Marketing 101 For iPhone Apps

    Photo by thepatricYesterday I wrote (or ranted) about the need to also market your iPhone apps instead of just throwing them into App Store and complaining people do not find them. This time I will elaborate more on the marketing tools. There is a multitude of ways you can market your app and one could write a book on that, so let’s just cover the basics here (which should not be much news if you have thought about things at all).

    Pricing is just one the tools you can use and it would be very shortsighted to think that is the only way, as so many seem to have thought with the 0,99 fever. But let’s cover that first. If you constantly publish new products and after a while put them on discount systematically, people will learn to postpone their purchases until they see the apps on sale. Also, if you use a low price tag, tend to discount your app often, or even give it away for free – even if for just a moment – you have just taught people something about the value of your app. Decide what is important to you and what kind of brand image you want to create.

    Along with your planning and discovering about how much people are ready to pay for your app, you also need to know your own business to determine whether you can live with the selected price point. Very few can with 0,99, it is just not viable business. Ad-supported model may not work that well either. See one case study on TechCrunch (be sure to check the good comments as well). A much better way to drive discovery than discounting can be to have a separate free version with limited functionality (an example). This is not to say that you could not run some campaigns every now and then – but you have to have a strategy.

    A very fundamental element is that you need to make sure all the product marketing materials are top notch and polished – product name, screenshots, icon, marketing materials. Those are the things everyone consumer who comes across your app will see, and they already determine how many will look further or pass. It might be worthwhile to do a small focus group to get an outside opinion (from “normal” friends if nothing else), rather than relying on purely your own judgment. Once again, you can start from the marketing 101 – what your target segment is and how you will best arouse its interest.

    Another way to improve is to learn more about the users of your app with services like Flurry (who also cover iPhone apps monetization on their blog), and analyze what the actual users do inside your app (e.g, the first actions they take) in order to fine-tune the functionality and conversion rates. You could easily find out you are completely lost with your own assumptions and biases.

    Yet another marketing tool would be to leverage the easiness of linking to specific apps in the App Store directly from the web. This would be a lot like driving traffic to certain web pages. You could actually compare App Store environment to the web. If you have a lone domain, no matter how friggin’ great your content is no one will find it if you do nothing else than keep developing the product alone.  Planning your branding and marketing activities, and iterating will be keys to success.

    Now that Apple allows lots of other business models, like micropayments, than just up-front payments with the new OS version, new types of service businesses might be on the way. In the future, depending on your product it could be enough just to focus on improving a single service, one end point for consumers, and increasing the user base iteratively instead of pushing out constantly new products. Talk about converging of web and mobile.