Developers Cubed 22: So your hours, days and/or weeks of hard work have finally paid off – and your Windows Phone App or Game has just hit the Windows Phone Marketplace. You can watch with excitement as your metrics capture downloads numbers, advertising streams, and those all-important reviews. But is that all? No, you have to sell your app, and learn to stand out from the pack.
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So now you need to get your app distinguished from the growing number of other apps in the Marketplace (>25,000 in total now) all vying for your target customer’s attention.
In researching for this post, I quickly went through the majority of the Windows Team Blog Posts for both the main Windows Phone section as well as the Windows Phone Developer Bog. That’s over 50 pages of blog posts on Windows Phone. What was driven home by this review was how incredibly well MS has supported, targeted and enabled Development for its Windows Phone platform. In these posts alone – before you even get to the MSDN.create App Hub or Channel 9 video series etc -- there is an enormous wealth of information – ranging from high level support and information to Developers right through to detailed feature/capability discussion, tools and Development exposition to assist you with creating for WP7.
So 10 ot of 10 to MS for all of this – and to Brandon, Ben and the rest of the Developer teams on Windows Phone.
However in all these almost hundreds of articles and posts from MS, one topic remains really only discussed “around the edges”.
This is the topic of what to do once your App is in the Marketplace – or how to promote, Market and maximise the exposure of your new App in Marketplace. The Social Media Landscape of 2011 is broad and somewhat daunting even for Marketers to navigate successfully. There are also no guarantees – with social media campaigns ultimately only able to be created and launched with any real control – and after that your App or Game will be at the whim of the organic user-base and mass marketplace out there despite your best efforts and hopes for being the next “Angry Birds” phenomenon.
So What Advice Does Microsoft Offer?
They have the tools, the support and the information to get you developing your idea. They also have the App Hub and Marketplace through which to submit and then launch your App. Done. Microsoft have the Advertising SDK (updated June 2011) and advice on monetising your App/Game;
• Case Studies you may not have seen for WP7 from the MS Marketing Page.
• News release and links on the new MS Advertising SDK for WP (June 2011 link).
If your Game is in the Marketplace – you will have wanted to try and follow their advice on early engagement of the XBOX and Windows Phone team to see if your game may have a chance at XBL (Xbox Live) Certification – hard to obtain – but a sure-fire way of maximising your exposure and returns for your game. To drive this home, Pocket-lint reported only last month that:
“Today on Windows Phone, Xbox Live games make up less than 1 per cent of the number of games that are on there. They are over 30 per cent of the units of the games downloaded on the phone, and they over 70 per cent of the revenue. That’s because consumers value the experience and integration of the game with Xbox Live.” added Marc Whitten, corporate vice president of Xbox LIVE."
See my earlier post; WP7 Xbox Live certification – the elusive Holy Grail for more on XBL certification.
Earlier this year, Microsoft launched a Windows Phone 7 Marketplace “Spring Cleaning” initiative. The intent of this, in their own words – was to answer my earlier question:
“Developers sometimes ask us, “What can Microsoft do to help me promote my app?” We’re listening, and today we’re happy to announce what we’re calling the Spring Cleaning* project.
For the next three months, the Windows Phone Marketplace team wants you to tell us why your published app is great and why it deserves prime placement in the Marketplace. Once you tell us why your published app is great, we’ll expedite our review of your app for merchandising placement. You’ll find the details of our merchandising placement opportunities and our judging criteria below.”
I can’t say we have seen any follow-up from MS on this program. However it would be appropriate for them to share the outcomes given that the 3 months has now concluded. How Many Developers engaged them on this – what was the conversion rate and how many received promoted/featured Marketplace promotion as a result will be interesting to hear for all the Dev community – especially as the Marketplace grows and dilutes individual titles visibility.
What can be ascertained from this is the key focus areas MS have for Marketplace promotion (other than a BIG NAME licensed App release like recently seen in significant quantities in the Marketplace – WPCENTRAL report), that is:
1. Functionality. 2. Features & 3. User Experience.
So this is what Microsoft are focusing on – and the ball is in their court for what Marketing and Promotional opportunities will exist beyond Spring cleaning.
Will the new web-based Marketplace that is being launched with or following MANGO offer new promotional campaigns as commented on by MS?
“The Web version of Marketplace will launch with the new OS later this year and give customers another vehicle for discovering your great apps and games. And as a WP developer, you get all of the added visibility with no extra work. Just as on the phone, customers will be able to browse the full catalog, view screenshots, read application details and reviews and choose from all of the supported languages for that app. This offers customers another way to more thoroughly and confidently browse your apps from the comfort of their PC’s web browser. With the Web version of Marketplace, we will also have more placement areas in which to provide featured apps with extra visibility and merchandising possibilities.”
Will it offer better regional Focus to support and highlight local Developers in regional markets? Will campaigns across the XBOX 360 be available to Developers ? Is there a designated process to get your App featured in the Windows Phone Radio Podcast or Windows Team Blog (Pinworthy)?
I certainly hope so – or at least MS focus on providing some more clarity on these Marketing considerations…