Building an app for the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch can take months. Then what? “It’s not just about tossing your creation into Apple’s App Store pool and expecting it to swim,” says tech visionary Rana June Sobhany. In her new book, MOBILIZE: Strategies for Success from the Frontlines of the App Revolution (Vanguard Press, January 2011), Sobhany reveals the techniques that will enable anyone—from small independent developers to advanced development companies—to aggressively position, market, and sell their products. She also presents a first-person account of the app community, from its booming nascence in 2007 to its current status as a multi-billion dollar industry, with anecdotes from major developers and commentary from influential tech journalists. Complete with worksheets and insights from industry superstars, MOBILIZE illustrates the vital do’s and don’ts necessary for success in the increasingly competitive app world.
MOBILIZE takes the entire sphere of marketing concepts and focuses it, with precision, on how to marry the worlds of software and merchandising, as well as how to measure and evaluate sales results to find out what’s working—and what’s not. Featuring first-hand advice from industry experts such as Wired’s Brian Chen, TechCrunch’s MG Siegler, and Weldon Dodd from the Apple Blog, Sobhany’s dynamic step-by-step process for launching and marketing an app includes:
The App Landscape
Sobhany discusses the history of the iPhone and the App Store, looking at the successes, failures, loopholes, and overhauls that have shaped it into a multi-million dollar industry. She explains the “New Rules of the App Store” to help developers better navigate the ever-changing economy of the platform and create high quality products.
Positioning Your App
“You need to establish exactly how you perceive your app—what you intend for it to accomplish, who your audience is, what they need, and how you will fulfill their needs,” explains Sobhany. She details how to identify the best ways to position an app, including selecting a venue within the App Store and cultivating a clear position statement. Sobhany also reveals the power of mind share, the marketing mechanism for placing a product or idea in a potential customer’s mind, and the role of search engine optimization (SEO) in positioning an app. Identifying the competition and what they do is also key, Sobhany notes, “so that you can establish how your app will do it better.”
The Actual “Marketing” Part
While there is no set roadmap for how to market an app, there a few core components that must be in place in order to build a successful marketing program. “Some of these include pricing your product appropriately, soliciting feedback, establishing and following timelines, and understanding your competitors,” Sobhany writes. In MOBILIZE, she illustrates the importance of these components and how each one contributes to a successful marketing plan. She also provides valuable advice for marketing apps to Apple itself, not just to consumers.
“Public relations for your app is simpler than you think,” says Sobhany. “In fact, simple is better.” Identifying the best ways to reach customers, conceiving creative angles for reporters, and building a fan base through social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter make up the backbone of an effective outreach strategy. “Another way to get noticed by the media is to become an expert—positioning yourself as a product too,” she adds.
Metrics and Measurement
Mobile phones—and particularly iPhones—are very personal devices, completely unique to the individual user. As a result, there is one-to-one mapping between users and their devices, a characteristic that doesn’t exist on other platforms. Length of engagement, focused engagement, user preference, click-through rate, conversions, and decay are all behaviors that can now be calculated. “Take advantage of these measurements—called metrics—and analyze them so that you can maximize exciting opportunities to advance, promote and scale your product,” says Sobhany. “It’s essential to isolate the affects of the various components of your marketing mix—so that you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.”
Filled with penetrating insights and advice, MOBILIZE provides the steps for strategically and successfully marketing one’s app in the increasingly crowded world of mobile content.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a co-founder of Medialets, the largest in-application analytics and advertising platform, Rana Sobhany has been deeply involved in the successful design and implementation of comprehensive application marketing campaigns for products across the mobile industry, including iPhone, and was among the first to promote app marketing as a discrete practice. She has coached mobile application developers at every level: individual developers; independent development shops; creative and media buying agencies; and large, venture-backed application firms. Rana is a frequent speaker at mobile and technology conferences, helping educate developers about how best to develop and market their products for the iPhone and iPad ecosystems.