Effective Pre-Launch Mobile App Marketing Strategy

Before you go out and spend money on building your App. The first step is to determine if there is a market for what you are going to build. I know you have a unique and great idea but how do you really know if people will use your App. And an even better question is if they do use it… How will they find it in the App store?  Simply put you need a mobile app marketing strategy.

You are going to have to market it through both free and paid channels. So let me give you some ideas to see if there is a market and second drum up interest before launching. In other words… Getting emails you can market to later.

Effective Pre Launch App Marketing Plan

The first thing to do is to create a one-page web page. I use Launch Rock for this (www.launchrock.com).   This is a very simple online drag and drop tool that allows you to create pages that capture user emails. They have a free version and a $5 per month version. The main thing you must convey is that by submitting their email they will be notified when you launch.

Once you have your page setup you need to start marketing everyone you know and get feedback and support. Pull every email you have from Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Then use a service like Mail Chimp to send blast emails to these people. I recommend using Mail Chimp because you can setup campaigns and track who opened their emails. Then a few days later you can re-send the email to the people who did not open the first email.

Do not be afraid to beat your friends and family over the head with your emails and App idea. Trust me when I tell you that everyone you know is interested in what you are doing. They are! I know a guy who is a painter that I haven’t seen in years. The other night I ran into him and I said, “Shit, I just had my apartment painted and I didn’t think of you”.   I didn’t think of him because I haven’t seen or heard from him in 5 years. But I would much rather of hired him. So make sure everyone you know knows what you are doing.

Every time I have bulk emailed my friends with my new endeavors I get great responses. They just may say “I don’t know anyone who can help right now but if I do I’ll send them your way”.   The hidden benefit is that you will re-connect with your old friends. The idea is that you want people to know about you and what you are doing.

The next step is setting up an auto responder campaign. This is a series of emails that you will send over a given period of time. After a user submits their email you can plan a strategy to get the involved in your App. This could be “sneak peaks” of the App. Or you could ask users to take surveys about certain features you might roll out first. Get creative! Ask people to sign-up to help you beta test the App.

Now that you have a landing page you can start promoting it on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social media pages you have.

You can also start running some ad’s to your landing page and see if you can get email conversions.  I recommend running ads on Bing or Yahoo simply because you get the same amount of hits for 1/3 of the price on Google. Plus, at this point it’s likely you do not have any images, headlines or copy. By using a lower cost engine you can refine your ads.

Generally you want a method to capture a users email and then continue to engage them through the App launch. If you are struggling to get users at this stage then you might want to pivot to another idea or refine your message. This step is critical because it will frame your market and get you to create App marketing materials like copy, headlines and images.

Jeremy Callahan The App Man

 

Jeremy Callahan

jeremy@jeremycallahan.com

http://www.jeremycallahan.com

Twitter @jeremycallahan

The Unconventional Guide to App Building – Part 1

Step 1 – The Foundation

The steps to App building are similar to building a home. If you were building a home the first thing you’d consider is how much home can I build with my budget. In the startup world, we call this the MVP

Minimum Viable Product: So when we talk about product development, I want you to think what are the minimum features that are needed to get this to market so we can get user feedback. Our goal is to get this in front of people and find out how well it works. Then we can make additions and adjustments in the next version.

There are two parts to the foundation

One is the Name, logo, design and URL. At this point I’m sure you at least have a name in mind. Make sure to search the iStore and Android Marketplace to verify that the name is available. If you do not find an app with that name, it is available. For the web URL you can go to Godaddy and run a search.

To reserve the name you will need to create a developer account in the iStore and Android market place and register a new App with that name. This does not mean you have to publish an App. It just means that you have created the initial App landing page. This is the page people see when they search for you in iTunes. Once you have the App registered you have 180 days to publish your App or the name will be lost.

Choosing a Keyword Friendly Name

Names in iTunes can be 255 characters and making the most of this is important for keyword purposes. For instance your app might be to find dog walkers in your neighborhood and called: Dog Walkers

But you have 255 characters so a better name would be: Dog Walkers – Find licensed pet sitters, walkers and trainers in your neighborhood. Now when people search for ‘pet sitters’ your App comes up in the search.

The second step to the foundation is design!

The first step is to create a style guide. The style guide is simply a logo, headings, colors, buttons, icons, etc that will be in the App. You can do a Google image search for “Mobile App Style Guide” and see examples of what you are looking to build. It is similar to the image below:

How to Build Apps Style Guide

To create the guide I recommend going on Fivrr and searching for “App Style Guides”. This will return a list of people who will create them for you for as little as $5.

Fivrr is a site where people work for $5 per project. Well actually $5 is just the starting point. For a decent style guide you are looking at around $30 – $50 per request. Fivrr is great for design because you can get several designs for a small investment

The best way to use Fivrr is to find three to four people and then purchase their services. Once you have the results you can pick and choose elements you like and combine those into a final style guide.

People always seem to get paranoid here thinking the designers will steal their idea. If you fall into that category I’d suggest working with us or a designer you feel you can trust. Use a designer you know or someone who you can meet with in person before they start working.

Keep in mind that the reason for the style guide is so you have something to hand off to the developers you hire. This guide will be used for the App and your website (assuming you also need a website).

And it is important that you have a brand identity that you can use from business cards, email templates or anything else with your brand on it. So take some action right now and find a good designer and have them create a style guide for you.

My final thought on design is a visualization exercise. Once you have your style guide I want you to print it out in high quality and as large as possible. Then pin that on your office or bedroom wall… Somewhere you will see it everyday

This will get emotionally involved in your App and seeing a design daily will keep you moving towards your goal!

The App Man Jeremy Callahan

Jeremy@flipshopmarketing.com

Twitter: @jeremycallahan

Jeremy Callahan is a Mobile Commerce Expert, App Developer and Founder at Flip Shop Marketing

BS Facts About Hybrid or Native Apps Everyone Thinks Are True

Let me ask you a question… Of all the Apps right now on your phone, how many do nothing more than a regular website?  That right there is the answer to any debate on whether you should make your App with Hybrid or Native technologies. If you are really just making a website for a phone then you are wasting your time and money if you do not go hybrid.

Native vs. Hybrid Mobile Apps

 

For definition purposes hybrid is programmed in HTML/CSS/JavaScript and using one code base that you can publish into both App stores. Native means we have to program it separately for iOS and Android but we will have better access to the phone features like the accelerometer.

I will also tell you that I have programmed both hybrid and native Apps since 2011. The majority of the Apps are hybrid because I always take the smartest approach, which usually is based on what is the easiest to build and maintain. Plus as I stated before, 90% of the Apps on your phone are just glorified websites.

The Performance Lag. This is worth considering. Hybrid essentially takes the code and runs it inside a browser on your phone. Even though it looks like and App, it is running in a browser. Thus, if you need to call a core phone function (like geolocation, compass, accelerometer) that will cause a lag. Now this lag is a millisecond. Not a big deal if you are showing a map of restaurant locations near a person. But this can be a huge factor if you are Uber and showing where a car is in real time on a map.

The Facebook Effect. Zuckerberg isn’t any smarter than you or me. He is just a guy that hit a grand slam in his first at bat. In the early days of FB they went with a hybrid mobile approach. But they had to reverse course from a hybrid because in 2011 HTML5 had no way of scrolling content on a phone effectively. Since scrolling is a major part of FB they scrapped their approach and went native. Mark then made a few comments that HTML5 wasn’t ready. Group think prevailed and any CTO who made a mobile decision had to choose native because “that’s what Facebook is doing”.

A Real Life Example. I am leading a team right now rebuilding a website, iPhone and Android App for one of the largest corporations in the world (sorry can’t disclose but you’ve saw/used their products today). We have one backend team that is handling all the web service calls and then three separate teams for Web, iPhone and Android. All three teams are rebuilding the registration, login and shopping pages and calling the same backend web services. We get into situations where the Android team has something working and then the web team requests a backend change that breaks their code.

In addition to that, the user experience is different across devices. Hence, we have a design team that makes comps for all three environments. But all three sites do exactly the same thing! There is absolutely no reason (programmatically) that we should not be on a hybrid platform. All three are just glorified websites.

I get the inner workings of how decisions are made. And selling people on one code base being used for three platforms seems like pie in the sky type of stuff. But its not! You are all being sold a bullshit concept that you have to have three separate code bases for the same thing. Let that sink in…

If you are a developer, project manager, CTO… whatever. You need to wake up right now and challenge the status quo. Ask a simple question “Is our App just a glorified website”? If the answer is “Yes” then choosing anything other than hybrid is a major mistake.

Jeremy Callahan The App Man

Jeremy Callahan

jeremy@jeremycallahan.com

http://www.jeremycallahan.com

Twitter @jeremycallahan

5 Ideas for A Kick-Ass Mobile App

Retailers and brands are putting too much importance on their return on investment and not enough on their Apps importance on the shoppers journey and overall brand experience. If you truly want a kick-ass mobile App check out these 5 ideas to put you above the competition.

  1. Reward Loyalty! Do you know who your most loyal customers are? And if so, how are you rewarding them for engaging through your App? Here are two ideas…Sears just rolled out a rewards program where in-store shoppers to find “Pets” similar to Pokémon Go. They have teamed up with “The Life of Pets” movie and made an in-store game where users are rewarded for finding and capturing “pets” while in the store.

    Flip Shop Marketing has an App that allows retailers to put in product image designs of concept products. The idea is that if you have 1000’s of potential products like Shoes or dresses you can reward your customers from Swiping through and liking or passing on product designs. Brands can then offer a discount or cash reward for customers who swipe through 100, 200, 300… products. Not only are user rewarded but brands can use this data to determine what their existing customers actually want and which designs to invest in.

  1. Personalization! Make no mistake about it personalization is here to stay. Eventually everyone will have personalized education and a diet specific to their DNA structure. Imagine how much longer we will all live and intelligent we will be!

    Having said all that… you likely do not have a diet or education brand. But regardless you need to know every action a user takes on your website and App. Every single product they looked at, add to their cart, bought or did not buy. Are you tracking this on an individual basis? Are you linking users from your website to your App via their email? You cannot have personalization without data. So first things first tighten up your data gathering. And if you have data start thinking of how you can leverage it in your App!

  1. Image Size and Quality! Gone are the days of small crappy images people. List views or even Pinterest style layouts are not taking advantage of the entire screen space. If there is an image on your site it should be the entire width and height of the device. Plus in every survey under the sun related to mobile, user want bigger images. Weather its news, products, event venues, people want a large visual image. Here is an entire article if you don’t believe me: Size Does Matter!

 

  1. No Top Navigation! That’s right you heard me… you do not need a banner across the top of your app with the App name and navigation. It’s a complete waste of space. Does Snap Chat have a top navigation bar? Nope, and you shouldn’t either. Users are expecting things to happen when they swipe in an App. For instance, Swiping down on Snap Chat revels the settings menu.

 

  1. Fast Purchasing! If you have an “Add to Cart” button on your App you suck! You are copying everyone else and using a method that was designed for desktop websites. This is mobile baby and if you use the term “Path to Purchase” you are setting the industry back. There is no “path”… the user should click “Buy Now” and be taken to a confirmation screen.

    Make no mistake about it, the reason Uber is so successful is that you never have to pay when you get to your location. Every time you take an Uber it’s like a free ride (until you get an email or bank statement). And this is exactly how buying anything on mobile should be. If you have the users Credit Card make the sale now!

    Jeremy Callahan

    Jeremy Callahan is an Expert in Mobile Commerce & App Development