It is entirely too easy to dismiss or underestimate the value of your mailing list. Many companies have mailing lists that are underutilized and frequently enough, almost never used. There is almost always an inherent radical variation between what your email list is worth and what it could be worth. Of course, making it worth something does require effort. The question is whether you can meet or exceed your ROI expectations on that effort? And… when?
Increase Opt-Ins through the Registration Process
Customers expect to hear from you when they first purchase and register your app. Even if they opt out of your newsletter during registration, you still have (at least) three opportunities to get them to opt in. This needs to happen while you are still fresh in their minds.
#1 – Day 1. Thank you for your purchase, provide technical support and contact information, newsletter opt-in emphasizing value to customer.
#2 – Day 3 or 7. Welcome your customer’s feedback and include another newsletter opt-in.
#3 – Day 30. Recap – thank them again for their purchase, keep the door open for feedback, cover your latest news or upcoming product releases, and emphasize this email is the last one they will receive from you in support of their purchase, offering additional support through your newsletter opt-in.
Future mailings are possible, too, especially for new app releases; suffice that if customers are not opting into your newsletter you need to respect their desire to be left alone.
Within this framework, you have four opportunities for customers to opt-in to your newsletter – once during initial registration and through three follow-up messages.
It is difficult to pin down an “optimal” frequency for emails to opt-in customers. It varies by person, by product/service, and the value of the information in the mailing. Newsletters tend to have lower engagement than special offers, but that does not preclude a special offer from including some of the value of a newsletter.
The core focus of any email to customers is on your desired outcome – what you want them to do. As long as that is clear and everything else is not intrusive, you should be good. Technically, you can heavily emphasis special offers in the mailing and provide newsletter components on your landing pages.
Functionally, special offers can be presented more frequently than newsletters in that if you are discounting your app for 30 days, you can include an initial mailing, a reminder 7 days prior to its close and potentially a last minute offer 3 days before closing.
There are no hard set rules, however – if you are in doubt, you might ask your customers directly and personally. In these kinds of occasions, it can be useful to provide some value-added options to the customer.
“We are evaluating the effectiveness of our company’s newsletter and special promotions. You are one of our most respected customers, so I would really appreciate your thoughts. Below is a very short survey. If you can complete this for us, we can give you A/B/C.”
The most basic way to associate a value to your email list is to define your Revenue per Email OR Revenue per Subscriber while also taking into consideration your Cost per Acquisition (or cost of getting each new subscriber).
Let’s say you have a mailing list with 10,000 addresses – and over the course of a year, the revenue you are able to attribute to email marketing is $25,000.00, the base average value of each of your subscribers would be $2.50.
You may also need to factor in the cost of acquiring each new email address over the course of the year.
Having a “very imperfect valuation method” is better than having no valuation method, suffice that there is considerable potential for you to engage in a more detailed analysis. The objective here is to prompt those who do not take their mailing list seriously, to start.
Once you’ve started, you have a considerable range of options to increase its value.
The following are some items to look at for improving the value of your email list:
Appeal to multiple price ranges relative to what you know about your audience and super-user segment. The Pareto Principle asserts the idea that 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customers. Within this segment, it frequently holds true that about 60% of your revenue may come from a select 4% of your customers. While the majority of your users might be interested in low-end price options, there are likely to be a few interested in a higher buy-in. Consider that even in some free to play games, there are players willing to pay $50 for a +6 stat tome… Is everyone going to? No. Giving that possibility to the 1% who would can account for a large portion of your profits.
Last but not least, understanding this point is including a B2B link to a page that promotes what you can offer other businesses. Some of your customers, in addition to being end-users, may also have their own web site, store, business or professional interest in your niche.
I intend to revisit this article or expand upon it – there are a lot of loose ends. Again though, the interest is to get those who are not treating their mailing list seriously to begin moving in that direction.
A lot of email gets trashed before it is opened. More email gets trashed within a mere second or two. Yet, there are some emails that never get deleted because they are valuable to the recipient. Eleven of the following 13 email elements stand to make your email more than just another piece of thinly coated spam.
Emails are one of the best ways you have to communicate with your customers. Just because you may want to do a standard mailing does not mean you cannot implement “newsletter’ish” components to spice them up. The core interest is developing engagement with your customers. If you can get them to link to any of the following, you have the ability to reinforce any additional messages you might like.
Without further adieu…
1. Fan Site Section – reference interesting updates from a few of your fan sites. Each only needs a short sentence capturing the gist of what their latest post is about. You develop a stronger relationship with your bloggers while helping build the community around your app.
2. YouTube Walkthroughs – this can be your own or one of your fans. With games, this can help end-users get through a particularly difficult puzzle, illustrate the dynamics in fighting a major boss, or illustrate the benefits of a particular build.
3. Live Events – let players know when you will be having real-time conferences so you can take their questions, get their feedback, release new game information, discuss new devices or just talk about special features of your app similar to a walkthrough.
4. Bonuses – good if you have a web-driven application where you can modify content and settings on the fly. Let players know about events when they can get extra rewards, extra experience, or participate in seasonal activities.
5. Holiday Gifts – this is a good one if you are able to send in app prizes to specific end-users or enable them via in app messages. You can use a loss-leader strategy to give away free “in app currency” to sway users to perhaps add some of their own real money to get that “next upgrade”.
6. Easter Egg Hunts – another activity that probably requires you to be able to push content to your end users. This makes a mini-game out of player’s seeking even more bonuses and holiday gifts. This can be a matter of how many “fluffy bunny bits” they can find in two minutes or turning them in from wide-ranging exploration of different areas in your app.
7. Coupons and Discount Codes – This is a really good option if you have a geographically focused audience or are able to develop a relationship with a business with broad-based national or international reach. This is a B2B networking opportunity where you might be able to get a lump sum payment for including a promotion in your email. This requires some business networking savvy, but can work very well with an ongoing sponsor.
8. Reviews, Reviews and More Reviews! Links to mobile friendly Product, Web-Site, Service, or Book Movie Reviews with themes related to your app that you know your customers have a very good chance of being interested in. This is even better if you can arrange some form of reciprocity – possible commissions or reviews in-kind. It’s even better if you have a forum on your web site where you can discuss them with your customers.
9. Interviews! Links to web pages featuring interviews with your company president (or you), your CIO, CMO, CTO, Vice-Presidents, Lead Developers or others whom your customers may have an interest.
10. New App Promotions – This one goes for granted, let your existing end users know of any new apps you are about to release, what their status is, anticipated release date, beta test opportunities, first public viewing venues, etc.
11. Special Offers – Another regular feature that you should try to include in every mailing, that you should try to mix up in each mailing. Offers can include discounts on in app currency or gear, or discounts on special services with utilities and discounted upgrade options. More than this, you can work out commission-based referral agreements with other developers and businesses on products or services likely to be interested to your end users. Simply put, just because you may not have a product to sell does not mean you do not have a product to sell… someone else does!
12. Beta Tester Invitations – Start cultivating a beta test team for your next app now.
13. Follow us on… – Always include links to where your customers can follow you on different venues like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, GooglePlus, etc.
An article in appdevelopermagazine.com underscores that only a minority of app developers invest time or money into marketing their apps, and thus fail to break even. Only a minority of new businesses and start-ups fail for lack of technical knowledge. The single greatest cause for start-up failure relates one way or another to ineffective marketing. The focal point of this article is achieving a breakthrough with your marketing, first to do it but also to synchronize your efforts. Specifically, this concerns “concentration of force”.
Concentration of force is bringing all your efforts together at the same time to achieve a specific objective. In military terms, it is the difference between the trench warfare of World War I and the massive mobile movements seen since World War II. In marketing, concentration of force is having all of your online advertising, press releases, app reviews, email marketing and viral efforts all hit on the same 1 – 3 days. It does not need to be exact, just everything needs to happen in quick succession, one after the other.
All of this requires work, whether you are setting up press releases or writing emails to your fans. Obviously, you cannot do everything at once, especially if you are a single developer or part of a small business. Of course, you can bring on additional help, but you can also do a lot of this work well in advance of your launch date. If marketing really isn’t your thing, breaking it all down into bite-sized chunks is easy enough and can be spread out over 1 – 2 months with 15 – 30 minutes a day.
Social Networking. Whether building fanbase on Facebook or developing professional contacts on LinkedIn, this should be a non-stop part of your efforts, even if it is 15 – 30 minutes per week. This can extend to developing relationships with bloggers, journalists and editors. If you commit to it now, later you won’t find youself isolated. A lot of business people who shunned social networking early on have come to engage it on a regular basis.
Social networking is like a savings account — you keep building it because one day you might need other people’s help. Social networking is an easy way to help others in lots of small ways – even a like, a share or a comment for someone else’s post is helping them get the word out about something important to them, now. Many will be happy to do the same for you. If you need it tomorrow, but have not invested the effort into it – it will not do anything for you.
When you know the launch date of your newest app – get with everyone in your social network and a) ask for their help, b) specify how they can help in some simple 2 – 3 minute way. This can be arranged 1 or 2 days ahead of your launch.
Email Campaign. Like social networking, building up your email list is a non-stop effort. If you haven’t started one yet, now is the time. Presuming you have a list of friends, opt-in newsletter subscribers or past customers, you can prepare emails to promote your newest app well in advance. Once you know all that your app will feature, you can begin setting up emails for each of your user groups. Odds are you will have several lists of people — close friends, business associates, customers, newsletter subscribers, you want to personalize for each.
For launching a new app, you can look at sending out 1 initial announcement, a follow-up 3-4 days later, and likely a second follow-up after two weeks. Email tends to have a better open and response rate on Mondays and Tuesdays. Openers are good for running specials and set up the follow-up email, “Only 24 hours left to…” take advantage of your initial offer – reduced price on a premium app, in-game currency or anything else you come up with.
If you use an email service like iContact or Mailchimp, you can schedule your emails well in advance.
Press Releases and announcements. Press releases can be prepared in advance just like your emails. The main thing is to make them professional, all information up to date (last minute touch-ups), and scheduled through any service you use. If you don’t use a press release service, you need to make sure it is delivered to all of your press contacts, and then make sure it gets posted to your web site, the day of your launch.
Article Submissions. Alongside press releases, it can be useful to submit articles to blogs and other media venues which accept guest articles. In your author credits or perhaps in the body of the article, you can refer to your press release, you just need to know its URL. These can all be prepared in advance and submitted either the day of or day after your public launch.
Paid Advertising. Obviously, any paid advertising you do needs to start once you have launched. The main thing here is that you can do your marketing research to designate which venues you want to advertise through and the specific settings you want for each ad campaign. On the day of your launch, setting all of this up then only takes a few minutes per advertising venue.
Special Events. One final factor that can help you determine a launch date is associating the launch of your app with other events – like holidays, but could include trade shows or conventions, or something relevant to the type of app you are launching. An app for parents might be associated with “back to school day” as one example. Obviously, you don’t want to delay your app’s release, suffice that by adding this into your development schedule very early on can help you to time releases with auspicious dates.
Net Effect. By synchronizing all of these efforts, getting into the most popular charts becomes much easier. If you hit on day one with 25,000 downloads you will perform better than if those were spread out over 25 days or even 5 days. App promotion does not favor piecemeal efforts.
On launch day, you want maximum exposure. The more prepared you are for launch day, the less you have to do, frees you up for other opportunities that may arise — like interviews on television, “See how one local mobile app developer is making big news, coming next after this commercial break….”
Today brings an update to “Email Marketing for Developers” originally written in September, 2013, to add more specifics and techniques for defining your email groups and segments. The updated material combines information previously covered separately for crowdfunding, so this is a dual-purpose list. This aims to help developers expand their mailing list from scratch conjunct with a persistent ongoing effort to keep growing your reach on a pro-active basis.
Email marketing is an effective tool developers can use to their advantage. You don’t have to start out fancy, but you should start out early. Avoid waiting until after your app is ready for the market to begin growing your email list. Of special interest is segmenting your email lists as they develop. Customized emails show better conversion rates vs. generic ones across all desired outcomes.
For almost all 3rd party email tracking providers like Mail Chimp or iContact, a double opt-in process is usually required. This means when someone signs-up to your newsletters, they will get an email confirming they want to sign up. To maximize your list the earlier you start it and the more you grow it, the better. Plan ahead.
Keep your email list organized. One approach is to segment your email list according to the type of relationship you or your business has with each person on it. It’s usually much easier to do this as you go. A number of email programs make it easier to collect more than just email addresses – which can also be be scripted for further personalization.
Group One. Personal Contacts. Start by making a list of the people you personally know now. These are your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and classmates. You don’t need their permission to write them a personal letter, inviting them to sign-up for your newsletter.
Theoretically, you could have 11 customized email templates for this group alone. The personalized element is simply to note in the letter how you know the person you are writing and how or from where they might remember you, (i.e., “Hi Joe, It was a pleasure meeting you at Linda’s BBQ last Saturday…”)
You will want to combine this in your real, day to day social encounters, which will be discussed further next week with crafting your elevator speech, defining what you do in 10 words or less, how to schmooze without schmoozing.
Group Two – Media Sources and Social/Professional Groups. This group involves developing high quality presentations aimed at people who are tied either to the mobile industry generally, or to which your app is of specific interest (i.e. a travel app would be of interest to organizations with frequent travelers). The most important aspect of this group is that you want a direct match with the people you are writing. Otherwise, it is a waste of time for everyone.
12. Any professional contacts you have in all Mobile app stores – add me, too – I’d like to hear about what you are doing!
13. Journalists and editors covering mobile/software/technology on local television news stations, local radio channels, local newspapers.
14. Organizations, groups, associations, periodicals, journals and clubs (anywhere) relevant to your project.
15. Mobile and establishments who may ultimately carry products resulting from your project.
Group 3. Special business contacts, government and VIP’s. More delicate, but it would be an extreme oversight to omit this category. Here, you are looking for extreme finesse and will likely want to combine your efforts here with an active local social networking and business development program. You are not aiming to get the support of an organization, merely the interest and attention of specific people within it. Why? Because these people are connected, they can help you get a local television, radio or newsletter spot, or introduce you to other people who can help you.
16. The Small Business Administration – or your local equivalent.
17. SCORE – (The Service Corps of Retired Executives) or your local equivalent.
18. Women’s Business Centers and other applicable business oriented special interest groups.19. Your local Chamber of Commerce
19. Your local Mayor, City Council Members, District, State & Federal Representatives, possibly Senators
Group 4. General Purpose
Definitely take care to have a free newsletter registration or sign-up option on your web site at the earliest opportunity. If you do not have a web site, you should seriously consider starting one. Alternatively, you could also partner with fellow developers, blogs, membership sites, business sites or be creative with your social media. Actually, you could do all of these things simultaneously.
Obviously, you aren’t going to try writing personal letters to thousands of people. Simply, you want a template for each user group and for each series of emails you send.
Most of the information in each email can be the same, just presented in a different context — as a friend, for subscribers, for major contributors, etc.
Once you have someone’s permission to email them, you want to respect that by not emailing any more frequently than is useful for them and essential to you. Sending useless emails (in the eyes of the recipient) serves only to decrease their likelihood of responding favorably to your future emails.
We’ll cover a lot more next week.