Promotional Marketing for Android Apps

Promotional marketing attempts to get people to make a buying decision. You can create various incentives to move someone to make an app purchase, including contests, half-off sales, and free downloads. Before you begin an app promotion, review the following questions:

• What is your reason for the promotion? Are you just trying to sell more apps or are you trying to build a following? If you are doing a temporary app price reduction, for example, you are trying to bolster app sales. If you offer the app for free for a limited time, you are trying to build a following. Both are valid reasons for doing a promotion.

• What is your promotion budget? If you only have $500 to spend on a promotion, you will plan differently than if you have $5,000 to spend. Don't start a promotion until you know exactly what you can comfortably spend. I give you some ideas in Table 16.1 on promotions you can execute, depending on your budget.

Table 16.1 App Promotions Vary Depending On Your Budget Budget Amount Promotional Recommendations

No money Offer the app for free for a limited time or reduce the app price for a lim ited time. See Chapter 15, "The App Pricing Rollercoaster," for more information on raising and lowering prices.

Table 16.1 App Promotions Vary Depending On Your Budget

Budget Amount Promotional Recommendations Up to $500 Here are some contest ideas:

• Give away an Android tablet to the winner who makes the most creative use of your app. The contest should run for a couple of months at least.

• Give away five $100 gift card prizes to the best entries. The gift cards can be for almost any store. You can also change up the amounts, giving first place a prize of $250, second place $150, and third place $100, or any other option.

• Give away savings bonds that have a maturity value of $250 or $500 for the person who makes the best use of your app as judged by your expert panel. You can purchase bonds for less than face value, of course.

• Give away app development books, online app development courses, t-shirts, mugs, caps, and so on, to app users who submit how they've used your app (while supplies last, of course).

Up to $1000 Consider all the previous options or consider a contest for a PC (value

$999) for the person judged to use your app in the most creative or innovative way, as judged by your outside panel.

Over $1,000 Consider all the previous options or consider a contest for a trip to a cer tain destination, such as a Google/Android event or another locale. The trip requires the winner to be published on your website, along with a press release and description of how he or she has used your app to create certain content or solve a certain problem.

• How will you measure the success of your app promotion? You'll need to set some objectives and then measure them. Perhaps you want to capture 500 email addresses and have 350 customers purchase the app through your promotion.

• What type of promotion do you think will work best for your app? If your app is a creative type of app (say, photography), you could sponsor a contest for the funniest photo and have an outside panel of judges choose the best use of your app.

s Note

Any contests or sweepstakes offered by a company that require a purchase to enter are illegal in the United States. Check your own country or state government agency to make sure you comply with regulations and laws. Make sure your promotion is in compliance with all laws.

Here are just a few ideas you can employ to increase sales and/or awareness of your app. Keep in mind that you need to choose promotions that are appropriate for your particular app. Some apps may not lend themselves well to doing a contest, but might do well if you mark the price to free for a temporary period of time. Other apps are more appropriate for cross-selling, which is discussed later in this chapter.

• Contests—Everyone enjoys winning a contest, even though it doesn't happen too often for most of us. Having a contest allows you to acquire new clients and create awareness about your app. For example, Smule, Inc., an iPhone app development company in California, offered a contest giving away a three-day all-expense-paid trip to San Francisco and to its corporate offices. The contest required you to use one of its apps in creating a video or song. If you wanted to enter the contest, you had to use one of its apps so your creative work could be judged. A screen capture of the contest page is shown in Figure 16.1. This is not a raffle or drawing; it is a contest where your entry is judged. Here is some of the text from the contest's rules. A similar type of contest could be used for your Android apps just as easily. Notice the strong tie-in to using one of the company's apps:

"Just make sure to Smulify your video somehow. You need to use at least one Smule app in the video—make music with Ocarina and Leaf Trombone, tell a scary story with Sonic Vox, or sing a song with I Am T-Pain."

You will want your contest to run for a few months to give it some time to attract attention and help your app sales to grow. This type of contest could have first, second, and third place winners. The prizes could be in cash, savings bonds, trips, hardware, and so on. However, be sure you understand all tax laws regarding prizes for your country before launching a contest with prizes.

• Periodic giveaways—You can also create an ongoing promotion where you select certain entries of your app being used in creative situations. Buyers can go to your website and enter their name and email address with a description of how your app has helped them. You feature the

Figure 16.1 Smule had a contest giving away a free trip to California for the best song or video entry using one of its apps.

best write-ups on your product home page each week. If a buyer's use of your app is selected, you can send him or her a t-shirt or small gift for being selected as this week's best user of your app.

• Half-off sales—Half-off sales (or third off, quarter off, and so on) attract buyers' attention and help to spur sales of your app. You can put the verbiage in your Android Market text announcing the sale or you can post a temporary app icon with the sale announcement. The announcement can go for a few days or a few weeks, depending on the sales results. If you have strong results you can extend the promotion by saying, "Back by popular demand," or something like that. If sales do not improve fairly quickly you can set the price back to where it was before the promotion and look to other ideas.

b Note

Always set a timeframe for your promotion. For example, you can say "Ends at Midnight, June 15th" or "Sale Only This Weekend." This will help your buyers to make a purchase decision more quickly if they know the clock is ticking.

• Free (for a time)—Does giving away free samples work? Yes, most definitely! You don't want to give it away forever, of course, but for a limited time. You can specify in your press release or in an announcement on the Android Market and the product website that the app is being given away for free for a limited time. If you have a well-written app, the free users will give you positive word of mouth, which should help your sales.

Table 16.1 gives you some recommendations for promotions you can employ at different budget levels. Again, consider whether or not your app is appropriate for a promotion such as a contest. These are just a few examples of what you can do in the way of promotions. The sky is the limit. Just make sure you stay within the laws of your state or country.

Whenever you have a contest you'll want to require entrants to provide their name, email address, and phone number to contact the winners. The contest will help you build your company's database of customers for future promotions and app sales.

Cross-selling involves offering your buyer another product that is complementary to what you are already selling. In the app world this involves offering app buyers another app or add-on pack to whatever they have already bought. Amazon perfected this approach by displaying other items that similar buyers have purchased along with the item being displayed. This marketing approach has dramatically lifted sales for Amazon across the entire website.

Google, perhaps taking a cue from Amazon, also includes the icons for similar apps purchased through the "View More Applications" link. The Android Market is helping you out by displaying your app along with other apps when someone does a search on the Android Market for a particular type of app. Depending on how many similar apps there are, your app could be displayed frequently when someone does a search for the same type of app.

Every customer is a valuable asset for you. For certain apps, you can create additional add-on packs for your app. For example, Figure 16.2 shows a very popular app that has both a free and a paid version. The free version includes an announcement at the bottom of the app inviting you to purchase and download the paid app instantly through the Android device. This is an example of up-selling the app buyer from a less expensive (free) app to the paid version of the app.

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