”Improvement is the logical form of change.” – James Cash Penny
As I am building out more and more apps, I’m starting to realize that the apps themselves are becoming really powerful marketing tools. They offer me a lot of flexibility and options about creating a better a user experience, along with driving more downloads. The best part is that I don’t even really need to change my apps – I just need to make them better, more marketing-friendly. And trust me, it makes a HUGE difference.
Marketing does not have to be so expensive. There a lot of innovative ways to promote a product especially with the advent of the Internet. Marketing an app in particular can become even easier on the budget since you can promote within the app itself. Here are six ways to do it:
Encourage Reviews within the App
While there may be risks in getting negative feedback when you ask for reviews within the app, you should not really be too concerned about this if you are sure that your app is great. Doing this is not difficult as it can be done with just a handful of code lines.
Timing is essential. You would want your users to rate your app while they are in their best possible mood, i.e. while they are enjoying your app. Also, make sure not to overdo it as you might irritate your users. Here are some appropriate times to ask for reviews within your app:
- Wait it out for a few days. If the app has been installed for several days without being deleted, then chances are the user finds it useful. You can program a code to determine the number of days an app has been installed upon its launch. Five to 15 days from installation may be ideal, depending on how often your app is used.
- For games, ask for feedback when the user gets a high score or hurdles a difficult level.
- For productivity apps, request for ratings after a user accomplishes a task such as editing a photo.
Word of mouth is a very important tool in marketing. If a user enjoys your app, then allow him to spread the word by installing a Tell-a-Friend button that will enable him to share your app with others through e-mail or social networking sites.
iOS SDK’s In-App E-mail functionality allows the sending of e-mail directly from within an app. Popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter may also be used.
Third Party Web Services
Another way to promote within your app would be to use a third party web service. A web service can be as simple as displaying a website in your app or as complicated as hooking in a database. It’s using an external support system to help boost you app’s experience. You should bear these things in mind when determining how much of your app’s functionality will depend on a third party web service:
- Read the Application Programming Interface (API) license agreement to make sure that it allows access to the API in a commercial software application for mobile devices.
- Remember that the company’s terms may change or the company may stop operating which will force you to remove the feature.
- Even outside the agreement, a company can make an API change that can break your app and require you to submit a new fixed update to the App Store. The update may not be immediately available in the App Store considering that it has to undergo a review process before customers get to use it.
- Make contingencies for API outages or glitches due to bugs, server maintenance or excessive traffic. You need to have a defensive code that will allow your app to handle these problems gracefully.
Integrate Social Networking
Hard sell promotions of your app by users are nice but some subtleness can help too. You can deeply integrate social networking like sites Twitter and Facebook with other core features in your app. One example would be to allow users to share high scores through these social networking sites. It establishes connection among players and it can likewise attract new users.
iOS 5 already supports Twitter integration as a Framework and iOS 6 will support Facebook integration. What does this mean? You can “Tweet This” right in your app and you’ll be able to “Like” parts of the app. Crazy, right? But awesome, nonetheless.
Setting up this feature does not have to be so difficult or complicated. Check out ShareKit, a turnkey open source class library that allows you to set-up this feature. ShareKit supports services like e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Tumblr, Instapaper, Read It Later, Google Reader and Pinboard. It also supports sharing of text, files and images. Since it is open source, it is customizable and you can add services to it anytime.
Promoting within your app does not mean limiting yourself to merely promoting that version of your app. With cross promotion, you can be creative. While your app is loading, you can create a splash screen that can promote a premium or full version of your app. You can also promote other apps that you may have. You can provide a link that will enable the user to know more about your app and possibly, to download it. Here are two benefits of engaging in cross promotion:
- It can increase your sales, sometimes up to four to five times.
- It is a good way of spreading awareness about your other apps to your existing users.
Create Your Own Shop
You need not rely on the App Store all the time. You can be proactive to keep your users engaged by creating your own app store that will feature all of your apps. Instead of redirecting your users to the App Store when they click on your cross promotions, you can direct them to an embedded and custom screen for the app that you are promoting. This allows you to create your own pitch. Of course, don’t forget to provide a link to the App Store page and make sure you still comply with its rules. Here are some benefits in creating your own app store:
- You can modify the page without need to update the iPhone and iPad versions of your app.
- You can use Google Analytics to track the store pages accessed by users. One company reported around 85% of users who went on to explore other game pages with this feature. It increased page views and sales too.
- Users who buy from your store are redirected to the iTunes App Store. This allows you to earn affiliate commission. You can also earn affiliate commission by including apps that you love in your own app store. Other developers would surely appreciate your support.
Admittedly, creating your own app store might not be feasible if you do not have enough apps. However, you can still explore this option by joining forces with other developers offering similar apps to create a shared community store. By doing so, you can take advantage of the following benefits:
- Your store will be populated.
- You can promote your app through other apps in your community store.
No matter how many apps you have or where you’re at in your development, there are lots of ways to make your app more market friendly and monetization-focused.
If you have an awesome idea regarding in-app marketing, let me know! There are a thousand things I didn’t write about but would love to hear from you (leave a comment).