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Strategies for Winning In the Hyper-Competitive Market for Apps

Before you invest valuable time and resources developing a mobile app, ask yourself if it something that people need? Because if they don’t need it, nobody is going to download and use it! Irrespective of the efforts you put in to market your app, an app that isn’t useful will fail.

But even launching an app you know a particular group of people wants doesn't guarantee success. The failure rate of mobile apps is abysmally high. There is no guarantee even a mobile app with everything going for it will deliver the returns you are looking for.

This is a problem of plenty. Mobile app users have more than  1.4 million available apps to choose from on Google Play and another 1.2 million apps on Apple’s app store. Unless your app delivers exceptional value to its target audience, it’s going to fail.

But that’s not enough. Even the best made apps fail, if they are not propped up with an effective marketing plan. If you think a well-made app will succeed no matter what, you’ve got it wrong. Here are three tips for boosting its chances of success.

1. Shout the loudest.

If you want your voice to be heard over other voices, what do you do? Shout the loudest! Well, think about it from the perspective of mobile apps. Your app is competing with plenty of other apps to get the attention of the same target audience.

It is marketing that will help your app break through the clutter, and become more visible to your audience.

Say you’ve developed an expense manager for families. Your app must becomes visible to this particular demographic. Your target audience needs to know your app caters to their needs and is available for download.

Create a landing page for your app with an email opt-in page. Use SEO and other Internet marketing tactics to attract traffic to this site. The more people you attract, the more your chances of building a targeted email subscription list. Once you build this list, create and implement an email marketing campaign that centers on your app.

Email remains the digital marketing channel that delivers the best return on investment. But, don’t limit yourself to emails. Develop a multi-pronged marketing strategy that promotes your app across different mediums. And keep at it. Don’t stop. Your app must be seen by a large percentage of its target audience.

2. Trigger viral response.

Use social media to spread the word and trigger conversations around your app. Your app should be seen and heard. This is only possible by leveraging the immense potential of social media to build meaningful relationship with target app users.

Create social media profiles for your app on Twitter, Facebook etc. Build a list of followers that largely consists of your target audience. Engage with your followers by sharing content talking about the benefits of your app, offers, discounts and anything else that you believe will convince them to use your app. This sets the stage for your app to go viral.

If your followers like the content you are sharing, they’re going to share it with their followers on social media. This means your app’s mentions have the potential of going viral. This will definitely help the app steal a march over its competitors.

3. Boost app credibility.

With so many people talking about your app (provided you get SEO, email marketing, and social media right), you improve its chances of being downloaded and used. If your app is good, people are going to leave positive ratings and reviews on the app page on the app store, its landing pages and on app review sites. This will boost app credibility.

People want to use apps that others are talking about, using and positively reviewing. We’ve talked about social media in the earlier point. Consumers trust social media recommendations; if your app comes well recommended by its users, there is nothing like it.

Better visibility, wider circulation and trust are three things that will get your app over the finish line, ahead of its competitors; and for this you must take the help of mobile apps marketing.

4 Reasons Why an Online Business is the Best Investment You Will Ever Make

Entrepreneurs are a rare breed of individuals who are constantly exploring new business opportunities. Some seek out new opportunities on their own while others are constantly being pitched new ideas.

The majority of opportunities, no matter how good they might sound, end up being a complete money-sucking nightmare due to expensive overhead, slow scalability and low margins. Online businesses, however, can be very appealing because they don’t have the traditional hurdles that most new ventures face. The following are four reasons why online businesses are the best investment entrepreneurs can make.

1. Offers incredible scalability

Not every single online business is going to automatically morph into a huge success with rapid exponential growth. Many entrepreneurs start an online business thinking customers are automatically going to find them and sales will pour in because they have a small footprint on the Internet. They think that a few tweets and some Facebook posts are all it will take to snowball an online business into a virtual ATM machine.

Scaling any business is not easy, whether it is a brick-and-mortar location or an online business, but an online business has advantages. For instance, a brick-and-mortar retail store has a defined audience, typically a radius from the business location. An online business isn’t restricted by this and can market to a worldwide audience.

Once a successful marketing and advertising strategy is identified an online business can simply open up its target and increase budget to grow very fast.

2. Provides limitless freedom

Many entrepreneurs are drawn to online businesses because of the freedom they offer. Modern technology, laptops, tablets, business apps and VOIP communication systems are just some of the tools that allow businesses to be operated from any location. Next time you are in a Starbucks take a look around -- I guarantee someone is working on their online business or startup while connected to wifi and sipping their favorite coffee.

Not being tied to a particular location or desk from nine to five can be very empowering. Some entrepreneurs don’t know how to balance the freedom and fail miserably, while others use the freedom as motivation to work even harder. Don’t mistake freedom for time to slack off. True entrepreneurs respect the freedom and understand that the hard work is well worth the ability to spend more time with their families and partake in activities that most miss out on because they are part of the nine to five grind.

3. Low overhead and high margins

An online business will often allow you to eliminate some of the huge costs associated with an offline business. Not only can you eliminate things such as pricey office or retail space and long-term lease commitments, but you can also eliminate having to tie up your money in stocking inventory. A drop-shipping agreement with the manufacturer or a manufacture-to-order arrangement can greatly reduce your financial-risk and will allow you to maintain more consistent margins with less upfront cost.

Imagine if you had a business that sold hats and you carried five variations: red, blue, green, yellow and orange. In a physical brick-and-mortar location you would need to keep all of the variations in stock because you don’t know what hat the people walking through your door are coming to buy. If the yellow hats don’t sell you are forced to discount them and take a loss. Selling the same hats via drop-shipping would mean you won’t be left holding unsold merchandise that you have already paid for.

4. Access to a worldwide market

The beautiful thing about an online business is the ability to run it 24/7 without boundaries. There are no geographical boundaries and there are no specific hours of operation -- an online business can produce revenue around the clock, even while you sleep.

With a well thought-out social media plan, search-engine optimization and paid media strategies, an online business can thrive. You have access to the entire world right at your fingertips. The luxury of being able to target specific states, regions and countries gives an upper hand to online-based businesses.

#HashtagFails? 5 Tips That Will Change Your Fortune

The hashtag is the haiku of modern Internet culture. Despite the apparent randomness in which ones gain popularity, there's an art and science to selecting hashtags.

You may be familiar with the epic failures. Susan Boyle’s #susanalbumparty and Research In Motion’s #RIMjobs will long be remembered for their extraordinary lack of awareness. And #AskJPM and #McDStories, too, have become case studies in what not to do on Twitter because their use unleashed a barrage of quips and attacks. (Hint: Open-ended questions can become bulls-eyes for trolls.) 

I would argue, however, massive noticeable failures are the exception not the rule. It's more common to put out a hashtag that's ignored.

Hashtags are a way to capture, organize and advertise an idea. Marketers must master their use to reap business results on social networks.

With that in mind, here are five things to do to change your hashtagging fortunes:

1. Be informative, not abstract.

The handles #IceBucketChallenge and #BringBackOurGirls were winners on Twitter, but #WTFF (what the French fry) was not.

People intuitively understood the first two hashtags. But Burger King’s attempt at cleverness doesn't seem worthwhile, with people needing to do a web search to figure out what was meant.

The Keep It Simple Stupid (or KISS) principle offers good guidance for those creating hashtags. Short, clear hashtags, preferably with one or two words and four max, are the most likely ones to catch on.

2. Proofread carefully. Add capital letters.

If your hashtag can be misread, it will be. The longer your hashtag is, the more there's a risk of misinterpretation. Proofread carefully for alternative readings. And for the audience’s sake, capitalize the first letter in each word.

In 2013 when Margaret Thatcher passed away, the hashtag #nowthatchersdead was read by many people to be #NowThatChersDead, prompting rumors that the famed pop icon had passed away. A hashtag #NowThatchersDead would not have resulted in that misunderstanding. 

3. Incorporate hashtags on multiple channels.  

If a hashtag is rocking on Twitter, take it to other social networks, billboards, your company's website, print media and stores -- whatever platform the firm uses to connect with consumers. Hashtags are popping up everywhere because they work: The best onea convey enough information to provoke an emotional response from readers.

But before bringing your hashtag to every channel, test it. Checking the appeal of a hashtag inside your organization will reveal a gaping hole in user comprehension or an accidental lapse into vulgarity.  

4. Don’t overdo it.

The more hashtags you add to content, the more diluted and confusing a message becomes. As a rule of thumb, limit a tweet to having no more than three hashtags. Thus, “excited about #SummerVacation” is a clear, simple message.

But “#excited about #summer #vacation #2015! #summer2015” is not. You don’t need to be in each conversation and try to dominate every single related hashtag.  

5. Listen carefully and pick an opening,

To be an effective hashtag artist, be immersed in a variety of conversations and look for an opening. Following hashtags is an extremely effective way to track trends in an industry.

You'll see what competitors are doing, what influencers are saying and how customers are reacting. This intelligence should inform your hashtag use and reveal openings you might not create on your own.

For instance, you can live tweet during major events such as the Super Bowl, World Series or Olympics or a live music event to take advantage of strong engagement. These mega events offer a window for a company to tap into a shared cultural experience with its own message. Just be sure you're contributing to the experience (adding humor, commentary and entertainment) rather than exploiting it.    

Hashtags exist to connect otherwise siloed comments into a shared dialogue that brings together strangers. It’s easy to let hashtag-marketing strategies get in the way of this purpose.

The hashtag itself is essentially a tool to start or enter a conversation, but it's not the conversation itself. If you hijack a trend without contributing anything substantive to the conversation, people will notice and you won’t build appreciation for your company. 

You can’t judge the success of a hashtag too quickly. Often, it takes weeks or months before one gains traction. Use a hashtag consistently and encourage its use by favoriting, retweeting and rewarding your followers when they acknowledge your hashtag. To keep track of what’s working, consider using an analytics tool (such as one offered by my company, SumAll). 

#HashtagFail or #HashtagWin? It’s not up to chance. It’s up to you.

Use Email to Increase App Installations in 4 Ways

Often underrated and ignored, email marketing can help increase your mobile app installs if done the right way. Of course, it takes patience and a fair bit of hard work to build up a database of subscribers, but if you stick with it, there are hacks that will speed up the process.

Noah Kagan built a seven-figure business solely on the back of email marketing.

Of course, it is possible with your app too. But for you to succeed with email marketing, you need to align your thinking away from looking at directly acquiring customers to acquiring, nurturing and engaging leads.

Once you’ve built a strong following that wants to hear from you, that trusts you will guide them in the right direction when it comes to choosing the product or service that’s best suited to their needs, they will listen to you. They will listen to you when you talk about how your product or service will benefit them.

Here’s how you can get started.

1. Collect email addresses.

The single most important factor for email-marketing success? You guessed it right, email addresses! Collect email addresses of people interested in hearing from you, whether from your landing page, blog and even through Twitter cards.

Find ways to get users to share their email address with you. Of course, with each route that you choose, you have to be conscious of the value you’re offering to your audience for which they’re providing you their email addresses. For example, offer a free ebook, a whitepaper or an email course like the one I offer on mobile app growth hacking.

Another great way to get started with your email list is to export the email addresses of all your first connections on LinkedIn.

2. Boost email signups.

There are a few hacks that will boost your efforts of capturing more email signups. Optimize the pages that get highest traffic on your website and place the lead-capture option there. OkDork and Buffer App’s blog both have placed the lead capture right up front on their blogs. The first thing that you notice is the value they offer along with the signup form.

Let your visitors know clearly how often they can expect an email. A lot of people don’t sign up for the risk of getting several emails every week.

Social proof is a great way to influence people into signing up. Social proof could include the number of subscribers you already have (use this if it is in a few thousands), testimonials from influential people (read: well known) or press.

3. Engage subscribers.

Once you’ve brought the users on board your mailing list by offering value, continue to engage them. The more your audience is engaged, the more they’ll refer to their network. So how do you keep engaging them?

Sending content that your audience loves to read would increase the chances they stick around. Curated content saves you time and investment in creating content consistently and is an easy way to provide great value to your audience. Ensure the content is sourced from some of the best blogs or publications in your industry.

Also use products such as Intercom or Customer.io to email your existing product users based on a certain goal completion or a pre-defined event, such as purchase or incomplete signup.

4. Create a viral effect.

When you’re sending content of value to your subscribers, ensure you’re providing something from time to time that makes them share it among their network.

Harry’s, the men’s grooming brand, collects email addresses on its home page from users that were interested in knowing when the product would launch. Once they entered their email address, the "thank you" page got them to refer their friends to sign up too. The incentive was a free product. The more friends they referred, the bigger the prize they earned.

Another way is to link to a pre-written email to increase referrals. Kagan describes the whole process in this blog post.

The trick is not to hit people with the selling or marketing spiel about your product or service on day one. Gain the trust and then subtly sell. This way, you’d close more sales than you can ever imagine. Yes, email still works!