While Marketplace makes it easy for users to discover new apps and games, as the inventory of apps grows you’ll need to make sure yours stands out. This page provides details on the promotional methods you can employ for your Firefox Marketplace apps.
We may hope that our next app will be the new Flappy Birds style sensation, driven to massive downloads by the power of the Internet. Unfortunately, that’s going to be the outcome for a handful of apps only, so assume from the outset you’ll have some work to do. This brings us to the thorny question of promotion: how to get the word out that your app is available and encourage users to give it a try.
You should start thinking about promotion early in your development cycle, as your promotion plans should be in place and ready to action when your app is released. In fact, some activities — teasers to what you have planned — will need to start before your app is released.
It may seem obvious, but don’t let your app listing be an afterthought, simply thrown together at the time you submit your app. Make sure the description is clear and to the point, as you’ll need to grab a user’s attention quickly as they browse the Marketplace. Also ensure that screenshots highlight the key features of the app: show the user what they can do with the app in the first few screenshots, and tell them about any extra features and controls in the later ones.
You can find some great advice on writing copy in the Apps Blog post 3 Keys to Writing Effective App Copy; also check out the Submission checklist and Marketplace screenshot criteria sections for details of the content you‘ll need for creating your app listing.
Once your app is launched you should also consider asking your user community to provide reviews and ratings. Good reviews and ratings will lift your app in Marketplace search results. In addition, they provide potential users with information on the quality of your app, making them more likely to download it.
Once your app is launched you should have a plan in place to get it featured in Firefox Marketplace. Currently there are two ways to achieve this:
- Editorial feature — here you submit your app to firstname.lastname@example.org where it’s assessed by the editorial team against a set of criteria; if it matches well, a feature slot will be scheduled.
- Community feature — in this case users of your app can nominate it for a feature slot on the community nominations page. If your app gets sufficient nominations (and isn’t buggy or controversial) it’ll get featured.
Either approach is effective: if your app meets the editorial teams criteria an Editorial feature should be your first choice, but even then encouraging your user community to nominate your app is still worthwhile.
And there may be a bonus in gaining a Marketplace feature — Mozilla will (with your permission) use featured apps in local and global app promotional campaigns. An example of such a campaign was the 2014 World Cup campaign featuring the goal.com app. It included mentions of the app in blog posts, a World Cup apps collection, highlights and a promotion on the search page among others.
Not all users will come to Marketplace as their first port of call when looking for apps; they may not expect their problem to have an app solution or be researching using a web search tool. And if your app isn't yet published, creating a website gives a focal point to any pre-launch publicity you have planned.
Having your own website can therefore be valuable, particularly if you’ve multiple apps. But it’s not simply a case of populating a couple of pages with information about your app, to aid discovery you should give some thought to search engine optimization: ensuring your site is well placed when users are searching using terms related to your app.
The three key steps in optimizing for search are:
- Determining the most popular keywords that describe your app.
- Ensuring these keywords are used throughout your website.
- Gaining links to your site from others.
Your goal with keyword selection is to find the right balance between those words that best describe your app and those that occur often in searches. There are several tools that can help with this process, such as Google Keyword Tool for which you need a Google AdWords account or SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool for which you also need to register a free account.
Gaining links to your website may be the harder of the tasks to complete, but the best approach is to put in place good plans for the use of social media, connecting with influencers, and encouraging your community members to link to your site. Links from these sources will help to elevate your site in search results.
Videos provide a great way to add to your app’s promotion. They don’t have to be glossy shoots with attractive models and sunny beaches: simple introductions to the apps’ features and benefits can be highly effective and usually work best with a simple no-nonsense approach.
For games in particular, you might consider a series of guide or how-to videos to help users master the more advanced levels of your game.
And with careful keyword selection you can take advantage of the search capabilities of most video channels to generate additional traffic around your app.
Social media channels can offer a powerful way to spread the word about your apps. However, you need to be careful about being perceived negatively by simply jumping in with a hard sell.
Look for groups that have an interest in the topics covered by your app. Once you’ve identified the ones you want to work with, engage just as you would in any social media environment: discuss problems and offer advice, looking to identify common themes that make your app relevant to a discussion. Once you’ve proved your value to the group, its users will generally be receptive to you mentioning your app when it offers clear value in addressing users’ needs.
You’ll also want to build your social media presence as part of your community building activities.
Key influencers can do a lot of the promotional legwork for you. The right word from the right individual can be one of your most effective promotional approaches. But, remember that you’ll be competing for their attention along with hundreds of other developers: So you need to target well and present them with something compelling.
The first stage is to identify the people who’ll matter to your target audience. Don’t assume that it’s just the TechCrunches of this world that matter, look for bloggers with a national or regional appeal — particularly when you are launching your app in a new localization — as well as those with broader global appeal. Also, it may be far easier to get the attention of a local or specialist blogger than one with a more general, global profile. Gaining good local or regional coverage gives you an ideal springboard into the global arena.
Making the blogger’s life easier will help too. If the blogger has to generate their own screenshots or find out what other users are saying about your app themselves, they’re less likely to post something. So create a ‘blogger’s pack’. The content of this pack will be similar to the information you’ve already provided on your Marketplace page, so it shouldn’t take long to put together. Consider providing the following:
- A description of the app, in particular highlight those features that make it unique.
- A cheat sheet to help the blogger get to key features of your app or game — but, particularly with a game guide ask them to keep this confidential, however remember that once you have distributed it this is somewhat out of your control.
- Screenshots, following the same advice as for your Marketplace listing. Although you could provide more screenshots in a blogger’s pack, but remember not to overdo it.
- Marketplace or hosting site link
- Quotes about the app, yours or those of your users
Once you’ve collected these resources, consider hosting the pack as a zip on your website, either on your site’s about or news page or, not so highly recommended, the app’s page.
Armed with your list of potential influencers and blogger’s pack, the next step is to develop your pitch. Create elevator and 5-minute pitches. Use the elevator pitch for your initial contact, whether by email or phone to kick off the conversation — remember these folks will probably have several similar requests each day, so you need to be brief but engaging. Also include the blogger’s pack or a link to it in any emails. Once you have made initial contact and some interest has been expressed you would use the 5-minute pitch to help seal the deal if necessary.
And when you have an ‘in’ with an influential blogger, remember to maintain contact. Don’t just contact them when you have a major release, look for opportunities to be in touch between major milestones. Consider communicating user stories, download or sales achievements and alike: bloggers are always looking for something interesting to write about.
Advertising your app might sound like an expensive exercise, however there are some simple ways you can advertise for little or nothing, particularly if this isn’t your first app.
So called ‘house ads’ can be placed within your other apps to let users know that you’ve a new app available. The advantage of this approach is that you’ll be advertising to an audience that already knows your products, and so should be receptive.
While some ad networks include this feature in their services, not all do. Google AdMob for example doesn’t serve house ads through its HTML interface. When it’s available, however, its use is generally free of cost (discounting the loss of revenue from paid ads). You could implement house ads yourself, alone or by rotating your ads with those of your ad network. But it may be easier to add a new ad network to your applications. If you haven’t started using ads in your apps, include the ability to run house ads in your criteria for selecting an ad network.
One of the most accessible and inexpensive forms of advertising is search engine advertising. In this form of advertising your ads are displayed within search engine results that match keywords you’ve provided for the app. However, you’ll need to take care to insure that it’s clear your app is from Firefox Marketplace or you could end up paying for a large number of clicks from owners of other devices.
Popular examples of this service include Google AdWords, Microsoft Advertising and Yahoo Search.
When putting together your promotion plan remember that your potential user is the key to driving how you promote your app. So in addition to the obvious channels, think about what less obvious ones may be available. For example:
- If your app is hyper-local, contact local businesses to see if they are willing to put up a poster or hand out information cards.
- Shows and events, perhaps you create apps with a travel flavor — consider attending local holiday shows or exhibitions.
- Stunts, particularly if you have a game, can you and your friends put together a stunt — just be careful to make sure that the resulting media coverage will be positive.
And don’t forget the power of community off-line as well as on — get your friends to talk to their friends, their favorite barista etc.
Once you’ve determined how you’re going to promote your app, create a plan and stick to it. Remember to include activities for before launch, launch and after launch. And don’t forget to keep a record of how each aspect of your plan worked and your thoughts on why it succeeded (or didn’t). You may not be successful the first time, but promotion is an essential part of a successful app — and as you build experience and contacts you’ll get more and more effective.
Ultimately look to create and take every opportunity that presents itself, no matter how small, Remember you’re only 6-degrees away from everyone on the planet.
- 3 Keys to Writing Effective App Copy
- Pre-submission checklist
- Marketplace screenshot criteria
- Marketplace Featured App criteria
- Marketplace Community Feature nominations page
- Google Keyword Tool
- SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool
- Build a Website to Market Your App
- Social Media Marketing for App Developers
- Elevator pitch