What I did to launch my iOS app
My name is Rupert, I am a cofounder at Dribble (http://www.playdribble.com/) heading up marketing and growth, and below is how I launched our iOS app. My hope is that this will be useful for anyone else who was in my position a few months ago. There are many ways one can go about launching an app, this is just how I went about doing it.
(FYI, this post may seem organised, and you may think that I followed this to the letter. But let me tell you, the route can get messy, you can sway off track, you can get lost in planning and forget about content and social branding, which may set you back a couple days/week. But don’t fret. Just set reminders in your phone occasionally to keep looking back at your strategy.)
I officially joined the team @ Dribble in May. Dribble is a daily fantasy football (soccer) app based in London, England. It consisted only of two budding Californian tech entrepreneurs before I arrived. It was an incredible feeling to join the team. I was ecstatic…but then I started to feel the instant pressure. They brought me on as a cofounder to head up marketing and growth. They did this because they trust my work ethic, loyalty, knowledge and ability to learn quickly. Since joining, we have closed our seed round, built the product and successfully launched.
Here is how I did it:
1. Research research research:
If you don’t know it: find it and learn it
Heading up growth is a big task. My fellow cofounders were heavy into product management and design. I had to get to up to speed quickly. So I found tools, authors, entrepreneurs and executives who are the best at what they do when it comes to marketing and growth:
- Startup Stash — http://startupstash.com/ extremely useful for first timers
- Ryan Holiday — author, writer and marketer — enrol in his course “Growth Hacker Marketing” — http://learn.ryanholiday.net/
- Andrew Chen — serial entrepreneur/blogger/growth hacker — recently joined Uber as head of their supply growth team — read his blogs, use his tips — http://andrewchen.co/
- Sujan Patel — growth marketer and entrepreneur — VP marketing at When I Work — sign up to his newsletter — get his free book “100 Days of Growth” — http://100daysofgrowth.com/
- Noah Kagan — founder of AppSumo — enrol in his email course “Summer of Marketing” — http://okdork.com/2014/06/16/introducing-summer-of-marketing/
When narrowing your research, look for big influencers in the space to see what they’re doing, or talk to potential users. These things change for every businesses. Here is what I found useful:
- Quora (https://www.quora.com/)— great for answering unanswered questions in your niche and solving potential users problems, asking questions to potential users about their needs in your niche, and just getting a feel of the social sphere surrounding your niche. It will also help you hone your knowledge and expertise.
- Google Alerts (https://www.google.co.uk/alerts)— you can’t read everything on the internet at once. Alerts helps you set certain criteria for articles surrounding your niche and notifies you on any new articles out there. Great tool for me, as helped me map out the movement of the market.
Once you’ve done all the research surrounding your niche, you are ready to start getting involved in the social spheres surrounding each. The best things about being social are that it’s free to start talking to potential users and build relationships with them.
The goal with social is to create a buzz around your product/service. You can do this by:
- Identify which social channels are most useful for your niche and stick to them.
- For Dribble I focus on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Slack and Quora.
- Get involved within the various communities surrounding your target market and share your knowledge and expertise.
- Tip: Be here, there and everywhere.
One of the most important things you need to do when gearing up for launch, is to have all the right analytics hooked up to your website, app or any other software. This is key when tracking the sources of your traffic, and identifying what areas you need to focus on to drive downloads. If you don’t have these in place you are running blind, and won’t have the right direction.
- Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/) for our website
- Mixpanel (https://mixpanel.com/) for our app
- Intercom (https://www.intercom.io/) for our email signups and direct communication channel to our users — highly recommend
4. Inbound Marketing
Content is king. Having your own blog is a great way to share your knowledge and passion for your niche. You have a blank canvas to share whatever it is you want that will:
a) be useful and fun for your users,
b) keep them engaged and
c) over time, will be a value prop for your business
You will need to try different approaches by uploading different styles of content as you move forward. Tip here is to just jump in the deep end and get posting. Here is our blog http://dribblecrew.tumblr.com/. I’ve incorporated our app user info, informative content, “fun” content, and match analysis. I have a spectrum of styles, but as you may tell, I am still trying new ways to keep our traffic up and our users engaged.
- Infographics are an awesome tool to increase engagement for your users. Especially when it comes to posting on your social channels. If you can successfully create great looking infographics, with useful info related to your product, you can gain great traction. Kiss metrics does the really well, as a point of reference (https://kissmetrics.com/).
- Video is also a really great tool. Much higher percentages of shares and likes when posted to the right channels. Key to this, is to find the right channels and post your video through them. I will be honest, I could have done this a bit better. My channels weren’t as forged as one would hope. Our video is still the main point of reference for new users though.
Make a killer press kit — this helped (http://onboardly.com/startup-pr/the-diy-media-kit-for-startups/). It is important that when you start approaching journalists you need to have this ready and looking good. You don’t have to follow every step in the link, but choose all that you think is appropriate. For example, I didn’t mention the landscape of the market or the figures behind it. Chose not to, as I wanted them to focus solely on our product.
Tools: Content Marketer (https://contentmarketer.io/) is a phenomenal tool. Just paste in the URL for an article and press enter. It then searches all the contacts attached to the article, and gives you contact details, from emails to twitter handles. From there you can collate all the relevant journalists and start your outreach. This has saved hours.
6. Try new things
An ongoing experiment of ours is using Slack. We created a slack community called Just Football (http://www.justfootball.io/). The idea behind it was to create a platform where tech savvy football fans can share their passion. We are using the platform to create a nice group of like minded individuals who are potential Dribble users. The community will also act as a direct channel of communication with them. We have ~40 people in the community from varied backgrounds.
You can also try new things when it comes to your social channels and providing content. See Sujan Patels book 100 days of growth (http://100daysofgrowth.com/) for inspiration. Have a brainstorm session on what other channels, ideas, experiments you can do to drive engagement. Remember, there are no bad ideas in brainstorming.
Kevin Rose said: “don’t treat networking like networking. Treat it as getting to know folks”
This has really helped me out. The term networking has always freaked me out, not sure why, but it did. But treating it like meeting interesting people who are doing amazing things really helped out.
Sure, you may come across some individuals who think your idea is bad, who question your judgement and really try to bully you business (that’s what happened to me at a small conference…but don’t worry, they don’t know anything about fantasy sports. They’re in biotech ;) ). Never get disheartened by what others think. Stay strong.
Try meeting people through your family and friends. You’ll be surprised at the reach they give you.
8. Paid advertising
Bootstrapping is great for the lean startup. But, there may be a point where what you do isn’t giving you that much needed boost, and if funds allow you start looking at paid advertising. This isn’t a bad thing.
- Sponsored advertorials were very helpful in our case. Got our product featured on influential blogs which drove traffic.
- PPC spend for targeted advertising on twitter and Facebook can be very useful
- Know you budget and start off small.
- Make your ads RELEVANT!!
- By making my ads super targeted and relevant to a specific group in our target demographic I was able to decrease cost per click from £2.00 to £0.25! Huge savings!
- Make sure you have the analytics hooked up to website/app, in order to see if the PPC is actually paying off. If so, double down on the best performers.
ASO is relatively new, and extremely powerful. People need to find you, people need to see what your app does, people need to download it. To get the best conversion rates for this App Store funnel you need to do the following:
- When it comes to searching for your app, the relevancy is based on app name and keywords
- E.g. for Dribble (https://appsto.re/gb/5nGd9.i), our keywords are: dribble; football; fantasy football; premier league; fantasy premier league; daily fantasy football; one day fantasy football etc.Now, we are #1 when you search dribble, #1 when you search daily fantasy and #1 when you search one day fantasy
- With every update, you should experiment new ways to increase ASO. If your keywords aren’t working well, try new ones for the next update.
- Having great app screenshots is key, because people judge an app by its cover.
- Having a demo video in the app store is also extremely useful. Gives potential users real insight into your app. Higher conversion rates with a video.
I hope this sheds some light on iOS launch strategy. Like I said at the beginning, this is just one of the ways you can go about launching an iOS app. I’m sure there are many other brighter people who have tailored this to be a scientific formula, but for me this worked well.
Let me know if you have any questions (preferably no tech ones, as I’m just the growth guy).