Marketing and launch
When Well Tempered was first launched back in early 2009, the way I had understood the app store proposal was this: Apple would host and market my app, and take 30% of the sales. Boy was I wrong. The app store was never a marketing tool, and very few apps are promoted by Apple at all.
With version 2.0 coming up, I knew I could not expect Apple to do my marketing. Also, since this was not a new product, but an update, it would be a hard sell to get peoples attention. So this looked like an up-hill battle.
Many people will tell you that you should think of the marketing both before you start making the product and all the way through your development. I had been thinking very much of the user experience, and to me the marketing I had to do was to communicate this.
So while Well Tempered was finishing the localization job, and I was iterating through versions together with my beta testers, I began approaching bloggers and influential musicians to get them interested and want to tell people about Well Tempered and write about the app.
App marketing, building those relationships, is probably the job I have done least well at during the development of Well Tempered 2.0. Because after all my effort, on launch day and the following days, it was announced in four places. That made for the best sales day in Well Tempered history, and its top placement: 55th grossing app in the music category of the Danish app store for that day.
After the first day, it went downhill, and by the fourth day I was not selling any copies of Well Tempered. This was despite having my marketing material localized in 9 languages, despite having focused on accessibility, despite being a universal app, despite (in my humble opinion) being the best tuner out of the many tuners I had tried in the app store, and despite supporting the latest iOS technologies, including the Apple Watch. My marketing strategy needed a new angle.
So far, I had been focused on making the best tuner, especially for early music players, but also running it by rock and jazz musicians to make sure it worked well for them. I had reached out to 60 or so bloggers, members of early music societies, conservatory teachers and people I thought have an influence on people. Surely, having made Well Tempered really well would make them like it and tell people about it?
Well, some reported publicly about it and told me about a bit of the feedback they got from others. But for the most part, they never installed Well Tempered themselves. Apparently I could not get them excited enough to tap the link so that they could redeem their free copy and try it out. This part really surprised me, and going forward I think I will need to work at this slowly and steadily, so that for future updates, at least they will want to try it out.
I decided to try advertising. Advertising is one of these things I see every day, yet haven’t tried much myself. I ended up trying Facebook, since there I could target very specifically whom I wanted to reach. So I made an advertisement for my app where I included my video, and let it run for a week. The demographic was very narrowly defined to harpsichord players in English-speaking countries. The result after a week was depressing: I had seen no new sales. 1010 people had seen it on average 1,9 times, and 12 of them had bothered to play the video and 3 had decided to tap “like” on it. At the very end of the campaign Facebook told me it could be credited for one sale - but with no sales in that period, that was incorrect.
So now I had two failed strategies, and close to no downloads from people who found it in the App Store. The last point is no wonder, if you search for instrument tuner or chromatic tuner, chances are you won’t even find it, at least not for the first 15 pages of apps! I’ll need to do some research into how to rank better there, but this just confirmed my first point in this installment, I can’t expect the App Store to do the marketing for me.
For my third alternative, I tried giving away as many copies as I could, hoping, like I had at first, to generate some more awareness of the app, that people would talk about it. Also, I started posting more about Well Tempered in relevant Facebook groups. I was super-nervous about this: since I did not want to come across as spammy, I made sure to post in just one or two groups every other day or so, and be careful to follow up on comments I would get in those groups.
This actually turned out quite well: I would get a nice spike in my sales, and people were interested, asking questions and “liking” my post. This also led to a lot of support requests coming in as personal Facebook messages. I had not been expecting this amount of a support burden on an overall small amount of sales, but oh well, I would not let my customers down.
While most of the support was easy to help out with, a few of the comments I did get back were really helpful to make Well Tempered better. I was already in the process of making version 2.1, but the support messages gave me an attention to choices I had made that perhaps were not the best ones after all. And this was issues that I would have expected to be alerted about in the beta testing stage, so I must admit I was a bit embarrassed when I discovered they had a point. So version 2.1 will hopefully relieve most of their concerns.
This taught me a lesson about marketing apps that I don’t think I have heard before: even though I’m working on issues that I’m embarrassed about in the current version, I should not stop marketing the current version. I know the updates are coming, and all customers will get the improved version for free. Most of the new customers will not notice the issues I’m improving, and like the tuner. For those who do, well, an update is under way. So even though I was working on version 2.1, I continued to post to different Facebook groups.
And now we have reached today, but absolutely not the end of the journey. Well Tempered 2.1 is under way, and parallel to that I’m working on an update for iOS 9. And I’ll do my best to blog about it, so you can follow along on my journey. Thank you for having followed my series, and do contact me for any questions - I’ll do my best to blog my answer. :-)