GDC 2016 Highlights

GDC 2016 Highlights for Mobile Apps

There is a lot for mobile marketers and gamers to be excited about as 2016 unfolds!

With a whopping 41% of apps downloaded in 2015 being game apps, mobile marketers wishing to capitalize on the latest trends within the app economy would do well to pay attention to current mobile gaming trends and habits.

Many of these trends were highlighted and discussed at the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC), held in San Francisco. The conference was attended by approximately 30,000 persons (including gamers, marketers and hangers on) and was streamed online.

We feature some of the major highlights of GDC 2016 below. GDC 2016 highlights mobile marketers should make note of

Some of the significant emerging ad and mobile technology trends to watch in 2016, as announced at the GDC 2016, include:

1. Virtual Reality (VR) taking center stage

Unsurprisingly, VR was hands down the hottest topic at GDC 2016. VR for mass market consumption has been a development issue on the mobile gaming table seemingly forever.

Well, the wait is finally over, as October 2016 is expected to be the time of unveiling. As far as the practical application of the feature is concerned, the following can be expected:

  • The official bringing to market of Virtual Reality hardware wearables from leading mobile brands PlayStation (unveiled as PSVR at a cost of US399), Oculus, Sony and HTC
  • Entrance of other players into the VR gaming market after PSVR becomes more mainstream
  • Ongoing experiments regarding an all-in-one VR headset unit, fitted with all the best hardware trimmings

2. New features in Google Play designed to benefit independent game developers

One of the GDC’s most talked about announcement was that of an Indie Corner coming to the Google Play Store.

The Indie Corner is a curated list that features the top independent games, and the feature provides yet another avenue for independent mobile game developers to extend their reach and attract more players.

Criteria that will be used to decide which games make the cut are:

  • Whether or not the game is interesting
  • Stability
  • Originality
  • Good utilization of Google Play Games Service
  • Small team size, not exceeding 15 people
  • Overall high game quality

3. Mobile game marketing insights from leading industry players

Leading mobile game developers such as Uken Games, EA Games and Spry Fox dropped a lot of unconventional mobile gaming marketing wisdom on the GDC attendees on the very first day of the conference.

The same included:

  • The development of an automated analytics system designed to detect click-based fraud and prevent ‘visible cheating’ (Uken Games)
  • The introduction of rare events and collectibles with in-game functions that are tangible, and “bear speak” mechanic, geared at increasing active users and increasing retention rates — both of which jumped (Spry Fox)
  • How to turn established game property into an F2P mobile game hit (EA)

4. Unity Technology’s impressive figures and other updates

Game development software giant, Unity Technology, made public some stunning figures during the company’s updates at GDC 2016.

Unity Technology revealed that it now enjoys unique monthly users in excess of 1.1 million — a figure that surpasses the total number of employees who work for publicly owned gaming companies across the entire globe.

Other impressive Unity figures included:

  • Building approximately 300 of the 1000 (30%) highest grossing mobile games in Q4 2015
  • Advertising growing by more than fivefold since GDC 2015

Other Unity Technology updates included the availability of Unity 5.4 and 5.3.4, with Unity 5.4 being poised to improve flat 2D rendering and pave the way for virtual reality (see highlight number 1 above).

There was also the announcement of:

  • A Unity certificate program that is “hard” and “definitely not an easy beginner level.”
  • An innovative new way to control multi-developer projects by new users being easily added to project files, quick project adaptation and cloud saves. A beta program for the same is now available at unity3d.com/collaborate
  • A one-click, no SDK, integration, with three times as many platforms being supported and easier to create and launch IAP

Mobile Marketing Campaigns

Lessons Learned From Successful Mobile Marketing Campaigns

Pause to look around and you’ll see the same thing practically everywhere you go — people staring into their phones.

For companies trying to promote products or services, these people are all potential customers. If developed correctly, a strong mobile marketing campaign can provide a company a lasting return.

Companies thinking about implementing a mobile marketing strategy can learn numerous lessons from some of the most successful campaigns to date.

Successful Mobile Marketing Campaigns

Statistics show that approximately 84% of companies don’t have a formal mobile marketing strategy, however, some have found enormous success by implementing one.

Two of the most triumphant mobile campaigns to date were developed by Starbucks and Nivea.

Starbucks Mobile App

Their mobile application, aptly named Starbucks, allows the customer to see a store locator, a rewards program, and gift card information.

The company found that they could best engage their customers by offering special bonuses and incentives like birthday gifts, discounts, and complimentary beverages. This strategy helps customers engage because they are constantly using the app to receive free stuff.

Everyone loves free stuff.

Starbucks also seamlessly incorporated a loyalty program into their app. They found that users are likely to continue buying beverages with the goal of earning a free one.

As a result, the company is able to continuously gather information about their customer base and buying habits. The incentive program works by collecting stars each time a purchase is made. When customers collect a certain number of stars, they can redeem them for more benefits or prizes.

Another important element of the mobile campaign was the addition of short message service marketing (SMS). Audiences can fill out surveys sent through the phone and, with each survey filled out, more stars are given to the customer.

The latest feature to be added to their mobile Starbucks app is Mobile Order and Pay. This allows a customer to pay in advance before picking up the actual beverage.

It is estimated that 7 million people are currently signed up to the Starbucks mobile application, and that sales have increased 22%.

Lesson Learned from Starbucks

Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from this app is to research the motives of your customers.

Be aware of how you can make the customer happy while guiding them towards buying something at the same time.

Understand the desires of your customers and use them to your advantage.

By using mobile tactics to reward their patrons, Starbucks has increased customer retention, lifetime value, and loyalty.

The app also entices the audience to participate in surveys for stars.

Most people fill out the surveys because they know it will bring them one step closer to earning another paid reward. Without the app, chances are slim that customers would take the time to fill out anything, depriving the company of valuable marketing information.

Nivea

Another example of an amazing mobile marketing campaign is the Nivea Sun Kids range app.

The Nivea ‘protection ad’ wasn’t just a mobile project. It combined mobile marketing with print ads to create a one-of-a-kind campaign.

Print advertisements in magazines had a removable “protect strip”, similar to a wristband, to be placed around the child’s arm, when they were out at the beach.

Then the parents download the mobile app, which communicated with the arm bracelet. If the child strays too far outside the range of the bracelet, the app beeps, alerting the parents that their child is wandering away.

The campaign was developed by Brazilian ad agency FCB and has generated tons of excitement for it’s out of the box thinking.

Lessons to Be Learned from Nivea

This campaign was so successful because it makes the customers feel like they’re genuinely being helped, not merely sold to.

Nivea thought of a campaign that didn’t focus strictly on it’s products. It focused on what their customers wanted — the protection of their children from getting lost and sunburned.

They are still receiving requests for wristbands and skyrocketing sales associated with the campaign are an added bonus.

Clearly, preparation is the key to a successful mobile marketing campaign. The most important lessons learned from these two successful campaigns are:

- learning what your customer wants and needs
- being able to gather information on their purchasing habits
- making them feel involved and part of the process
- gaining their loyalty and trust

If all these objectives can be achieved, your mobile marketing campaign is sure to be a hit. Study other successful, and unsuccessful, campaigns to learn as much as possible, and be able to adapt to the ever growing mobile consumer market.

IOS User Interface Guidelines

How To Design An IOS User Interface That Fits Apple’s Guidelines

If you intend to design an iOS app, you must abide by Apple’s user interface guidelines.

The most important iOS human interface guidelines include:

App Anatomy

According to Apple, almost all iOS apps use the components defined in the UIKit framework. In general, the UIKit user interface elements are broken down into the following four categories:

Bars

  • This component consists of contextual information that keeps app users aware of where they are, how to navigate, and how to initiate certain actions.

Content views

  • This element should contain app-specific information and allow users to perform actions such as deleting, inserting, and rearranging content or app elements.

Controls

  • Users should be able to perform app-specific actions or display content.

Temporary views

  • The app should briefly show users key details, functionalities, or content that they can access.

The UIKit also covers the objects that you can incorporate into your app to enhance gesture recognition, accessibility, support printing and support drawing functionalities.

You can think of a UI element/component as a type of view that responds to user interaction.

This means that content, sliders, buttons, text boxes and tables are all types of views.

The best way to offer a seamless hierarchy of views inside your app is by using a view controller. This component allows you to manage a transition from one screen to another, displaying available views and implementing user-based interactions and functionalities.

iOS Themes

Your iOS app must embody the following UI themes:

1. Clarity

Clarity refers to legible icons and text as well as easily recognizable user interface controls such as sliders and buttons. These must be precise and have a sharpened focus.

One way of enhancing clarity is by leveraging the power of negative space to make content stand out and be more noticeable. A good example is the way messaging apps use space to separate incoming and outgoing content.

You can also use a suitable system font such as San Francisco to make letters and words easier to read by adjusting letter spacing and line height automatically.

Luckily, the iOS system font works well with Dynamic Type. A third way of enhancing clarity is by using borderless buttons. Of course, you can create a content area button with a thin border to make it stand out from the surrounding elements.

2. Depth

Apple recommends using realistic motion or visually appropriate layers to enhance the attractiveness of your app’s content as well make it easier for users to understand it.

When implementing depth elements, you should convey hierarchy and position.

For instance, you can use 3D touch functionality to allow app users to explore content in a more interactive way. You can also implement a translucent background element to make content appear to float above other app elements.

Other depth elements that you can deploy include enhanced transitions and zooming functionality.

3. Deference

Deference refers to the UI component that enables app users to interact with and understand content without overshadowing it. You can easily achieve this goal by creating a crisp UI that can transition fluidly across views.

For example, you can use translucent UI elements to give app users a hint of the content that is behind the current element.

However, you should be wary of UI heavy elements such as drop shadows and bezels because they can overwhelm and turn the attention of app users from the primary content.

For the best results, you should cast such elements in a secondary/supporting role.

Standard Gestures to Support

Your app should support standard gestures that mobile device owners have become used to including tap, drag, pinch, swipe, flick, double tap, shake, as well as touch and hold.

Additionally, you can include gestures that allow users to perform system-wide actions such as accessing the main menu or reaching the notification center.

However, you should avoid using standard gestures to implement different app-specific actions because doing so will lead to confusion.

Moreover, you should not define and implement new, non-standard features unless your app is a game. This is because such features may make your app harder to use and compromise the user experience.

If you intend to create complex gestures, only do so as a shortcut for executing a specific action much faster, not the only way to perform it. This will make it easier for users to select functionalities that suit their needs.

This notwithstanding, complex and non-standard gestures can enrich your app’s functionality and user experience greatly if properly implemented.

Conclusion

When designing an iOS app, you should pay attention to Apple’s UI guidelines. This includes ensuring your app has all the UIKit framework components, embodies UI theme elements and supports standard gestures.

What Every Android App Creator Should Know About Google Play Keywords And ASO

What Every Android App Creator Should Know About Google Play Keywords And ASO

Using the right app optimization techniques can mean the difference between a highly successful app and one that is only moderately successful at best.

Following are some important tips that can help a marketer promote his or her app in the most effective manner.

Choose the Right Google Play Keywords

Because Google Play limits the number of characters that can be used in the title, short description and long description, it is imperative to choose the right keywords.

In a perfect world, a good keyword would get a lot of app store search volume but not have a lot of competition.  But the keywords that make up your app listing don’t exist in vacuum.

Relevance, how a specific word fits into the keyword matrix, and the value of the traffic as measured by intent or lifetime value all impact the value of a keyword.

It is also extremely important to ensure that any keywords evaluated are highly related to the app’s content.

If the keyword is not related to what the app has to offer, this can result in poor conversion rates, low app usage and a high number of uninstalls, all of which are sure to damage your long-term Google Play ranking.

In Google’s developer center, they specifically state that the best practices of SEO apply in creating a good app listing for Google Play. What they don’t say is that even if Google indexes the app listing content similar to a website – the search traffic you are attempting to optimize for is not web search traffic but Google Play search traffic.

Further, while app indexing shows some promise for a deeper lever of indexing, websites have more than one page that is evaluated in search.  In Google Play, your app listing serves the same purpose in ASO as an entire website does for SEO!

How, When and How Often Keywords Should be Used

If possible, the main keyword being targeted should be used as part of the app’s title.

The general rule for Google Play ASO is the more constrained the field, the more weight given in indexation.  The app name field is limited to 30 characters – so words used carry the greatest weight compared to the short and full descriptions.

Using feature or function based phrases is a proven approach as a majority of app store search is for specific features.

That said, the goal of selecting keywords for your app listing is not to rank higher, but to acquire more high LTV users.

Finding features-based phrases that have a strong potential to convert viewers into users will ultimately help your app store rankings while bringing in more valuable users.

In practice, this means when drafting the content of your full description – avoid writing as if for a search engine.

Overusing the keyword does not increase search engine benefits and is likely to even be counterproductive if the description sounds like it was written for a search engine rather than a human.

Links

Google Play app pages, much like websites, need inbound links in order to reach a larger audience.

Note:  This is unique to Google Play as Apple does not currently include “social signals” in their app store ranking algorithm.

 

Links to your Google Play app page should be built naturally and ideally come from a wide range of websites.

Developing channels outside of the app stores - from corporate websites to social media sites and on YouTube (by uploading the promotional video mentioned earlier) can really pay off in better rankings on Google Play.

Building user acquisition channels, finding the right mix of keywords and phrases, using the best converting phrases in the app name – all of this takes time.

With user acquisition costs above $2 per install, an optimized app listing and app store funnel can create a defendable,  long-term asset.

What to Track in Google Mobile App Analytics

What to Track in Google Mobile App Analytics

The Google Mobile App Analytics tool enables app developers and marketers to track a wide range of metrics as well as gather and use data on other analytics platforms.

However, first time users of Google’s feature-rich analytics solution may face difficulties selecting the metrics to track from the many options available.

As such, marketers and developers should focus on the following metrics:

Demographics

The demographics metric provides marketers and developers with key information about their app users. This includes gender, age, e-commerce activity, affinity categories, in-market segments, and interests exhibited when making bookings and purchases online, as well as other categories.

With this information, you can target specific app users more efficiently and effectively.

Install attribution

It is important to track consumers who install your app. Luckily, the Google mobile app analytics tool makes this easier via the Install Attribution feature that you can use to determine the origin of your app’s users (both Android and iOS).

More specifically, this feature is linked to the Google Play Referral Flow feature, which makes it possible to view data related to an app’s installation process. This includes every bit of activity from viewing the app on the app store to installing and launching it.

More importantly, iOS developers can use the iOS Install Tracking feature to determine where app users originated from before they even got to the App Store.

In-app actions

You should track the activities that consumers undertake inside your app to determine whether they are using in-app features, how frequently they use each feature, how often they open your app, and how much time they spend in-app.

Thanks to Google Mobile App Analytics’ Events feature, you can do so easily in several ways. To start with, you can order/group in-app events according to a custom category descriptor. For instance, you could create a category called “videos” to track how many times app users downloaded or watched video content.

Moreover, you can track several metrics within an event category. For example, measuring how long it took to download a video or music file, as well as the number of clicks on video play, pause or stop button.

Lifetime value (LTV)

The lifetime value metric enables you to determine the value of app users based on their actions. According to Google, metrics that one can track in this category include:

• Sessions per user
• Appviews per user
• Transactions per user
• Revenue per user
• Goal completions per user
• Session duration per user

The LTV report has two essential elements: acquisition date and X-axis in the graph. The former element covers a specific date period.

For example, you can use this element to view the number of users acquired during or after a marketing campaign. The X-axis in the graph element can be set to cover a day, week, or month (incremental in nature) up to a maximum of 90-days.

Since these metrics can be viewed on graphs, it is even easier for app developers to make sense of the abovementioned LTV metrics.

Cross-device activity

Since many consumers own and use multiple Internet-enabled devices, it is necessary to track their cross-device actions. Once again, you can do so via a feature in the Google Mobile App Analytics called Measurement Protocol.

This protocol enables developers to query Google Analytics servers for raw app user interaction data. As such, developers can access data related to offline and online activities, analyze user activity data using other tools, and transmit data from the server as well as client.

Furthermore, developers can implement the Android SDK’s “userId” field to gather more accurate cross-device user data.

Cohort analysis

Cohort analysis enables users to examine the behavior of groups/categories of users related to each other by a common attribute. A good example would be using this metric to evaluate and measure the performance of a marketing campaign relative to the number of new users acquired.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking allows one to measure his/her app metrics against aggregated industry metrics.

Google says that it covers more than 1600 industry categories that can be refined further by geographic location and traffic size. Benchmarking data can be viewed according to location (country/territory), device (desktop, tablet, mobile), and default channel grouping (social, email, referral, organic search, display, and paid search).

Developers can compare their app metrics against industry benchmarks such as:

• New sessions percentage
• Bounce rate
• Pages/session
• Number of sessions
• New sessions (initiated by new users)
• Average session duration

Conclusion

The Google Mobile App Analytics solution gives users the ability to track a wide range of key metrics. Some of the metrics that marketers and developers are likely to find useful include lifetime value, cohort analysis, install attribution, demographics, in-app actions, cross-device activity and benchmarking.