The ten commandments of app marketing, by Appromoter MD Ed Vause
#7 Thou shalt avoid these 6 prelaunch mistakes
You can view a complete collection of all the commandments of app marketing we've published to-date here.
Here at Appromoter, we notice a lot of things that developers do wrong before they launch their apps.
As a result, here's our rundown of the most common mistakes we see developers making.
1. Developing in a vacuum
It never ceases to amaze us how some apps just aren't making the grade. From a marketing perspective it's practically impossible to successfully market an app that has no USPs and isn't very well put together.
Some developers seem to operate in a kind of vacuum, apparently unaware that their app is a blatant rip off of a previous app store success, or that there are other apps out there that do the same job but a lot better.
Or, quite simply, that the idea was never any good to start with.
We strongly recommend that developers test their ideas with friends and strangers alike to get some constructive feedback. Developers can recruit beta testers on forums like TouchArcade or use a professional testing service such as Testology.
2. Not planning or budgeting for marketing
Developers spend hundreds of hours and a lot of money on making their app but often give little or no thought to marketing and promotion until it's too late.
Pressing the launch button when you get your approval will not magically yield you thousands of users.
Developers need to realistically plan for what will happen before, during and after launch and also set aside a realistic marketing budget. This needs to cover basics like icon design, creating a trailer, press release writing and distribution, advertising and more.
Your marketing activity should begin at least 3-4 weeks before you launch. Beyond that, many of today's successful apps have a budget for ongoing marketing.
If you intend to pay for advertising then take a look at our recent blog post which goes into more detail on the subject.
3. Unrealistic expectations of PR
PR is an essential part of the marketing mix if it wasn't then all the great and the good of the world would not employing PR agencies. Among other things, it's great for creating awareness and generating a preference in the target audience.
However, sending out a release and securing reviews is still no guarantee of success. The best apps will garner the best coverage and will drive sales, but just because you get a review on Pocket Gamer, 148 Apps and TouchArcade, don't necessarily expect the numbers to come pouring in.
What PR is great for is getting you good comments and reviews so you can put them at the top of your app description.
Ultimately, you can have the world's biggest PR budget, but if you don't have a great app then it's pretty pointless.
4. Not understanding what Apple and Google are looking for
Apple and Google expect top notch products that really showcase their technology and devices. To realistically have a chance of being featured, you need a great, innovative product that showcases the latest hardware and software advances.
Google won't like it if you give them a lazy iOS port so it's a cardinal rule to read the developer guidelines closely for both companies to ensure you have covered the basics, such as utilisation of the back button.
There is never a guarantee of getting featured but if you want to have the best possible chance then read our earlier post on what Apple wants... what it really really wants.
5. Not understanding the customer
All successful business owners know their customers well. Through data mining, phone or online surveys, focus groups or a myriad of other methods, they will do all they can to understand what their customer is doing and what they want.
Tesco is a good example of a company that values customer insight through its Clubcard loyalty scheme. So why do so many app developers ignore this issue and live happy in the knowledge that they will never know anything about their customers?
There are some fantastic free analytic services such as Flurry or Localytics that have been designed specifically for mobile. Use them.
6. The App Store is not a place for beta testing
Many developers seem to think it's a good idea to 'soft launch' in a minor English speaking territory (South Africa, Australia, Ireland etc) in order to test their product before they launch it globally.
The problem is that this doesn't really work.
For one, you need to make people aware that the app is there and this requires some marketing budget to target people locally. Next, you cannot really generate any meaningful media coverage as most of the big review sites are in the US and UK.
Finally, a tiny percentage of people who play your game will then leave a review, and if your app is not properly tested these reviews are likely to be along the lines of: 'keeps crashing', 'complete crap...avoid.'
This tells you nothing useful and this negative feedback could well follow you to any other launches in the future and doom your app to failure before it ever gets off the ground.
Moreover Apple don't like sub-par products so by 'soft launching' an untested app on, for example, the New Zealand App Store you will destroy any chance you might have had of getting an editorial boost from Apple when you do launch globally and for what?
We always say to the app developers we work with that it's incredibly important to have the app as polished as possible before it goes onto any store. Bug testing, user feedback and even media previews can all be done before the app goes live.
The optimal chance of getting the downloads you need to make the launch a commercial success will be with a simultaneous global launch with a really great app and an associated marketing/advertising push.
To find out more about Appromoter and the services it offers, take a look at the company's website or receive up-to-the-minute updates via Twitter.