Business developers and marketing managers are looking out to find new ways of promoting mobile apps. Mobile app users like to download apps for free. They can tolerate a few advertisements, but they are not happy about paying for applications. This is the reason that most app developers use in-app purchase or advertisement to monetize their Android apps. There aren’t many app developers making money by selling paid apps on Google Play.
In a market dominated by freemium apps, TouchType’s SwiftKey has been the best-selling paid app for months at a time in dozens of markets across the world. In this article, I will try to tell you some of the marketing tactics employed by TouchType to market SwiftKey and draw some marketing lessons.
What is SwiftKey?
Created by TouchType, SwiftKey is a keyboard that replaces the default keyboard on Android smartphones. It uses a smart language engine that understands the how the users’ lingo to predict the next word in the sentence. If the user enables permissions, it accesses her messages, emails and social media feed to make better predictions. It also allows superfast swipe typing on touchscreens. On top of all this, it also lets the user set up to three languages and offers contextual predictions. To put it simply, it is a keyboard app that works better than any other touchscreen keyboard in mobiles.
How to Market a Paid Mobile App – Learning from SwiftKey
As can be seen from the brief introduction, SwiftKey is a very well conceptualized keyboard mobile app. But all smartphones already have decent keyboards – making users pay good money to buy something they don’t really need is not that easy. Sure, SwiftKey may offer a superior typing experience, but how can you convince users that they should install it? Let’s take a look at the cornerstones of SwiftKey’s mobile app marketing strategy, see how it worked out for them, and work out what we can learn for their experience.
1. Flawless App development
SwiftKey’s technical aspects give an idea about its development. To become successful in market, your application should boast technical features and functions that can really take user experience to the next level. Hence selecting the right mobile app development company is extremely important.
#Lesson: It tells you that the performance of the app is entirely up to its development architecture. If it were not properly developed, it would not give the user experience that customers want and your app will be a failure. So make sure your app is technically perfect.
2. Managing Pre-Launch Publicity
SwiftKey was an ambitious app development project from the outset, and the company released the app to about 10,000 users for beta testing. When the app was released, all the people who had used the app in the beta mode were interested, and quite a few of them posted about its release on social media platforms and blogs. SwiftKey also got in touch with several tech bloggers and journalists who wrote about the app at the time it was released. This gave the app a lot of publicity before it launch.
# Lesson: While it may not be possible to generate too much media and user attention for small time apps, the least you can do is involve average users in the development process through social media and build a momentum towards app launch. Getting the interest of an influential tech blogger or industry expert can tip the balance in your favor.
3. Getting Featured on the App Store
The earliest SwiftKey users got a message in their beta app that the free version will expire within some time – this made many of the people who were testing the beta versions to rush to the app store and buy the app. Combined with the downloads from users who had read about the app in the media, the purchases by people who were testing the beta version ensured that this app was on the top of the charts.
# Lesson: There are close to a million apps each on iTunes Store and Google Play. The only way you can catch the eye of the users is by getting featured at the top of the charts. Even if it is not possible for your app to show up on the first page, you can make an appearance on the featured apps category for a specific category. The key to this is creating a strong pre-launch marketing campaign and driving big sales right at the start. You can also use social media or other channels and request Apple or Google to check out your app. If they are intrigued by what they see, they may feature the app even if it not the best seller of the week.
4. Writing a Smart, Customer-Centric Copy
SwiftKey is a rather revolutionary app based on next-gen technologies. But when you look at their page on Google Play, you will see that all the points have been mentioned without using any jargon, in plain language that explains how this app benefits the users. In an interview, Joe Braidwood, the CEO of TouchType, talked of their deliberate decision to avoid using terms like “next word prediction” and artificial intelligence.” The same approach is evident in all their other online marketing campaigns.
# Lesson: Most people who download apps are not as deeply interested in technology buzzwords as the people who create the apps are. Users are interested in how an app can help them. Most users won’t search and read up stuff about your app online; they will simply glance through your page on the app store. That page should work as a marketing copy and convince visitors to buy your app. The same goes for any other marketing material or app-related advertisements.
5. Rocking Social Media
SwiftKey has more than 169,000 followers on Twitter and it follows more than 148,000 people. If you like SwiftKey and follow it on Twitter, chances are they will follow you back. That is good etiquette. Also, unlink most other corporate Twitter marketers, the people behind SwiftKey Twitter respond to any problems raised by users and provide prompt guidance to resolve the issue. SwiftKey also has over 20,000 Facebook fans and thousands of fans on Google Plus also. SwiftKey has worked hard to build this base and worked harder to engage with users – and it is reaping rich rewards as a result.
# Lesson: The best way to promote an app is by engaging users online. App marketers need to use all their social media expertise to connect with users across social media platforms. By building a good relationship with users on social media, you can turn the app into a powerful brand. A long-term, well thought out social media strategy is a must for making an app go viral.
If you are a mobile marketing trying to promote an app, there is a lot to be learned from above marketing strategy. The basics of app marketing are simple: developing a flawless app, conduct pre-launch marketing campaigns and build up interest in the app, write a relatable and solution-focused marketing pitch, make strong efforts to get featured on the app store list of new apps, make sure that your app gets good customer reviews, and use social media to engage and interact with as many users as possible. Get all this right and the app will have a fighting chance on the app stores. And, if it is actually a well-conceptualized app that adds value to the life of the users, it may even make it to the top of the app stores!