Whaling on the mobile web

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“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Herman Melville’s story “Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life” sold 16,320 copies in his lifetime. “Moby-Dick,” 3,715.

Everyday creative brilliance goes unnoticed. Artists go through their lives unfulfilled. Audiences go unsatisfied because most creators don’t know how to find them.

Unfortunately app stores are not creative saviours. In fact for most developers they’re purgatoryish limbo where success is never achieved but hope is never surrendered. But nobody wants to pull a Mozart and only be famous when their dead, so the act of creativity needs to incorporate the art and science of discovery. For mobile app developers the mobile web is a place you should be sailing. The mobile browser is valuable opportunity. Here’s why –

  • Over 1.2 billion people access the web from their mobile devices. (Source: Trinity Digital Marketing)

  • 25.85% of all emails are opened on mobile phones, and 10.16% are opened on tablets. (Source: Knotice)

  • Mobile-based searches make up one quarter of all searches. (Source: The Search Agency)

  • 95% of smartphone users have searched for local info (Source: Google)

There’s an audience waiting for your app beyond the typical channels and strategies like , Facebook, cost per-install ad networks and grinding away at app store optimization. The usual places that all come with a hefty cost of user acquisition price tag. Despite Flurry reporting that 86.0% of US smartphone internet time was spent in apps in 2013, their analysis of data from comScore and Net Marketshare shows when it comes to spending money, mobile websites are where consumers funnel their funds.

You need to know how these websites align with your audience. Marcus Taylor shared some valuable insight to mobile app marketing. While he highlights some of the usual suspects, these for tips caught our attention –

  • Create a microsite & apply traditional web marketing tactics – Creating a micro-site opens up a whole host of marketing possibilities. If you’ve built an app that sells concert tickets in London, you could build a micro-site and do some SEO around it. If you ranked #1 for ‘London concert tickets’ you’d drive approximately ~8,100 people searching for ‘London Concert Tickets’ to your app per month. (NB: Tapstream customer Hootsuite proved exactly how effective this could be in this case study.)

  • Retargeting – When of the beautiful things about having an app microsite is that you can use retargeting to run ads (on Facebook, Google, or any websites supporting Google Ads) to people who have already visited your app microsite but not yet downloaded it. These ads typically convert very well – as you’re only advertising to those who already know about your app.

  • Leverage other people’s audiences – Guest posting can be an incredibly effective way of driving mobile app installs if done in the right places. The more you know about your target audience and which publications they read, the more informed your guest posting strategy can be. In my experience, it’s far better to go after prestige publications (such as Mashable, The Next Web, Huffington Post etc.) opposed to the more niche publications, unless your app is highly relevant to that audience.The traffic and awareness that one post on Mashable can drive is enormous, and probably equivalent to 10-15 guest posts on smaller sites. Aim high.

  • Reddit, Quora, and niche networks -Reddit advertising is ridiculously cheap. The last time I ran a Reddit ad campaign I paid less than £50 for about 600 clicks, of which the quality was surprisingly high. Play around with advertising or contributing on niche social networks, such as Reddit or Quora. You can also use Google’s display network to run your ads on specific websites that support Google Ads. This can be very powerful when done well. For example, if you have a financial services app, you can run your ads on The FT or Forbes, which not only drives hyper-relevant traffic, but also associates your app with a sense of credibility.

It’s imperative you start exploring the still largely uncharted mobile web and point the audience right to your treasure. You’re not investing a massive amount creative energy and financial resources to have the minnow app. It’s all about the Whale.