Our Favorite and Top Posts of 2015

Our Favorite and Top Posts of 2015

It has been an amazing year in Mobile, Apps and Mobile Marketing for our clients and all of us here at Gummicube.

Let’s take a look at some of the most impactful, enlightening and actionable posts from 2015.

Mobile is Eating the World

Riffing off of his boss’ “Software is eating the world” pronouncement a decade ago, Ben Evans of Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) makes his argument that it is now mobile that is the center of the digital universe with his “Mobile is Eating the World” presentation.

Source: ben-evans.com

This deck is over 50 slides of mobile goodness, comparing mobile to PCs, the impact (or lack thereof) of Microsoft, what the future may hold and poses some new questions we’ll look to answer in 2016 and beyond.

Internet Trends – 2015 by KPCB

This annual report presented by Mary Meeker (often dubbed the “Mary Meeker Report”) is full of wonderful, aggregated data across the digital spectrum.

As noted in many of the almost 200 slides, mobile is carving out a substantial presence in our digital lives, taking share away from print, TV, radio and even (mostly) the web.

Two of our favorite slides – one on the growth of mobile as a medium for digital consumption:

usage-mobile-vs-desktop

And second comparing advertising spend vs time in medium:

ad-spend-vs-usage

Google’s Mobile Search Stats

In April, Google started penalizing websites that were not “mobile-friendly” – that is either using responsive design or designed specifically for mobile (m.website.com).

Clearly quality results + good user experience for mobile searchers were important to Google. A bit later in the year we learned why – as Google mentioned in a blog post that more Google search takes place on a mobile device than on “computers” (desktops/laptops) in 10 countries – US and Japan included.

Key quote:  “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.”

Gummicube ASO White Paper

The complete guide to on-app, off-app and conversion rate optimization for more visibility and organic traffic and installs from the app stores.

ASO-from-Gummicube

One thing this white paper does that others don’t is makes the case for the long-term competitive advantages of an ongoing optimization effort for a mobile app portfolio.

Honorable mention (requires email):  comScore’s Mobility Report – 2015

Our Top Posts of 2015

App Store Ranking Algorithm and Impact of App Name Length

After a shakeup in the app store top charts, we took a look at some of the rumors flying around, and specifically reviewed the subject of “keyword stuffing” title or app names.

If you like graphs and data – you will like this post. The key takeaway was:

While we advise our clients that keyword stuffing app titles is not part of resilient App Store optimization strategy – the claim that Apple is penalizing long App Store titles fails on further investigation.

Google Trends vs Apple App Store Trending

Using the Academy Awards – we compared Google Trends data with the recently released Apple App Store Trending data.

For now – the main takeaway seems to be web search is very different from app store search regardless of external events, in no small part because user intent is so different.

Android App Marketing and Google Play ASO

How to get started with Google Play optimization, from the App Title to screenshots, descriptions and everything in between.

This post served as a hub for Google Play ASO, and was shared viewed and shared over 1,000 times.

We covered all sorts of mobile app marketing and ASO topics in 2015 and look forward to sharing for insight, data, trends and analysis in 2016!

App Deep Linking Tools

App Deep Linking Tools You Should Know

With the release and adoption of the latest versions of the two biggest mobile operating systems – iOS 9 and Android 6.0 Marshmallow – deep linking has moved mainstream.

Both iOS 9 and Android 6.0 include a private app index that can access specifica in-app content, and recall user-generated in-app content and actions. Spotlight search on Apple and Google Now on Android also now index in-app content in search results, funneling users directly to the relevant location once the app is installed.

Mobile deep linking

From an app marketer’s perspective, app visibility is not limited to only the app listing metadata. Mobile apps can now be indexed with depth and specificity. Performing a search using Spotlight or Google Now will surface in-app content of a user’s installed apps first – which impacts user engagement, retention and ultimately value.

Sounds awesome and simple right?

Here is why we need services and tools – there are several approaches to indexing in-app content, and several competing formats:

Facebook is driving App Links

Google is pushing App Indexing

Twitter has App Cards

Apple has Universal Links

Deep linking helps with not only app discovery, but new user on-boarding, retention, and navigating from Facebook or Twitter to content best viewed in an app.

With this range of goals and use cases comes a bit of a fragmented experience in actually implementing and supporting in your mobile apps.

Deep linking iOS

In iOS, there is a public index and a private index that uses multiple iOS APIs.

The best way to get started for indexing in-app content that has web parity (also appears on a website) is to use Apple iOS 9 Search Validation tool:

apple-app-search-validation-tool

This App Search validation tool will provide suggestions on how to tag content on the web with the in-app location.

Using Apple’s universal links, users can easily locate content in your app – even from a web or Spotlight search.

BUT – Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter do not support these universal links.

We’ll introduce a few tools in a bit that solves this problem.

Deep linking Android

Google’s approach to app indexing and deep linking is a bit different as their goal is to be able to index in-app content and display in relevant Google searches.  Google has dominated web search, app search – not so much.

Mobile has surpassed PCs, and apps have surpassed the web. Mobile apps are discovered predominantly through app store search, and search is moving to contextual (Siri/Spotlight, Google Now on Tap, Facebook M) and away from broad web search – with the result often a mobile app.

If Apple approach is to index in-app content for a better user iOS device user experience, Google’s is to pull in-app content into web search results (app deep linking SEO), even going so far as to preview in-app content without a user having to install an app.

Time will tell which approach the market will prefer, but mobile app publishers have another decision to make as to which standards to adopt in their apps.

Deep linking tools

As mentioned, Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter each have different approaches to app indexing, tagging web content and tracking links.

Branch.io aims to solve this problem by creating a platform that supports all of the major platforms and lists content on search portals.  Branch also provides analytics and attribution, smart banners, tools for customizable/personalized on-boarding and more.

Source:  Branch.io
Source: Branch.io

If your app is available for iOS and Android, and is content-rich – Branch.io is well worth checking out.

URX.com provides a platform for monetizing a content-rich app with deep links into other, contextually relevant apps.

Source: URX.org
Source: URX.org

MobileDeepLinking.org provides a guide on mobile deep linking with contributions from many of the top mobile ad networks.

mobile-deep-linking
Source: mobiledeeplinking.org/

 

Whether used for on-boarding, acquiring app installs, syncing app and web content, retention or discovery – the benefits of implementing app deep links far outweigh the initial complexity.

Mobile App Retention Metrics

Mobile App Retention Metrics

We have written extensively on this blog about acquiring organic traffic, mobile app visibility and converting app store views to installs and users.

One of the key drivers of the value of these users is how long a user keeps using your app – mobile app retention.

Retention metrics you should be using

Many of the metrics used to track app retention are associated or impacted by changes to engagement – meaning, a measurable improvement in user engagement will often improve retention as well.

If retention measures – at a high level – the longevity of product use, engagement measures the depth of product use.

Retention metrics such as cohort-based Day 1, 3, 7, 14, 30 and 90 can help us determine if efforts to keep users coming back are having a positive effect.

Local and push notifications are the tools of choice for many mobile app marketers, but don’t discount great design and perceived value.

Engagement metrics, therefore, provide the insights for improving retention.

What are users engaging with inside of the app, what are they missing and how can we provide more of what they want, or even encourage use of where we think the value is?

Retention metrics examples

Setting key performance indicators (KPIs) for a mobile app should be tied to business goals.  There is not a mobile app template for all mobile apps as Clash of Clans and the Target app are very different with different goals and different ways of measuring the revenue generated from the mobile app.  They really only share a platform (mobile OS and a mobile device).

Assuming goals are tied to revenue, and by extension lifetime value (LTV), finding the cohort that demonstrates the highest LTV informs the rest of the mobile app’s KPIs including retention.

Because retention metrics don’t provide a detailed view of in-app activity (that usually falls under engagement), more (longer) is almost always associated with a higher LTV.

Overall for both Android and iOS apps across all categories – D30 retention tends to be 25-40% of D0 users, with a mere 1-4% at the end of a year (D365).

Mobile app retention statistics

The most common method for tracking retention is Day N retention. What percent of your users opened the app on Day N?

If you have 100 installs on January 1st, 40 open the app Jan 2nd and 20 open the app Jan 8th – for the Jan 1 cohort, your D1 is 40% and D7 is 20%.

Mobile app marketers can look at aggregate data, but reviewing by cohorts tied to new versions or other retention optimization efforts will provide the insights you need to measure the effectiveness of such efforts.

Attrition metrics

A key SaaS metric is churn.  Churn measures what percent of users stop using (and paying for) an app (or service) for a given month.

Consider a scenario where a business has 100 active users paying monthly, are signing up 10 new customers per month, and have a 10% churn rate.

Even with 10% monthly new customer growth, the business is flat as they are losing 10% of existing customers to churn.

The subscription model in mobile apps has not yet become a prominent monetization model with only a few standouts including Pandora, Spotify, HBO, Kylie Jenner’s app.

Most apps are free to play, with some small percent of total users purchasing in-app items. An even smaller percent of users account for the majority of revenue in most apps with some studies showing 60% of revenues coming from only 10% of users.

What that means for attrition metrics for mobile apps is it is easy to dismiss users that churn as those unlikely to make an in-app purchase.

This may be true – but really depends on the type of mobile app.  Shopping apps specifically should have a much longer goals for retaining users than a mobile game for example.

The trend by cohort analysis on D90 retention for non-gaming apps should be a primary attrition metric.

Target and Lowes both shared that customers with their mobile app installed shopped more frequently and purchased more per visit than non-app users.  Keeping these users on your app for 90 or 365 days can have a big impact on store revenues – where many games are making money on Day 1 and much less per user on D90.

Tracking retention

The most popular free and paid app analytics services all have default retention tracking. Apple’s analytics module tracks retention for iOS apps, but not Android. Flurry provides a good, free solution and then Localytics and Mixpanel have complete app analytics offerings.

Improved retention usually means improved LTV, which makes each new acquired user more valuable and allows for increased investment in both paid and organic user acquisition efforts.

The Mobile Impact on Holiday Shopping

The Mobile Impact on Holiday Shopping

As we leave for our holiday vacations, let’s take a look at how mobile and mobile apps have not only nudged their way into retail, but how mobile shopping is now leading much of the shopping experience.

We are not talking about mobile or apps taking over only ecommerce (which they are), but the huge impact mobile is having in “brick and mortar” – meaning the impact of mobile on all retail sales.

Until recently, there was a clear divide between ecommerce sales and “in store” sales.  No one was opening their Mac in Best Buy purchasing online from Best Buy while in the store (maybe someone has done that – but not a significant use case).

With smartphones, purchases can be made digitally and in the store.  As we’ll see, this happened with greater frequency in 2015 than ever before.

We’ll look at ecommerce vs in-store, and by medium of PC, Smartphone or at a retailer.

Several companies have shared their holiday shopping data including IBM via Watson, and Adobe via their Adobe Marketing Cloud. Then we have forecasts and other informed data points from consultancies like Deloitte.

Black Friday

IBM and Adobe shared data for Black Friday which is “traditionally” a holiday shopping day on the friday after Thanksgiving.

In 2015, Black Friday started on Thanksgiving, with digital sales increasing 26% over 2014, with 60% of traffic and 40% of sales coming via mobile devices.

On Black Friday, mobile accounted for 57.2% of web traffic and 36% of online sales, an increase of 30% over 2014. The average order on a Tablet actually exceeded PC average orders sizes for the first time.

Source: IBM Holiday Benchmark Study
Source: IBM Holiday Benchmark Study

Data shows that this spike is not due to traditional retailers selling in-store, with mobile-first or traditional online sellers (like Amazon) selling online and via mobile.

Of the top 5 ecommerce revenue generators on Black Friday, 4 were traditional retailers.

Source: infographic from Signal.co
Source: infographic from Signal.co

Adobe’s data mirrored IBM’s, but they also shared that of mobile revenues, 70% were from iOS devices.

Note that in the US, the market share by mobile OS is around 50% Android, 40% iOS and 10% Blackberry, Microsoft and others.

Cyber Monday

The same thinking that has brought us Grandparents Day and Boss’ Day has brought us Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

For Cyber Monday 2015, retail online sales increased almost 18% from 2014.

Mobile accounted for 50% of traffic and 30% of sales on Cyber Monday – an increase of more than 25% year over year.

Mobile Purchasing in Retail Store

Customer service consultancy and software platform provider Eptica shared the results of their multichannel customer experience study in retail that showed 23% of respondents completed a purchase from the store they were in, on their mobile device.

This could be related to not having to transport the purchased goods home, to see a wide range of reviews or ratings, a long checkout line or price shopping.

In the same study, a full 20% responded purchasing from a competitor while in a retail store.

Best Buy has long been the poster-child of the challenge of “Showrooming” – where consumers use a retail location to touch and feel merchandise, only to go home and price shop.

Apparently, consumers are not even leaving the retailer before placing a purchase on their smartphones.

Evaluating an App Marketing Promotion Company

Evaluating an App Marketing Promotion Company

With more than 1.5 million apps on each of the Apple and Google app stores, building a plan for visibility for your app is essential to a return on your investment.

Since the majority of mobile app downloads come from app store search, a mobile app marketing plan should start with optimizing for organic discovery in the app stores.

App marketing strategies that include app listing metadata, optimized creatives, ratings and review acquisition and even in-app retention and engagement are collectively generally referred to app store optimization or ASO.

ASO is often, mistakenly thought of as “finding keywords” for an app’s app store listing. This limited approach is still employed by some app marketing companies, but is not the comprehensive approach needed to compete and thrive in the app stores.

What follows are the building blocks of a mobile app marketing plan that an app marketing promotion company should be required to deliver.

Build Metadata for App Store Listing for both Apple’s App Store and Google Play

The metadata in an app listing includes the app name and description, a keywords field for Apple and a short description for Google Play. These fields impact how your app is indexed by Apple and Google, which determines which search results your app appears.

The goal should be broad coverage of extremely relevant search terms.

There are three primary tool for defining and measuring what is relevant and existing coverage of these terms:

1)  Historical and trending app store data

App store data provides insights to how have users searched the app stores for related apps, similar features and benefits, and what is currently trending.

We have written about this extensively, how users search the app stores is very different from how users search the web.

2)  Focus groups

Focus groups can provide both quantitative and qualitative feedback on your app’s features and benefits, which resonate best with your target audience and how they would search for these features in their words.

3)  App ranking analysis for relevant phrases

How your app ranks for specific search terms and phrases can tell you a lot about how the market is reacting to your app for that term.

Your app could be the very first result for “Free Zombie Game”, but if it is a flashlight app, conversions from users seeing your flashlight app result when searching for zombie games will be extremely low.

This signals Apple and Google that your app is not relevant to the search, and they will drop you in the rankings for that search.

Relevance matters to users, and is easily measured in app stores by conversion rates.

Note that there are several factors that go into not only the indexing but ranking of an app, but conversion and ranking provide clues as to how the market is reacting to how you are positioning your app.

Tested and Optimized Creatives

The icon, screenshots, video and even order of the screenshots can have a surprisingly huge impact on app installs. Testing these creatives with a target audience – ideally a focus group – should be part of any app marketing promotion company offering.

This is a chance to not only test a wide range of directions without affecting actual downloads, but also provides a channel for receiving qualitative feedback.

One design, color scheme, or text on a screenshot may perform much better or worse than others – the data tells you this.

Qualitative data provides access to why, giving the publisher (and designer) a chance to better understand their target audience and adjust designs before publishing.

Even when testing minor variances in icon design, or the text used or order of screenshots on a published app store listing, publishers can see 100%+ improvements in conversions.

Google Play provides multivariate testing to Google Play app publishers (Apple does not), which allows for experimenting with smaller changes on a subset of app store traffic to try and attain statistically significant, incremental improvements to conversions.

Produce Measureable Results

Companies have different goals for their mobile apps. No matter if your goal is a measurable ROI, more emails, better engagement with your brand, customer service or anything else, goals should be defined and measurable.

App promotion companies that deliver measurable results generally assist with defining and testing differentiating features of an app, help acquiring ratings and reviews, advise or build a strong presence outside of the app store and more.

You can read more on our approach to app store marketing here, or request a demo on how Gummicube uses app store data to grow our clients’ mobile portfolios.