Getting the most out of Marketing In a Box
This article explores the suite of tools called "Marketing in a Box", and provides insight on how to take full advantage of it to promote an application.
Note: This is a community entry in the Series 40 Webinars - Contribute and Win Competition 2013Q1 with Marketing in a Box competition.
Marketing is one of the most important factors a developer should consider when he/she starts to think about creating a mobile application. It could make the difference between a success and a forgotten app in the application stores, but unfortunately, many developers do not think they really need to plan their marketing strategies, and even if they know they should take marketing seriously, they do not know how to do it, or do not have the necessary resources to do it.
In an effort to help developers in this endeavor, Nokia has created the "Marketing In a Box" set of tools (hereafter called MiB), which this article will explore with the goal of helping developers to take full advantage of it, so they can plan and execute a good marketing strategy without spending part of their probably reduced budget.
MiB can be accessed here: Marketing in a Box
Before you start
The MiB service is currently in a beta stage and there are a few things that might not work as one would like or expect. Throughout this article some of those things will be mentioned inside notes, tips and warnings, and will be summarized at the end in section "Bugs and enhancement suggestions", whose intended audience is Nokia staff. If you have more suggestions about the service, feel free to post them as a comment to this article.
Tools included in the suite
The MiB suite includes two basic elements, or groups of tools:
- Marketing Guidance
- Digital Marketing Toolkit
Warning: Both of these elements are equally important, but unfortunately many developers will be tempted to skip the Marketing Guidance, to jump directly to the Digital Marketing Toolkit, which produces more quick and tangible results, that is, the marketing assets that would be used in their application promotion. However, digital assets created and/or used without the appropriate guidance and strategy, will not produce the results they could have produced as part of a well planned and informed promotion campaign.
The Marketing Guidance section includes some short videos which make the point about the importance of marketing before, during and after the launch of the application. If you are clear about that point, then there is no need to watch the videos, since they do not include anything that is not covered with detail in the Step by Step App Marketing Guide, which can also be downloaded from the same page, and is described below.
The guide is divided in 6 chapters, and at the time of writing this article it consists of 46 pages full of really valuable information an tips.
To give you an idea of the material included in each chapter, we will list them here, with an excerpt from the chapter's introduction.
- Owned media preparation: In this section you will learn all the marketing basics you should cover during your app’s development phase. You will learn how to define your app’s audience, how to learn from competitors, how to build your app’s message, how to optimize your app’s website, how to create additional material and what tools you can use to better prepare for launch.
- In-App business models: In this section learn how in-app advertising and in-app purchasing can help you drive revenue after the download.
- Bought and earned media: In this section you will learn different free and paid strategies to raise awareness and generate interest around your application. Although you can always pay to drive people to your application, alternative free methods have the potential to render even better results if planned and executed carefully.
- Launch preparation: Philosopher Seneca once said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. Plan your application’s release carefully and try every option of success that’s in your hands. In this section you will learn a few tips and find some ideas that can help bring your application the notoriety it deserves.
- Maintenance: Don’t let your guard down – there’s still work to be done. And if it had a slow start, don’t worry – keep up the hard work and your application will achieve the success it deserves. In this section you will learn the basic recommendations you should follow to refine your application and build a loyal community of dedicated users.
- Analysis: Monitoring and analyzing all the elements that compose your app’s ecosystem is critical to maximizing its success. You will need to monitor many aspects of your campaign and how your users are interacting with your application. The learnings from these results will help you fine-tune your marketing activity, discover and solve potential issues and will prepare you for future launches.
Digital Marketing Toolkit
When using the Digital Marketing Toolkit every set or group of assets you create is called a "marketing kit", and you can create any number of kits, which will be stored under your developer account.
The tool allows the creation of 4 different types of assets, namely Promo Videos, Websites, Facebook tabs, and Banners.
Since the tool is very easy to use, and most instructions are pretty clear, we will not include many screenshots when describing the steps needed to create a Marketing Kit.
On the first page of the kit creation process you will need to specify the kit name, the type of assets you want to create, the platform or device, the language you want to use for the assets, and the URL of the application in Nokia or Windows Phone store.
- The URL is needed because the tool will extract icons, images and other data from the application's content in the store, and unfortunately, it is not possible to feed the tool with external files, so if the app has not been submitted to the store yet, you cannot use this tool to create promotional assets.
- The device or platform selected is independent of the devices for which the application has been published, and is only used for the device images the tool adds to the assets it creates for your application.
- The language selected is independent of the language in which the application has been published, and the tool will not translate any of the text it could pull from the app's content item. The selected language will only be used for the text that the tool adds when creating the desired assets.
After selecting the initial values, a wizard guides you through the process of creating the desired marketing assets.
- Unless you are only testing MiB, you should not proceed to create a marketing kit if you have not read and studied very carefully at least chapter 1 of the Marketing Guide. That chapter will help you plan the name of your application, the message you want to center your marketing on, the keywords you should use for your video, the content you should include in the website, etc, etc.
- Read very carefully all of the text and instructions presented during the process to make sure you will be able to complete the process and get the results you expect.
Step 1 - General Information:
In this step the tool shows you the screenshots and icons it has pulled from the store, and lets you change the suggested app's category and name. If you already have a YouTube video of your app, the tool also allows you to enter the URL, so it can be included in your website and/or Facebook tab.
Tip: The URL of your existing video apparently needs to be entered using this address scheme http://youtu.be/<video_id>. For example, using http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2vi1rigH7A as the URL might cause the video not to appear in the generated website, but using this address http://youtu.be/k2vi1rigH7A will make it appear as expected.
The next steps depend on the type of assets you want to generate, existing 1 step for each type of assets.
Warning: If you advance to any of the asset-specific steps, you will not be able to go back to the initial screen (to change the platform, for example) without practically losing the changes you have made up to that point. Even if the "back" button is present, you will not really get back to your initial options, but will reset the process and will need to start over (you will not be able to use the same kit name because at that point it has already been created. The options would be to create a new one, or edit the existing one, but if the kit in question is your first one, the "My Marketing Kits" section that would be used to edit the created kit, will not be present, so there is no way to edit it and thus a new one needs to be created). Additionally, when editing a kit, there is no way to edit the platform or the language, so if you need to change that, you need to create a new kit.
In this step there are only a handful of things you can customize, which includes 3 keywords that identify the app, the music to be included in the video (from only 4 different options) and the images that will be included. Most of the text that will be used to create the video is not customizable.
The tool lets you select the images you want to include in each section of the video, and the order in which they will appear.
At the end of this step you will be able to preview the video.
Website and Facebook tab step:
In this step, you are allowed to enter the page subtitle, up to three paragraphs of text, and links to your social media presence (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter), and you can see the template that will be used to create your web page and/or Facebook tab.
Tip: The tool editor does not allow to change text colors or size, but if you paste text which comes from another editor and has different colors/sizes (see image below), the tool will [almost] respect them when creating the website. However, sometimes pasting formatted text from other editors might cause the tool to display a message saying the character limit has been exceeded, even if that is not the case.
The banners creation page is the one that offers more customization possibilities. You are allowed to select a different language and you can change the application URL, name, category and price, and you are also apparently allowed to upload a different icon from the one pulled from the store.
It also allows some customization in the banners text and a couple of options about the text style, and offers a wide variety of devices to choose from (it does not auto-select the device you chose at the beginning of the kit creation process, though).
You can also select the size of banners you want to create. The available sizes are "MMA mobile web banners", "IAB online banners", "Spotlight sizes" and "Nokia Ad Exchange".
After creating the banners, a preview of all the banners created is shown, and the tool offers the option to download them to your machine.
Final Assets step:
This last step includes some final instructions and a button to create the final assets. Depending on the assets you have decided to create, the process could take several minutes to complete.
After creating the final assets, if you created a promo video, you will be redirected to YouTube to upload it (for which you need a YouTube account and need to grant access for Nokia).
What can be done with the final assets?
YouTube offers some tools to enhance and customize the uploaded video. It allows you to apply some video effects, change the music (offering a much bigger selection of music tracks) and add annotations and captions.
YouTube also lets you download an mp4 file to your computer, which you can edit with the video editing software of your choice (the download option might not be available if you applied an audio track from YouTube to your video) and/or upload it to additional video hosting services.
Since the created website can also be downloaded, you should also be able to edit it with the web development tool of your choice, or use it as a starting point to create a more complex site. You can, for example, integrate your Facebook and Twitter presence into your website as explained in this interesting article: Integrating your Social Presence with the Digital Marketing Toolkit Website.
The banners can be used in any web site, and can also be used for ad campaigns.
Final recommendation: Don't forget to share your video, website and Facebook tab with all of your friends, and through all of the possible communication channels available for you.
Bugs and enhancement suggestions
- It would be really useful to be able to feed the tool with external files, and to be able to generate marketing assets before the application is published in the store.
- It would probably be better if the tool did not convert to uppercase or lowercase the name of the application when creating the video, since sometimes the name's upper/lower case combination is part of the "image" of the application.
- Since the URL of the existing video that can be entered in step 1 (General Information) cannot be entered in the format one usually uses when viewing the videos on the web, it would be good to make that clear as part of the instructions in that step.
- It is not possible to edit the data entered in the initial screen of the kit creation process (platform and language), but a "back" button appears in the next step which might cause some confusion to the user. If that back button is pressed the initial screen appears but it is blank, and at that point the only thing that can be done is to create a new kit.
- It seems that the kit is internally created once the user moves to Step 1 of the process, and if the user goes back to the initial screen (action described in previous point) there is no way to continue editing the same kit, so the user would need to go to section "My Marketing Kits" to edit it, but if the kit that was being created is the first one, that section is not visible and does not seem to be a way to find the previous kit to edit it, so at that point the only option left is to create a new one.
- In the video creation screen, on Internet Explorer (tested with version 9.x) the images selected are displayed cropped and might not look very well when previewing them. This does not happen on FireFox.
- The video preview cannot be paused, and that does not help when you need to pay close attention to specific parts of it.
- When entering the text that will be included in the website, sometimes pasting formatted text from other editors might cause the tool to display a message saying the character limit has been exceeded, even if that is not the case.
- In the banners creation step the tool asks for the app URL, name and category again. It feels like it was an external tool that was not completely integrated within the whole process.
- When only banners are to be created, the back button to go to the first step (General Information) does not appear, but when other types of assets are selected the button appears as expected.
- In the banners creation step there is an "upload different icon" link, but it does not seem to work. It allows you to browse for an image, but when clicking "upload" nothing happens even if the file complies with the required format and size (tested on Internet Explored and FireFox).
- More video templates would be really welcome.
- More website templates would be really welcome.
- Since only 4 music tracks are available when creating a video, it would be a good idea to let the user upload a music file to use as the soundtrack for the video.
Marketing in a Box is a suite of tools Nokia developed aiming to help developers with such an important and many times forgotten phase of mobile application development. The tools are very powerful but at the same time easy to use, and I don't know of any other platform that offers a similar service to its developers, for free.
However, no matter how powerful the tools are, if the guidance offered is not taken seriously by developers, the generated marketing assets will probably not accomplish their final goal.