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Is digital & social strategy for your mobile app a must?

DIY MOBILE APP MARKETING

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If you are preparing your launch or looking to improve results of your already launched app, you are probably asking yourself what else can be done. I am about to specifically look into digital & social strategy supporting mobile apps (in other words, web / mobile site and social networks).  There are many options out-there, but that doesn’t mean you should invest in them all; you need to be smart about it. Here is how…

Why invest in digital / social presence?

Let’s assume you app is already launched. Brilliant. Still, you must consider investing in your digital and social presence as well. Why? My 5 main reasons are (they’re really hard to argue with): Discovery, competition, user satisfaction, ROI and app-stores optimization.

  • DISCOVERY-with close to 1M available apps in Google play or iTunes, you need to get your app discovered and meet your potential users via several channels parallel. Users tend to be passive in the digital world. They do “window shopping”. Sometimes they run into an app, get curious and download it. That means someone has done his job rightJ. Even the users who are active will not necessarily think to proactively search for what they need in the app stores. If they need something, they will ask friends, search the web or just use the first solution they encounter. Think of it like that: The strongest retail chains make sure they have a point of sale positioned at every important street corner. It’s the same idea here.It is your job to point users to the app’s download page, by using maximum channels that are important and relevant for your users. The secret is to be in front of your users, wherever they are. The more relevant digital / social “real estate” you own, the more discoverable your app is and the higher chances that your app will be discovered before the competition.
  • COMPETITION – your competitors can set the standards.  Many times that’s what happens… If your competitors have relevant assets which you do not have, it might be significantly harder for you to conquer market share. If your competitors are lacking some of those assets, it’s your chance to set a new standard, before they beat you to it. So beating competition to the finish line is a good enough reason…
  • USER SATISFACTION – Users are looking to be pampered. We all are. We are used to certain standards and we are only willing for them to be raised. Easy search, easy find, quick and multiple communication channels, these are all well expected. When users feel their expectations weren’t met, they get disappointed and suspicious. That’s bad. When users’ expectations are met or even exceeded they feel super pleased and secured. Happy users are loyal, are great ambassadors, spreading the word and enhancing positive buzz. To summarize:  Digital and social investments create multi-channel communication, therefore contributing to make users happy and loyal, which supports app’s objectives.
  • ROI (return on investment) – Digital/social assets save money.  Yep, you read correctly. When we think of a website or social build up, first thing that comes to mind is “how on earth will I fund this on top of everything else”. But believe it or not, if you are willing to DIY (investing time in learning how and in actual execution), you can build digital / social presence even with a very low budget.  The ROI, on the other hand, can be huge. Those assets can serve your discoverability (buzz, brand etc.)  and distribution objectives (downloads!!!) for a much lower price than other popular and costly tools (e.g. acquisition media campaigns, traditional advertising, etc.), the ROI here can be so high, that I know many cases where this was a major strategy for apps that started with almost non-existing budgets.  To summarize: Social /digital assets can be built DIY style, with minimal budgets, by any marketing manager/ app owner. They can later on save huge budgets on push campaigns, PR and additional expensive marketing tools and activities.
  • ASO (app stores optimization) – Finally, and that’s relevant mainly to apps running on Android, Google Play’s promotion algorithm relays on many parameters, among them is digital / social presence and activity levels (traffic). ASO is a wide topic, with many action items (read here more). What’s relevant here is that Google takes into consideration web links that are promoting your app, as well as usage of Google+ social network. The more web traffic related to your app, the better your position will be in Google play. To summarize: digital / social assets support ASO.

Now, that we’ve fully covered the “why”, we need to prioritize and smartly select our digital/social assets.

Prioritizing and smartly selecting digital / social assets

Digital – Website

Digital assets include website and mobile sites (to begin with). Advanced digital strategy should also address SEO methods, back-links, optimized links to the iTunes & Google play and advanced content marketing.

I cannot come up with a good reason for an apps where a website is not needed. It is relevant for both B2C and B2B focused apps. EVERYBODY is on the web. It’s expected. Let’s agree that having website is a must-have element of the strategy, and the real question is the cost.

An app website should include, to begin with, 4 main sections (about page, download page, support/contact page and Q&A page). Additional options (such as blog, forum and more are nice to have, but can be added later on). Building a site could be a relatively simple task, with a relatively low budget.

Sure, building a website is sometimes a complex, costly project. It’s up to you; though. It can be justifiable, especially when it is designed to complement the app’s core functionality. In this case the whole vision of the digital strategy should be different, but usually, this should be an advanced evolution of the digital strategy, and not the starting point.

To wrap up this section, let’s agree that a website is a must-have element of the strategy, only we should plan to build it according to our budget, time constraints and the type of app we are promoting.

Digital – Mobile site

Raising your eyebrows? Yes, I already have an app, why a mobile site as well?? Remember, not all users will download your app to their phone immediately on their first random encounter with it, before they fully understand its value. Many users search things using their mobile browser, and this in an untapped opportunity. We recommend that you conduct a small research to see if your app’s relevant key words are searched for on mobile web. If these keywords generate significant number of mobile searches, this is an opportunity to tell users about your app on the mobile web. And one effective way to do so is by Adwords campaign leading to a mobile website. This tactic is missed by many mobile apps and again presents an opportunity to beat your competition. Now, you may ask: Why not campaign pointing to your regular download page? Or just a landing page? Why invest on a mobile site? Well, many potential users are NOT likely to rush and download your app if they only saw an ad. They are looking to first understand its value and then make a decision and take action. And a mobile site is the perfect tool for that purpose. It will provide them with the relevant info presented clearly and customized to their mobile device. In this critical meeting point, before they decide be your user, you want to look your best.

By “mobile site” I do not mean mobile compatible site, based on your “regular” website, only compatible with the phone’s screen size and limitations. I mean a site specially designed for mobile usage. It does not necessarily mean additional budget, just a different approach.

Sure, it may not be the first marketing tool on your prioritized list, but hey, good news: There are great hosted solutions that can help you get this done with low budget, DIT style.

To close the digital strategy part, may I TIP you based on my experience and belief? In general, while we usually want to go-2-market only when we feel that our products and tools are perfect, we should, however, launch when they reach the “good enough” quality level, not later than that. Otherwise, we are too late. This implies here as well. We’ve already agreed on the importance of digital assets. Make sure those are part of your plan. It’s ok to use DIY techniques, leaning on existing hosted solutions when you are short on budget. You can always adapt on the move based on what you’ve learned along the way.

Social

Two aspects are very important when you are assessing which social elements to include in your plan:

  1. Target audience –different social networks are used by different segments of users and serve different needs.
  2. Resource limitations –social media management is extremely time-consuming. Still, compromising on quality is not an option here.

Some important points to consider when prioritizing your social channels:

  • Is your app running on android? If yes, consider Google+ presence as it takes an important role in Google play ranking 
  • Facebook presence is a basic element in any social strategy. I can’t think of an app that shouldn’t engage in Facebook activity at some level. However, it requires some marketing budget for promotion. Make sure you allocate some budget for your Facebook activity. 
  • Is your app targeting the business community? Are you targeting affiliates? 3rd party developers? API integrators? Co-marketing initiatives? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you should consider LinkedIn presence. 
  • Make sure you understand the local-social arena in territories you are focused on. Some countries behave differently than others, and in some territories, local social networks are very prominent (e.g. Spain, Brazil). 
  • Look at the competition- try not to neglect important channels they are using. Learn their social strategy before you establish yours. 
  • While social media operation requires some budget (mainly on Facebook viral activities and on ad campaigns), it could in turn present big savings by reducing the need to use alternative, expensive marketing campaigns, 
  • Prioritize the relevant social networks to invest in, according to your specific needs. Sure, most networks are valuable, but resources are seriously limited, And when it comes to social, things are completely transparent; any lack of attention to a specific channel will be immediately noticed, and most likely exploited by competition. Better do less but do it well.

Summarizing the social part, here are main steps to take, by order:

  1. Analyze target audience
  2. analyze resource constraints (human resource mainly)
  3. Analyze competitors’ strategy
  4. Based on 1-3, prioritize the relevant social networks and define levels of investment in each
  5. Make sure you are backed up by the relevant stakeholders in your company (you might be asked to provide reasoning and ROI forecasts.
  6. Move on with the planning and execution

As for social media general stats, here is a wonderful infographic:

infographic-_social_media_stats_2013[1]

Tsipi Joseph
Tsipi is one of AppGo2Market.com Co-Founders, a mobile expert and a mentor. Over 10 years of experience in the mobile and marketing industry: Director of Marketing at Telmap, Comverse and marketing professional development director at the American Association of National Advertisers.
Tsipi Joseph
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