People Seem to Prefer Videos and other things I learned from trying to advertise my iPhone app.

August 28, 2010    

I have a couple of apps of my own in the AppStore. Most of the sales of the apps I have worked on have been the apps I did for other people, because, well, they are better than I am at marketing.So, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do marketing with one of my apps, KidChart. It’s been out several months and sales have trailed way off. I like it (my wife and I use it every day), but I haven’t figured out how to market it. It has been getting about 3-4 sales a week the last couple of months. I talked to a marketing firm who does iPhone marketing, but they want $1000 per month for a 6 month campaign. And I just don’t know if I can ever make that back. (I don’t know how much of the problem is due to people not seeing it and how much is due to them not liking what they see).So to try to figure out I signed up with a trial account from Performable, and I ran some facebook ads to see how the A/B testing worked. The experiment is going to continue through the weekend, but, in case anyone cares, here are my preliminary results:

DateSpendAd ClicksAdditional SalesCPAAug 23, 2010$22.80301$22.80Aug 24, 2010$51.34819$5.70Aug 25, 2010$30.06486$5.01Aug 26, 2010$20354$5 Now the good news is, with a combination of tweaking multiple simultaneous ads on facebook and multiple landing pages on performable, I managed to reduce my Cost Per Acquisition by 78%. The bad news is that this is for a $1.99 app. What has gone well so far:1. I’ve learned a lot more than I used to know about ads and marketing (I’m new to all this stuff, and, although I’ve read about it, applying it has been new to me).2. I’ve gotten some good feedback about the app. It’s obviously designed for (and by) and pitched at a very analytical parent (which I am, but a lot of people aren’t). I need to figure out what to do about that.3. I’ve learned that the page with the video on it performs 114% better as a landing page than the page with more text and static images (12.5% conversion versus 5.8%). This is a bit of a surprise to me, because I expected a 2-minute video would be too long for people to sit through.4. The folks at performable have been very responsive to my questions.5. Running ads seems to be a good way to drive enough traffic at your website that you should be able to use it to improve your site and improve the app description you have in the App Store. This should result in better conversions when someone runs across your app.6. I still have a lot to learn.What hasn’t gone well so far:1. I also tried to run some ads on, and that didn’t go well at all. I got some very insulting comments right off the bat that may have turned off anyone who might have wanted to look at the app (I guess I should have turned comments off, but I was hoping I’d get useful feedback), and then got into a controversy about a pro-marijuana ad that got censored by Conde Nast, the whole front page turned into a series of drug-legalization tirades, and no one seems to be looking at any of the ads any more (much less clicking on them). If this had happened on facebook, I would have just paused or stopped running the ad, but reddit doesn’t allow you to do that (or doesn’t make it easy to figure out how - I’ve sent them email, but haven’t gotten a reply).2. Performable is easy to set up, and, like I said above, their staff has been really responsive, but I don’t know if I’ll be staying with them. At least at the moment, I can’t get the level of detail I want, so I’ll might just end up setting up my own A/B test library on my own server. If you want quick and easy, though, and you don’t care about trying to correlate time-of-day logs or anything nerdy like that, I think performable would be a great choice.3. I’m pretty convinced at this point that it’s never going to be possible to make your money back on advertising. I didn’t really expect to be able to, but I’m pretty sure now.4. I still have a lot to learn.