Rob Woodbridge and I discussed the business of mobility on UNTETHER.tv. During the full video interview which will be posted next Thursday, September 9th, I shared with Rob the story of W3i and Apperang, as well as practical tips for app developers to consider when promoting their application.
Twitter works. Read on to find out how I used Twitter to successfully launch my company’s new app promotion business, Apperang; along with other tips from a top tech journalist on how to use Twitter for app promotion.
I read Twitter Means Business by Julio Ojeda-Zapata on vacation in Mexico. Julio is a nationally recognized tech journalist (for example, see his post about his recent appearance on TWiT) who covers tech news for the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
A quick tangent on my Mexico trip before I continue…
I knew Nokia was #1 in global market share for mobile phones, but I haven’t traveled outside of the U.S. much over the past year so this hadn’t really sunk in. I was amazed at how many low-end Nokia feature phones there were in Mexico. For example, I sat on a ferry ride next to a young guy who worked for mobile game company Gtech. In my extremely choppy Spanish and his choppy English, we discussed the difference in iOS versus Android, and games built for feature phones. Pretty funny discussion on who’s the target market for various phones.
I was late to adopt Twitter… Why?
I was down on social media after watching Facebook transition from its initial early adopters to its current position of mass consumer penetration. Through the transition to the mainstream, Facebook ended up becoming a pretty worthless professional tool for me. I’ve always been a LinkedIn fan, but I find LinkedIn tends to be where relations go to die versus to develop.
What caused me to finally pay attention to Twitter?
I was urged by friend and fellow Minnesota tech entrepreneur, Philip Hotchkiss, to adopt Twitter for professional purposes about a year ago.
How did I get started?
I started following individuals I came across during my general professional life.
Eventually, the number of relationships I followed became hard to manage so I started building Twitter lists on key conversations I like to participate in, such as app marketers, app developers, tech media, and Minnesota tech.
What did I miss during the Twitter early days?
By being a late adopter to Twitter, I missed out on some of the early business success stories. Julio’s book did a great job of retelling these early stories. Here are a few excerpts that specifically apply to app developers:
Evernote’s stellar customer service, for Windows apps and other OS apps, fix problems before most users even notice them. “Twitter has proven invaluable for identifying problems with its software, if a bug crops up, Evernote will hear about it, almost instantly,” comments Andrew Sinkov, Evernote Marketing Director (page 58). Evernote built a strong following due to its popularity with the web-tech set. Tweets help identify bugs, as well as capture usage ideas, as a vehicle for new product/feature communication, and a polling medium to get user feedback.
Promoting the MyLite iPhone App- Graeme Thickens and DoApp: “He (Graeme Thickens) used his @DoApp identity as a sort of news feed to keep followers apprised of developments in iPhone application development, which was a superhot subject in the consumer-technology universe” (page 57). Thickins searched for mentions of DoApp on Twitter and asked for permission to post some of the more creative tweets. Users were finding all kinds of interesting uses for the myLite program, which is a combination strobe, emergency flasher, and rock-concert lighter. Nearly two dozen uses were identified including: a radiologist setting it to red for use in the x-ray room; and a WVA medic using the emergency flasher at night festival “so other members of rescue and fire could find me in a dark sea of people.”
Amy Worley, Director of Digital Marketing, H&R Block, used Twitter to increase awareness of their desktop software (page 41). Worley was on a crusade to publicize the company’s digital offerings, including its TaxCut options, for doing taxes online. She used Twitter to broadcast tax tips like tax deductions commonly missed or W-4 tips. She also used Twitter to answer tax questions, creating a two-way conversation with users. Twitter evolved to become an integral part of their marketing efforts showing that H&R Block is a true advocate for the taxpayer.
My own personal Twitter business success story
A couple of weeks prior to the launch, I used Twitter to reach two app developers, which resulted in their participation in the public launch of our iOS app promotion service before we were even live. I found that many app developers are hard to reach, and Twitter is a very useful tool for engaging in conversations with them.
Perhaps even more telling of the business value in using Twitter, as a part of our launch, was how an unsolicited tweet was able to connect me to a writer at TechCrunch named, Gagan Biyani, which ultimately landed us a story in Mobile Crunch. This was no small feat for a company headquartered in central Minnesota, far from Sillicon Valley. Later on, several other tech blogs followed on the TechCrunch coverage and they wrote their own stories. The post Biyani wrote ended up being among the most popular in Mobile Crunch for the entire week – during a week that was competing for coverage against the iPhone 4 launch. Not only was it good industry buzz that resulted in several leads from additional new app developers who wanted to participate in our app promotion service; but it helped provide a big organic boost in early adopters on the consumer side of our service as well, which has provided great feedback while we are in our public beta phase.
I would highly recommend Julio’s book for anyone involved with using Twitter for business purposes. I am also looking forward to reading Julio’s new book when it is published on how businesses are using the iPad.
If you are an app developer interested in tips around the business of apps, I would recommend following @W3i, or if you are interested in following me personally, @robertjweber. Please comment if you have any interesting stories on how you used Twitter to grow your app business.
Every market leading platform, including iPhone, Facebook, Windows, and even browser toolbars, has at least one vendor who will sell a consumer app developer installs on a pay per download or pay per install basis.
Most of the pay per download networks utilize some method of cross promotion to drive additional installs while users are installing or interacting with another app.
So, how do these pay per download programs, like W3i’s Application Network for iOS apps, Windows apps and browser add-ons, compare in cost to other channels for app distribution such as search, display, affiliate, and OEM?
To answer this question, I had W3i’s Media Buyers examine past campaign performance across these difference channels and tallied up our effective cost per download by channel. The following bar graph is based upon the actual campaign performance which was achieved.
As you can see from W3i’s campaign results, pay per download programs can create a meaningful distribution channel while lowering an app developers costs by often as much as one third the cost of other alternatives!
Many app developers have tried search and affiliate programs to promote their app because they are more widely recognized tactics, but have failed to launch and optimize their apps for low cost pay per download networks.
Make sure you ask your pay per download program how they adhere to industry best practices, and what care they take in establishing a valued user experience. The engine that powers W3i’s Application Network, InstallIQ, has received the Truste Trusted Download certification and is white listed by Truste.
Whether you have an iPhone app, a Facebook game, a Windows application, or a browser toolbar, contact W3i to learn how you can launch and optimize your app using W3i’s pay per download program.
This article was written for app developers seeking downloads, however, if you have a website and would like to promote W3i’s applications, go to W3i’s affiliate sign-up form.
Amazon, along with all other book retailers and a variety of device manufacturers, are faced with a most disruptive competitive threat to their eBook business to date, the April 3 US release of Apple’s iPad. Amazon is turning to app marketing to defend their competitive position.
Defending and Growing Their Core Business, Books–There’s an App for That
Amazon and other book retailers, like Barnes and Noble, are in the business of selling books, not selling devices. Apple is in the business of selling devices, not selling books.
Armed with this knowledge, Amazon has launched Kindle for the PC and Kindle for the iPhone. Think of the Kindle for iPhone as a consumer’s “eBook store for iPhone/iPad” more so than Apple’s owned and operated e-Book store. This is a smart move by Amazon’s marketing team.
Recent research conducted by W3i shows 50% of respondents indicate that they have an interest in using an application to aid in the discovery of books. Amazon introduced Kindle for iPad March 22, integrating with the Kindle bookstore and making more than 450,000 Kindle books available through its Kindle app. Able to sync with Amazon’s servers, Kindle for iPad makes it possible for you to continue reading on a PC, Mac, iPhone, BlackBerry, or Kindle e-reader. Amazon will continue to grow by knowing their strength, selling books, and making sure that their content is available in emerging platforms—like Apple’s iPad. Barnes & Noble has already jumped on this bandwagon with the anticipated early April release of their eReader app for the iPad. Other book retailers will be wise to follow suit and use app marketing to their advantage.
It is important that app marketers consider what utility is provided by the apps they are developing and marketing. Amazon did a fantastic job with their PC and mobile apps versus their Kindle eReader. (I own a Kindle 2, and I rarely use it. When I am traveling, I’m much more likely to carry a pocket device like an iPod Touch, and when I am at home, I am much more likely to use my laptop PC.) I’ve used both the Kindle for PC and the Kindle for iPhone apps for a couple of months now, and I’ve found both to be very fast, easy to use, and well thought out. After I installed the Kindle for PC on my laptop, I tried out its “free sample” feature and skimmed through a few pages of Chris Anderson’s “Free” book, which is one of my all-time favorites. Unlike the Windows iTunes app by Apple where most of the navigation of content itself is within the app causing it to be very slow at times, most of Amazon’s desktop app is built by calling back to Amazon’s web technology while still managing the eBook files locally on my machine. This makes for a much faster, enjoyable experience. Next, I installed the Kindle for iPhone app on my iPod Touch. I purchased the book “The Quants” by Scott Patterson, and read it while on vacation with my family in Orlando. Amazon’s website, iPhone app, and PC app are all synchronized through their “Whispersync” technology. Kudos to Amazon for having a truly synced up, multi-channel strategy that creates great utility for its users.
Finding Alternative Distribution Channels-Mobile
Now that Amazon and other brands have very user-friendly mobile and PC apps, they need to find solutions to market their apps to the masses. Last month, my Clickz column discussed a variety of ways marketers could find alternative distribution models for mobile, including rebates, free-for-a-day, free for virtual goods, and cross-promotion in app advertising. One example would be to use W3i’s Apperang service which provides users with small cash incentives to try quality apps.
How might Amazon push their Kindle for iPhone app more aggressively?
One of the most common distribution tactics used by top mobile app marketers is to get top ranking in the App Store. As I read recently, “You don’t call Apple, they call you.” I doubt Amazon will be getting a call from Apple to give them free publicity on the AppStore. Amazon needs to use a variety of other consumer application marketing tactics:
- Advertising – go old school with traditional advertising; an expensive tactic, but it can work.
- Download exchange – optimize ad campaign performance with mobile ad networks like Admob.
- Word of mouth – make it easy for friends to engage.
- Social buzz – expand your app’s horizons through viral market on existing social media such as blogs, Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook.
- Review sites – get app ratings and reviews on sites like AppShopper, iUse This, AppVee, and Apple iPhone School. Let positive reviews to do the work for you.
Finding Alternative Distribution Channels-PC
One very effective application marketing tactic currently employed by Amazon is sponsored search.
However, there are limitations to search marketing; a major limitation being the lack of volume available in many new product categories. Amazon is also using In-house promotion tactics by heavily advertising new Amazon apps on their already highly trafficked and successful website.
How might Amazon push their Kindle for PC app more aggressively?
- PC OEM Deals – expand relationships with channel partners. Ever heard the phrase, “enemies of your enemies are your friends” from Art of War? Most PC manufacturers are very concerned about the growth of Apple’s market share in the desktop and laptop market, the smartphone market, and now with iPad and Netbook sales. Even if the iPad is a smashing success, total unit sales are not going to come close to all other devices.
- Cross promotion- similar to Tapjoy in mobile, Amazon could contract with cross promotion companies like W3i.
- Affiliate marketing – Amazon is a pioneer in affiliate marketing. If they are not already doing so, adding apps to their affiliate program could boost distribution.