Marketing: You’re doing it wrong.

No, you don’t need to ‘build your list.’

Platform-First Marketing.

The core principle is simple: if a user/customer cannot find the product, they cannot buy it either. Platform-First Marketing discounts the importance of ‘funneling’ growth from other channels back to your product.

This lecture is intended for anyone who has ever tried to market anything, digitally. Platform-First Marketing most direct, inexpensive, and effective way to grow product or service. The audience will gain a shift in their marketing perspective and approach.

My name is Chino Lex, I’m an Entrepreneur and Mobile Growth Consultant with a track record of over 50 top-charting iOS apps with zero marketing or ad spend.

We’ve all heard about building an email list, getting PR, growing a social media following, and other tactics to drive attention to a product. It’s a common practice, but I propose that it is not the most effective way to market a product or service.

Why? Intent and friction.

For reference, let’s imagine a new website you just visited. What led you to that website? A billboard? A radio ad? Probably not, it was probably a web search or a link existing on another website. Websites live on the internet, the internet is (mostly) indexed by Google. When you search for something on the internet, your intent is to find a website, and Google is usually the one who sends you there instantly. We’re all happy with Google, and given that 77% of their $17.3B revenue comes from search, it’s safe to say that service is valuable.

Simply put, for the internet:

Product = Website

Platform = Internet

Most valuable Marketing Platform for Marketing Websites = Internet (SEO, AdWords) (not billboards, radio, tv, etc — remember, no friction. Google cashed in here.)

Searcher Intent = Find a website

Simple, right?

Where conventional marketing fucks this simplicity up:

Product = App (for example)

Platform where it exists = App Store

Marketing Platform = Social, PR, Email

Searcher Intent = Social (no one’s looking for apps), PR (we read the news and search the news for news, not apps), email (we’re answering emails, not looking for apps)

Here’s another one, just for fun:

Product = eBook

Platform where it exists = Kindle Store

Marketing Platform = Social, PR, Email

Searcher Intent = Social (no one’s looking for eBooks here), PR (we read the news and search the news for news, not eBooks), email (we’re answering emails, not looking for eBooks)

What my app company found is that even if our apps’ large competitors like King, Rovio, and even Microsoft had invested into advertising and marketing, our apps sometimes ranked above theirs. Why? None of their metadata (that is indexed by the App Store) was optimized for searches already happening on the platform where the app [you can also insert ‘X’ kind of internet content here] lives: the App Store [or, where the content lives] — ours was.

With this key insight we asked a different set of questions:

- What’s the use of gaining attention on different channels (social, email lists, PR, etc) when the conversion rate from discovery to download is so low?

- Why not optimize for people who actually want our products, where they’d expect to find them?

See, the difference here is again: intent and friction. On the App Store, by using App Store Optimization (ASO) we’re optimized our apps’ indexed metadata to appear for the highly-popular searches targeted at people who wanted to download our apps. How could we tell they wanted to download an app? Simple, if they’re searching on the App Store — the only thing on the App Store.. is apps. How could we tell they wanted to download something we had to offer? We had analytics on the search terms relevant to our apps that people on the platform were searching.

The intent of anyone on the App Store is pretty clear: download an app relevant to what they’re searching.

When you market content on a different platform than that of its existence, it’s like asking the girl who’s sitting down if she wants to dance. For the nerds (relax, I’m a nerd), the conversion rate from sit to stand to dance is low. Stand to dance, however, is much easier.

The corollary is simply to offer what content people want in the place they want it, it’s direct and aligns with the intent of people already on the platform or channel.

Alternatively, had we followed the conventional path of marketing to external channels or different platforms, we would have thought we failed. Instead, we optimized where people would actually want our apps, where intent of the user was to download an app, and where they’d actually have the capability to do so: The App Store.

This principle can be applied to any platform with any digital content that needs to be marketed: Apps, eBooks, products, movies, etc. Platform-First wins. Happy optimizing.