Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Mobile Marketing- How to Get Your App Out There

Wednesday, 14. May 2014 by Anna Billstrom

(cracking knuckles) It’s been a long time, but I’m ready to re-invigorate this blog! A question was posed by a fellow developer on an iPhone mailing list: how to promote his app?

My current company – PickAxe Mobile- of which I am a founding partner, deals with this problem constantly. Well not a problem, more a challenge.

The first thing to ask yourself is:

What are my goals for this app?

That will determine your marketing strategy.

- lots of users
- product direction
- cash

Those are separate strategies, by the way.

Lots of Users
Products such as Instagram weren’t out there for the money, they were out there for the wallet-share. Getting onto phones and getting used by as many users as possible. This marketing strategy is going to be viral, with ad dollar and key reviews. Focusing on top placement in the App Store and very aggressive responsiveness to customer concerns. Alpha and beta groups are a necessity, and all product planning will go towards happy customers.

Product Direction
The goal here is to have the users define your product direction. Similar to “lots of users” you are focusing on getting feedback and usage details and highlighting *what people want* versus what you want- basically,Customer Development. You’re evolving a product to an ideal opportunity (which may pivot) or customer. Methods would involve setting up a feedback loop mechanism, a/b testing, and high responsiveness to all feedback. Alpha, beta groups of users that are more along the lines of your ideal customer than earlier adopters or friends. Bloggers, ads, and placement in the store aren’t as critical. It’s not about the number of customers but the quality, defining your product (probably for acquisition, or for your brand).

You’re doing this to make money. So the viability of course depends a lot on what kind of app you’re making. Assume you have a great product. How do you get the most monetarily out of your app?

The very first thing is product uniqueness in the store. Do your competitive analysis.

Next, find out where users* of your app (or competitors) are going to get recommendations. Is it Google and SEO, the Store’s keyword categorization, or blogger and top app sites? Create relationships and try to get your app some visibility. May involve putting some capital forward, where promo codes aren’t enough.

* Find out who/what are those potential customers of yours. This is a hard task, but try to define the ideal customer.

Strategies of monetization include:
- pricing app (revenue from downloads)
- in app purchases
- free version, with upgrade sans ads
- in app advertising

The positives and negatives of each of those monetizations is another blog post, of course!

Marketing, De-evolution Style!

Friday, 22. October 2010 by Gavin Handley

Last week I received this fan email, from new wave band Devo. I went on-line and checked out what they were up to. Turns out they’re launching a new album.  Here’s a great example of an awesome 80’s band leveraging 21st century technology.

The Spud boys have always understood how to leverage themselves and their message through great marketing. With the launch of their first album in 20 years, they recently created focus groups . Of the many things they surveyed, one question asked respondents to choose which songs should go on the album. Another question asked, “What color [of power domes] makes this musical group feel more effective?” They embraced current feedback and have now relaunched themselves. You’ll see their stuff on all the mainstream social networks you can think of.  Clearly this was their intention, as you’ll see in their tagline, “Devo is Everywhere.” Fitting that as the band who espouses futuristic predictions, they would be the ones to embrace new technology. Check out this tongue-and-cheek  video chronicling their relaunch campaign. It’s as unique as Devo.


Even my 3 year old daugher is a fan of Devo since they are featured on one of her favorite shows, Nickolodeon’s Yo Gabba Gabba!

I’m so excited about their comeback, I know what I’m going to be for Halloween already!

Viral vs. Social – What Is The Difference?

Thursday, 07. October 2010 by Anna Billstrom

Viral: when a marketing campaign takes on a life of its own.
Social: using social networking applications in your multi-channel (email/site/direct mail) campaign.

Viral example: almost anything that use a trope or motif that is embraced and reproduced by others, at no cost or expense by the company involved, such as, BlendTec

Social example: A marketing campaign that uses new social applications and existing social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. to further its goals. Example: Zappos.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have attended a conference seminar or read an article that was completely misnamed- not viral at all- and thus has been mis-used and abused in all of the time that has passed since it’s introduction. It’s not it’s fault, but the definition has been muddied.

Because I consider very specific social marketing being the use of social networks and social network tools- Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, etc. Viral has actually been around for a while, back to Guerrilla Marketing days, back to the “pay someone’s toll and add your business card.” Social marketing could be very un-viral, hiring interns to tap away twitter messages all day. Viral marketing could avoid all uses of social network tools- see example of business card at the toll booth.

Well, the distinction is muddied because most, if not all, social marketing campaigns aspire to viral. We all want to be the BlendTec of [insert your industry here].

Why Social Media? Part 3

Friday, 17. September 2010 by Gavin Handley

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Obviously empowering your customers does have consequences, if someone has a bad customer experience with your company; it is very easy for them to share that with the world. The good thing is, if you respond quickly and make it right it can turn into a huge positive. Most people will respond to their friends and followers how you went above and beyond to fix their issue.

Customer perspective:

A large part of our marketing mindset is to be in the customer’s shoes and what they expect from you in social media. Here are a couple of points I have used to good effect:

  • Share emotion over the product or topic – I  want to interact with other customers
  • We are listening
  • Inspire me
  • This is Social Media it should not be a dull marketing experience
  • Throw me an exclusive offer   

On a final note you can leverage your customers to be advocates for your company, one’s circle of friends and family tend to carry the greatest amount of social capital in the business context.

Why Social Media? Part 2

Thursday, 16. September 2010 by Gavin Handley

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

As we all know- with any marketing campaign keeping it relevant is the key to success. It’s really no different in with social media, but the great thing is — you can have a little more fun with it.  They are a fan for a reason, now keeping your fans engaged, is just like any relationship. You need to work on it!  

Here are a few ideas of where to start on messaging:

  • Support current marketing campaign
  • Social media only offers
  • Current mainstream topics
  • Integrate current email campaigns
  • Product and service awareness
  • Pre product launch sneak peek
  • Member feedback 
  • Market research -  Vote
  • Did you know? Little known trivia or facts regarding the product.
  • Customer service response- managing customer concerns or questions
  • Video – Photos, other media or access that you may have to the product
  • Sweep stakes / Give away- low cost or inexpensive freebies, or access that you can offer customers for a contest
  • Inspirational content- create some creativity, this is harder to do but usually has the most impact.

Once you have an idea of what they are responding to, ask for their feedback (poll app), what they want to see more of and what they haven’t seen!  

Check out this great post from The Email Wars  Examples of Social Media in Email Marketing.

Next up: the customer perspective and concerns.

Why Social Media? Part 1

Tuesday, 14. September 2010 by Gavin Handley

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Why try social media? Why not? If you haven’t already, it is a no-brainer to have a social presence for your company. I personally think there is no real expert in social media marketing yet! I think it is very much trial and error at this stage, so test, test and test again. So my advice is to you,  is to go for it.

Over the next week or so I will be sharing a few simple tips I’ve found helpful in building out a social media program:

Have a clear goal:

  • Engage current customer and prospective new customers
  • Build brand loyalty
  • Build awareness

 Measuring Success:

  • Recruitment/Fans
  • Response to post and the viral affect
  • Link tracking/clicks
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Market research
  • SEO
  • Set modest goals

Next up: messaging and engagement.

Also check out this great article from Social Email Marketing blog and see why 37% of companies avoid social media.

Little Things Web 2.0 Could Learn From Email Marketing

Tuesday, 01. September 2009 by Anna Billstrom

This list was inspired by a good friend who had to do a quick 101 class in email marketing when his Web2.0 company had some email hiccups the other day.

Throttling, it is your friend.
Despite how much you think you customer base wants to hear from every little social activity on the web site, make sure you’re really only sending one email a day, if that. Digest the notifications (or provide the option).

Frequency Control
Allow your users to manage the frequency and notification by use of a web page that allows them to check and uncheck the various ways you can email them. Offer RSS as well as Email.

Frequency Control… nuances
Check on history, and consider rolling out “tastings” of each communication, just once, in the cycle of their engagement with the site. So for certain kind of notifications, the customer/member gets it once, until they select that form of notification in the preference center.

Sharing, FTAF in the footer
Include viral pass-along options in every communication. FTAF = Forward To A Friend.

Test your emails in SpamAssassin
Check the content of every notification against a SPAM filter to make sure it’s not triggering some odd rules. Even Though you’ve convinced yourself you’re not a spammer, that means very little to the consumer. It’s in the eye of the beholder, and luckily, we can test that.

One-click unsubscription
Despite your audience loving you, and you not being a spammer, still provide one-click, easy, non-sign-in unsubscriptions. Provide a link to the notification preferences center, but a one-click will save you a lot of grief.

I don’t like list rentals.

Thursday, 27. August 2009 by Anna Billstrom


This has come up in a few conversations on EmailRoundtable, and in a conversation between me and @LorenMcDonald, and I thought I’d put my thoughts here. I don’t like list rentals. But to elaborate, let’s talk about the various ways of (in)organically acquiring email addresses:

- For a fee, you use another company’s email systems to send your email. It’s on their system, but they send your content. All links in email go back to your site.
- Some companies sell their lists. So they actually hand over part of their customer base. You insert into your system and drop the email.
- Some companies share part of a newsletter with you, so you can insert a form, and acquire sign-ups.
- Some companies do back-end overlays of data models, to determine who in your company list, fits the model and is thus a good fit for some kind of segment.
- Some companies specialize in giving you extra data on your email list. So I have the email, they will tell me the email’s favorite flavor of ice cream.

I’ve avoided using the marketing terms for the above processes as that’s a completely different discussion.

Issues to think about if you consider any of these options
What’s the email’s provenance? How did the consumer give their permission? The minute you use that email, you are potentially a spammer, if you are unaware of how it was given. And check back a few generations.

Whatever route you take, will the customer understand the relationship? The email I used to opt-in to Zappos emails, and suddenly I’m getting Gap emails. Does that make sense? Don’t underestimate the consumer. They know how they interacted with your company. It doesn’t take a lot to be considered spam.

Are you giving over more value than what you’re being provided? If I give 100K emails to a datafarm, I need to understand that I’m providing them with value. They only exist by the customers they have, and the lists they get.

As Loren McDonald says very well in his post, If Someone Says Buy A List One More Time…”

After all, marketers who ask about buying lists could just be asking, “How can I build my list quickly, and where can I acquire email addresses?” Unfortunately, there is no easy way to build a good list quickly. If there were, presumably we’d all be doing it.

Here’s the truth: In the email world, you can’t buy legitimate email addresses. You know those $399 CDs with 50 million email addresses? Most of the addresses are probably harvested or gathered in some less-than-stellar manner. Many are probably either out of date, converted to “honeypots” by ISPs looking to trap some spammers, or otherwise undeliverable. The owners of those addresses certainly haven’t given you permission to email them.

There are many methods of increasing your email list, “organically,” a term I use just to say, it’s part of the normal process of business. It varies by company and organization, and it’s largely to do with getting out the word that you have interesting mailing campaigns, that you make it a priority to take email addresses at F2F events, strategic parts of your site, at the cash register, etc. Viral campaigns are great, and parternship marketing.

For clients who have explored the acquisition routes above, I have never seen one of them that has exhausted the organic methods. Lifecycle, “triggered” emails are probably the most unsung hero in acquisition channels. It enhances the relationship, it is targeted, and personalized, and 24×7. But it’s a little tricky to execute. I think marketers go the “easy” route by back-end data models, because it’s something they understand, whereas lifecycle emails are not one-hit-wonders but slow growth. Still, when you compare cost and response rates, lifecycles win every time. Web 2.0 companies understand this- their emails are short, text-only (or with maybe 1 image) and triggered according to user activity on their site. They notify you of social relationships- and they create a stickiness. Unfortunately retail and consumer goods haven’t launched onto this as much, they’re still in the image-heavy, HTML one-drop-a-week world, barely inching up from the “cart abandonment” email campaigns. They can go there, and some are trying, but it’s a hard row to hoe.

Reading on the topic
How to Grow A List ClickZ
Email list rental may fall out of favor DM News. Great quote from Julie Katz at Forrester:

“We saw it coming because renting names from a list can be very risky for a marketer,” says Julie Katz, analyst at Forrester Research. “Those people don’t necessarily have any affinity with your brand. Also, if the names are bad, you could get caught in a spam trap and it can ruin your reputation.”

Bulk email lists: good or bad? by Mark Brownlow on Email Experience Reports

Interesting Failures

Saturday, 02. May 2009 by Anna Billstrom

tree at donner creek
Friend of mine was complaining about her job, and in this recession, she still wanted to bail from her job. I started thinking about the jerks I’d worked for, and how, if I was in her situation, I’d probably treat it like school. Because when you know something is bad, you can only get better. I’d try different techniques on said boss, to try and figure out the best method. And, when I switch jobs, at least I’d have learned something. In a way bad situations give us a freedom to experiment and test that good situations can’t afford.

Same with email campaigns. Think of how creative we get when things get desperate, when options get slim. You try and spice it up with new copy, invigorating creative, shuffling around send times. You integrate other services in the company, try to get access to more data, and other tricks. Now is the time to try something new.

For that matter, failures are interesting. Looking back at your history, why did certain campaigns, strategies or methods fail? What were the flawed ingredients? Have you tried to recreate things or just run away in shame?

Some of my biggest failures made me realize the risks that I can stomach, and some that I can’t. And that informs the risks I take in the future.

Blunders: Obama’s Email Frequency

Monday, 13. April 2009 by Anna Billstrom

Their head of new media, Stephen Greer, responded to an apt question in his talk in December, at the Email Marketing Summit. Someone in the audience asked about the abusive frequency of Obama campaign emails. He replied, “You voted, right. Then we’re not emailing too frequently.”

That truism can’t work anymore, can it, now that core, grass roots activists *have voted* and are still getting, dare I say, spammed. I heard it on NPR, I watched it on TV, dare I say my twitterflock are also complaining. They’re glad he’s elected, but they don’t want to be “asked for money every day.”

Sadly, they’re going to lose that political capital quickly if they don’t listen to the folks that do this for a living, that have tested it out. No more than 3 a week, sir. As we know in the industry, once someone has unsubscribed, it’s very, very hard to get them back.

More reading:
I summarized a talk Stephen Greer, Director of Email and Online Fundraising for the Obama Campaign, gave in December, at Email Insider Summit
Political Spamming

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