How to market your mobile site or app without spending a fortune on ads

Making the most of what you’ve got: email, SMS, social media, brochures, packaging, SEO and ASO and optimizing your mobile site design to make the most of them.

If you want to avoid spending the majority of your project budget on advertising and public relations (PR), it is essential to start planning how you will use organic methods to promote your mobile-friendly site or app early and incorporate this strategy into your mobile design and build.

There are four categories of marketing media:

  1. Paid media – i.e. advertising
  2. Earned media – e.g. press and blog coverage (generally achieved via PR)
  3. Owned media: digital and physical – e.g. email and packaging
  4. Shared media – e.g. social media

The previous column discussed paid media and public relations  and introduced the concept of distribution-driven development.

This week, it’s the turn of shared and owned media, including search engine optimization (SEO) and app store optimization (ASO) and testing your campaign.

Plus Jim Hennessey, director of consumer marketing for the hit US Multiple Sclerosis fundraising event, MuckFest, gives us a masterclass on digital and social media marketing.

“Three years ago, the MuckFest MS social channels were a silo, far away from being a component of our marketing and revenue generating programs. In 2013 we had no event registrations attributed to social media. In 2015, more than 35% of our registrations were from social media.”

Find out MuckFest did it, below.

 muckfest_ms_cz9[1]

Owned media – physical

Depending on the type of business there will be a wealth of ‘free’ vehicles for promoting your mobile site or app.

These include brochures, business cards, product packaging store/office posters and placards including the store window, as in this case study from Adidas Neo:

  • All of these physical media should promote, overtly or subtly, your mobile venture, by including a short URL and/or QR (quick response) code to the mobile-friendly site or app store listing for native apps.
  • Plan ahead to ensure that the next design and print run of each marketing material will include a hyperlink.
  • Co-ordinate marketing efforts so the campaign is backed up with a unique landing page with information on the mobile site.
  • Don’t just advertise the fact that you have a mobile site or app, give people a reason to visit such as to check out nutritional information, enter a competition or place an order.

The following Burger King menu recently dropped through the letter box (ignoring the No junk mail notice), which drives people to online ordering with a QR code and URL.

Note the use of both give the recipient the choice – don’t assume everyone has a smartphone or knows how to scan a QR code.

burger_king_qr_code_cz9

As part of its commitment to deliver nutritional information about its products, Nestlé has committed to add QR codes to product packaging  that link to more information about nutrition on the mobile-friendly site.

This was stated in the Nestlé Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2014, and reiterated in 2015.

nestle_qr_commitment_cz9

Owned media – digital

Companies have a number of digital media channels – email, SMS and social media – at their disposal. All of which should be use to drive mobile users to your mobile site with a simple click on a hyperlink.

Use of mobile email is growing rapidly, with more than half of marketing emails opened on a mobile device, according to Adestra.

email_mobile_client-2015cz9

Social media has become synonymous with mobile – at the beginning of 2016, Facebook had 1.44 billion mobile monthly active users, out of 1.59 billion total monthly users.

SMS is often forgotten by marketers amid trendier media. This is shortsighted, considering SMS is a uniquely mobile media, ubiquitous to all mobile phones and still very popular with consumers.

Plan how you will use these channels to target the most relevant subscribers. A quick checklist:

  • Aggressively recruit target users to your CRM programs with incentives.
  • Check the right permissions are in place to deliver marketing messages.
  • Ensure that your marketing emails and social media messages are mobile friendly.
  • Segment the subscriber base so only the relevant are targeted. Only promote your iPhone app to known iPhone users.
  • Analyze message content and timing to maximize response rates.
  • Schedule messaging. Tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer allow the scheduling of social media posts.
  • Plan to incorporate your promotion into your existing messaging schedule to avoid over-burdening your clients with extra messages.
  • Remember your customers won’t be as excited about your upcoming iPhone app as you are, so don’t start emailing until it’s ready.

The following untargeted email was sent out in January 2016 to subscribers to the Quartz daily news service.

quartz_untargeted_email_cz9

Sharing – social media, email, SMS

An engaged social media following can have a big impact on web traffic: when fans share content they tend to do so with a link which drives additional visits.

The social media strategy should influence site design and content strategy in a number of ways:

  • Facilitate sharing, by having the right tools embedded into the site in the right place: see best practices for sharing buttons .
  • Monitor what content is shared by readers of rival sites using tools such as BuzzSumo.
  • Provide excellent content that is easy to share e.g. images, video.
  • Provide compelling/exclusive offers that people will want to share.
  • Encourage sharing, by promoting user-generated content on your site and social channels.
  • Reward the most active and influential fans with flattery and special offers.
  • Record and analyze all results to optimize content and engagement strategy.

MuckFest MS case study 

MuckFest MS  is a muddy 5K fun run with obstacles that takes place in 11 cities in the US and has raising over $20 million to date to help fight Multiple Sclerosis.

The digital and social strategy is run by Jim Hennessey:

In 2013 we had no event registrations attributed to social media. In 2015, more than 35% of our registrations were from social media.

What changed?

  • We developed an overall marketing strategy that emphasizes the reciprocal benefits of all digital marketing efforts to each other – for example, social media integrated with email communications and website – both web content and user experience (UX).
  • Invested in audience-building efforts on key social channels (Facebook, Twitter) to reach viable prospect audiences in our event markets.
  • Integrated keyword strategy across all channels.

In 2015, more than 55% of our customers used mobile as their access point, and 80% of those customers say social media is one of the top three daily smartphone activities.

So we re-imagined website UX – including the visual style and the messaging flow from social media to the site.

The site is not simply “responsive.” It is designed to be mobile first, using ‘cube based coding’ which allows each cube of copy to stack and be prioritized by platform.

This is done by coding during the development process to deliver a better UX for our audiences. Check out how our city pages on different devices.

MuckFestMS.com uses social content as a primary component for our site’s messaging. For example, we use curated social content for customer reviews and endorsements.

Another key component is the ability to quickly highlight viral social content on the MuckFest.com, such as when in January 2016 BuzzFeed’s The Try Guys made a MuckFest video.

What’s next?

  • Creating on-going engagement with our active social media community and leverage them to accelerate our digital messaging efforts. See: The MuckSquad.
  • Continue to evolve use of digital video, with more videos, using different types of content and various lengths that can be used in either paid or non-paid. See: David’s Story 

Search engine optimization (SEO) 

Virtually all successful websites are reliant on search for a large proportion or majority of their traffic. Mobile sites/web apps are no different.

The only change is that mobile users may search for different things. Location, proximity and immediacy may be more important to a mobile user than a desktop searcher.

SEO is not a dark art. Search engine spiders mimic the behavior of mobile users, so the key to SEO is to anticipate what mobile users want and optimize the content and navigation accordingly.

One of the first steps in the development process should be an extensive audit of the existing web properties, evaluating customer search behavior and the performance of competitors.

Let this influence site design, content and marketing strategy (outlined in this article). Clearly this will be more effective than using some SEO/keyword tools shortly before launch and jamming some keywords and metatags into irrelevant content.

Most importantly, the better the SEO, the less you need to spend on paid search advertising. But as website traffic influences rankings, advertising will be unavoidable for newcomers.

Andrew Martin, senior inbound marketing executive, Cambridge University Press:

Evaluating search behavior is crucial. If you’re going to re-launch your site to be mobile first, then your desktop old site will be generating a ton of search data in your Google Search Console. You can filter this data by device to see the split for desktop, mobile, or tablet, and the kinds of things that you rank (well or badly) for already.

If you’re taking a phase approach to your development, this information will be particularly useful, by showing you your existing mobile search performance, and therefore allow you to prioritise site or content areas that you’re doing well in already, or show aspirational areas where you need a boost to improve your position and CTR.

Obviously, if you’re a mobile user, you want to see a mobile site – not some tiny text, broken or restricted desktop site. Note that the majority of searches now take place on mobile devices.

Consequently, if you’re a mobile site owner you want to feed that hungry, curious audience, with your most relevant content.

google_web_device_split_cz9

App store optimization

App store optimization (ASO)  is the equivalent of SEO for native apps. It is partly about how the app ranks when people search the store of a relevant app and partly about how compelling it appears to the user.

  • App store rankings are believed to be influenced by numerous things including title, description, keywords, popularity – downloads and continued use – reviews and frequency of updates.
  • Users are influenced by icon, title, description, including quality of screenshots and videos used, and reviews.

Done effectively, app store optimization should deliver better long-term results than paid advertising.

Gary Yentin, CEO and Founder, App-Promo, Toronto:

Currently, ASO has the best return on investment (ROI) but that is over time. For immediate impact, paid media delivers the best ROI.

However ROI of paid advertising varies. It depends both on what the life-time value (LTV) of the customer is, and when the paid media campaign is launched.

Paid media acquisition costs vary with supply and demand and tend to be higher in Q4 (during the holiday season).

ASO tends to deliver better ROI since rates and inventory are not subject to this fluctuation and it delivers longer term results.

itunes_top20_feb_2016_cz9

Test, test and test again 

Digital marketing is an imprecise science because every situation is different. This makes it essential that marketing programs are constantly measured and tweaked to maximize optimal results.

Gary Yentin:

It’s important to plan early and have a sufficient budget allocated, and test, test, test. It not terrible to make a mistake. If the budget allows for testing, you can then learn and make changes towards a successful campaign.

A straight-forward methodology to trialing different approaches is A/B testing, sometimes called split-testing. Marketers should be familiar with using A/B testing for digital ads, where two slightly different versions of an ad are shown alternatively to different website visitors and the results recorded.

But A/B testing can be applied to most marketing channels. The key is to come up with a hypotheses – would it improve X if we changed Y? (X is a desired result and Y is a variable).

This is the ninth part of the ClickZ ‘DNA of mobile-friendly web’ series.

Here are the others:

  1. Six mobile strategy questions.
  2. How to identify your mobile audience. 
  3. Why prioritize mobile-friendly web.
  4. Web apps: advantages of native apps in a web browser.
  5. How to test the viability of your mobile project.
  6. Assessing the technical and operational feasibility of your mobile project
  7. Show me the money: proving your mobile site or app will deliver ROI.
  8. Formulating the go-to market strategy for your mobile project.

Andy Favell is ClickZ columnist on mobile. He is a London-based freelance mobile/digital consultant, journalist and web editor.

Contact him via Linkedin or Twitter at @Andy_Favell

This article was originally published on our sister site ClickZ, but it’s so helpful we thought we’d share it here too.

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