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The code to promoting apps

Guest Blogger Ted Brunt, VP of content for Floop and executive producer at Toronto, Canada-based Sticky Brain Studios, dishes on how to make a searchable and shareable app.
November 27, 2013

By Guest Blogger Ted Brunt, VP of content for Floop and executive producer at Toronto, Canada-based Sticky Brain Studios

We are experiencing a pretty serious modern problem: How do content developers get their apps noticed? How do kids find content and spread it among their friends when we’re blowing thousands of dollars promoting somewhere else? How do we make sure our researched, developmentally-appropriate experiences aren’t lumped in with apps created by amateurs?

1. Buy users.

Surikate research from the UK iOS App Store in 2012 shows that over one third of installed apps on iPhones were discovered using the “Top 25″ charts. Developers can try to buy their way onto the “top” lists using services like TradeMob, one of the biggest “boost” providers, Chartboost Marketplace, or other techniques. You’ve seen this type of promotion before: play the free version of Words with Friends and you get an ad for a game or app after each move you make in the game. These ads are purchased by developers who pay a fee when a user clicks the ad and downloads the resulting app, (aka “Cost Per Install” or “Pay Per Install.”) Many people are experimenting with different ways to use CPI/PPI, and which methods attract the highest quality (paying) users. Using systems like Ad-X or Mobile App Tracking, developers can analyze how effective their marketing campaigns are. Clever developers will run campaigns with a limited time free download in order to make an appearance on the charts, then bump up to a paid download while they are riding high.

Each store and country has different thresholds for making the top charts. Distimo recently reported, for example, that it takes about 23,000 daily downloads to make the Top 50 Free chart in the US iOS Store. For paid apps, it’s 950 per day.

2. Curation. Many marketing plans include public relations outreach to sites that curate content. Depending on the target age group of the app, having Geek Dad or mommy bloggers review and endorse your app can be a good way to reach parents, though pure content curation may be a better choice.

Blogmetrics is a good source for top blogs, as is Technorati. Needless to say, there are hundreds of blogs with various levels of influence, and different target demographics. These can form the basis of your PR outreach, and you’ll find personally engaging the bloggers can take a lot of time.

There are many pure curated app recommendation sites out there, and they usually ask for a free copy of the app and occasionally some sort of fee. Common Sense Media is an independent non-profit that combines professional reviews with social reviews, meaning that the opinions of users effect the ranking of an app. Appysmarts is another example, using a team of reviewers who play and rank content, adding user rankings.

Hooked Media is a new, more automated type of curation. Based on 46 independent factors it uses algorithms that will recommend content to users. It even does “sentiment” analysis based on social media comments, which is pretty cool! Hooked Media doesn’t specialize in content just for kids, so devs may have their hands full as they risk their reputation should inappropriate recommendations arise in the stream. Still, it’s an interesting platform for getting your app promo out there, and the Hooked team claims a 24% conversion rate which is stellar.

Of course, getting featured on Apple, Google Play or Amazon stores is probably one of the best things you can do for your app, but there still seems to be a lot of mystery as to how to pull that off.

3. Smart Systems. One of the newest methods developers can get use to get their content noticed is by combining aspects of curation with promotion. For example, Floop (full disclosure — I’m one of the founding team members) helps developers go directly to parents, cross promote their apps, and generate revenue using display ad networks.

The way it works is pretty straightforward. Developers of creative apps use an API to quickly add a parent gate sign-in system. Parents sign up once for a Floop account, and from that point on, each time a child makes a new drawing or takes a photo in the app, Floop quietly sends an email to the parent showing the art. The communication is branded with the developer’s game, and they can choose to cross promote their other apps right to the parent. The system can suggest content to the parent based on what kind of app their child is using, and parents can safely share their child’s creation to social networks right from the email, which extends the marketing reach for the app.

Clearly, parents and developers need help making sense of the overwhelming amount of choice. Before you submit your next app, consider these resources to help your kid-users find your app.

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