Author: Jeffrey Hughes
Publisher: Que, 2011
Aimed at: App developers who want to know about marketing
Pros: Takes realistic approach to planning, pricing and promoting an app
Cons: Might be disheartening
Reviewed by: Sue Gee
The premise of this book is that while huge profits are to be made in selling Android apps the competition means that simply posting an app to the Android Market isn't enough. And due to the the rate at which new apps are appearing the number of existing apps is now more than 90,000 rather than the 70,000 Jeffrey Hughes refers to.
The introduction states:
This book assumes you want to move beyond being a casual developer of Android apps to a successful marketer of your own best-selling apps and brand.
It proposes four key steps
- Build Your Android App Marketing Plan
- Deliver Your Marketing Message
- Convert Your Prospects to Customers
- Reuse Your Marketing Plan
Part I of the book is Your Marketing Message and starts with a chapter you might find disheartening which compares Big Win apps (aka Grand Slams), Steady Wins (or Base Hit apps) and No Wins (or Strikeouts) and concludes that the steady win offers the best opportunities and that effective marketing can mean the difference between no revenue and steady revenue.
Chapter 2 asks "What Makes for a Winning App?" and if you are looking for some easy answers then don't look here. It does suggest a list of seven questions to ask yourself in the search for a unique app: What are your favourite hobbies; what sports do you play; what are your least favorite chore and concluding with what childhood games did you enjoy playing. However this book is about marketing your app and not about coming up with a winning idea.and there is some useful advice such as a section "Tie Your App into Trends and News" and also a short paragraph on porting an app from another platform.
Chapter 3, Identifying your App's Unique Value tackles marketing issues and presents four questions you need to ask in creating a "unique selling proposition": who are your competitors; what are the key features of your app; what are the benefits of your app and what is unique about it.. Learning from the competition is one main message of this chapter.
In Chapter 4 we move on to identifying the target audience and this seems not to add a lot to the previous chapter with talk of market segmentation and understanding your app from a demographic perspective.
Chapter 5 on Building Your App's Total Message covers choosing an effective name and the use of graphics and an icon. It also emphasises the need for a product website that is similar in look and feel to your Android Market product page.
Part II is on Delivering Your Message. Chapter 6, Electronic Word of Mouth covers review, direct mail and email. It looks at advertising - both in traditional media and online and here it covers AdMob and Mobclix but also Quattro Wireless which is points out has been acquired by Apple and is now a closed solution for Apple only. The chapter concludes with a brief look the idea of building a community which probably deserves more attention. Chapter 7 looks at Using Social Media in Your App Marketing and repeats advice found elsewhere such as actively participate and offer to write guest posts for blogs. As well as the usual channels - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and You Tube it covers RSS.
Chapter 8 advises you about Timing Your Marketing Activities and Chapter 9 is creating a successful press release and goes into a lot of detail on this topic.
Part III Pricing Your Android App is where things get a bit heavy. It starts with a chapter on the factors to consider when setting a price and looks at the problems of competing with free apps. It then goes on (or back) to how to make your app better than the competition and even suggests you offer a free version of a paid app. Although it includes a section on Setting Your App's Price this is explored from the other side of the coin in Chapter 11, Conducting an App Pricing Analysis in which you quantify what it costs to produce the app - and the bottom line for the example, hypothetical app, comes out at $9,275 in monetary costs plus $13,500 in "intangible costs". It then introduces break-even analysis to help you workout how many apps you need to sell in order to make a profit.
If you feel like continuing reading after this chapter then there may be some good news in Chapter 12, Selling Value over Price - which starts of with an anecdote that seems to say that you can get people to pay vastly inflated sums for reasons other than value. It also points out that people expect all things Internet to be free.
Chapter 13 is on Breaking into the Android Market Top Paid Apps and looks at characteristics of apps in this category. Chapter 14 introduces a different strategy - a free app with ads with the options to upgrade to a paid version that is ad free. Chapter 15, The App Pricing Roller Coaster considers the idea of varying the price of your app and Chapter 16 looks at promotions and cross selling. The final chapter in this part is on a rather different topic - Using Android Analytics - looking at two analytics vendors who offer free analytics to developers, Flurry and Mobclix.
The final section of the book, Part IV Implement a Marketing Plan/Launch your app is short - around 50 pages split over six chapters. However each of these chapters provides a lot of good advice - applicable more generally than to just the Android Market - presented in numbered paragraphs, bullet point lists and tables and for many readers turning to this section first makes a lot of sense.
Chapter 18 Why Have a Marketing Plan? discusses 10 reasons - including Helps You Obtain Funding and Sets Realistic Sales Targets. Chapter 19 Components of an App Marketing Plan distills information about product, sales, profit and pricing, has some useful advice on market analysis and SWOT analysis (SWOT is shorthand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and best of all has a link to a sample business plan.
In Chapter 20, Marketing Essentials there are three tables that summarise activities prior, during and after launch and if you want more detail it's a case of looking earlier in the book. Similarly Chapter 21 has a summary of Twenty-Five Essential Android Marketing Activities - though as mentioned earlier you could remove the word Android. Finally two pages are devoted to a potentially useful Competitive Worksheet.
The information density in the final 50 pages not only makes it feel rushed but also makes the rest of the book seem waffley and slow. There is a lot of value is this book to anybody wanting to market software, be it a mobile phone app, a desktop application or an Xbox game, but it isn't evenly dispersed.
Recommended if you want to know about marketing, but with reservations.