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Social Media Optimization

November 15, 2012 Leave a comment

I was going through my backlogs of presentations I’ve done over the years at different conferences and wanted to touch upon something I first spoke about back in 2011 at the Wappow Search and Social Conference in Hawaii: Social Media Optimization.

Social Media Optimization

As a marketing manager it’s been important to make sure that every bit of marketing I do is searchable and can help build my brand. I noticed on Facebook that some brands were easier to find than others and that one of the elements these brands had in common was that they appeared to be optimization their social media presence similar to how an SEO professional would optimize their website.

Key components to SMO:

  • Have a Brand Relevant Name / Profile Title
  • Develop keyword rich bios. Optimize the “About Us” text to use brand and generic keywords. It’s all about leveraging the space to be consistent with your brand message/tone while using the keywords and phrases customers would use to search for you.
  • Linking and Cross Linking. Link to your website, link to your social profiles.
  • Use the ALT text for images to target keywords and phrases — heck even use the name of the image to be descriptive. (Don’t go overboard here!)
  • Post regularly to your social media sites to establish authority and use the keywords and phrases you want to rank for.

Jessica Lee of BruceClay SEO live blogged my presentation and it can be found here: Social Media Marketing and Optimization

Launching an App: Getting the App Live

December 16, 2011 2 comments

A little over a month ago I was part of the team that helped launch the Decide.com Shopping app for iPhone and iPod touch. It was a really cool experience to see the app go from a concept to a live product in a just a few short months- but what that also meant from a marketing perspective is that we had a few months to figure out everything we needed to do to launch an app.  Even before launching our app we had a pretty aggressive goal for app downloads and installations. In order for us to meet that goal we did research to make sure we understood what the process is for getting an app live in the app store and timeline involved so we could create a work back schedule and make sure all of the pieces were in place and ready to go.

I would recommend creating two distinct plans around your app launch. First, is what is needed to get the app live in the app store from a marketing perspective. There are series of touch points that marketers can assist with that might be overlooked. Second, is what is needed from a marketing perspective to announce the launch of your app and start driving app downloads. This also includes what are some of the best practices for launching an app. Make sure that if you have multiple individuals working on the app launch that they work together during this process so they understand when each deliverable is due and if there are any changes that will cause you to push back your launch.

Launching an app in the iTunes App Store: Marketers Guide

Meet with an Apple Developer Relations or Partnership Management team member to view your app. Get and incorporate their direct feedback.

It’s not required that you meet with Apple prior to submitting your app into the App Store however if you have dreams of becoming an editors pick app or a featured app, it is highly recommended. If you cannot get a meeting to review your app, don’t dispare, it’s tough because they’revery busy individuals; instead, review all of the Apple Developer Guides and make sure you follow their requirements to a T. Not following the requirements can cause your app be rejected during the review process and/or delay your app going live.

We were lucky enough to get a 1:1 meeting with the individual responsible for Apple Developer Relations within the Lifestyles segment. Knowing that Apple might make recommendations for our app we met with them 6 weeks before we wanted to launch our app. This allowed us to reviewed the app with them and get specific feedback around what they liked and features that they would like to see up develop more. You can take their recommendations with a grain of salt, or you can try to incorporate their feedback as possible into your product.

In addition, we worked closely with the relation manager to make sure that we were not in violation  of any of their policies or marketing guidelines. We had her review our Press Release and marketing materials to make sure we were not in violation of any policies and would not ruin our chances of potentially getting selected as an editors pick or app of the week.

Plan for the Worse Case Scenario but hope for the best based on submission to live timeline!

It can take anywhere from 3 – 17 days to get your app live once it is submitted. If you are doing a major launch or marketing push around your app, go through the app review process. If you have tested and know that your app is bug free you can sometimes help expedite the process by contacting Apple directly via the Contact Us form in iTunes Connect. This isn’t a guarantee, but I’ve been told it can help.

The best practice is to submit the app early and if you have a specific launch date/deadline request that your app is removed from the store until the day of launch.  This is what we did at Decide, and it was helpful because even going through the review process directly with the Apple Development manager it still took 5 days from the point of submission for our app to appear within iTunes. The problem we faced, was that our app was live 2 days prior to our PR embargo date, so we had to go into our iTunes account and make the app unavailable as to not break our own embargo. Then about an hour before our embargo released on day of launch we went back into iTunes and make the app available.  There are some risks involved with this because it does mean that once you reactive your app in iTunes it can take anywhere from an hour to several days for the app to appear. We were very fortunate that it took about an hour for the page with our app to go live, and then it took an additional 4-5 hours for our app to appear in iTunes searches. It’s good to understand the risks and each company should individually weigh the risks involved of potentially not having the app available if you are doing an embargoed launch.

Some companies will submit a not so perfect version of the their app and then a few days later submit an app update. You can do this, however take into consideration that everytime you update your app (in any way, whether it be code, the description, etc) that any ratings you’ve received will be reset to 0. Higher app ratings are an important factor about where you rank within iTunes search algorithm and in the store. I would be cautious about pushing too many updates because it will make it very difficult to maintain great rankings unless you have an amazing following.

Use SEO Best Practices for Choosing Keywords and Writing your App Title & Description

Do your research in advance of what keywords you want your app to rank for and prioritize them accordingly. You get ~50 characters for keyword selection.

You can change your keywords, title, description in the future, but note that if you do it will reset any ratings that your app has received. A key thing to note is that once have selected your App name it cannot be changed! Select carefully and wisely.

iTunes is a strange and odd beast and its search functionality doesn’t work like regular search engines. If you optimize for the singular form of a word, e.g. Shop, you will also appear for canonical versions, e.g. Shopper, Shopping, Shops. However this does *not* work in the reverse. If you choose the keyword “shopping” your app will not rank or appear for the term Shop.

iTunes does appear to weight your app name more strongly than other factors, so make sure that your brand is first and foremost within your app name.

Put your selected keywords in order of importance, and make sure that they are in the Title and the first 170 characters of your Description.

Okay. So there it is the basics of pre-launch from the perspective of working with an Engineering Team/Developer/PM. The next article will cover marketing best practices launching an iPhone app. Stay Tuned!

Introduction: Tips and advice for launching an app within iTunes App Store

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

If you had asked me 4 months ago how difficult it is to launch an app in the iTunes App store, I would have said that launching an app is not too difficult and that the main issues lie within getting your app to appear within the top 25-50 results within iTunes. It turns out that I was wrong and there is just as much work that goes into prepping for the launch of your app in the iTunes store as there is to market that app. In addition not a lot of marketers are sharing their knowledge about best practices for launching apps.

I was part of the Marketing team at Decide.com to launch the iPhone app in early November and this will be series about the key things I learned from the app launch.  One of the hardest things that I dealt with is that there aren’t a ton of resources available to help guide marketers through the launch of an app.  Apple itself provides developers with a 9 page PDF of guidelines for marketing an app within the App Store — but it is mainly their guidelines of how to use their branding within your marketing materials and promotions, and if you are one of the lucky few to get a 1:1 contact with someone inside of Apple, be prepared to follow all of the guidelines to a T.  The AppStoreMarketing document didn’t answer the key questions I had about what are the top things that a marketer can do to get higher ratings within the App Store, and I was lucky enough to have a few contacts who provided me with some great insight.

Over the next few days I’ll be creating a series on the key takeaways for launching an app, and what you can do to help improve your ratings – even before your app goes live.

 

Categories: App Store, iTunes, Optimization