Some apps get such explosive growth while others languish in the app store. Today's guest, Sean Casto of PreApps.com, knows how because he's helped launch and market thousands of apps to achieve millions of downloads. Sean dives into the 7 pillars to creating a million dollar app as well as the 10 Step Skyrocket Method to making an app go viral. He also differentiates organic traffic versus social traffic, and which one makes the biggest impact on your downloads. Tune in today and discover what it really takes to make it big in the world of mobile apps.
Some Topics We Discussed Include:
Sean Casto is the founder of the premier app marketing agency PreApps, where he has helped thousands of apps reach millions of downloads. He’s also the creator of the App Marketing Academy, the world’s best online mobile app marketing program. Today, Sean is one of the most in-demand experts on mobile app marketing and
growth. His reach has expanded to 80 countries across 24 different app categories, where his clients create, launch, and market their apps, taking each app from zero to millions of downloads and sales.
He has worked with million-dollar apps like Flyp, OverKill 2, and Gadget Flow, and even billion-dollar
apps like Cheetah Mobile’s Security Master (over 550,000,000 downloads).
As always, I have got a killer show for you. I have oftentimes bragged that I have the most selfish podcast on all of iTunes.
It is because the only people that I invite on this show are folks that I have a real legitimate authentic curiosity about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, so that I can personally deploy some of the strategies myself.
I like to think of this as my way of letting you eavesdrop on conversations I’ll be having anyway. It is my goal to make sure that every single one of these episodes or as I call them episizzles because we are a lot hotter than other podcasts.
That every single one of them is something you’re going to want to take notes on, you’re going to want to read it two or three times and walk away with actionable ideas or inspiration for yourself.
With that being said, this is no different. I invited Sean Casto on the show. He is the Founder of the premiere app marketing agency called PreApps. He has helped thousands of apps reach millions of downloads and that’s no small feat.
He is also the Creator of the App Marketing Academy, which is the world’s best online mobile app marketing program, and he is one of the most in-demand experts on mobile app marketing and growth.
His reach has expanded to over 80 countries across 24 different app categories where his clients create, launch, market their apps.
Taking each app from zero to millions of downloads and sales and he has worked with million-dollar apps like Flipp, Overkill 2, Gadget Flow. Even billion-dollar apps like Cheetah’s Mobile Security Master which has over 500 million downloads. Sean, welcome to Bacon Wrapped Business.
I’m excited to be here.
I’m excited to have you. I mentioned I’ve got some selfish reasons. I am an investor and advisor to a cool app in the financial tech space and then exploring some of the avenues in the craft beer space, I know you’ve got some experience in that as well.
To be honest, my background comes in with marketing strategies for a lot of traditional businesses and I understand at 30,000-foot view a lot of what it takes to help to grow an app.
In fact, I have a client who has an amazing app. He’s at it for years and I’m helping him create more monetization capabilities through it, but the growth of apps differs from traditional marketing strategies is not something that I got a lot of familiarity with.
I’m looking forward to diving in and finding out what’s working now, but take me back a little bit. How long have you been working in the app space? What were you doing before that? What’s your basic history there?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur on various capacities ever since I was very little. I started a company back in high school and then sold that. In college I sold another one, and it was in college when I sparked my interest in mobile apps in particular.
I start building apps on my own. I worked on six apps and then worked for an app development company.
It was through that journey that I realized that there was a huge need when it comes to supporting the community to be able to help them create, launch and market very successful app businesses.
Not one that comes to from the development side because it has become easier over the years to develop apps, but to be able to turn them into successful and profitable app businesses and that’s what we’ve been focused on.
We’ve had the privilege over the past 8.5 years to work with some of the topmost successful apps in the world, Netflix and Candy Crush.
Now working with two huge apps that unfortunately I can’t say the name of those, but we were able to work with all different types of clients from billion-dollar entities.
All the way from a mom-and-pop situation where they’re looking to launch and create something, put it out there and to be able to impact millions of people, but they’re a team of two.
We’re able to support people in all different manners from a full-service marketing agency standpoint. A very exciting time for the moment of industry as you know what worked then doesn’t necessarily work now, but the fundamentals are still there.
Marketing a mobile app is a little bit different than marketing pretty much any other type of product because there is a unique way to be able to go about getting yourself out there and connecting with the right consumer at the right time.
Get them only to download the app. You can get someone millions of downloads, but it’s all about getting them back to the app as well.
Years ago, I remember when iPhones and Androids first came out and apps were all the rage. I know a lot of people were talking about it, it wasn’t saturated.
It feels like it’s a little bit more saturated now. In fact, there are so many apps out there, you probably have better idea of how many there are.
When I’ve talked some other colleagues of mine and they poo-poo the idea sometimes like, “Do we really need another app?”
Have you noticed much of a trend there? Where although it is saturated, obviously there are still tremendous opportunities. What have you noticed from the trend aspect of this and both the positive and the negative?
It has become somewhat of a saturated market, but I truly do believe there’s still no better time in history to be able to create an app than no, due to the fact that there’s so much opportunity.
One, it has become easier to create an app than ever before, however, at the same time it has become more difficult to market it.
Back in the day in the Wild West of the App Store when it first launched, you can have a very poor-quality photo editing app or a fitness app and get instantly millions of downloads in the first day.
There’s not much competition out there when they look for a photo editor, you’re going to be there in the top ten.
There are over 3,000 new apps introduced every single day. Unfortunately, about 95% of all new apps that launched out in the first year failed to be discovered.
Due to the competition that’s out there, there’s always so much limited space and capacity to be able to get people’s attention on the App Store. That’s why in nowadays’ market, marketing is the lifeblood of any successful app business.
There are certain fundamentals that are required, before they were optional, now there are certain marketing fundamentals that are required in order to be able to make your app successful.
Let’s talk about some of those things. There are many different apps and categories. I don’t want to go into what makes a singular app successful, obviously it should be something that somebody wants to come back to more than once.
Otherwise, you’re not going to download it on your phone, you use one time and it should ideally solve a problem, make something more efficient, be fun, etc.
Let’s dive into the growth strategy. What is working? What have you found isn’t working? What would you tell if I’ve got an app right now that’s all ready, it’s a great app, but we haven’t done our marketing push?
What would you say the real steps that I should start to look at, especially if I was to work with somebody like PreApps?
It depends on what stage you’re in obviously, the type of marketing done for an early stage app that’s about to launch in the App Stores is very different than an app that already has 10 million to 100 million downloads.
Let’s talk about the early stage. Let’s say it’s a great app and let’s imagine because it is in the financial tech space, it’s a good FinTech-like, not a banking app but cool financial app.
It’s brand new. It’s launching in the App Store. It’s got a handful of beta customers but it’s innovative. What are some of the things that you would look to do early on?
When it comes to an early stage app, there are certain fundamentals and what we are going to talk about will be more of the organic traffic, organic growth of that as opposed to paying the advertising.
You might be surprised that a majority of downloads in the world don’t come from Facebook ads. It doesn’t come from even word of mouth or Google ads.
The majority of all downloads in the world come organically based on how people search the App Store to find apps they’re looking for via what they call App Store optimization.
If you’re familiar with search engine optimization, a very similar, high-level app would be apps for optimization in which how people naturally discover and download your app on the App Store.
That’s why it’s a critical piece to be able to start off with because, why would you start off with the marketing strategy that only a small fraction of people ended up downloading apps from? The first approach by far is very advance App Store optimization.
Launching the app in the App Store without having an optimizer means it’s going to be ranked at the depths of the App Store and people won’t naturally discover and download it.
I couldn’t tell you how many people come to us and they’re like, “We launched a couple of months and yet the app is nowhere to be seen on the App Store or Google Play.” That’s the key component.
Obviously, the goal is to be able to ensure that people can naturally discover and then download. Not just from searching the app name, but various different search terms that are near relevant to what they’re looking for.Even if you had the most amazing app in the world, you’re still going to get negative reviews and not please everyone. Click To Tweet
That way they’re able to get the perfect users coming to their app, download it every single day and then the masses, and that comes through advance App Store optimization.
In SEO, there’s link building and there are all of these other things like off-site SEO things you can do, obviously there’s on-site. This is their in-store optimization making sure that it’s a very searchable name that you got great keywords etc. that you adhere to the best practices there.
Are there any things that can be done, like in SEO there is link building, external things they can do to help raise the awareness in the App Store?
There are absolutely and so here at PreApps we have coined this term called the Skyrocket Download Methods which is a ten-step method that goes through the ten major factors that are all around advancing your App Store optimization.
We have meetings with Apple and Google on a monthly basis and the thing is, with the App Store and Google Play, their algorithm changes very frequently.
We need to be able to understand what’s working, what’s not working. One factor may change that we need to adapt later down the road which could affect, in many cases, tens of thousands becomes millions of downloads.
It’s an important one to be able to stay up-to-date on what’s going on and how things are factoring into the algorithms to ranking this particular app.
From the high-level standpoint, we can go over those ten steps and the first one is having a creative and searchable app name and subtitle.
Those are going to be a huge factor and it’s overlooked for most apps. Obviously, an eye-catching icon is another big factor as well, specific and searchable keywords.
Videos have become a standard in the industry and some near potential users will expect and so launching without having the right videos for the app gets a disadvantage.
We found that Apple prioritizes apps with a video because they understand the impacting power that it has to drive downloads.
I’m talking about specifically the videos on the App Store. Before your screenshots, Apple prioritizes by the default will have your video display before your screenshots.
The same with the App Store as well except Google doesn’t prioritize your video. You choose where the video can be displayed, before or after your screenshots.
Obviously, the next component there is crafting captivating beautifully designed screenshots that are going to be able to have an impact on the consumer.
Next is going to be having a compelling description that is going to be able to captivate their attention and spark interest and desire and be able to have that call to action. You’ll also want to incorporate keywords within that description as well.
We found that getting a third-party recognition in market validation is going to be a key as well, so getting that plus the media exposure to be able to validate the app and getting those third-party links to the app are critical.
Making it international also helps in various capacities. User reviews on App Store and Google Play play a huge factor and then our social media components as well, we found that by doing social media trending and promotion, you can have a great impact.
If something is trending on Twitter, for example, it will also trend on the App Store, which is interesting because they have a direct correlation in there.
On top of that, those are the factors involved with things you control directly within the App Store. The biggest by far factor when it comes to a dramatic increase in rankings is going to be volume and velocity.
The number of downloads you’re going to get in a very short time so you can do this in burst campaigns to be able to dramatically skyrocket your rankings.
By the way, I was on your website and I downloaded your How To Reach Explosive Growth With Our Skyrocket Downloads Method, so I was reading along with that.
You talk about making sure the optimization is all on there. A couple of the things you said here I want to go into a little bit deeper.
You mentioned press and media exposure, so there are obvious reasons that are one way for people to discover it. Getting written up on all the relevant industry, publications, getting influencers to talk about you etc.
You talked about third-party links. If there are third-party links for normal SEO, but if they’re ever linking to your app like on the Apple or the Android app store. Do those help the App Store optimization or does it not have an effect on that?
We have found that it has an effect, and so that’s why we also have one of our resources that we offer our clients to make all their apps celebrity campaign. The intent there is to make our clients app into an app celebrity.
We carry massive media exposure in a very short period of time and we’re getting multiple of their writing and promoting about the app all at the same time for about the same week period. About ten or twenty different outlets all promoting it via social and through their community.
The reason why that’s important from not only an App Store optimization standpoint too as you mentioned you get those links which are definitely helpful because think about it, if Apple and Google can see that a lot of people are linking back.
They can see that. People are interested in this product and so that’s one factor that they are able to look at.
With so much competition out there, there are 3,000 new apps introduced every single day and so there’s no such thing as an original app anymore when it comes to solving a particular type of need. That’s why it’s critical to be able to get that third-party market validation and bring exposure.
When people are looking at apps, there are so many options for them to choose from. If they are able to go to the App Store and they see within your description, “As featured on AppAdvice as the number one fitness app on the market.”
You’re more inclined to download that app as opposed to one app that has no mention, no credibility or you never heard off.
In refining when it comes to marketing, you need multiple touchpoints to be able to get that consumer to download a particular app. The more recognition, the more validation it has, the more chance of success.
In your service thereof the app celebrity campaign, I’m guessing that one aspect of that is, from a PR standpoint, understanding how to tell the story in a way that these publications are going to want to write about you. There’s that aspect.
What other things does PreApps bring to the table that the average person couldn’t do it? You already have a lot of connections with various writers on a lot of these outlets that you’ve worked with before.
Like it makes it easier for you to get stories placed than it would be if somebody tries to do it themselves?
The first step is crafting the right marketing and messaging, how to be able to separate this app from others and to be able to position as the hot new app and a $1 million app in the making.
That comes down to obviously having the right branding, marketing assets, screenshots, description. Video is a critical piece of that.
Not the video for the App Store, but actual promotional video, a promo video that people want to share and it’s going to excite them. It all comes down to leverage relationships 100%.
Over the past years, we built strategical relationships and partnerships with various publications in the online tech and mobile app space. With our clients, we were able to leverage these relationships that we built to be able to get our clients regularly featured on various different outlets.
A lot of these publications that are out there that get a lot of buzz and excitement on visitors, these editors at these publications. They get 200 to 300 increase every single day from app developers and app marketers trying to get their app promoted.
Because of these leverage relationships, we were able to cut through that and prioritize essentially our clients in that capacity.
They know that a lot of these publications they publicly have people’s contact. Getting editors’ contact details is fairly simple in today’s technology. You can go to LinkedIn. You can go to various different outlets.
Getting their contact details doesn’t mean that someone’s going to write about you. It’s all about leverage in those relationships to be able to secure that exposure and visibility.
Various different publications now have a few different requirements. For example, for our big clients we were able to get them in Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, The Next Web, TechCrunch and those types of outlets.
Back in the day, those used to be fairly easy to get into because there’s so much competition. Many different types of new apps that these types of outlets only write about vanity metrics. They write about an app that reached ten million downloads.
Reach a certain capacity in sales, maybe they got acquired for $100 million, maybe Google or Apple bought them out or maybe they got some celebrity investors, something in that nature.
For those types of high-profile outlets, it has become more vanity based whereas there are still a lot of selective and exciting publications that are more specific to apps and they have directories and lists of the top health and fitness and top photo etc.
All they do is review and write about specific apps and that’s what we can target early. To be able to validate that because the goal is to be able to have someone search your FinTech app.Save a ton of time and money and do what works. Success leaves clues. Click To Tweet
For example, I search the app name into Google and hopefully they have ten or twenty different sources all promoting and writing and validating an app as opposed to people not even finding a link to download it.
The PR side is very critical especially how the velocity and the volume you get them all going at the same. I know I’ve published a lot of books on Amazon.
In order to gain this Amazon system, you definitely want a lot of the sales coming in during this specific period of time so you can hit those rankings and people see that it’s better than a trickle in traffic.
When it comes to the paid side of things, do you typically go organic first and then make sure everything is good before you start to put money on the paid or do you start to test that out early stages as well?
It depends on the stage the app is in. If it’s early stage, we have to focus on organic first. The reason behind that is because there’s a lot of correlation between organic growth and paid advertising.
Paid advertising, we see it as a phenomenal way to be able to accelerate your growth, so you’re able to double down what’s already working strictly when it comes to your marketing and messages.
Every app is different, but for a lot of our clients, we do standard Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat ads and etc. What we specialize in the most is going to be through Apple search ads and Google search ads, specifically on the App Store.
The reason why that’s important is that there is a direct correlation to organic growth. Meaning that because Apple owns the App Store and they also manage the Apple search ads component. The more that you spend with Apple search ads the more your organic growth in rankings will increase as well.
You can essentially double your downloads on half the cost if you start correctly with your organic components and you’re already ranking. You already have keywords that are focused and optimized.
You can double down that growth whereas Facebook and Snapchat for the most part are one to one exchange. You spend $3 to get one download back whereas Apple search ads and Google search ads, you can double your downloads in half the cost.
Double your downloads at half the cost. I love that. I often find times that social media advertising for a lot of this stuff can be much more effective when you’re doing it as retargeting once you’ve found the audience.
You get a lot more of that, unless granted if you have a tremendous viral video that you’ve created that paints the picture and builds the demand up. That can be great to create awareness for people who are stumbling across it like, “This is super cool.”
What about things like product hunt, have you had much success in submitting the product hunt and get many attractions out of that?
Back in the day, we did it when Product Hunt was in its peak, not as much anymore. We do it for select clients because they want it. We can do that for them but no, it’s not like your post on Product Hunt and you’re going to get a ton of download.
It has gone a little in popularity. I remember I used to search it all the time and I brought that up, I haven’t even been back there in a little while. I don’t know what’s going there and if that moves the needle.
When you’re doing App Store advertising, that’s a different story because it goes right there, but if you’re doing advertising on things like Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Do you recommend that people send them to their web page that describes what this is and then they can click a link in order to go to the App Store that they like? Do you typically try to direct them via the link on the ad directly to the App Store instead?
You want to remove as many barriers as possible getting from the consumer to download them, so the easiest that they can download the better in Apple, Facebook, Google, every platform definitely recommends going directly to the source of the App Store and Google Play.
That’s why it’s also pretty important to be able to have a powerful App Store presence and profile where you’ve got those videos, the right description, the right screenshots, etc.
What about email list building in the early days? For the type of work I typically do, email marketing is super effective.
What about in the App Store world like utilizing various resources to start to build up an email list whether it’s a prelaunch list, whether it’s other resources?
Is that one of those things that it could work but it may be more work than it’s necessary for an app, what’s your opinion on that?
It’s nice to have, but not a requirement. You could spend a lot of time and money doing prelaunch exposure and having that landing page and building that list of coming soon.
With your list, only a small fraction of people can open the email and an even smaller fraction of people click on the email. Best case scenario you’re looking at is 20% to 30% open rates if you have a huge list.
From the numbers game, it doesn’t make sense to spend your time and money in resources on doing that when you should be focusing on where the majority of all downloads are going to be coming from later on.
In nowadays environment, people’s attention spans are so low and so something that they opted in for six months ago, they might already forget about. Email them now, they’re like, “What is this? I already forgot. I don’t care.” That’s why it’s important to focus on the fundamentals.
We are first focusing on organic growth and those mechanisms to be able to check off to be able to launch the app successfully and maximize organic growth through various different strategies. Not one strategy.
A number of different initiatives through video, PR and App Store presence and then once you have that, you can then accelerate growth through paid advertising.
Another factor is going to be through virality and having that growth engines within the app where you have referral systems within the app and other components where the more downloads you get the more people are going to share it and drive the organic growth throughout.
I want to talk about what happens inside like the engagement and activation of the people and creating that virality. Speaking of virality, back to the viral video example, there are videos you can put on social media where it’s introducing people.
I would imagine that video or some version of it that goes in the App Store where it’s demonstrating the use of it.
First of all, on the videos, I want to find out qualitatively what works best. Is this something you guys also help produce and script out, like the way these viral videos or these videos in general should be done?
We have a whole production team and our team has produced more app demo videos than any other company out there. For our clients, that’s fundamental. They have the right videos. They have their videos specifically for the platforms that they’re going to be on.
Whereas for example, the App Store, Apple has very strict requirements and all these red tapes as to what can be approved, as to what they call App preview video.
For example, it can’t be more than 30 seconds long. It can’t have any actors inside and has to be produced for each file format. iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone 11 and so we have to produce those for each device, each format. That’s for the App Store.
Google Play has its own restriction requirements and then Facebook as well. What we found is what worked then doesn’t necessarily work now as well in terms of people’s attention spans and what they’re looking for. The biggest thing is people want to see the app in action.
People want to see your app. They don’t want to see some actors or some feature texts or whatever. They want to see the user interface. How does it look like? How easy is it to get that benefit or that value that you’re claiming?
How are you able to use the app and how easy and fun is it to be able to engage with? That’s what we’re seeing more, as well as people’s attention spans being less and less.
Before, the optimal promo video time period was about 1.5 minutes. Now, we’re looking at 45 seconds to the one-minute max for a video that’s going to be on Facebook.
All of our videos are designed to educate, excite and inspire users to take action. You want to use different realms of communication. Having a voice over, feature text, music background all while at the same time demonstrating the impact and benefits and features of the app.
Before I get into the engagement and activation, let’s talk about reviews. Some people are going to review the app no matter what. They are review-happy. I probably only review the apps before that are friends of mine who’ve created the apps.
Are there various campaigns or initiatives to get reviews that are compliant with Apple and Google? What are some of the better ways to start to encourage those?
There are third-party companies and businesses out there that can specialize specifically in that and helping you incorporate that within the app. You download or incorporate this SDK within your app and now you’re able to send out these push notifications and these write messaging at the right time.
That’s what it comes down to. Sending that push notification at the right time to that consumer. Maybe it’s the second time they download the app or a week later or maybe it’s the third or fourth time and you continue to refine that message until they end up clicking that button to review it.
A lot of it comes down to doing what works and for a lot of those people that are early on in starting this app, I always tell them, “Save a ton of time and money and do what works. Success leaves clues.”
Literally download some of the top ten most successful apps out there and see how are they getting people, what are their messaging and timing to be able to get people to review the app.
You’ll be able to learn a ton of why they do what they do because they spent millions of dollars on research to find out what is going to be the most optimal way to be able to get the most reviews.
We have app growth consultants that work with a lot of these billion-dollar clients and so we were able to support our clients in that capacity as well, but it all comes down to doing what works.Put together a very detailed custom marketing strategy and plan in order to reach your goals. Click To Tweet
When it comes to getting people in, getting them engaged, activated beyond the download because every single person out there has downloaded an app, looked around and said, “I used it once. Got bored of it.”
I know this all depends on the app, but let’s say it’s a functional app not a game. What are some of the best ways you’ve seen to encourage the continued use of it and get people to take those actions to where it’s not, download, look at it and then ignore it?
A lot of that comes down to building a product that people can’t live without. That’s probably the biggest factor there.
Because if they downloaded, chances are they’re not going to come back and unfortunately, 70% of people who download an app don’t use it for the second time within 30 days.
It’s crazy because they’re on to the next one, there’s so much competition. A lot of that comes down to understanding the core mechanism of innovation and design and solving that user’s need better than anyone else on the market.
That’s a huge factor when it comes to onboarding and things like that. I do want to note though that you don’t want to become too product-focused.
That’s one of the problems that we have in nowadays environment in the mobile app industry is people become obsessed with their product and not necessarily the business of the app itself.
Although it’s important to innovate and create something that’s new and unique, you also need to understand the business side of it as well.
There’re so many apps that we approach and the people that we talk with. They have a great idea and something they believe could have a huge opportunity, but it’s something that they believe has a huge opportunity, they’re not consumer-focused.
They’re not focusing on their end recipients. They’re focusing on what they think is going to work. That’s something that’s dangerous in this environment.
We get pitched every single day, probably ten or twenty different pitches on various different apps that people are working on and mostly they’re looking to build a better product.
They’re looking to the Uber for this or we’re going to create a new type of Tinder, Airbnb, Snapchat. Being a better product is the easy part of the most part.
What most people don’t understand is it’s not about necessarily creating a better product. It’s about creating a better business.
What I refer to here is when people are very product-focused, I can see these signals. What I usually respond with trying to have them look at in different perspective is, “Do you think you can make a better burger than McDonald’s?”
100% of the time people say, “I can make a better burger than McDonald’s,” and then I ask, “Can you personally create a better business operation than McDonald’s?”
There are one billion people out there that can make a better burger than McDonald’s, but only McDonald’s has created the system, the business that can serve one billion people.
It’s understanding between the business and the product itself and so many people get lost and they go, “It’s a great idea. That X, Y and Z. It’s going to be amazing. When we launch, it’s going to get millions of people to come in because it’s the next best thing since sliced bread.”
The reality is they don’t understand the core business aspect of it when it comes to sales and monetization and user acquisition and being able to understand lifetime value.
Here at PreApps, we were able to break things down with our clients, that’s why we have our app growth consulting component to it. We have to understand different variations of where the business is coming from. What are those goals?
You can sell the app at some point, or are you looking to make a business profitable and to be able to use those profits to be able to drive marketing and acquisition because if you’re looking for launching and hoping that you’re going to get a bunch of downloads.
Hoping that you’re going to get some sales and then reinvest those sales. Chances are you’re not going to be able to be that successful unless you understand all the different mechanics that are needed form a business standpoint and operation standpoint to be able to get there.
This is fantastic and I didn’t know you’re going to go that way. Are there any examples that we can walkthrough of an app that had their business model dialed in?
They did things right. Is there anybody top of the head that makes searches a great case study for illustrating this point?
You model what works. Any top ten billion-dollar apps you can think of, Snapchat, Evernote, Square, Uber.
To a lot of people who are either have an app or thinking about it, that probably seems like climbing Mt. Everest, walking on your hands to create something of that nature that big.
Let’s take some of the small to mid-size ones that have done stuff right whether this is former clients of yours or current clients of yours. Anybody else who’s got a business model. I know there EW a lot of apps out there, “You download it free and they offer some in-app purchases.”
I’ve always wondered many times like, “How are these guys making any money?” I’m curious if there are any anecdotal things that you see behind the scenes that we don’t see, and if there’s anything that stands out as a company type of thing?
There’s not one particular example that comes to mind. All the apps that I use are all successful and they have things going for them. one thing that might be beneficial for your readers is we have a bestselling book called App Secrets.
In that book, we cover the seven pillars that all the top most successful apps incorporate to be able to get them to where they are now. that breaks down through having the right team because if you have a big dream, you’ve got to have a badass team.
That’s one of the pillars and us breakthrough and give examples of what the team for Square or what team of Uber looks like early on, I’m not talking about now. I’m talking about when they first started, before they launched.
Things like innovation, growth marketing, it’s all different pillars and all based on different case studies and examples that we outline in detail in that book, so that will definitely be beneficial as well.
Realistically, this is another it depends loaded question, but somebody’s got a good app that they’re proud of. I’ll use this FinTech app, but it’s a good app. What realistic budget should they have for marketing and growth because some apps are self-funded.
Some people are out there trying to raise funding for this, and I know it’s, “If you throw more money at it you can get more results.” Is there a realistic budget that somebody should come to the table if they want to achieve a good amount of growth?
It’s a very difficult question to ask and we get that asked all the time and the answer is it all depends of course on the type of app that you’re building.
The category of the app is in the goals that you are looking to achieve, and how quickly you’re looking to get there, so it all depends on various different avenues.
From a rule of thumb standpoint, one thing from a high level of standpoint what we would recommend. We would recommend spending equal, if not double the amount that you spent on development towards marketing.
True to the fact that you could build the most innovative beautifully designed creative app in the world, but that all becomes useless if people can’t discover and download it.
I couldn’t tell you how many times people come to us and they’re like, “We spent over $1 million in this app and it looks great, it’s beautiful. They launched six months ago.” I’m like, “How many downloads did you get?” They’re like, “We’ve got ten.”
They think that because you spend all this money on development, because you create this innovative and beautifully designed app, you’re going to launch it and people are going to naturally know that it exists and get out there and download it.
That’s not the case in the market anymore. That’s why we recommend spending equal, if not double the amount that you spent on developments.
I know a lot of people will be frustrated with that because people get fixated on the development side and they spend all this time and money on the developments, but that doesn’t necessarily come down to the development of the app in nowadays market anymore.
We recommend having that minimal viable product and then innovating along the way. To be able to launch it, get user feedback, make real-time iterations. The first and number one priority is getting people to use the app.
It’s not to fix a specific bug or add a specific feature. Number one priority is getting feedback, users, an iteration on top of that. That’s how all the top apps in the market have been able to get to where they are.
None of them were obviously where they are now when they first launched. They even had different names. Snapchat wasn’t Snapchat, Instagram wasn’t Instagram.
They alliterate and change along the way and that’s what a lot of people don’t know. They get too obsessed over the development and the product itself before even launching.
Speaking of getting the early feedback, do negative reviews last forever? For instance, if you launch something with an MVP, Minimally Viable Product, and it’s never perfect when you come out of the gate, but you want to come out and iterate and improve.
If you come out and you get your first 1,000 downloads or whatever it is and people are getting on the App Store and saying I don’t like this, then you go to update it and you create a new and better one. Are those reviews on there forever? Are they like herpes?
They change. The App Store and Google change their setup for that and it’s good and bad. It’s good because you can update to your app and relaunch it essentially and have a clean slate, you’re going to be starting from zero.
While at the same time, that’s not good if you already had millions of reviews. Now, you’re starting on zero.You could build the most innovative and creative app in the world, but that all becomes useless if people can’t discover and download it. Click To Tweet
Is that every time you make an update you lose all your reviews?
There are tweaks around it but yes to a degree, if it’s a new launch, a new app. There’s a difference between a new launch, a new app versus a general bug fix.
There are some ways to keep the reviews, some ways to remove them. That’s why you want to work with the expert’s field to figure that out. I wouldn’t honestly worry about too much of the review’s aspect.
I’m not saying launch a poor-quality app that’s going to be broken. You definitely want to launch an app that has value and that’s going to be easy to use and not going to have too many bugs. If you get a few negative reviews, that’s not the end of the world.
Even if you had the most amazing app in the world, you’re still going to get negative reviews and you’re not going to be able to please everyone.
If you don’t have negative reviews, people might think you gamed the system.
That’s it. The focus here is to be able to get a bunch more reviews to outweigh the negative ones, and that’s the way to look at it.
That’s good to know that it’s not the worst-case scenario. You come out with something that’s not quite ready and you got 50% negative reviews. If you update and relaunch it with new and improve, you start over from scratch, but you lose a lot of those bad ones.
That should be empowering for anybody who is putting something out there thinking it has to be perfect because you get review herpes and they don’t go away.
What is it look like to work with PreApps? Somebody’s got an app whether it’s an existing app and they’ve got a few million downloads and they want to get a few 100 million.
Versus somebody who is in the early stages of they got an app to develop, they’re ready for marketing. You don’t do app development, that’s not your specialty, you are marketing engine, not development.
We work with clients with all different capacities. We do have some partnered development companies that we’re happy to recommend, but our specialty is working with you to be able to achieve your goals.
What we offer if you go to PreApps.com is a free 30-minute app growth consultation to be able to understand exactly where you’re at with your app.
What your goals are and what your resources are to be able to achieve those goals and then we discover if it’s a good fit for our type of initiatives.
We work with all different types of apps. We work with clients to their early-stage and all the way to already having hundreds and millions of downloads.
I would say probably about 65% of our clients are early stage, even prelaunch and near the 35% are successful going from zero to 100,000 downloads, 100,000 to one million, one million to ten million, ten million to 100 million.
We want to be able to dissect and understand exactly where you’re at and what your goals are, what your resources to be able to achieve that goal.
What we do is we put together a very detailed custom marketing strategy and plan in order to be able to reach those goals and then we walk you through that strategy and plan at a later date with our team of what that looks like.
When it comes to a general budget of what people should, because I believe that you probably have a range of services. People may need very little. You said you have an App Marketing Academy.
Maybe there is like, “We’ll teach you if you want to do it yourself or we’ll do it all for you.” Is there a range for budgets that people could spend a few $100 to $10,000 or $100,000 with you? Is it that big of a range?
It also depends of course on what you’re looking to achieve. We have some clients that spend $1 million a month, the other clients spend $100,000 a month. They’re looking to spend a lot specifically on paid advertising on Facebook and Snapchat.
More with you guys, not what they’re spending in media cost. The overall fee structure for how you guys do it. You don’t have to quote an exact fee or anything, but I was curious if there was a range so that people know, “That’s doable.”
I would say range-wise, $15,000 to $20,000 per month on average when we start off with, and then scale in going from there. It all depends and we’re very selective on the type of apps that we work with because we don’t want to work with everyone.
We want to work with people that we know we can achieve results for, and so that’s why we also have things like the App Marketing Academy which is a five-week online coaching program.
We also have our bestselling book, App Secrets, and other resources to be able to support clients in different capacities. For those that don’t have the resources yet to hire an agency like us, we definitely recommend the App Marketing Academy as well as other types of online courses.
Maybe even closing trying to go for a round of investment to be able to get the capital that’s needed to be able to make their app business a reality.
I would imagine that you had some success with this aspect. If you came up with a robust marketing plan, go to the market plan and the growth plan for this app that is out there actively looking for funding.
It makes their funding easier because they are able to show a road map for how they’re planning to get the success they’re looking for.
To a degree, we definitely can help and getting our book will give that outline of what’s going to be required to be able to launch and market the app successfully, but we only engage with people that already have the fund secured.
It’s not like, “Talk to us and we will create the plan and then you go for a round of investment.” It’s the opposite.
It’s more like once you’ve already closed the round of funding, then we understand exactly what resource you have so we can craft the right plan and strategy based on the resource that you have.
We will be able to craft the right plan and budget and then you go out to seek the funding because of it all changes.
That’s a great distinction. If you come out with $1 million in funding versus yourself funding with the money you use to buy groceries, they are a totally different game plan for what we can do.
Let’s talk about where people can get more information on this. Obviously PreApps.com is your primary website. People can go there and they can download the PDF that I mentioned.
I was going through this. It’s a free download. It’s the Explosive Growth With Our Skyrocket Downloads Method and then you said they could schedule a call with you or one of your experts there to discuss the needs.
You also mentioned some books you have. Is everything available on the PreApps website or would you like to direct folks to somewhere else as well?
If you want to learn more about our services and would like to schedule that 30-minute consultation with one of our app growth specialists, the best place would be to go to PreApps.com. We also have a unique tool that we can also mention, it’s a software tool.
For those that already have an app and if your growth has gone stagnant, you can go on PreApps.com and there is a section there where you scroll down to the bottom where you can use our free app analysis tool.
You enter your app name into that search bar and it’s going to pull up a whole report of exactly how to improve your app step by step in various different capacities and give you an actual overall app grade that we spent over 2.5 years putting together.
It collects over 2.7 million data points on the App Store and Google Play and that would be very valuable. Also for the book, you can get it on Amazon, it’s $25, look for App Secrets.
For those in your community, I can also recommend, you can get the book for free plus shipping if you go to AppSecretsBook.com.
Go and enter your shipping address and we will go ahead send you a physical copy of the book for free with a request you pay for shipping, so you can go ahead on Amazon aspect as well if you are looking to some finance in different ways.
I can’t thank you enough for being on the show here, Sean. Here’s an opportunity for my readers or me as well to maybe give back some of the value you’ve been doing. Are there any nuts you’re trying to crack right now?
By that obviously, the general goal of your agency is to find new clients, and that’s an ongoing initiative you’re trying to get more of.
Is there anything that are stubborn nuts, whether it’s people you’re trying to meet, things you’re trying to learn?
Anything at all that has been stubborn that maybe I have an idea or resource or maybe one of my readers who read can shoot you an email and say, “I may be able to help you out there.” If not, that’s okay but this is an opportunity for us to give back.
There isn’t anything in particular. If you know anyone or you have an app and you’re struggling with growth and strategy. We’re happy to help. It’s our passion. We live and breathe this stuff.
We’re happy to be able to connect and be able to see how we can support you whether it’s through coaching or education or maybe you might be a good fit for our agency.
If you’re an app business owner or you have a friend that has an app and needs support and you want them to be able to reach their dream and their goals, we’re happy to be able to help them.
Thank you so much for being a guest on this episizzle. I look forward to connecting with you offline and talk more business.
Thank you so much.
Thank you, Sean.
Sean Casto is the founder of the premier app marketing agency PreApps, where he has helped thousands of apps reach millions of downloads. He’s also the creator of the App Marketing Academy, the world’s best online mobile app marketing program. Today, Sean is one of the most in-demand experts on mobile app marketing and growth. His reach has expanded to 80 countries across 24 different app categories, where his clients create, launch, and market their apps, taking each app from zero to millions of downloads and sales.
He has worked with million-dollar apps like Flyp, OverKill 2, and Gadget Flow, and even billion-dollar apps like Cheetah Mobile’s Security Master (over 550,000,000 downloads).
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