or improve their user acquisition.

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