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“Mobile app marketers” are MORE than install generators, people!

DIY MOBILE APP MARKETING

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I had recently visited Barcelona, taking part in MWC (Mobile World Congress Zoo), so I was literally living in Fira Gran Via, hall 8.1 (also known as apps planet) for a while. Apart from exploring great tools supporting app business professionals, I was totally confused as so many presenters described themselves as “mobile app marketing platforms”. This is what “mobile app marketing” means for me

mobile-app marketer what? 

It’s funny to see the reaction of people when you give your elevator pitch about being a mobile app marketer. Those who don’t belong to the mobile industry are sometimes not even aware of the fact that mobile app marketers even exist. “Why spend money on mobile app marketing?”, my mom keeps asking me. It’s in the store right? So what’s to market?  For those aliens, app development is clear and understood. But that’s it. Job done. Go home or to the beach, you’ve got an app so now your real work is counting money. I keep being asked: “So you make apps? Ho, no? So you sell them? No wait, can you start all over again, I am not sure I understand”. And you can see in their eyes that they are thinking, how the F@#K is she bringing food home to her kids. I swear I even saw pity once!

But what surprises me most is the feedback I get from people in the industry itself. App developers, owners of app development companies, etc. Well, they all nod and agree you gotta market your app, but I do get the feeling they don’t fully understand what app-marketers really do, practically speaking, or how their work day looks like.

It’s not that I expect everybody in the mobile industry to fully understand the scope of mobile app marketing. App marketers (or managers) have their own terminology and business tools. Like any other profession, we have developed (and are still developing, as this is such a new industry) our own DNA. Naturally, people who are not part of this profession are not expected to be familiar with its DNA.

I mean, some people (mainly geniuses, let’s agree) know how to develop software and apps. Yes, these people exist. You let them have a quiet environment, food, drinks and a (very detailed) PRD– and ta dam! They come back with something new that you can experience, on your phone. Pure miracle. Creation. Makes me cry.

Now, I know that I don’t understand their DNA. I had also learned that when I bump into code rows I should run away. This is no place for me. And I respect that. More Importantly, I get their value. I have no doubts. I want them in. The more the merrier.

But sometimes (and I am gentle here, ok?) I feel that people do not understand the value of marketers. Many are confusing marketing and sales. Or they don’t appreciate marketing expertise in the way that it deserves to be appreciated. And what’s most concerning is that many of these people tend to be my customers, bosses, or colleagues.

Let’s put things straight, they all vote for more installs, higher conversion rates, engaged users and more revenues, of course they do. It’s just that they are not sure how having an app-marketer in the picture can help them reach those targets. Well, they know that app marketer is the answer to their needs but they are not sure how it’s being achieved. It’s like knowing (but not witnessing) that germs make you sick (I’ve got metaphors issues, I know).

When you say that you, their app marketer, are planning to recruit media agency to run your campaigns, social agency to run your community, PR agency to run your press coverage and so forth, they tend to think “so what the F!@K is he getting paid for”. Can’t blame them, though.

It’s not their fault that marketing in general, and mobile-app marketing specifically, is not completely understood. I believe it’s the consequence of a constantly changing environment combined with a lack of an established knowledge base.

Constantly changing environment means that our key responsibilities and app-marketing boundaries are flexible and dynamic. Tasks that used to be under sales’ domain have now moved to marketing. What about Biz-Dev? Major part of it is called co-promotion. Monetization? Hey, it’s done using the same channels as advertising (hence, Marketing…). Not to mention new business areas that were not traditionally there, e.g. social media with new networks popping up every Monday and Thursday… ha, just received a promo email of another one…lovely! Just on time when I was thinking how to fill in my free evening, and (god forbids) maybe have life… just thinking.

Hell, I am not even sure where I should stop and let others begin. Should I be responsible for direct revenues? Additional monetization channels? Negotiation with potential partners? Affiliates?  Everything is connected, and most app results are dependent on marketing feedback and activities. Even the product (app) quality.

So, for the sake of all of us struggling to explain what it is that we do exactly and our (huge If I may add) value, I’ve identified a few responsibilities for the average mobile-app marketer.

Mobile- app marketing responsibilities (I might have left something out, so bear with me):

  • Product design and UX– so marketers are not writing PRDs nor are they responsible for the development cycle, but marketers should engage in the app /product UX and design to make sure that:
    • Product quality is at its best, at least compared to the competition
    • In-app marketing features are included (e.g., viral elements)
  • Strategic and tactical plans – the high level plan of how to reach the top of the mountain. The tactical bits and bytes are included here as well.
  • Submission and ASO – marketers should make sure all communication materials are up and running (including Look & Feel of the app page, video, screenshots and so forth). They should also maintain things “behind the scenes” – which includes app store optimization (making sure the app is prominent in the stores and on the web, while relevant keywords are searched for).
  • User acquisition – one of the most popular and known mobile app marketing areas of responsibility is around the methodology of acquiring users (downloads, installs and more advanced parameters). Though ad-agencies will say they can take care of everything, just sign here and put your money; marketers must keep a close eye on the results (CPC, CPI, user quality…), otherwise the campaign wouldn’t be fully optimized, and the CPI will not get as low as it can.
  • Measurements – whether it’s about measuring campaign results or about measuring in-app usage trends, measurement is a super important aspect of mobile app marketing, enabling optimization and personalization of the app and the user experience it provides. This is a key success factor.
  • User engagement – in-app tools and open, well maintained communication channels (social, digital, push, email lists and so forth) will increase the likelihood of users becoming loyal to your app. Did I mention measurement and optimization already?
  • Digital and social assets – app marketers should plan, build and maintain digital and social assets to provide information, support and communication channels for the app users. Remember those channels are critical for ASO as well.
  • PR, buzz creation and network conversation – the digital space is huge so popular apps are using the digital space to create awareness and build their brand. Click here to read our full training around PR and buzz creation for mobile apps.
  • Co-promotion initiatives – I love this one, because this is where users can come in, but no money needs to go out necessarily. You can use co-marketing initiatives to build awareness and create conversion through your already established communication channels to support your business partner, while you get the same value back from your business partner. A true win-win!

We are quite busy people, ha?

That’s A LOT of responsibilities to put on one human being, even on a team. This is where dedicated agencies, consultants and outsourcing services come handy. Each of the building blocks described above require specific expertise. Don’t be fooled – the app arena is super demanding, and mobile app marketing is one of the most competitive areas – with amazing quality of available tools and activities. Dedicated, high quality external services can help. Since this is their expertise, the area they deal with 24/7 (which ever area they are covering for you), no marketer can compete with that (though you could reach a reasonably good quality by doing some of the above yourself).

In certain areas you just must lean on external services. No other option exists, really. User acquisition in big scales is a good example. Running a campaign in one or two channels for a relatively small budget, is no issue. You can do it yourself. But when there’s a big budget at hand, or when you wish to try out a variety of media channels and you don’t want to make critical mistakes, you might want the experts to take over (with you controlling the process of course).

Think of programmatic advertising (RTB) for a minute. Those things are highly technical and demand deep expertise, with some big players controlling the value chain. A significant mobile campaign can keep, therefore, media-agencies, ad-networks and ad-platforms busy. Many mouths to feed… inevitable…

Wrapping up with some philosophy   

An app marketer is like a conductor of an orchestra. A project manager if you’d like. A good app marketer should know when to voluntarily lose some control and allocate budget for external help. That if it’s possible, budget wise. After all it is a privilege. The goals of course is that the app will not stay behind. In any case all of us, app marketers, are rolling up our sleeves, and doing a lot of “dirty work” ourselves. All marketers should. At all seniority levels. In all companies scales, and with any budget level. The trick is to find the balance. And that’s the million dollar question: How much to allocate for an external help vs. spending on media buying or similar activities you just can’t do yourself? How much to pay for a service you could have, potentially, done yourself, if time was endless. This is a tough question. It’s hard to give up the money. It’s hard to let go. But it’s the smart thing to do.

Still, the more you lean on external help, the more of your time you need to invest in coordinating the players. Cause your orchestra is getting bigger. And you end up with your colleagues wondering what on earth you are getting paid for if so many tasks are handled by external (costly) help. So you start spending time on building up your internal positioning, explaining, educating and generally justifying your existence. Some people make an art out of it. I salute them and I envy them at the same time. Well, you know what they say: I never promised you a rose garden…

Maybe next time they ask you about your job, you can share the example of a medical surgery (metaphor issues, remember?). So many professionals in the surgery room. All getting paid. Usually only one who is in-charge. Supervising and making sure everybody is coordinated and that no mistakes are made. The result is (hopefully) a living, and on the way to recovery, patient. I don’t think anybody would give up the senior surgeon, even if he/she are “only” supervising the staff, and most of the job is done using innovative tools and technologies. That, or you could just share this article with them. Good luck!

 

 

Elli
Elli is one of AppGo2Market.com Co-Founders, a mobile expert and a mentor. Having years of experience in the mobile and marketing industry promoting popular mobile apps and B2B related services. Presenting specific expertise on users' acquisition strategies, PR, social media, product marketing, BizDev integrations and more
Elli
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