Tag Archives: iphone apps development

iPhone App Developer Shares Playbook for Success on a Marketing Budget of Zero

An interview with Emanuele Vulcano, founder of Infinite Labs located in Milan, Italy and creator of the hugely successful iPhone “Mover” app. Emanuele is a self-taught, 23-year-old, application builder and designer. Emanuele describes his path and plans for an app that brought immediate success with more than 20,000 downloads in four days. He currently enjoys top rankings in the iPhone App Store and a steady 1,500 downloads per day. How did he achieve such a remarkable level of success that includes TV air-time, compliments of Apple, on a marketing budget of zero? Read on.

Tim: When did your “Mover” App launch in the iPhone App Store?

Mover, my most successful app to date, launched as a free app in the App Store on May 2nd, 2009.

Tim: How long did it take to know you had a winner?

Public reception was immediate, with strong download numbers of more than ten thousand in three days and reviews on prominent websites such as TUAW.com in the weeks immediately after the launch.

Tim: What process did you use to get reviews from prominent websites? Did you fill out online forms or use other methods?

For those sites that have a “send a tip” web form, I used that page; otherwise, I searched for a private e-mail address or used a posted in public forums associated with the site where this was not against the rules.

Tim: How long was Mover among the top ranked apps?

Thanks to Apple featuring the application, the application enjoyed a high number of downloads and a Top 100 position until the week of June 30th.

Tim: And how has it performed since?

The application fell out of the Top/New charts, and has held steady around 1,500 daily downloads since then. This changed in early August when Apple’s advertisement aired, causing the application to return to pre-June 30th levels and enjoy a return to the charts. As we speak, Mover is the Top 28th free application and the Top 5th free app in the Utility category.

Tim: What do you think led to Apple featuring your app in a TV commercial?

It’s my opinion that the immediate visual impact, alongside the relative popularity among App Store users, was judged optimal for a TV advertisement where a product has to prove itself in an extremely limited time. The animated sequence involving Mover in the ad is memorable, despite being just one second in length.

Tim: You’re located in Milan, Italy…what percent of downloads occur outside of the US?

As of early August 2009, 47% of downloads have been outside the US.

Tim: What marketing methods have proven to be most effective thus far for you?

In descending order of effectiveness: being featured by Apple in the New & Noteworthy section; being featured in the “Share” Apple advertisement; being part of one of App Store’s “top”/”new” lists (Top Free, Top Utilities, “Sort by release date” default view in the Utilities section); the Mover app YouTube video showing my application at work on my website; blog reviews (TUAW.com, 148apps.com…); word-of-mouth.

Despite being the lowest in the list, word-of-mouth is probably accounts for most subsequent marketing initiatives being pursued. I should mention that none of these initiatives were paid for by Infinite Labs.

My applications have been marketed on a monetary budget of zero, exploiting user satisfaction and free-to-use Internet channels rather than selectively using costly traditional advertising means. As a student on an extremely low monthly budget, I use “costly” to indicate that those means had a cost that was higher than zero and therefore unacceptable to me.

Tim: What do you think has helped push you up in the iPhone App Store rankings?

The unique, immediately understandable experience; the nonexisting financial barrier to entry (the app is free); the possibility of seeing the app in action without buying it through the website and YouTube video; the novelty of the experience, which prompted users to “show it off”; and the perceived lack of functionality in equivalent areas of iPhone OS when compared with other smartphones convinced a large amount of users to give it a try. The high download numbers did the rest.

Tim: To what extent do you think social media has played a role in your app’s success?

Word-of-mouth certainly accounts for most of Mover’s success, since it spurred the initiatives that placed Mover near the top of the charts in the last two months. Social media did play the part of an echo chamber for Mover’s strong points, allowing word-of-mouth to spread faster and more effectively. No single channel is responsible for Mover’s success — users of multiple tools that felt strongly enough about the application used them to advise others to try it, but the particular medium used was secondary to this.

Tim: What logic did you use to set the app price?

Mover was conceived as a proof of concept and a piece of programming “art” or “craft”, alongside being an useful utility, as detailed on my blog. Additionally, the laws of the country I reside in, Italy, prevent me from starting an entrepreneurial activity without undergoing appropriate bureaucracy, which I hadn’t completed at the time. Therefore, without economic consideration to worry about (in fact, being bound by law not to pursue them), I opted to provide the application for free.

Additionally, even now that I am free to have an income from this activity, I have in hindsight found that a free version of the application provides a workaround to one of the application’s main weak points — namely, that two or more parties have to own it in order to use it. Therefore, I have decided not to raise the price on the original version of the application and pursue alternate monetization strategies instead.

Tim: What do your alternate monetization strategies include?

On August 16, 2009, a Tier 2 ($1.99) “Mover Plus” version was launched with often-requested additional features including Bluetooth support, new item kinds (bookmarks and text clippings) and many UI and engine refinements. This will be followed by the release of an ad-supported “Lite” version with equal features. The Lite version would be released as an update to the current free application on the Store.

Depending on the performance of any of the two strategies, I will later fine-tune the release strategy with the aim of allowing everyone to enjoy the application with as few barriers as possible, while optimizing the overall gain. For example, if the Plus version performs better than the Lite version, I could add pay-only features, drop advertisements in future Lite releases, or release Plus versions with new features in advance of Lite versions. In the opposite situation, I could evaluate ad strategies, such as using multiple networks (for example, via AdWhirl) or offering nonstandard advertisements (for example, as slides that appear periodically on the table, rather than banners) instead.

Tim: Any plans for other device platforms?

Although there are contingency plans to port Mover to other platforms, no actual plans have been prepared yet. If Mover were to move, or be offered alongside the iPhone version, Android and Palm webOS would be the preferential choices.

Due to the uniqueness and limitations of each platform, having multiple versions of Mover could degrade the user experience due to the potential incompatibilities between those platforms. For example, webOS clients cannot access other Wi-Fi clients, and neither webOS nor Android can access clients over the Bluetooth protocol used by Apple to allow iPhone app communication.

Tim: What’s next for your Mover App?

I’m working on an initiative to leverage underused iPhone OS 3.0 APIs to allow for easy data sharing between applications, allowing App Store apps to access items (notes, songs, to-dos…) managed by other App Store apps. (The working title for this is “ItemKit” and partial open-source-licensed code can be found on my github.com web page. Mover would exploit this by allowing arbitrary items from other applications using ItemKit to be shared and received seamlessly.

There are many other features that are either highly requested or logical extensions of my work. Some of these are listed at the feature triage page  [partially outdated — for example, “Mover SDK” became the more generic ItemKit as described above].

Tim: What are your big picture plans, given your success with this app?

At the moment, none apart from expanding it to its logical conclusion: monetize it and observe how it is used in the real world.

Most of my plans are hampered by my enrollment in the second-level degree course in Computer Science Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, which is my main priority. It is my desire to turn to full-time prêt-à-porter and custom software development once this is achieved.

Tim:  When is your graduation date?

I expect to graduate in or before September, 2010.

Tim: What you’ve learned from your iPhone app success story?

That a well-crafted object speaks for itself. A paid marketing effort would have probably helped Mover achieve better success; but no amount of money could have saved Mover had it not been designed for usefulness and enjoyment.

Tim: Amen.

My sincere thanks to Emanuele for sharing his formula for success. I’ve learned a lot from him and look forward to following his accomplishments. He’s just getting started :).

Emanuele Vulcano is known for his great sense of humor as demonstrated in his blog. Be sure to follow him on Twitter, too.


Tim CascioTim Cascio is the author of the Mobile Marketing, Monetization and Methods blog, Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Mobile Visionary Roundtable at the Illinois Technology Association and Sr. Digital Strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an award-winning integrated marketing services agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, brand asset management, relationship marketing and digital solutions. Tim is @timcascio on Twitter and can be reached in the United States at 262-938-5543.

Please reach out to me if there’s any way I can help you through my network or otherwise. Your comments below are welcome.

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iPhone Apps That Make the Grade. What Sets Them Apart From All the Rest?

An interview with Alex Ahlund, an expert iPhone App critic.

I have my share of beloved iPhone Apps that I use on a regular basis and our Apps development team has created mobile Apps for some of the world’s biggest brands. Still, I have the crazy notion to download hundreds of new top selling iPhone Apps to seek out best practices among them and came to the conclusion that, until I have time to do so, why not garner insight from someone whose company is dedicated to this very cause? Meet Alex Ahlund, CEO and founder of AppVee, a wildly popular iPhone App review website. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex and I’d like to share our conversation with you here.

Here are excerpts from our interview together:

Tim: How many Apps in total would you guess that your team has reviewed?

Alex: We have reviewed nearly 1,000 applications, most with videos.  To our knowledge, this makes us the largest iPhone application review resource in terms of in-depth reviews.  The most important thing is that we act as a filter for the consumer.  Sure, there are tens of thousands of applications out there, but we’ve seen them.  Most aren’t worth your time.  So these 1,000 apps are really what is worth looking at right now for your iPhone.

Tim: How’d you get into this line of work?

Alex: I previously owned a casual video game development company.  I had been in the games industry for a number of years, but when the 3G came out, I decided this was the first device I’d actually camp out to buy.  I was first in line on opening day and fell in love with the platform ever since.  I knew from day one that this was going to be huge and the number of Apps would overwhelm the consumer soon enough.  AppVee was created shortly after. In fact, we just celebrated our one year anniversary.

Tim: In what unique ways are Apps making money?

Alex: Since the launch of Firmware 3.0, which allows microtransactions, a lot of developers are starting to integrate these into their applications. Microtransactions are “bite-sized” purchasable pieces that add functionality to a product.  This could be new levels of a game, App upgrades, or anything that improves the core functionality of the App.  These microtransactions are along the lines of impulse buys because they are low-commitment, inexpensive purchases that happen instantly through the iTunes account – removing the barriers of taking out your credit card.  Developers are becoming clever with how they create their Apps to center around microtransactions – by offering the initial App for little or no cost. I see explosive growth in this segment as it could be used to buy items for your avatar, special abilities, levels, functionality, etc.  Microtransactions for MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role playing games) is a gigantic market worldwide.

Tim: How is GPS technology being used in a creative way?

Alex: Our favorite use of GPS is the App, “Hey Where Are You?” This App allows you to request the location of another user and others can request your location. It’s all opt-in and user-verified. It’s great for tracking friends, family members and colleagues. It’s simple, clean and to the point.  As soon as you request another user’s location, they can hit a button and their GPS location is displayed on your device.

iPhone Apps

Tim: How are Apps using the new capability available with the recent release of iPhone OS 3.0?

Alex: BeeJive IM is a great example of the true potential of Firmware 3.0.  The latest upgrade offers push notification so that if someone IMs you, it will instantly pop up on your device.

iPhone Apps

Tim: I use AIM’s iPhone App which has this feature and I love it. How are AIM and BeeJive different?

Alex: AIM also has push functionality but the difference is BeeJive aggregates all IM providers (AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, etc.) into one client.

iPhone Apps

Tim: What do the best-rated Apps have in common?

Alex: Relatively inexpensive, mass market appeal and offers some sort of entertainment value.  The top selling Apps are often $0.99 pick-up and play games or toys.  In terms of what we feel are best-rated: high production values, attention to detail and true value offering Apps is what we gravitate towards.

Tim: Have you seen a correlation between how you rate Apps and their success overall?

Alex: Generally, our rating reflects the market, but not always.  A lot of times Apps are driven by their impulse feel – a very low price, a big brand name strapped onto it, etc. – in these instances, we give the real story. Whether our ratings actually influence units sold is a bit hard to tell.  We have some influence, but the iTunes App Store is king in terms of exposure – so the consumer may not have read our review.

Tim: What’s your all-time favorite App and why?

Alex: Its a toss up between Evernote and, when it comes to music, Pandora and Slacker. I use Evernote for my everyday note taking and tracking, while Pandora and Slacker are always on heavy rotation for their customized Internet streaming music.

iPhone Apps

Tim: What other Apps are must-haves?

Alex: “Read It Later” is great for storing online articles and sites to read later, even offline. “Cell Tracker” is our #1 pick for tracking our cell minutes and cost. “TweetDeck” is great as our Twitter client. A close runner up is “Tweetie.” And then “Doodle Jump” is our favorite for a quick game.

iPhone Apps

Tim: You’re now reviewing Android Apps as well. Any plans for reviews of Apps on other platforms such as BlackBerry? How do you compare Android and iPhone in general and from an Apps and potential point of view?

Alex: Yes, we own AndroidApps.com, where we review Android applications in a similar format. The Android platform has huge potential and I think, in time, it could surpass the iPhone. The problem right now is that the OS is only on a few devices.  This means the user base is still very small, especially compared to the iPhone.  The App potential is greater in Android because developers are able to take control of core functionality of the OS. You can create an App for practically anything on the device.  There is no “true” submittal process as you can download Android applications from anywhere.  This allows a lot of unique applications released without a lengthy approval process, but it also means applications are scattered and more garbage can slip through the cracks.  It has its benefit, but as of right now, iPhone is winning the app game.  In terms of other platforms, we considered Blackberry but the market just isn’t large enough for Apps to make it worthwhile.  We are always looking at new platforms though to consider.

Android

Tim: Can you explain further what you mean by Android’s operating system allowing for core functionality control?

Alex: The iPhone SDK doesn’t allow touching the core functionality of the phone. For example, you can’t create a new Calling App to call people.  You can make an App that opens the iPhone Call App, but not directly make calls. Android is completely open – you can replace the Call App or any of the other original Apps. You have access to all the functions of the phone – very little is off-limits.  This allows for much more sophisticated applications.

Tim: Any predictions for where all of this is headed?

Alex: Its only going to get bigger. Every new iPhone release is met with huge fanfare – the base of installed users is growing rapidly and it shows little sign of slowing down.  I love that when I walk practically anywhere in the country, there’s always at least one iPhone pulled out in use.  More phones equals more Apps, which is a growing problem in terms of discovery and which AppVee.com tries to solve, but in the end, it’s better for everyone.  The future will be heavily integrated with smartphones and notably, iPhone – from purchasing to business interactions and casual meetups.

We can only imagine where our conversation will take us next year this time.

Thanks goes out to Alex for his time and the invaluable Apps review service he and his fine company, AppVee, provide. Be sure to check out their AppVee.com and AndroidApps.com websites. Don’t miss the AppVee YouTube channel where over 3 million video views have been shared by AppVee’s expert review staff. AppVee’s new iPhone App is now available – and free. Download to watch informative iPhone App video reviews right from your iPhone.

iPhone Apps


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Tim CascioTim Cascio is the author of the Mobile Marketing, Monetization and Methods blog, Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Mobile Visionary Roundtable at the Illinois Technology Association and Sr. Digital Strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an award-winning integrated marketing services agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, brand asset management, relationship marketing and digital solutions. Tim is @timcascio on Twitter and can be reached in the United States at 262-938-5543.

Please reach out to me if there’s any way I can help you through my network or otherwise. Your comments below are welcome.

Mobile Monetization: Is a Mobile App Right for Your Business?

Reflections on why mobile app growth is so explosive, how to benefit financially and what to consider before diving in.

“There’s an app for that!” is a catch phrase that has become familiar to us, thanks to the marketing geniuses behind Apple’s iPhone television commercials. By definition, an app is a mobile software application that is downloaded to a smartphone. Downloads to the smartphone don’t require a computer connection. Users can download on-the-go and within seconds have an app installed. The user can then launch the app with the click of a button or a tap on the screen.

What are the primary factors contributing to the explosive growth of mobile apps?

Increased smartphone capabilities. Built-in smartphone capabilities are empowering apps to perform an ever-increasing number of functions. Features include high definition video playback and VGA video capture, touch screen, gravity-sensitive accelerator, personal GPS navigation, portable multi-player gaming, mobile TV and radio streams, app commerce, push notifications and the ability to control other devices. For the first time, with the right combination of installed apps, mobile devices are a legitimate alternative to toting a laptop.

Reasonably priced smartphones and apps. The 8GB iPhone was initially priced at $599 in 2007. Today, an even more capable iPhone 3G is priced at $99. Verizon recently offered a BlackBerry buy-one-get-one-free promotion, including its touchscreen-endowed Storm. Apps, too, are either free or very affordable, typically ranging from $0.99 to $9.99.

An iPhone surrounded by application icons

Reach and monetization. Remember when you were a child and pondered, “What if I received just a dollar, but from a million people?” Mobile provides global reach. And Apple’s not the only game in town – Blackberry, Nokia, Android and Palm devices all have their own app stores, with Microsoft’s entry on its way. Besides the sale of an app itself, there are additional revenue generating opportunities. Proprietary content can be sold on a subscription basis, including magazines, movies and audiobooks. In-app advertising is becoming more prevalent. Retailers are already selling securely through mobile apps. The e-learning industry has subscription and certification options to monetize their investments. Gamers are selling additional access levels and digital content within their apps. Charitable organizations, including churches, will soon accept donations. Dating sites will likely up-charge for location-based, peer-to-peer matchmaking features. The revenue potential is wide open.

Creativity. There’s no shortage of creative minds at work today, looking to leverage existing investments in technology and proprietary content. The opportunity to create potentially revolutionary apps attracts innovators. The sheer number of downloads – over 1 billion for Apple alone – is proof positive that this marketing channel is viable and sustainable. A spot-on app requires a close examination of how best to serve target audiences with what matters to them, wherever they are.

Before creating an app ask yourself a few questions:

• What are our goals for developing an app?
• What device platforms are most familiar to our target audience(s)?
• What features must be included in version 1.0?
• How can we best leverage our investment in existing content and technology?
• What problem can mobile technology solve for our target audience(s)?
• Which apps available today compete with our idea and what is our plan to differentiate?
• Is our app buzz-worthy?

Keep in mind: mobile apps require their own marketing and product development strategy to ensure long-term success. Make plans to support your app through continued improvements and new features to maintain your competitive edge. Monitor your app’s review feedback and act upon insightful new feature requests to keep customers coming back and to lure new ones into the fold. Think about all your marketing efforts and customer touch points, and develop a plan to promote your app across each one.

Choosing the right developer for your app is essential to prevent unnecessary re-work. Your mobile strategy team should include experts in mobile application development and promotion.

Despite the phenomenal number of available apps, businesses still have a window of opportunity to establish themselves early within the mobile marketplace and to gain share. Websites were once seen as an obscure marketing tool but have now evolved into a marketing essential in assisting businesses to establish and maintain relationships with their target audiences. Once every ten years or so, a new marketing tool changes the way we do business. Where can mobile apps take your business?


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Tim CascioTim Cascio is the author of the Mobile Marketing, Monetization and Methods blog, Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Mobile Visionary Roundtable at the Illinois Technology Association and Sr. Digital Strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an award-winning integrated marketing services agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, brand asset management, relationship marketing and digital solutions. Tim is @timcascio on Twitter and can be reached in the United States at 262-938-5543.

Please reach out to me if there’s any way I can help you through my network or otherwise. Your comments below are welcome.

Mobile Marketing: 50 Ways to Promote Your iPhone App

A nearly perfect mobile marketing plan and follow-up execution will fall short if the underlying app is uninspiring, bug-ridden or unremarkable. In addition, a well-designed, compelling app thrown in the mix of 50,000+ apps and unsupported by marketing, would likely disappoint. An integrated approach is most effective, with all components complementing and leveraging one another. A commitment to an integrated marketing plan and continued improvements to the app itself, will increase your probability of a sustained advantage in the marketplace.

  1. Get noticed in the App Store.
    Prospective customers often browse within the top apps listed in the app store via iTunes on their computer or via the iPhone App Store app. Your app’s ranking is affected by unit downloads and getting into the top 100 can dramatically impact the success of your app. Choose a unique, catchy name for your  app so that yours can be found within the app store easily and within Google searches. Include your brand name, where appropriate. Be sure to do your homework and scour the apps store to see what your competition is doing. Your app name in the app store should include keywords and be longer than the app name on the phone itself. If Apple continues to allow, you can see how renaming your app or modifying your app description copy and screen shots affects your ranking in the days that follow Apple approval. 
  2. Submit to app review sites. Submit your app for review. Provide a promo code so that the editorial staff can review your app without having to pay for it. Here are some of the leading app review sites: AppCraver148appsAppVeeiPhoneAppReviews.netiUseThisApple iPhone SchoolAppStoreApps.com, iPhoneApplicationList, TUAW and Apps Safari. Reach out to Rob, the host of the popular PodCast TODAY in iPhone. He’s been generous in the past with reviews of new apps.
  3. Public relations.
    Establish yourself as a subject matter expert and develop mutually rewarding relationships with the media. Odds of a feature story, pick-up or mention increases exponentially as your goals are aligned to that of the columnist, radio host or TV producer. Developing rapport is easier than you might think. In fact, you can respond to a daily feed of reporter requests for expert sources using HARO. Regarding pitches and press releases, don’t be ordinary. You need to stand out from the crowd to be remembered. Peter Shankman, one of the most respected names in PR drives this point home in his book, “Can We Do That?” Distribute only to media contacts known to cover your topics. Online PR distribution gives you access to newspapers, radio, TV, industry trade publications, consumer magazines and influential blogs. Reach out to editors, journalists, news directors, producers and industry analysts. Web syndication drives immediate exposure of press releases to web-channel publishers internationally. Today’s technology can monitor media mentions/pickups and provide insightful analytics about traffic sources. Be sure to bunch up your publicity when you go live to maximize your chance of top ranking by app category.
  4. Customized postage stamps.
    Customize your business postage stamps using your new app’s icon design.

    Photo Stamps

    Photo Postage Stamps

  5. Promote from ads within other apps.
    Promote your app in interactive ads contained within other iPhone apps. iPhone ads offer very high levels of engagement including click to call, click to video and click to app store. A growing number of ad networks provide in-app advertising options with audience targeting that includes age, gender, geography, category,  carrier, device and handset. Pricing models include bid per click and per engagement.  Conversion tracking and reporting are standard offerings. Check out these folks: Medialets, Quattro Wireless,  AdMob and VideoEgg.
  6. Share using AddThis.
    Where ever you promote your app online, increase your traffic and page rank using an AddThis button. It’s easy to install on your blog or website pages and it makes it easy for your visitors to share your content with their friends and colleagues who use Facebook, MySpace, Digg, Delicious, LinkedIn, TypePad, Blogger, WordPress, etc.
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  7. Select targeted advertising outlets.
    Choose your advertising targets wisely. As yourself these questions: Who are my best customers? What are their demographic and lifestyle characteristics? Where do they gather?  How do they consume media?  What do they read, listen to and watch? Should my advertising be placed where captive mobile audiences can be found (train stations, bus stops, airports, amusement parks, checkout lanes, hotels, college campuses, cafes, within other apps, on podcasts, etc.)? And, what analytical tools will measure the success of each? View MacWorld’s iPhone App Marketing Program slideshow as an example of paid sponsorship and advertising. Some of the app review websites listed in #2 above offer advertising on their sites. Your online ads can link directly to your app within the app store. Wizzard Media provides access to sponsorship/advertising opportunities within audio/video podcast content categories relevant to your target audience. Think differently: Large ad display stickers are gracing the ceilings on commuter CTA trains in Chicago and oversized floor stickers are becoming commonplace at trade shows and retail establishments. Larger budgets can consider outdoor options that include wallscapes, train/bus wraps, transit stations, etc. Titan Worldwide offers outdoor advertising in many of the world’s top markets.
  8. Promote mobile app within current customer touch points.
    Promote your new app on your store receipts, packaging, shipping flyer insertions, apparel tags, shopping bags, invoices, monthly statements, envelopes, packing slips, POP displays,posters, restaurant menus & place mats, shipping containers and custom imprinted packing tape. Create attention-getting stickers for use on each, where appropriate.
  9. Q&A participation.
    Participate in targeted app topic-specific Q&A discussions at Yahoo Answers, LinkedIn Answers and WikiAnswers and provide links to learn more about you and your app. Become a trusted participant by providing answers to others.
  10. Email marketing.
    Send out a highly targeted email campaign to prospects. You’ll want your campaign to be CAN-SPAM compliant to avoid fines and/or criminal penalties. B2B and B2C email lists are available from infoUSA.com. Filter from 2 million business email contacts by industry, SIC,  size, job titles, spending, credit rating, location and more. Filter from 15 million consumer email contacts by geography, age, home value, wealth indicators, hobbies & interests, ethnicity, religion, household occupant info and more. Many publications have databases of subscriber email addresses and will send email campaigns on your behalf. They, too, allow filtered targeting of their email lists. Choose publications whose audience matches your targeted customers. A warning about buying or renting email lists, follow the rules and stay current on new developments. Email marketing platforms such as the popular Constant Contact have a no tolerance spam policy which you can read here.
  11. Pricing strategy.
    Learn from the success of Peggle. On June 11, 2009, they dropped their price from $4.99 to $0.99 for a three day promotion. The results are in…on June 16, 2009, Peggle achieved ranking atop the app store due to the popularity of the app during the promotion and it is selling at the original $4.99 price. Such a strategy requires effective publicity around the promotion. AppVee, an App review site, setup a separate AppVee Twitter “Apps Now Free” account for tweets to their followers about price drops. Promotion sees Peggle go top on App Store
  12. Create presentation walk-through of mobile app.
    Create and upload a SlideShare.net presentation that includes a slide show walk-through with screenshots of your app and a description of features and benefits. Supported upload formats include PowerPoint, OpenOffice, Apple Keynote, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, iWork Pages and PDFs. Share publicly and optimize text content (title, description, etc.) within your posting to optimize search engine placement.
  13. App launch sponsorship.
    Secure a launch sponsor and co-promote. Examples include People Magazine’s app and its launch sponsor Unilever. Within your pre-launch marketing materials, promote and provide clear instructions for those who might be interested in being a launch sponsor. Explain the benefits they’ll receive in terms of publicity exposure, placement within the app and other perks. Get creative with the extra perks. For example, let’s say you’re a celebrity speakers bureau…you can offer an opportunity for your sponsors to enjoy an evening meeting a few celebrities.
  14. Tell-a-friend in-app feature.
    Within your app, include a conspicuous “Tell a friend” feature and leverage the users’ personal iPhone’s contacts directory for text messaging or email. Pre-populate the message with friendly promotional copy that speaks highly of your app and provides a link where they can learn more.
  15. Twitter in-app feature.
    Within your app, create a Twitter update feature so that users can easily tweet about the awesomeness of your app. Suggest a few pre-canned complimentary messages and append with a TinyURL that links to your app in the app store. Twitter.com
  16. Exclusive app content.
    Include and promote exclusive content within your app that is unavailable elsewhere.
  17. Mobile Barcoding.
    Use 2D mobile barcoding in your advertisements, product packaging and other customer touchpoints. 2D barcodes can be scanned with camera phones. To get a sense for the power of this technology, try the following: 1) Create a QR Code here or here. 2) Download the Optiscan iPhone app ($4.99) or another QR barcode reader app. 3) Scan the code. Are you amazed? Here’s where it gets good…the scanned barcode information can provide a link directly to your app in the iPhone App store! The user is provided with a web link, phone number or message that’s saved directly onto the phone. This is an emerging advertising technology in the USA but has been in use in Japan for some time. Its permission-based format is attractive to consumers. Below notice a QR barcode that contains my contact info. Once scanned to the iPhone, two clicks adds a new contact record that includes my full name, phone number and email address. Note: If you use QR barcodes, better to display larger vs. smaller. Some mobile cameras cannot focus properly to get a good read if the barcode is too small.
  18. App improvements over time.
    Add new features to your app over time. Feature upgrades create new publicity opportunities and updated ranking by Apple within the app store. Along with improvements, monitor your app’s review feedback and act upon insightful new feature requests to keep customers coming back and lure new ones into the fold. When your app is developed, include mobile analytics so that your can learn about how your app is used, referring sources and app performance characteristics. Within your app, you can include a few simple features. A “Send Feedback” button can send emails to you privately.  Another button labeled “Leave a Review on iTunes” would provide easy access to app review submission.
  19. Collaboration.
    Find businesses who target similar markets to yours, but are not considered to be competitors. Reach out to influencers that specialize in the field that relates to your app. For example public speakers, book authors and other thought leaders are wonderful allies for collaboration. How can you get them talking about your app to their captive audiences? What can you offer them in exchange? Don’t forget about the media. A personal phone call or hand written note can go a long way towards building those relationships. Enthusem offers personalized greeting cards with your images and text. The cards are physically mailed on your behalf and include your return address. What’s interesting is their pickup attachment feature. A pickup code is provided to the recipient to access your uploaded file (PDF, PowerPoint, video, etc.). You are immediately notified when your recipient uses the pickup code.
  20. Social networking.
    Announce to friends, associates and connections across your social networks: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, etc. Other social networking sites are listed here.
  21. Search directory registration.
    Get listed in free online directories such as DMOZ. DMOZ powers core directory services for some of the most popular portals and search engines on the Web, including AOL Search, Netscape Search, Google, Lycos, HotBot and hundreds of others.
  22. Blog promotion.
    Post an announcement about your new app to your blog. Create a blog if you don’t already have one. WordPress or Blogger are good choices and they’re free! The analytical reporting provided reveals your referring traffic sources and an indication as to which of your blog posts are most popular. Ask Google to consider adding your blog to Google News (complete submission form here). Be sure to integrate your blog into LinkedIn (click on Applications) and Facebook (Simplaris Blogcast).
  23. Facebook fan page.
    Setup a Facebook Fan page to showcase your new app. It’s free and easy and your page can be found publicly in the search engines. When people join your Fan page, it’s published in their news feed for all their friends to read. It’s a great viral marketing tool!
  24. Create trial and paid app versions.
    Offer a free trial version with an option to have more functionality in the paid version. [note: With OS 3.0, Apple now offers in-App purchases. The new and better approach is to offer a free app with an option to up-sell within the app.]
  25. Content optimization for improved search engine rankings.
    Using Google Adwords keyword tool or Google Insights for Search, research search terms that are most relevant and popular with your target audience and populate your app description with those terms. Use the highly targeted terms consistently throughout all of your promotional efforts, including your blog and YouTube tags and app website META tags.
  26. Email signature.
    Add a description about your app below your signature line in all of your emails. Have others in your organization do the same, as appropriate. Provide a URL link directly to your app within the iPhone store (in iTunes, right click on your app name and you should see the option to “Copy iTunes Store URL”)
  27. Showcase app in new website.
    Create a new website to pre-market and showcase your app. Include screen shots and describe the features and benefits. Search optimize the website content. Reserve a custom domain name. Within your existing website, create a section to promote your app. Link to your app within the iPhone App store. Promote your app throughout your website with a button, “Available in the iPhone App Store.” Add a forum feature to solicit contributions from your customers. Moderate feature requests and customer feedback.
  28. Newsletter/email campaign.
    Mention your new app in your monthly newsletter and/or email blast to your database of customers and prospects.
  29. YouTube promotion.
    Create a YouTube video about your new app. Set up an account for free. In your video, highlight the ease of use, features and benefits. Your YouTube Channel can include a collection of your own videos and a memorable URL as well. Tag each of your videos and your channel with highly targeted terms. YouTube provides analytics insight regarding the number of views, visitors by demographic and popularity. Visitors choose to become friends and subscribers. You can choose to display visitor comments and attach your existing blog. Promote your YouTube app video with a your own sponsored ad within YouTube. Ads appear in the search results along the right side of the page. This is managed through a standard Google AdWords account.
  30. Exchange ad space within mobile apps.
    Use AdMob Download Exchange. Allows new users to discover your app from inside hundreds of other apps.
  31. LinkedIn promotion.
    On LinkedIn, join up to 50 of the 280,000+ groups that meet your target audience criteria. Within those groups, click on the News tab and post a link to your press release or blog posting about your new app. Within your LinkedIn profile “Websites” section, link to your website showcasing your app. By choosing “Other” as the website type, you can customize the name you use to identify your app.
  32. Forum participation.
    Identify forums that meet your target audience criteria. Participate in discussions and promote your new app as appropriate. Be sure to follow each forum’s protocol.
  33. Paid search marketing.
    Try paid search marketing – Examples include Yahoo Search Marketing, Google AdWords and Live Search. Your ad can point to a destination of your choice. Link to the iTunes store where the app can be purchased. To do this, open iTunes and hold your Control key down while clicking on your app’s icon. Then choose “Copy Link.” When you past the link code, it will look something like this: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zagat-to-go-09/id296428490?mt=8 You can also link your ad to your app website, SlideShare presentation or YouTube app video.
  34. Leverage existing presentations and sell sheets.
    Append your company’s PowerPoint presentations and sell sheets to include a mention of your new app. Embed your PowerPoint within your LinkedIn profile (use the Applications feature).
  35. Direct mail.
    If you’re already sending direct mail to customers and prospects, set aside some real estate on your next mailer to promote your new app. Consider a new direct mail campaign to targeted prospect lists using high quality sales leads. USADATA offers access to 14 million businesses and 132 million households. Business lists are available by industry, SIC,  size, job titles, spending, credit rating, location and more. Consumer lists can be filtered by geography, age, home value, wealth indicators, hobbies & interests, ethnicity, religion, household occupant info and more. When making your targeted list selections, it’s helpful to refer to a profile of your best customers within each targeted segment.
  36. Promotional items.
    Create branded promotional items (T-shirts, pens, mugs, cards, etc.) for your customers and prospects. Promote both your company and your new app. Do it yourself at CafePress.
  37. Word-of-mouth.
    Tell friends, relatives and colleagues. Give them a small stack of business cards whose design and sole purpose is to specifically promote your app. Include a QR barcode as described in Tip #17 above. Send out an announcement to everyone in your address book. How can you encourage them to share with their contacts, too? Announce at your community chamber events and within their new announcement opportunities on their website and in email blasts to their membership, etc. Excellent customer service with users of your app will earn their respect and recommendation.
  38. Voice mail and on-hold messaging.
    Change your outgoing voice mail message to include a mention of your new app. Change your company’s “on-hold” audio message to include a mention of your new app. Encourage associates at your company to mention the new app as they are in conversation with customers and prospects.
  39. Free-standing portable banners.
    Design a roll-up banner to promote your new app at your next trade show or within your establishment.
  40. SMS text messaging.
    Create a highly targeted opt-in SMS campaign.
  41. Digg promotion.
    Submit your app article or video online at Digg.com. Your submission will immediately appear in “Upcoming Stories,” where other members can find it and, if they like it, they’ll Digg it. Once a submission has earned a critical mass of Diggs, it becomes “popular” and jumps to the homepage in its category.
  42. Free classifieds.
    Try free classified advertising on CraigsList.
  43. Host an App Launch Party.
    Celebrate your launch with friends, associates, prospects and customers. Many bakeries now offer edible photo cakes or you can make one yourself. The cake icing can include your app icon. Order custom imprinted balloons with your app logo.
  44. Create wallpapers and backgrounds.
    Create wallpaper/background image made of columns and rows of your app’s icon and use on your profile pages in MySpace, Twitter, etc.
  45. Custom wrapping paper.
    Create promotional gift wrapping and tissue paper made of columns and rows of your new app’s icon. Find creative ways to use the wrapping and tissue paper.
  46. Branded promotional items with a mobile theme.
    Give away imprinted cell phone shaped mint tins with your company and app information.
  47. Auto-responder promotion.
    Append your email auto-responders to include a mention of your new app.
  48. Social media apps participation.
    Consider using location-based mobile social media apps that reveal people nearby with similar interests. One such app is Loopt. Within the Mix tab of the Loopt app, setup your profile to include “About me” text as well as Tags that represent your areas of interest.  Other subscribers set up Filters by age, gender and Search Tags. When appropriate, you can send a message to nearby Loopt subscribers that you think might have an interest in your app.
  49. Branded image projection.
    Use indoor and outdoor image projection to promote your app icon.
  50. Update company profile in professional directories.
    Consider creating or updating your company’s profile information across online company directories. Include a mention of your mobile app, where appropriate. Don’t forget data aggregators like InfoUSA and individual websites where your company profile can be included such as LinkedIn.


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Tim CascioTim Cascio is the author of the Mobile Marketing, Monetization and Methods blog, Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Mobile Visionary Roundtable at the Illinois Technology Association and Sr. Digital Strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an award-winning integrated marketing services agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, brand asset management, relationship marketing and digital solutions. Tim is @timcascio on Twitter and can be reached in the United States at 262-938-5543.

Please reach out to me if there’s any way I can help you through my network or otherwise. Your comments below are welcome.

What does the future hold for smartphone mobile apps?

Smartphones have become lifestyle tools. The perfect marriage of entertainment and utility. I find myself leaving my laptop behind for greater spans of time as I head out to business meetings and functions with only my iPhone. As more capability is added to smartphones in terms of storage, bandwidth, built-in functionality and now third party apps, it seems that we are limited only by our imagination.

With over 35,000 apps in the iPhone App Store and over 1 billion downloads, Apple’s doing a great job of whetting everyone’s appetite with their marketing efforts and out-of-the-gate success. There’s strong consumer migration towards web-capable handsets. We see about 90% of the smartphone content on Blackberry and iPhone platforms. Blackberry and Android recently opened their apps stores and Nokia’s slated for a summer launch of their Ovi Store. To date, the Blackberry and Android stores are significantly underserved in terms of quality apps/content providers. Blackberry’s user base is considerable, at nearly 50% of the smartphone market, so we anticipate a lot of developer participation in that space. Android’s open source appeal will draw developer interest as well, but the pace will correlate with the available handsets that use the Android platform. Currently, in the US, only T-Mobile’s G1 uses Android.

As companies benefit from the monetization of their apps, word will spread about their success stories. There’s a handset war going on providing increasingly attractive price points for consumers migrating to smartphones. Apple’s likely to announce a new handset at a lower price point ($99 is the word on the street) and their launch of OS 3.0 this summer will include over 100 new features. Perhaps the most important game-changer is the forthcoming In-App purchase capability. This opens the door for visually rich online catalog storefronts for companies of all sizes. Advertising supported content will become a common revenue model for apps. You’ve probably already noticed the growing number of creative interactive ads. Sophisticated targeting capabilities and low-cost customer acquisition is attracting advertisers.

Mobile apps analytics dashboards, complete with graphics, provide information about how your users are interacting with your application, how much time are they spending and reveals your audience likes and dislikes.  Businesses can track the success of their mobile goals and ensure a measurable return on investment.

Companies that truly understand their audience segments, define a mobile strategy, execute well and act upon analytics results are in the best position to capitalize on the benefits and explosive growth of smartphone apps. Stay tuned; we’re in for a wild ride!


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Tim CascioTim Cascio is the author of the Mobile Marketing, Monetization and Methods blog, Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Mobile Visionary Roundtable at the Illinois Technology Association and Sr. Digital Strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an award-winning integrated marketing services agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, brand asset management, relationship marketing and digital solutions. Tim is @timcascio on Twitter and can be reached in the United States at 262-938-5543.

Please reach out to me if there’s any way I can help you through my network or otherwise. Your comments below are welcome.