Developing Perspective

#152: Push-Pull Marketing.


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective.

00:00:02   Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing news of note

00:00:04   and iOS development, Apple and the like.

00:00:06   I'm your host, David Smith.

00:00:08   I'm an independent iOS developer based in Heron, Virginia.

00:00:10   This is show number 152, and today is Tuesday, November 19.

00:00:15   Developing Perspective is never longer than 15 minutes,

00:00:17   so let's get started.

00:00:19   So I'm going to talk about app promotion and marketing today.

00:00:24   And specifically, I'm going to address something

00:00:26   that just happened over the weekend that

00:00:30   made me start thinking about this a lot more.

00:00:32   And it's really the ways in which we can reach out

00:00:35   with our applications.

00:00:36   And this got started for me because someone

00:00:38   got a push notification from an application that

00:00:41   was promoting another version of their app,

00:00:44   and just appeared one day in my push notification screen.

00:00:47   And it was a little bit offensive in some ways.

00:00:49   It just felt like it was an intrusion.

00:00:51   It was something that wasn't appropriate.

00:00:53   It's also a little bit frustrating

00:00:54   because those types of things are technically,

00:00:56   against the app review guidelines.

00:00:58   And so it's something that I always

00:00:59   get a little frustrated when somebody

00:01:01   is breaking those rules because it's

00:01:03   kind of the unfortunate reality.

00:01:04   If you try and be an honest, good developer who

00:01:06   follows all the rules and other people don't,

00:01:08   that gets a little tricky.

00:01:10   But I'm not going to dwell too much on that particular instance

00:01:13   so much as I want to take a step back and kind of talk

00:01:15   through the way that I think about advertising

00:01:18   and the way that I think about marketing your application

00:01:20   and putting it out there and kind of the philosophy

00:01:23   that I think I've developed over time

00:01:24   and a way that you can hopefully structure these things

00:01:28   so that it makes sense.

00:01:29   So when you're communicating with a customer,

00:01:32   it really-- the way I kind of imagine it

00:01:35   is there's a spectrum that you're communicating them on.

00:01:39   And on one end of that, I would say

00:01:41   you'd have the push end.

00:01:43   And on the other end, you have the pull end.

00:01:46   And by that, I mean you can have-- on the push side,

00:01:50   you are demanding that user's attention.

00:01:52   You are taking your product, and you

00:01:54   sticking it in their face, like the most extreme version of that.

00:01:57   You are literally taking your product and sticking it in their face, whether they want

00:02:01   it or not.

00:02:02   On the pull end, on the other extreme of the spectrum, it's completely passive.

00:02:08   You are just sort of making something available, and it's entirely up to the user to proactively

00:02:14   search that out and to then use it.

00:02:17   And there's a tremendous amount of variety in between, but that's kind of the way that

00:02:21   that I think about it.

00:02:22   Because as a developer, you kind of

00:02:25   have to make that decision for where on that spectrum

00:02:29   do you want to be?

00:02:30   How in your face do you want the user to be?

00:02:32   How proactive are you being to get your message across

00:02:35   to them versus making yourself available to them

00:02:39   to come and find you?

00:02:40   And so to kind of put some handles on that,

00:02:43   I thought it would be useful to kind of walk through maybe

00:02:46   about seven or eight different types of messaging and how

00:02:49   they-- at least for me, I view them

00:02:51   is falling on that spectrum.

00:02:53   So I'm going to start on the pull end

00:02:56   and work my way through the push end.

00:02:58   So on the pull end, the most sort of pull-oriented version,

00:03:03   I suppose, is just putting your app out, for example.

00:03:05   I'm going to be focused on app marketing.

00:03:06   You could probably apply this to anything.

00:03:08   But I'm going to focus on app marketing.

00:03:09   So you could just put your app in the store.

00:03:12   And that's all you do.

00:03:13   Now, it's entirely reliant on customers

00:03:17   to reach out and find it, probably with search,

00:03:20   maybe with the charts, however that happens.

00:03:23   You're not actively pushing your app onto anybody.

00:03:27   All the other people who find that app are finding it

00:03:29   either from word-of-mouth advertising or direct search

00:03:32   or something like that, something that you're not involved in.

00:03:35   So it's an entirely kind of a pull.

00:03:39   You can go to the next level up, is something like promoting it

00:03:41   on something like a website, things outside of the app store

00:03:45   where you're not really putting that in anyone's face,

00:03:48   you're making it available in other media.

00:03:51   You're taking that message and spreading it out

00:03:53   so that it's easier to find.

00:03:56   The reason I think a lot of people

00:03:57   make websites for their applications

00:03:59   is that it gives us somewhere else for someone to go

00:04:04   and somewhere else to find it.

00:04:05   They're doing a Google search and they find it somewhere else.

00:04:08   Or people can link to it and it can give them more information.

00:04:10   Those types of things.

00:04:11   And so it's still kind of very pool-oriented thing.

00:04:14   The user is still going to that website

00:04:16   to find that information.

00:04:17   but you're broadening the ways in which they can find it.

00:04:21   And really the next sort of slight variation on that

00:04:23   is when you start doing things like search advertising.

00:04:25   If you did Google AdSense or things,

00:04:27   which I've never found to work particularly well,

00:04:29   but you're kind of in that same vein of a user

00:04:31   is looking actively for something.

00:04:33   They're looking for an RSS syncing service.

00:04:36   And if I had done Google AdSense or something

00:04:39   and they search for RSS sync and feed wrangler came up,

00:04:43   I'm sort of pushing that onto them,

00:04:46   but it's only in a very contextual and relevant way.

00:04:50   The next step up would probably be something

00:04:52   like having a Twitter account,

00:04:53   interacting with people on Twitter,

00:04:55   and exactly how you do that will depend

00:04:57   on exactly where that falls in the spectrum.

00:05:00   If you're one of these creepy people

00:05:01   who sit in there doing searches

00:05:03   for any time someone mentions

00:05:05   that they're looking for a product

00:05:07   that does something like this,

00:05:08   you just hijack yourself onto the conversation

00:05:09   and start talking, that's quite a lot on the push side.

00:05:14   If you're just being available on Twitter, people are asking you questions, you're responding

00:05:18   to them, those types of things.

00:05:19   It's very much more in the pool and you're starting to get in the middle.

00:05:23   Next kind of way I think about it is you start to get into advertising.

00:05:28   And these are the more kind of noncontextual versions of advertising.

00:05:31   So this is like advertising a podcast, advertising, doing a banner advertisement on say an app

00:05:36   review site, something like that.

00:05:38   Doing an RSS sponsorship on a, you know, one of the various sites that do RSS sponsorships.

00:05:44   These are something where you're taking your message and you're pushing it into the user

00:05:49   or into your potential customer, but in a way that is fairly, I don't know, it's untargeted

00:05:56   maybe is the right way to say it.

00:05:57   So you're not really pushing yourself directly into something that they're going to necessarily

00:06:01   see.

00:06:02   You're making your message available and you're putting it into a place that they're likely

00:06:05   to look, which is a subtle difference.

00:06:08   The next thing you'd probably get into is where you have email marketing.

00:06:11   So now you've kind of moved all the way from the very pool-oriented, passive approach to

00:06:18   something where you are taking a message and you are sending it specifically to someone

00:06:21   personally.

00:06:23   And I think that's a pretty big difference in terms of conceptually when you are taking

00:06:28   your message and you are showing it to somebody very personally.

00:06:31   It changes a lot the dynamic of that message.

00:06:33   And it changes a lot, I think, on how people receive that message.

00:06:36   And you have to be very careful, I think, as soon as you start crossing over into that.

00:06:40   As soon as it becomes personal and it becomes very push,

00:06:43   you have to be much more careful, I think,

00:06:45   about your messaging, the way that's

00:06:47   going to come across to the user,

00:06:48   how they're going to receive that, because you're

00:06:51   talking to them personally.

00:06:52   You're not just making a general-- putting something

00:06:54   out there.

00:06:55   You're saying, I think you should look at this.

00:06:57   And that's a very different thing.

00:06:59   The next level up is probably when

00:07:01   you start to get into these things like push notifications,

00:07:03   using push notifications to advertise other products.

00:07:06   You have interstitials.

00:07:07   So you'll often see these, for example.

00:07:08   Say you have a game where you open it up

00:07:10   And it has like, hey, check out this other game.

00:07:12   And it's done in a very interstitial way.

00:07:14   And by that interstitial, if you're not

00:07:15   familiar with the term, is when you essentially,

00:07:17   if you pop up something that's sort of like a modal blocker

00:07:19   that the user has to interact with before they can move on.

00:07:23   And so it's kind of-- they call it interstitial because it's

00:07:25   in between two screens.

00:07:26   So often, sometimes you'll see these in games

00:07:28   where you finish a level, an ad pops up,

00:07:30   and you have to actively make it go away

00:07:32   before it goes to the next one.

00:07:34   And these are getting very, very personal

00:07:38   because you are demanding that user's attention

00:07:41   in that same way of you're saying, hey,

00:07:44   you need to look at this, and I'm

00:07:46   going to make you look at it.

00:07:47   Email is a little bit less than that,

00:07:49   because you're putting it out there,

00:07:52   but they don't have to read it.

00:07:53   Versus in the concept of a push notification or an interstitial,

00:07:57   you're saying you need to look at this.

00:07:59   If you pick up your phone, you're

00:08:00   going to see my message, because I just

00:08:02   put it on your home screen.

00:08:04   Or with an interstitial, if you're

00:08:05   opening whatever this app is, you're

00:08:07   going to look at this message, and you're

00:08:08   you're going to have to make a decision about it.

00:08:10   And then probably the most extreme version of push

00:08:12   is actually probably in person or phone call

00:08:15   or something like that.

00:08:16   If you walk up to somebody on the street--

00:08:19   I always think about, say, for example, like at WWDC,

00:08:22   where you have people on-- literally people on the street

00:08:24   walking around trying to promote their apps,

00:08:26   literally walking up to you and looking you in the eye

00:08:28   and saying, hey, do you want to look at my app?

00:08:30   Hey, do you want to look at this?

00:08:31   Which is probably the most extreme version of push

00:08:33   because you are not only putting it in front of them,

00:08:36   You are invoking all kinds of social norms and pressures

00:08:39   about personal interaction to demand their attention.

00:08:45   So that's kind of the spectrum as I see it.

00:08:47   That on the one end, you have very passive, very

00:08:49   pool-oriented, it's up to the customer to come and find you.

00:08:53   And on the other extreme, you are

00:08:55   demanding that customer's attention,

00:08:57   and you are saying that your message is absolutely

00:09:01   worth their looking at, and they have no choice about it.

00:09:04   So that's the spectrum that you have.

00:09:06   And it's very complicated, I think, when I think about this, to work out where I feel

00:09:12   more comfortable on that spectrum, doing my messaging, doing my marketing.

00:09:17   And it always kind of comes back to me, the best way to think about it is often to think

00:09:19   about it in terms of things like sort of like the golden rule, right?

00:09:22   It's like you treat others how you'd like to be treated.

00:09:24   And I know for myself, I tend to prefer the more passive versions.

00:09:30   And I think most customers do, in the sense, if you don't necessarily want to feel like

00:09:34   like your soul to, you don't necessarily,

00:09:36   if I'm working on something,

00:09:39   and a message pops up that says,

00:09:40   "Hey, check out this new app,"

00:09:42   that is interrupting me and demanding my attention

00:09:46   and distracting me from what I'm working on

00:09:48   in a way that I don't necessarily appreciate or want.

00:09:51   Now, that's not to say that it isn't necessarily effective,

00:09:53   and that's the unfortunate tension here,

00:09:56   that so often you hear that things like direct marketing

00:09:58   works, or putting out interstitials for advertising,

00:10:03   or these types of things are effective,

00:10:06   because you are demanding that customer's attention.

00:10:08   You are saying, "Hey, you must look at this."

00:10:11   And some percentage of people are going to act on that

00:10:13   the way you want.

00:10:15   They're going to go and find your app.

00:10:16   They're going to think it's useful.

00:10:18   You're going to happen to hit them at a time

00:10:20   that they're available and interested in that messaging.

00:10:24   But the reality is, that's not how I would rather

00:10:28   like to be treated.

00:10:29   And so you have to always, when you're running a business,

00:10:32   you have to make these decisions about,

00:10:35   do you wanna always be trying to optimize, say, for money?

00:10:39   You're trying to say, I wanna sell as many copies of this

00:10:42   as I physically possibly can.

00:10:44   And if you're only optimizing for that variable,

00:10:47   you're gonna make a lot of decisions

00:10:49   that are customer hostile, or at the very least,

00:10:52   not being kind to your customer,

00:10:58   maybe is the right way to say it, I don't know.

00:10:59   you're going to be doing decisions that are good for you,

00:11:02   but not necessarily for them.

00:11:04   Yeah, that's probably a better way to say it.

00:11:05   Is that you're optimizing for your own satisfaction,

00:11:08   not your customers.

00:11:10   And that's a very tricky place to find yourself,

00:11:12   because often it makes me wonder though,

00:11:15   if it's very short-sighted, that you can do these things,

00:11:18   but you start to become,

00:11:21   people start having other connotations about you,

00:11:24   that you're very pushy.

00:11:26   It's sort of for the reason that I typically

00:11:28   don't give my phone number out as much as I can to anybody who's ever going to be involved

00:11:32   in any kind of sale for me. I'd rather give them a fake phone number than my actual phone number,

00:11:37   because I don't want them to have the ability to reach into my life and say, "Hey, if you made a

00:11:43   decision about your car buying decision," or, "Hey, so what about this thing? Hey, so what about

00:11:47   that interrupting me and being able to reach into my life personally and do it?" It's like, maybe

00:11:52   that's a better place for email or something like that, where I can ignore it, where I can

00:11:56   filter it where I can decide when it's an appropriate time for me to open my inbox and

00:12:00   look at it.

00:12:01   And so I think as a businessman, you have to decide which of these lines that you're

00:12:06   going to cross.

00:12:07   Where are you going to think is acceptable to reach out and annoy a user?

00:12:13   Understanding that by not doing that, you may be losing sales.

00:12:18   And that's a tricky line.

00:12:21   But the reality is if you're just in this business to make sales, that makes me kind

00:12:26   of sad. If that's all I'm trying to do here, well, that feels very empty.

00:12:31   What I'm really trying to do is I'm trying to build an interesting business.

00:12:36   I'm trying to build relationships with customers who like me.

00:12:39   I want to make people want to buy my software.

00:12:41   And I want people to feel good about sharing my software with friends, or those types of things.

00:12:44   A lot of my software has grown and developed through personal recommendations, as best I can tell.

00:12:51   from one person saying to another person,

00:12:56   "Hey, I love this app, you should try it."

00:12:57   And doing things, making decisions about how you treat

00:13:00   those customers has dramatic impacts on someone's willingness

00:13:04   to do that.

00:13:07   If they feel like, "Oh, I don't really want to tell my friend

00:13:08   about this app because they're constantly badgering me

00:13:10   about buying other products or by buying upgrades

00:13:12   or whatever it is."

00:13:15   Versus, "I'd rather that customer feel like I really respect them

00:13:16   and I respect their time and I respect their attention."

00:13:17   And that's kind of just a decision you have to make.

00:13:20   You have to find a balance that's right for you.

00:13:22   And for me, I tend to very strongly--

00:13:25   I've very strongly avoided anything

00:13:28   that gets sort of past the midpoint of that spectrum,

00:13:30   where it starts to get very pushy.

00:13:32   I don't think I've really done much

00:13:34   in the way of email marketing.

00:13:35   That's not to say that I won't down the road.

00:13:37   That's probably, though, is the edge of where I'll start to go.

00:13:41   And I'm going to be very careful whenever

00:13:42   I do that kind of thing.

00:13:43   Because I know for myself, almost every email,

00:13:47   every time I get an email from somebody, I immediately unsubscribe from that list because

00:13:52   the last thing I typically want is to be viewing advertising in my inbox. That's a place that

00:13:58   I want to go and be productive and I want to do work. I don't want to be so sold to

00:14:02   there. So I'm going to be very careful when I use a mechanism that I personally wouldn't

00:14:10   want to receive. So that's so far. Generally, I've avoided it. And just what I do is I do

00:14:15   I do some advertising, I do some things like that.

00:14:17   I have websites, I have mechanisms

00:14:19   within an application for users to share it themselves,

00:14:21   which is probably the best.

00:14:23   But generally speaking, I'd rather be a bit more passive

00:14:26   and potentially give up some income

00:14:27   than be very active, in your face, and pushy,

00:14:30   and treat customers in a way that I

00:14:32   wouldn't want to be treated.

00:14:33   All right.

00:14:34   So those are just some thoughts.

00:14:35   As always, if you have questions, comments, concerns,

00:14:37   complaints, I'm on Twitter @_davidsmith.

00:14:40   You can email me, david@developingperspective.com.

00:14:42   And otherwise, I hope you have a great week.

00:14:43   Happy coding, and I will talk to you again soon.