Monday, July 26, 2010

Marketing Mobile Apps & Other Stories

momo_london_large_logo For those of you who don’t know already, I help to run Mobile Monday London, an organisation that runs popular monthly knowledge and networking events, large-scale events like Over The Air (coming on 10/11 September) and Heroes of the Mobile Screen (coming in December) and also has an email discussion group, a Facebook group, a LinkedIn group and an active twitter following.

BlackBerry_Logo_Preferred_Black_R Our most recent event was 200,000 Apps, Where’s Mine? sponsored by the lovely people at BlackBerry. Essentially, we were looking at how to market your mobile application since the days of simply publishing it to the App Store (whichever flavour it may be – be that Apple, Nokia, Android, BlackBerry etc) and hoping for the best are gone. Marketing savvy is now required to make the most of your opportunity. But this isn’t an easy thing. If marketing were easy, there wouldn’t be 100s of 1000s of jobs for marketers. Equally, it’s a bit topic and we probably only scratched the surface as we only had about an hour or so to cover the topic. There was a lot more the audience wanted to know.

So with this in mind, Kath Clarke from Rosier Consulting approached me and asked if she could write a guest article as she felt there were some key things she could address on how to market mobile applications on a shoestring. Of course I said yes, it was such a great idea.  So here it is. Over to you Kath.

How to Market Mobile Applications on a Shoestring

Kath Rosier pic At this week’s Mobile Monday London panel discussion, application developers wanted to know how to market apps and create awareness of their apps on a shoestring. I felt that the question wasn’t answered in full so wanted to share my experience in helping small and large businesses in mobile get their applications and services noticed, create brand awareness and ultimately drive sales.

Now, you’ve created your gym app for example, and it’s available to buy, but how do you get anyone to know about it and drive your app to the top of the charts without spending the big bucks? My tips below won’t cost you millions, but it will cost you a bit of time and tenacity.

Who are your customers?

It may seem like a pretty simple question, but you’ve really got to know who your target customers are first. To work this out, just test your app with your group of friends, colleagues and family (which usually means hitting the main age groups, demographics and interests). See who responds positively and note down their age, what their interests are (gym, music, socializing etc), what phone they have and if they know anyone else who would like your app or service.

Create your target list

Put all this information into a spreadsheet and group everyone in interest groups, their age, phone type and if they would recommend the app to anyone. Remove anyone irrelevant (i.e. their phone doesn’t support your app) and put your groups in descending order of size.

Go local first

So you’ve worked out your interest groups and have a large list of people who will recommend your app to a friend. Now, you need to look at your local community in a 5-mile radius, and select all of the private and public gyms, tennis clubs, football clubs, as well as the other key places your target audience might hang out.. bars, pubs etc. There will be people interested in your app who never actually go to the gym, so you need to go where they go. Work out your route and go around all of these places, app in hand.

Promote it

What do you say to the person at reception or the manager of the venue? Tell them that you have created an exciting new app which is going to help people improve their fitness levels and you wanted to know if they’d be interested in giving it away for free to all of their customers. This would add value to their customer offering and help promote your app. If they say yes, tell them that you’d like to show it to the staff (with supporting handsets) and demonstrate how to download it and start using it. Arrange a time to come back and tell them you will bring along some posters and flyers to promote the free give away to their customers. Fingers crossed, they will be more than happy with this.

Posters and flyers

You can get a graphic designer to create a poster and flyer in a day and get them printed up locally fairly cheaply. They don’t have to be fancy, just clearly say WE ARE GIVING OUR CUSTOMERS A FREE APP and DOWNLOAD IT NOW and don’t forget to write a succinct one liner explaining the benefits (not features – there’s a big difference) of the app and where to get it.

Recruiting local ambassadors

Your local college or university is a fertile place to recruit ambassadors to your app. Recommendation from a peer is more successful that recommendation from a sales guy. After getting permission from the person in charge of the campus, you need to find students who would be interested in getting paid a small wage to be your “app ambassador”. They will essentially be selling your app to anyone they can, and with every new registration they will get a small bonus or just a standard weekly fee. The viral effects of this campaign will mean after a few weeks you will have created awareness not only within the local student community, but with the teachers, canteen staff, families and their friends. To generate interest from prospective ambassadors, create posters with your mobile number to be interviewed and recruited.

(This campaign idea was hugely successful with Turkcell the major mobile operator in Turkey who recruited student ambassadors to promote Turkcell Messenger.)

Recommendation is your best friend

People always listen to friends, family and colleagues, so grab your list of people who said they know someone who’d be interested in the app and call them up and take them up on their offer. Get their contact details and explain what are you doing and see if they would be interested in your free app. This will not only extend your reach outside your local community but will do so as many times as you have people to call. This is viral marketing at its best.

Get local coverage in the press

Some people don’t know how easy it is to get local coverage. Local newspapers love local stories and they would be interested in covering a story about a local innovative app developer who has created apps which people in the local gym are using. All you need to do is call up a news reporter on the local paper and explain why your app is great and they might want to interview you, take your photo and hey presto, you have your own press coverage which will read by a lot of people in your local community.

Get coverage in the right subject area

Again, getting press coverage isn’t rocket science when promoting apps. If your app is a gym app for example, then research online all of the online and print media, and the blogs to do with sports and fitness. Get the email and phone number of the features writer or the blogger and call them up and explain that you have the best app in the market for this, explain why and ask if they would like to feature it. If they like it, then they’ll likely to write up about it. For the big magazines like Men's Health for example, you can offer to give it away for free to all readers for a limited time only.

[Ed: Please be aware though, that journalists are very busy people and that bloggers are often blogging in their spare time as a hobby so don’t pester and don’t be offended if they didn’t get round to writing about you. Also be clear on benefits, not features – features are only meaningful to you. Customers are interested in benefits and results. And if you say you’re the first at something, really make sure that you are by doing your homework. Also, don’t assume that the blogger has an iPhone, Android or whatever phone you expect them to have. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone has an iPhone..]

Social Media

A great tool when marketing to consumers, use Facebook and create a page about your app. Get your ambassadors and friends, family and colleagues to sign up to the “I love this App” page and their friends will see their updates and might look to find out more.

You can do loads of things to keep your Facebook page alive. For example you can profile your ambassadors with a short video clip talking about how much they love your app and post on Facebook. Write up short stories about how they have used the app, how much weight they’ve lost, or what they think is the best benefit. Customer stories and testimonials really work but you may have to go out and ask your customers for this.

You can even create a competition for your Facebook followers to come up with new ideas for your next app or for work experience with you on an existing app. Regular activities will help spread the word and maintain your Facebook page.

Creating a Twitter page will tap into the Twitter followers, and you can update new events and with entries on anything else interesting to engage conversation with a new audience.

Now, you should be set to generate sales for your app and push it to the top of the app store charts.

About Rosier Consulting

Rosier Consulting specialises in marketing for businesses in the mobile industry. We provide marketing, events, PR and new media services to companies who are looking to enter the mobile marketplace or are already established and need to raise their profile, attract new customers and create business leads.

Delivering results, on time and to budget, Rosier Consulting can help any company stand out from the crowd through hard hitting marketing and PR campaigns. We also provide new lead generation programs, build the brand through rebranding initiatives, develop market leading product collateral and service demos and set up and manage events, exhibitions and user forums internationally.

Thank you for that Kath. What great tips.

I have a couple more to add myself…

Copy someone else who has successfully created and marketed an app similar to yours

If someone else has already been successful, and you think you’re just as good, if not better, then you need to make sure you’re getting coverage in the same places that they’re getting coverage. Or that you’re contributing to the conversation about a particular genre of apps or services. Don’t use this as an opportunity for a sales push – instead, join the conversation, add value to the article, community, forum or whatever it is. In doing that you will pique interest in what it is you’re doing. Leaving a message on a blog or facebook that says ‘My app’s brilliant, buy it now’ will just get deleted and is a complete waste of time. This technique is particularly powerful in a b2b setting, but it can work beyond that too.

Public speaking and events

You need to get out there. Someone from the team needs to be a visible face for the company. The one they get quotes from in articles and soundbites, the one they can turn to when something goes wrong and who they know will reply to them, someone who is taking the lead in a chosen field. If your early adopters are going to be from your industry, then you need to hang out with them at their events – asking interesting questions during sessions, putting yourself forward as a speaker for example. If your customers are somewhere else, you need to be where they are – both online and offline. And being at the Sports Conference, hanging out with sports enthusiasts to show off your gym app might just be the ticket.

Don’t forget to read the write-up about the MoMoLo event. And if you read down to the bottom of it, you’ll see a whole bunch of useful links which might just help you sort out your app marketing strategy with tips, hints and insight galore.

Oh, and keep an eye on the Mobile Monday London website and email discussion group for updates – we’re going to be doing a few free webinars in the coming weeks to help you further with this topic covering youth, PR and marketing techniques.