Hands-on with Marketing in a Box
This article deals with utilizing the Marketing Guidance document and Digital Marketing Toolkit that Nokia provide to developers as part of Marketing in a Box. In particular, I will be applying the guidance and asset creation tool to one of my applications, the Weight Watchers Calculator.
Note: This is a community entry in the Series 40 Webinars - Contribute and Win Competition 2013Q1 with Marketing in a Box competition.
Through research, Nokia have found that 58% of app developers are looking for guidance when it comes to marketing their applications. Marketing in a Box (MiB) is an initiative created by Nokia to provide assistance to those developers. The MiB page iitself consists of two parts. The first part (Marketing Guidance) is a series of videos and a document that talks about what a developer should consider before marketing an application. The second part (Digital Marketing Toolkit) is an application that generates digital marketing assets (images, videos, banners, website) that a developer can use in order to promote their app.
Please note that this article refers to the beta version of MiB, therefore the functionality and user experience witnessed by the author may differ to that of other users.
The Marketing Guidance page displays a collection of videos that provide a summary of what a developer needs to consider before, during, and after an app launch. The real meat of the Marketing Guidance comes in the document that is linked to on the page called "A Shortcut to Marketing Success". The document consists of the following six chapters.
- Owned media preparation
- In-app business models
- Bought and earned media
- Launch preparation
Warning: Before I start with a review of the guide, I would have one minor criticism that it isn't immediately obviously that the guide even exists on the page (it's linked to from an image). Given the fact that some of the entries to this Wiki competition make no mention of the guide whatsoever, I think that the MiB team would need to consider making it more obvious that the document exists (perhaps even converting it to a HTML UI component that stands out more than a static image at the bottom of the page.
Owned media preparation
The first chapter starts with the prospective app developer looking at exactly what kind of app they want to create and how they are able to try and find a niche in the market. After that, it looks at the creation of a web site and how to optimize that site using SEO techniques. The chapter then looks at creation social media outlets and then finishes with looking at beta testing and video creation.
Overall, I found this to be a very solid and practical chapter. The only issue I would have is that the sub-section about video creation (it talks about creating a showcase of your application features) doesn't tally very well with the video that the Digital Marketing Toolkit creates (a very professional video that unfortunately only contains static images of your application). Further down in this article, I propose a solution to this dilemma.
In-app business models
The second chapter looks at the business model of your application, focusing on two areas to generate revenue (in-app advertising and in-app purchasing).
This chapter was quite straight forward, I thought.
Bought and earned media
The third chapter discusses the different free and paid strategies that you can utilize to increase awareness of your application and increase downloads.
I was a bit surprised that Nokia Ad Exchange wasn't specifically mentioned here. I definitely think it's worth considering giving a bit more detail given that it is a Nokia product.
In the fourth chapter, the document looks at ensuring that everything is ready for when you decide to go live with your application.
One of the things that I have found when launching an application that wasn't mentioned here is that you should never release too early. My initial thought was that I would release an app with bare bones functionality from the beginning and that I would then add functionality as time went on. I'm not sure if any other developers were as naive as me, but this is most definitely the wrong tactic to take as I found the the initial period of the application release was the period of the greatest buzz and interest. As you can see from the above graph, once the application was introduced to the Nokia Store, there was a massive spike in downloads before things settled down to a normal level. In future, I would advise all developers to pack as much functionality into their applications before release.
Another thing to consider when releasing an app is to use the Nokia Store's built-in ability to restrict your app to certain geographical locations. The app that I am using in this example (a calculator for people on the Weight Watchers diet) is really only applicable to people in certain countries. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble of replying to people in e-mail's and getting bad review scores because these people didn't know what the Weight Watchers diet program was and what my application was supposed to do.
With your app published, the 5th chapter looks at listening to your customers in order to add new functionality and fix any issues that they may encounter in your application.
One application that I have come across that wasn't mentioned here, but could be useful in managing customer interaction is User Voice. I have noticed quite a few developers use it to manage a request list of most wanted features. Nokia's IdeasProject site currently uses the application and many developers may find it of use for their app (it can be free depending on your usage). What was also mentioned in the guide was monitoring reviews of your application and responding to feedback constructively. Considering that your biggest source of feedback is likely to be from your app page on the Nokia Store, it's surprising that the Nokia Store doesn't allow you to reply back to user reviews (Trip Advisor for examples allows a restaurant or hotel to comment on a users review). As opposed to a bad review just sitting out there, at least if there's some degree of feedback, the developer may be able to work with the unhappy customer to overcome the issue. I can definitely see value in adding this feature to the Nokia store.
The final chapter then discusses how you should monitor your application, website and other marketing assets in order to learn how your application is performing and whether you need to tweak anything in order to stimulate interest and downloads.
For quite some time after I released my application, I didn't realise that Nokia actually provide their own analytics on which countries have downloaded your application the most and which devices is your app most popular on. It's probably worth mentioning that you get all this through Nokia Publish without having to sign up for any service or adding code to your project.
Digital Marketing Toolkit - nuances and bugs
1. Digital Marketing Toolkit names.
The first thing I noticed when I went to create my Digital Marketing Toolkit was that the name of my app exceeded 25 characters (my app name was actually 26 characters), so this required me to remove one of the spaces. This field should probably have the same max length attribute as an app name has in the Nokia Store.
2. Digital Marketing Toolkit category duplication.
The next thing I noticed was when specifying the category for my application in the toolkit was that there was duplication of some of the category names. This drop down needs a little bit of tidying up as well.
3. Limited images for video creation.
Having the toolkit linked to the images where your application is hosted on the Store is definitely useful, but I would have liked to have had the chance to overwrite these images with my own. In my case, the images for my app on the Nokia Store were too low-res and unfortunately came out a little grainy on the video.
4. Possible issue with Screenshot Selection heading.
When creating the banners under the Screenshot Selection heading, I was presented with these images. Perhaps I missed something, but I am not sure what these are supposed to represent.The images certainly don't seem to sync with the Live Preview.
5. Syncing assets with Youtube.
Another thing I found was when I tried to link the newly created video with my Youtube account, I needed to go back and try again twice. I am not sure why this happened as I was logged into my Youtube account, but it was awkward having to use the browser back button rather than the application asking me did I want to try again. Also, I would suggest that when syncing video with Youtube that Nokia provide the format that it expects when linking with a Youtube channel or video. I spent a bit of time trying to fix this despite the fact I was providing a valid link to the toolkit.
Digital Marketing Toolkit - possible improvements
1. Facebook cover page banners.
Facebook allows a user to update the cover page (i.e. the masthead) of their profile with their own user image. It would have been useful if the banner creation tool could have created a cover image using the preferred dimensions (851 pixels by 315 pixels). I did use one of the images created by the Digital Marketing Toolkit (967 pixels by 277 pixels) which Facebook re-sized quite poorly. To see the result, click here to view the Facebook page for my application.
2. Twitter header image.
Like Facebook, Twitter also allows a user to update their header image. While I was able to adapt an existing image that was generated by the Digital Marketing Toolkit, it would have been nice if the tool had developed a custom image specifically suited to Twitter (Twitter recommends using dimensions of 1252 pixels by 626 pixels). To view my updated header image, please visited the Twitter page of my application here.
3. Integration of created assets into the Nokia Store.
The Nokia Store already allows a user to provide their e-mail and website addresses, I think it should be extended to include a link to any possible Twitter, Youtube or Facebook accounts that the app developer may want to include. It might also be helpful if the toolkit also allowed a user to specify if they wanted the newly created spotlight and marketing assets to also be uploaded to the Nokia store rather than having the user download a zip file, extract the files they want to upload, and then push them to the Nokia Store.
4. More banner and video templates.
While the quality of the existing templates is excellent, more templates for the different marketing assets are going to be needed in order to prevent users of the Nokia Store from seeing too many similar videos and banners. At the moment, a user only needs to see 2 or 3 of these videos before they get repetitive.
5. Improve the generated promotional video.
I found that while the quality of the generated promotional video was excellent (it looks very slick and professional), it was a little bit light on information. I would suggest that a user should be able combine the promotional video with their own demonstration videos. For example, I was able to create my own demo video of my application by using Nokia's RDA application (for more information on this, please see here). Rather than just using static images, I think the promotional video should be able combine with an app video demo. If that isn't possible, then I think the video template at very least needs to be updated to provide more detail on the actual application that you've created.
6. Integrate app demo video with the Nokia Store.
In the above bullet point, I discussed how I was quickly able to create a demo video for my application and upload it to Youtube. I think that the Nokia Store page for a developers app should be able to embed this kind of video (or at least link to it) so customers can get a better flavour of the application they are about to download. Sometimes plain images don't convey the kind of application that a customer is looking to buy, so it makes a lot of sense to have the power to be able to upload a demo video of your application.
7. Increased language support for video creation.
It's great to see that the video creation tool supports quite a few languages, however, it still needs more languages. As I outlined above, India is a critical market (especially for Series 40 developers) and support for some of the most widely used languages in that country should be considered.
8. Modifying the generated digital assets.
One thing that you need to be aware of before you create your digital assets is that can't modify many of the settings after you run the toolkit. Either Nokia should make changes to allow a user to retrospectively makes changes to the created assets or they should inform the user that before creating the toolkit assets that they won't be make certain changes afterwards. While you can just create a new set of assets, it's not a particularly good user experience.
One feature I think that Nokia could consider adding to their toolkit is assisting developers with localisation. As I have shown above, India is one of the biggest markets for Series 40 applications (40% of my downloads alone come from India), yet there is very little help for developers who are looking to support this massive market. At very least, Nokia could mention in the Marketing Guidance document that there are third-party sites which allow a developer to crowd source translations for their application (the Symbian application Tweetian uses Transifex for example. The alternative for Nokia is to provide their own platform where developers could post a list of their own files that need translating. Nokia could even turn the platform into a game with a league table of who has translated the most documents and then provide prizes to the top contributors.
Nokia could also consider providing more detailed statistics on what is happening with the Nokia Store. For example, Android provide monthly statistics on the market share of different versions of Android so that developers have an idea of which version of the OS they should be catering to. With the full touch Asha phones offering a drastically different UI experience to old keypad devices, it would be very helpful for developers to be able to see a breakdown of the different devices and how popular they are. Another statistic that might be useful for developers is the list of most popular applications for a different countries and geographical locations. That would certainly help a developer to target which applications are popular in a given country.
Finally, another feature that would be extremely beneficial to a developer to help assist in marketing their app is the ability to provide a free download for their paid application. For example, a developer might want to allow a user to download the application for test or review purposes free of charge but while keeping it as a paid for application on the Nokia Store. Perhaps Nokia can provide the ability to create a single-use download?
Overall, the experience of using Marketing in a Box has been very positive and the guides and tools provided most definitely provided added value to this developer. The fact that Nokia are providing this kind of help to developers already puts them ahead from the competition. Having said that, with some minor changes and improvements, Nokia could really put some serious distance between themselves and their competition.