Nowadays it’s simply not enough to develop an awesome mobile app or website. Anybody who thinks about bringing a web or mobile app to the market must also think about marketing! It’s a fact that there are already more than 1.5 million apps in both the Apple App Store for iOS as well as Google’s Play Store for Android. That’s when keywords like SEO, SEM, analytics, social media and ASO come into play. Although each field is kind of a “science” itself, we’ll cover the basics of all of these in this article.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is based on four pillars: Indexation, relevance, popularity and honesty. So called website optimization tools (WOT) can support you for example with a keyword search, like the Google Keyword Planner. When it comes to relevance you should always write content that adds value to the community and attracts other websites, so they will link back to you. Popularity is mainly about getting backlinks to your site or web app – which can be combined with social media in order to increase the engagement. It’s important to make your website responsive and mobile friendly because Google will soon penalize websites that are not mobile friendly and mobile searches are growing every year. If you are not honest and try cheating Google will find out pretty sure and you might disappear from indexation completely, so focus on your content!
SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
In contrast to SEO, which is basically about on-site and off-site optimization, search engine marketing (SEM) means that you are paying for campaigns that will put you in the sponsored links of the search engine result pages (SERPs). So basically you are paying for sponsored links with Google AdWords. Of course you don’t want to use your budget as effectively as possible, so you need consider a few things: Define your goals, choose you keywords “like a master”, put creativity in your ads, create landing pages, decide on your maximum CPC (cost per click), etc. SEM should be a continuous cycle of improvement: Empower, optimize, recover, rectify, and so on. Your goals depend a lot on what you want to achieve for your business: Branding, traffic generation, conversion, ROI (return on investment), … When choosing your keywords, think about so called “long tail keywords”. For example, a general keyword could be “app development”, whereas a long tail keyword is “hybrid html5 app development”. Long tail keywords are useful if you want to target a more specific segment or are in a highly competitive sector, for example in the B2B field. You can also use negative keywords so your ad doesn’t appear for certain search terms. Think about the term “apple” for example: Probably if you are selling apples (the fruit) you don’t want to appear in search engine result pages for the Apple iPhone or Steve Job’s biography.
Google Analytics is a “must have” tool for your website or mobile app if you want to learn about your audience, your acquisition, the behavior of your users and your conversions. Of course there are other tools besides Google Analytics as well, for example Piwik, which is as an open-source analytics platform. Tools like Google Analytics can easily be integrated into native mobile apps for iOS and Android as well.
When it comes to social media, the role of the community manager is very important. He or she is basically the “ambassador” of the brand. Social media tools include blogs, podcasts, content sharing platforms (Flickr, Youtube, Slideshare, etc.), Wikis, mashups (hybrid apps) and social apps (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram) of course. The community manager of course needs to take part in the marketing strategy, but also has to listen for opinions about a brand or product. In addition to discussions and crisis management, he or she has to identify market opportunities and collect and deliver information back to the marketing department.
Mobile marketing and apps
App monetization is challenging and difficult, that’s certain. But the good thing is, there are a few options and possibilities:
- Paid: The user pays once and gets the app
- Freemium: The user goes from lite to premium with in-app purchases
- Paymium: The user pays for the app and has in-app purchases available
- Advertising: The app is free but includes ads
- Subscription: Especially relevant for magazines and newspapers
From a marketing point of, view just having an idea for an app is not enough. You need to do a marketing research, find out what users really want, and of course plan how much resources and time is needed for the development of the app. A good planning at the beginning can greatly reduces costs later on in the process. We at creative workline propagate the MVP (minimum viable product) approach when developing apps. Always think about what are the benefits of having a mobile app. Is it engagement and reinforcing a brand image? Is it better accessibility and visibility (exposing your icon/logo, connecting with consumers whenever and wherever). Is it increasing direct sales? Is it providing your customers a new or additional service?
Once you found answers to this questions it is important to think about how to get users’ attention once they use the app. Adapt the usability to your target group, design to differentiate from your competitors but to be coherent with the platform guidelines. Simplicity is certainly a success factor when it comes to user interfaces (UI), but keep also colors in mind. Typography and fonts play an important role as well, just like the right images do to give visual impact. The main icon of your app should always be distinctive and representative – simple forms are usually the best ones. Navigation within the app should also be simple, clean and intuitive.
ASO (App Store Optimization)
App Store Optimization (ASO) works pretty similar for both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. For the Google Play Store, keep the title short, because there are a lot of screen sizes on the Android platform. Probably the most important factor is the description – include keywords, keep it congruent and concise, describe the features and write good and appealing text. This will affect your rank. Of course the app icon is the first thing potential users of your app will see when they search, so put a lot of effort in making it look simply awesome, unique and related to the theme of your app. In addition to up to eight eye-catching screenshots you should add a YouTube video with a length of 30 to 120 seconds. Once users review your app, use the feedback to improve your app. Your aim then should be to get good ratings, Google+ “pluses”, installs and authoritative backlinks.
For ASO in the Apple App Store you should also keep your title concise and descriptive (+/- 25 characters). For the description the same rules apply as in the Play Store, although it doesn’t affect your rank. However it is important for SEO as Google indexes iTunes pages. In the App Store you can put your app in two categories, choose the right ones. Add app to five eye-catching screenshots and a preview video with a length of 15 to 30 seconds. In contrast to the Play Store you can define keywords in the App Store, so use the 100 available characters wisely without spaces. Don’t use misleading keywords but instead unique and exclusive ones. For reviews, ratings and backlinks basically the same applies as for the Play Store.
So you have your app store pages all set up and want to measure your success? That’s where mobile analytics comes into play. There are quite a few KPIs (key performance indicators) that you can measure: Impressions, CTR (click through rate), weekly active users, CPA (cost per action), average session time, etc. You can also use benchmark metrics to compare with your competitors. There are a lot of tools available for mobile analytics, including:
- Google Analytics (analytics platform for web and mobile)
- App Annie (app market analysis, advertising analytics)
- Answers by Crashlytics (real time data reports)
- Mixpanel (analytics platform)
- Localytics (app analysis for companies, audits and info about your customers)
- Apsalar (rankings, sales data, opinions of your app)
When creating a new mobile app solution, you should think about mobile marketing from the very beginning. You will put a lot of effort into designing and developing your app but you must also put enough effort into search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), app store optimization (ASO) and mobile app analytics. The most awesome app won’t be successful if your potential users don’t find it among the millions of apps and websites out there. And when they finally have it installed you should use app analytics to gain knowledge about how they use it in order be able to continuously improve your app. As an app agency we at creative workline GmbH have developed and launched numerous mobile app solutions so far and would be pleased to support you with our knowledge. Feel free to leave a comment, contact us digitally or drop by for a coffee in one of our offices in Berlin and Vienna.
Image sources: flickr.com/photos/jasonahowie/7910370882