By deans ~ June 17th, 2009. Filed under: App Marketing, Resources.
While we all appreciate that the App Store is a good(?) distribution channel for our apps, it’s very clear that, unless your app is anointed by the staff, the store isn’t a very good marketing channel. Current reports place the number apps in the store at somewhere around 50K, so rising above the noise is a significant challenge. At this point, most of us can’t rely on the App store for marketing. The responsibility for getting the word out really does belong to the individual developers and publishers.
With this in mind, I’ve been experimenting with a number of different mechanisms for marketing the BluMtnWerx apps. Today, we’ll focus on press releases. In a past life, I had good success using the tier one services, including PRNewswire and BusinessWire . Both provide excellent customer service and get great media coverage. When I wrote good press releases, I was able to generate a fair bit of attention, and even attracted some journalists to follow-up and actually write stories about our efforts. The only downside is that they are expensive. Depending on the number of words, and the desired breadth of the distribution, these services cost somewhere between $300 (short release and U.S. distribution only) to well over $1000 (longer releases and/or global distribution). With our apps selling for 99 cents, I can’t really rationalize that kind of up-front investment, so I’ve been looking at the other end of the spectrum.
I have not been a fan of the "free" press release distribution services, but the price was right for our current situation, so I decided to give them another try. A bit of Google work led me to this article , which provides a bit of a filter. I tried three of the services mentioned: PR.com , i-Newswire (I’m not supplying a link – see below) and 1888 Press Release . I’ll talk about each of these in the paragraphs below.
While I was submitting the release to PR.com , I was torn between my need to manage costs, and my desire to bring in some coverage. After going back and forth with myself for longer than I should have, I decided to spring for their "$60 Visibility Level" (They provide free releases, with minimum visibility, along with $30, $50, $60 and $100 visibility levels) . The release was distributed quickly. I submitted it late at night and it was out the next day. Our story was picked up on several news redistribution sites, so we were pretty excited by our daily Google search report. Unfortunately, we didn’t notice an improvement in either site traffic, or sales. Although we did receive some online coverage, the actual results were disappointing. This was not $60 well spent.
I used 1888 Press Release for a different release. This time, I let the cheapskate side win and went for the "Free Plan " (their paid plans run $15, $25 and $50) . This release was also distributed quickly. I submitted it in the afternoon, and it was out within a few hours. We were picked up on a small number of news redistribution sites, fewer than with PR.com, but the price was right. Sadly, this release also failed to move the needle in either traffic, or sales. However, since I didn’t pay anything, I didn’t feel too bad.
My final test in this series was i-Newswire. I’m not providing a link, because I wouldn’t want to inadvertently steer anyone to their site. I decided to try their "Featured Press Release" distribution, which cost $25. Unfortunately, I can’t report any results because they didn’t distribute the release. They charged my credit card immediately, promised distribution within 48 hours, then did nothing. I can’t say that they were completely unresponsive, however. Although they ignored every attempt that I made to contact them about the billing and distribution, they did send a snotty, and completely unhelpful, reply to a question about using the service that I submitted to their Customer Service site.
Based on my admittedly limited tests, the short-term tactics are pretty apparent. I’m planning to distribute future releases under the "Free Plan" at 1888 Press Release . I’ll also distribute them using the free option at PR.com . Since our press releases are primarily re-purposed content from announcements posted on our site, this approach requires a minimal investment of time and resources, and does help us build our profile on the Web. At least that’s the plan.