Category Archives: Internet

After getting UFO Invader published there were a couple of things that became obvious points of improvement from a marketing perspective.

Web sites have the advantage that you can count on having internet access when visiting a website so it’s easy to tie things in dynamically all over the  place.  Things such as Adsense ads are loaded and managed by other people using other services.  they change depending on who you are, what the page is like, and what time of day it is.

With a turn around time for publishing native apps to the iPhone being more than a few days – having anything from news messages, advertisements or dynamic content becomes a bit more complex.  You can’t simply push an app update out to update a message to say you’re working on a big update for example.  You also can’t count on internet access being available.

The idea for the iPhone App Control backend is to pair a web admin service with a library of Objective-C UIKit components.  An API call would be made out to the service to get marketing messages, news or alerts text or whatever else and it would also serve as a bit of an analytics service, tracking clicks on ads, and perhaps performing A/B split tests on offers.

Once built, this software will help control all of my current and future iOS Apps.

Will I release this software?  I’m not sure.  What do you think?  should I sell it? open-source it?  sell accounts and access?  Let me know your thoughts…

I’m still doing a lot of testing around how this iPhone Apps stuff works but yesterday I ran an experiment to see if mobile advertising would help boost sales of my game.

The results were very odd.

Firstly, I have been running various ad supported websites for about 8 years now so I’m pretty confident about how the revenue has been working for websites using Adsense.  I have also run quite a few AdWords campaigns so I’m familiar with how much that traffic usually costs.

Very quickly after launching an ad campaign on AdMob I blew through the $10 test budget at $0.03/click which netted 334 clicks with a click through rate of about 0.5%.  That’s pretty cheap traffic in comparison to my experience with AdWords which are often 10x to 100x more expensive.

Immediately following the campaign I could see that more people were playing the game.  More people had scores show up in the leader board, and I was seeing ad impressions from the in-app ads.  Ad impressions spiked roughly 20x compared to previous days so I was expecting to see significant sales.

Then I started seeing revenue come in from the ads.  It was shocking that every time I refreshed the page there would be a few more cents of revenue.  People seemed to be clicking the ads at roughly 20% CTR.  As of right now I can see four times more ad clicks than people who have bought the game!

Today, if the trend continues I expect my ad impressions and revenue from AdMob to exceed what I make with AdSense across all my websites combined!  This is crazy.  In the last week I have sold 30 copies of the game.  I can attribute 7 of those sales to the ad campaign I ran.  Before running the ad campaign I had 5 days of zero ad clicks and an average of roughly 10 ad impressions per day.  in the 24 hours following the ad campaign I saw ad impressions spike to nearly 1000 with 175 clicks.

Something doesn’t seem right.  These numbers are wacky compared to what I’m used to seeing with ad revenue.

Update: Found out that a hacked version of my game was uploaded to a forum at roughly the same time I started the ad campaign.  That explains it.

Waiting seems to be something that you have to get used to when dealing with Apple.  Granted, the whole process is vastly more efficient than waitingit was back in the days of physical distribution.  And I’m thankful that that I don’t have to hire a publisher and deal with box designs, CD duplication and the massive up front costs they would have incurred.

In fact the 1 to 2 week waiting time I expect for my first game to be approved is hardly enough time to get my marketing plan up and going.  There’s videos to create, stuff to write, lists to build and people to contact.  It’s all work that takes time.

However, it’s also frustrating when people who are anxious to play it can’t and have to wait weeks before they can – even though the development is finished.

These next few weeks are also a time to start looking forward to my next app.  The first one isn’t yet out the door and the next one is already getting sketched out on the whiteboard.  Getting the jump on development is going to be key to keeping the flow going.

So yes, there is some waiting involved, but it’s actually a welcome break to focus on next steps.

The Apple iTunes App Store search engine is a bit of a black box. Unlike Google which has some transparency (though they keep a lot of things close to the chest). With Google you have the opportunity to find trends through Google Trends, or see competition and search volumes by keyword within the Adwords Keyword Tool. Through Google Analytics you have the ability to track back to find out what keywords provide your website with traffic in great detail.

With Apple you get none of that.

When publishing an iPhone App there are two fields that appear to provide some impact on how your app will rank which you have control over.

  1. the keywords field.  You can only update this field when you publish your app or an update and only get 100 characters to work with.  Max it out with as many of the  best keywords as you can.
  2. the title. Don’t be afraid to put something long in here or to embed a subtitle.  Make sure it is something unique enough that if a friend told you about the app you would be able to find it easily.
Other than these traditional SEO techniques for improving your ranking within the app store there’s one non-traditional SEO trick to getting ranked higher in the the results.  That is the number of downloads your app gets.  there are a number of ways your can influence this from outside the app store.
  • Create some youtube videos
  • Give away free download codes to review sites.
  • Create a webpage for the app
  • Create a Facebook Fan page
  • Tweet about it or create a twitter account
  • blog about your app
  • Send out email
  • Do a “Launch”
Besides these more traditional Internet Marketing approaches to drive traffic you also have several new abilities on the iPhone to market and drive traffic to the store.
  • Cross promote with your other apps.  Use things like house ads, a “More” screen with links to your other stuff, menu items, and pop ups.  Use your existing apps as a platform to advertise your newest apps.
  • Push notifications to your users so that they get notified of your latest promotions.  Directly communicating to your customers where ever they are at any time is HUGE.
  • Mobile advertising through places like AdMob allows you to target by region and device type.  If you want to get your App in front of people it’s always possible to pay to get it there.
There you have it.  There are three main factors you can influence to improve your ranking in the iPhone App Store.  Remember that getting your app published is really just the start of what needs to be done for a successful App business.  A great marketing strategy is key to get your stuff to stand out amongst the 285,000 apps in the App Store.

 

The initial launch of Automatic Blog Machine has exceeded my expectations so I’m very happy to have my first users who have been plugging away at the system and building their own personal blog networks.

To the people that have signed up already: Thank You. I’m looking forward to personally helping make Automatic Blog Machine the system that puts you in control of an Internet Empire.

I’m getting ready to close the doors to the system so I can focus on the next set of killer features that I want to implement. There are a lot of great ideas floating around in my head for even more automation, improving the quality of generated content, and scaling everything up to handle 100,000+ websites.

If it’s something that you’re interested in jumping on – today is your last chance to join. Tomorrow I’ll be closing the doors to new users and it will never be available at the current price ever again. If you have ever thought about what to do with your unused domains, or dying websites. Or wanted to control lots of websites effortlessly I encourage you to act now while the offer is on the table.

Sign Up At
Automatic Blog Machine

Schrödinger’s Programmer is a thought experiment. A real-life paradox which comes as a result of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. The thought experiment presents a programmer that may or may not have written software.

You have a closed office. In this office is a computer (with internet access) and a software programmer. She is tasked with writing a piece of software that can be written in an hour. However there is an equal chance that she will instead find and read something interesting on reddit.com and accomplish nothing in an hour.

After an hour has elapsed one would say that the software is finished if meanwhile she did work. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the both project completed and nothing done state mixed or smeared out in equal parts.

It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to whether or not something of interest is on reddit.com becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation by opening the office door. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a “blurred model” for representing reality. In itself, it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.

I have spent a significant amount of money over the years learning how to do a big product launch on the Internet. (One $2000 course, and one 3 day conference in Phoenix)  There are many things to think about and a lot of moving pieces to schedule to pull off a successful launch.

The launch of Automatic Blog Machine is nearing and this will be the first time that I’m going to take what I have learned about launches and put it into practice.  Although this initial launch will be scaled back and simplified.

Planning the launch for me started by thinking about what kind of free stuff and information I could give away.  Then figuring out a timeline and sequence for videos, emails, sales letters. I set deadlines and goals and started writing potential sales script ideas.

Writing scripts, emails and sales letters is proving to be time consuming.  Recording videos is a bit nerve wracking.  Getting all that content onto nicely formatted webpages is tedious.  It takes time.

Even with a scaled back launch, just 2 videos, and a few emails, there is a lot of work to do.  Everything needs to be queued up and ready to go to avoid any late last minute problems.  Indeed, compared to the amount of work it took to program the software I’m selling, the actual selling part is a significant chunk of effort.

Essentially the launch process I’m following can be broken up into 4 phases:

  1. Pre Pre launch – this involves initial list building and would include finding JV partners and/or affiliates if I were doing that.
  2. Pre Launch – This is the run up to the launch day and is used to pre-sell the software, and build interest and traffic.
  3. Launch – This gets kicked off with a email, sales message, and opening the order button so customers can buy.
  4. Launch Conclusion – The offer is only available for a short while.  Emails go out and the order button is turned off.

Each of these phases need to flow and be consistent.  The messages at each stage need to build energy and incorporate the six triggers of influence as much as possible:

  1. Commitment and Consistency
  2. Social Proof
  3. Scarcity
  4. Reciprocity
  5. Authority
  6. Likeability

In addition to that, email subject lines need to be crafted to get the emails open, the logical arguments made, and the value proposition presented.  Getting all these messages into just a few emails and videos takes some creativity.

Hopefully all this work will all payoff.

Lately the number of concurrent projects on my plate have started building up to the point where I need more time in the day to get things done. there’s the pending launch of the Automatic Blog Machine, a couple of contract jobs, my regular 9-5 job, several active blogs, and now potentially a weekly video blog in the works and the prospect of writing a book.

It’s got me thinking of ways to get more done in the day and what I have arrived at is a number of things to focus on for that to happen.

  1. Increased single focused effort to improve productivity – by removing distractions.
  2. Trying to decrease my hours of sleep per day.  I currently get more than 8 hours/night
  3. Get more exercise

Richard Branson has said that the most important factor to success in business is physical exercise.  It keeps your mind and body sharp and alert.   I think there may be some truth to that so I’m going to be focused on getting at least some time every day for a workout.

My sleep patterns have been fairly undisiplined.  I intend to test reducing my core sleep to 7.5 hours/night and test a number of dietary ways to increase the quality of sleep.

It’s going to be a busy and interesting couple of weeks.  2011 is shaping up to be a stellar year.

Someone asked me recently to develop a content spinner algorithm which can take a document and produce variations of that document. I thought it was an interesting thing to think about, and very rarely do I get to think about algorithms like this in my normal day-to-day programming.

The document contains variation options with a special syntax.  for example:

{Hi|Hello|Good morning}, my name is Matt and I have {something {important|special} to say|a favorite book}.

The algorithm will recursively go through the string and generate a new string by choosing an option provided in curly braces separated by pipes.

import random
 
def spin(content):
    """takes a string like
 
    {Hi|Hello|Good morning}, my name is Matt and I have {something {important|special} to say|a favorite book}.
 
    and randomly selects from the options in curly braces
    to produce unique strings.
    """
    start = content.find('{')
    end = content.find('}')
 
    if start == -1 and end == -1:
        #none left
        return content
    elif start == -1:
        return content
    elif end == -1:
        raise "unbalanced brace"
    elif end < start:
        return content
    elif start < end:
        rest = spin(content[start+1:])
        end = rest.find('}')
        if end == -1:
            raise "unbalanced brace"
        return content[:start] + random.choice(rest[:end].split('|')) + spin(rest[end+1:])
 
if __name__=='__main__':
    print spin('{Hi|Hello|Good morning}, my name is Matt and I have {something {important|special} to say|a favorite book}.')

According to the marketing message on tynt.com there is a small but significant number of times that people simply copy and paste content from you website to email it to someone.  Getting attribution for this content and a link back to the source is what Tynt accomplishes.  With a small snippet of HTML and javascript they inject a footer including a link anytime someone copies text from your site.  It’s a simple but interesting idea that takes just a few minutes to implement but depending on the amount of traffic you get could be significant.

With the additional backlink possible from people who simply copy/paste into a their own blog post it’s possible to get some SEO benefits from it.  And for the people that just copy and paste into their notes or send an email it gives a reference back which may result in some return visitors.

I’m currently testing it out on this site.

If you copy some text and paste it somewhere you’ll see the additional text is automatically included in what gets copied that sends people back to the page it was copied from.