Where and How Should We Advertise Our Apps?

I’ve submitted an update to our app, PublicSpeakr. Over the last month or so I’ve been playing around with Squarespace and considering where and how I might advertise the app.

PublicSpeakr online

I have the following resources/accounts for the PublicSpeakr app:

Sketching out a plan on paper, I’ve identified 4 areas to put effort into:

  1. Paid advertising
  2. Website and blog
  3. Social Media interaction
  4. Meeting people in the domain

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising is perhaps the quickest/easiest way to boost exposure. In a short period of time ads can be driving potential customers to the app; a decent landing page is good option, but less work still, sending people direct to App Store is a possibility.

The first three options that come to mind are: Google Adwords, the iAd Network and Facebook ads.

At this stage (having not yet tried), these options seem to be an easy way to advertise the app. Relatively simple to set up and they can all be targeted in some way. Not only that, independent of a campaign’s success, it appears that the ROI feedback is easy to gather. For taking my first steps with paid-advertising, these look like good options to try.

My hunch is that Google Adwords will be the least effective; I’m just not sure if anyone clicks Google ads anymore? This video from Gary Vaynerchuk seems to reinforce this, making a strong case that social networks are the channel for interacting with your audience. (If you’re considering advertising, that video is worth watching). I’m not writing Google Adwords off – it’s likely I will try them – but I expect it will be after iAds and Facebook ads.

The iAd Network. An obvious advantage of using iAds is that the user seeing the ad will own the supported device and be on that device, the prime place to make a purchase. However, you could counter that by saying they’re also using an app that displays ads, which was almost certainly free, and from there make a judgement about their willingness to pay for apps…

The fact that Apple runs the iAd network is also appealing. Apple tend to do things well so I’ve got no reason to believe iAds will be any different. Based on the overview videos of the iAd Workbench and iAd Producer tools, it looks quite easy, though I hadn’t considered how far the production of the iAds can be taken…

Facebook ads. I’m not a big Facebook user but I have seen some ads on there, both on the desktop and on a mobile device. This guide was the top hit for an intro to Facebook ads; it provides a decent overview of the different options available and what they’re suited to.

The destination for a Google ad would be the product page/website. With a Facebook ad, is it better to send potential customers to the product website or the Facebook page for the product? My current view is a landing page on the product website. PublicSpeakr is a niche app – I think the website will be the best place to tell a story about value. Of course, it’s possible to try multiple approaches and track the results – work out which method provides the best return.

Expectations? I’ve followed conversations on Twitter such as this one, this one and this one. They suggest that iAds and Facebook ads are worth experimenting with, but they’re not a guaranteed win (what is?).

I’ll set aside a small pot of money with no expectations attached. The goal is to see if anything bites – and to learn. Beyond that, I have no idea how this will pan out.

Website and blog

I will use publicspeakr.com as the domain for a new website and blog.

My plan is that the site will, initially, include a landing page and something akin to some ‘How To’ pages, showing workflows from the app. This content can help users who already have the app, if they’re looking for support, and contribute to the sales story for people considering it.

A website/blog with useful and interesting information can be a great way to generate traffic, bringing potential customers to the app’s ‘homepage’. But this type of online presence isn’t easy to establish; it takes time.

I have a (very) loose plan to publish something every couple of weeks, but nothing firm. I’ve no intention to take part in any SEO tomfoolery, but straight-up blog pots might work well with social media activity, as a way to bring people in.

I’m well aware that keeping a website fresh and updated with new content is a significant task. My view of how much effort to maintain will evolve as this marketing push progresses.

Social Media

Twitter – I don’t have any plans for this yet. Simply broadcasting new website content and the occasional announcement is missing the point; Twitter is about interacting with those with similar interests. I’ll wait to see what website traffic, if any, leads to new followers. I’ll also start to follow others in this domain and see if there’s anything I can contribute…

I haven’t looked into Twitter Ads yet.

Pinterest – I don’t know what this is or how people use it. I’ve simply grabbed the name.

Meeting people in the domain

There are lots of groups that get together to work on public speaking. And they’re local, easy to access.

My intention isn’t to advertise at such group meetings, or to turn up and push my app. Apart from being rude/obnoxious, it simply wouldn’t work.

The idea is to meet some public speakers. What type of events are they speaking at? What are their problems and how do they practice? Do any of them use apps or online resources?

This could be a useful way to learn more about potential user and to network. Horrible word, but interacting with people on this level will might help to build profile/credibility and lead to more effective interaction, online.

Next?

The next thing I need to do is get the website going…

Advertisements

Forget the App Store Exists?

I’ve read and listened to a lot of well-constructed thoughts on the current state of the App Store. App-pricing, the effect of games with their IAPs, the marginal cost of software, niche markets and product differentiation, revenue models… and what this all means for independent developers.

Like many people, it’s caused me to think.

As I consider the next step in my plan, I’ve decided that it will serve me well if I forget the App Store exists…

The App Store for Distribution Only

OK, that’s a purposefully attention-grabbing title but, put all the discussion of pricing and revenue models to one side for a moment and think about the App Store and the process of someone finding a new app.

How does it change my approach if I imagine that the App Store has no mechanism for searching or for browsing? There aren’t featured lists or charts. If I imagine that the App Store simply allows users to download apps that they already know about and, in some cases, will process payments.

That might seem like a step too far. After all, those featured lists do exist, people do browse, and your results in App Store searches can be improved. But it’s a safe step. A step toward something less fuzzy, toward acknowledging reality.

With this view, I’m not crossing my fingers and hoping that some magical-marketing-machine will deliver me sales.

With this view, I need to really think about how people will find out about my app.

This view makes it absolutely clear that there’s more work that just the development. That I need to be able to reach potential customers.

This really changes my view on what apps are worth writing. The app(s) that I work on need to fit with my strategy and ability to market my products.

Let’s return to that discussion of revenue models. I could opt for one of the favoured strategies and work on something that’s freemium, perhaps with a subscription service added in. That’s still no good if I haven’t considered how the pricing fits with the target market and worse, if I’ve got no way getting the product in front of those people.

There has been some really good commentary and analysis of app-pricing. In the same way that I don’t want to get caught out, expecting free marketing from the App Store, I also don’t want to get caught up with the idea that the right revenue model will fix all my problems.

I need a dependable method of reaching customers.

Disclaimer

There isn’t one size fits all.

The App Store and the marketing/exposure it provides is key for some apps/businesses; they can rely on it. I know that some developers have some influence/control, and the App Store can be built-in as part of a bigger, marketing plan. I’m also pretty sure that people have had over-night hits with pleasing results…

For me, considering App Store generated sales puts me dangerously close to hoping-for-a-hit. I can’t build on that. I need to take full responsibility for reaching the target audience.

Still pretty awesome, actually

Let’s not be disheartened. With this view, the App Store is still a magical-software-delivery mechanism. It’s not that long ago that getting the average person to feel confident downloading new software was a rarity – not to mention, handing over money for it! The App Store is still awesome for developers.

Wafflr: Defining the Target Audience and Changing the Name

The first thing that I did when considering this marketing push was to reconsider the target audience for the Wafflr app. If I’m going to (a) promote the app to more people and then (b) communicate the benefits of the app – I need to know who those people are…

It’s not like we didn’t consider this in the first place; Wafflr was designed to help public speakers prepare. However, I have sometimes wondered if the app would have been better off targeted at a specific group, for example, wedding speakers. If I think this is true, now would be a good time to focus.

My goal here is to market the app as a premium product serving a specific niche. Whilst ‘public speaking’ is broader than ‘speaking at a wedding’ it is in my view, still a tightly-defined niche. There are good reasons to focus on public speakers as the target audience for this app:

  • Public speaking is well known field; it has established problems
  • The problems within the various sub-categories of public speaking are mostly shared, so good solutions will apply to many in the niche
  • There are existing examples of succeful, premium, public speaking apps in the store
  • The limited feedback we do have for Wafflr suggests varied use within the broader, public speaking niche

Wafflr: changing the name

Another question I’ve often asked myself: did we set this app back by going with something too quirky for a name?

First, the link to speakings is pretty thin: to ‘waffle’. I’m not sure on this, but it might even by an English thing… Regardless, it probably doesn’t translate well. “Public speaking” is likely well understood by a French or German person. But “waffle”, which is then adapted to ‘Wafflr’… The meaning may well be lost.

Second, it’s a fun play on the problem being solved. ‘Waffle’ – meaning prolongued speech about something pointless or unimportant. Whilst it might work for some – it doesn’t line up well with the aspirations of a person who wants help with an important public address!

The name needs to change.

What do I want from a name?

Relevance is the primary motivation for change. I want the name to instantly communicate this is an app for public speakers. Easy to remember, easy to spells and ‘catchy’ are important, but they’re below relevance.

Website. At the heart of this marketing push will be a new website. Ideally I’d like the domain to match the name of the app. Secondary to the domain name are social media accounts. Whether or not they should be seconday, I’m not sure. They’re secondary for me, at the moment, because I have less experience and less of an idea about how I’m going to use them.

Short(ish). I don’t want something that’s cumbersome or difficult to say; I suppose longer names are more likely to be cumbersome. That said, my first priority for length (especially in this field), is that the name has to fit on the springboard.

Ideas

With relevance being at the top of the list I wanted to stay close to the act of speaking, or making a speech, to an audience.

‘Speech’ has a couple of problems. First, it restricts the scope of the problem being solved. Making a speech is often associated with something like a wedding speech, or a speech made when someone leaves a job. It may also be consfused with the base ability to speak out loud – nothing to do with addressing an audience at all.

‘Talk’ / ‘Talker’ has similar problems to speech, and more importantly, it’s needlessly removed from the ‘speaking’ component of the well known phrase, ‘public speaking’.

For the audience part, there aren’t any short and snappy nouns, so again I saw no reason to deviate from ‘public’.

I did consider a bunch of verbs associated with how the app can help speakers: ‘plan’, ‘prepare’, ‘practice’, ‘deliver’… and also some adjectives like ‘perfect’ and ‘pro’.

Cycling around candidate names simply highlighted that I wanted to use the name that everyone knows: Public Speaking or Public Speaker.

And so I arrived at PublicSpeakr.

‘PublicSpeakr’:

  • It communicates the intent of the app
  • The .com is available (along with Twitter and Facebook accounts)
  • It fits on the springboard
  • I think it has a good feel
  • Personal bonus: the trailing ‘r’ keeps some of the orignal, ‘Wafflr’ history

Next, I need to update the app…