Monday, December 10, 2012

Google Apps Developers: How to Get More Traffic for Your Google Apps Marketplace Listings

Get more traffic for your Google Apps Marketplace listing
Traffic (Are you ready?)                        Photo Credit : Smoking Permitted
Author's Note: Ryan Luedecke here. This blog post shares a case study that's relevant to app developers looking to increase traffic for their listing in the Google Apps Marketplace. If you're in a rush, skim the bold font for the key takeaways and then come back later to read through the details. Let's get started...

I was intrigued to learn that the Google Apps Marketplace has more than 25 million active users and 2 million business accounts. I was thrilled when I realized they weren't just window shoppers. Leading business apps were being installed by the thousands and receiving hundreds of positive reviews from satisfied customers. Talk about scale.

When we first released our Mojo Helpdesk app in the Google Apps Marketplace two years ago we immediately saw results. Our app trials rose 100 percent over the next year, however with increased competition, the traffic we generated slowly started to trickle off. After two years in the Marketplace, we only had ten user reviews and ranked low in search, often several pages back for keywords relevant to our app. We had to adapt quickly or risk being forgotten.

There weren't many resources available on how to grow traffic for established apps so I did an exhaustive review of the Marketplace to see which apps rose to the top when I shopped in predefined categories or conducted a relevant keyword search. I reviewed the listings of the top rated apps in several categories, looking for patterns and commonalities in how they marketed their apps.

Interestingly, most of the top rated apps were doing the same things. Some of the techniques were more subtle than others, but one thing was clear - there was a recipe for success.

Fast forward to today and now we're #1 in search for ticket tracking, #3 for issue tracking, and #6 for helpdesk - all keywords that our target customer might use to find our app in the Marketplace. We've tripled our number of user reviews and new installs are coming through at a faster pace. And we did this all without spending any money.

So how did we do it? And more importantly, what steps can you take to increase traffic and installs in the Google Apps Marketplace? Find out the exact steps after the jump.

#1 Include keywords in your app title, short description, and overview.

Before you list your app you’ll have an opportunity to list a title, a short description, and a text-based overview. Unlike traditional search engine results nowadays where keyword text plays a smaller, and smaller role in the rankings, in the Google Apps Marketplace, keywords seem to play a larger role in search results. Therefore, it’s important that you place keywords throughout your listing. Our app is relevant to businesses seeking ticket tracking, customer support, and helpdesk software so we placed these keywords in our title...

Mojo Helpdesk, Customer Support, and Ticket Tracking

and in our short description...

A customer support helpdesk, internal support helpdesk, issue tracking & ticket tracking application that's fully integrated with Google Apps and lets you centralize, assign, and track user requests.

#2 Give your app listing a personality.

So many Google App listings overlook the text description and fail to take advantage of the opportunity to differentiate the persona of their brand. In fact, almost every single app overview is just a simple listing of “Features” and “Key Benefits.” I would advise a slightly different approach where you try to inject a little bit of your brand’s personality into the listing. Special formatting effects can also add a nice touch that separates you from the competition.

Here’s what we did in the overview and it’s a little more restrained than I wanted it to be, but Google limits you on the number of text characters so I couldn't be too wordy:
★ "Mojo is the single most valuable key to my business and accomplishing our jobs..." ~Warwick Burns, Warwick Data Solutions
★ "We have been using Mojo Helpdesk for several years now and it has been a wonderful tool for us." ~Corey Sadd, IT Director, Yosemite Institute
★ "A good ticketing system with clear Gmail-like design, it is easy to set up and use... "
6 Reasons to Try Mojo
★ Experience the simplicity of a helpdesk app designed with a "Google-y" interface.
★ Enjoy the convenience of single sign-on from your Google Apps account.
★ Feel the comfort of managing tickets right from your inbox using Mojo's clever email integration.
★ Keep your computer's clutter to a minimum. Mojo stores and organizes ticket histories for you.
★ Never lose track of another ticket again. Mojo's text-based search tool will help you find everything you need. Now if we could only teach it to find the remote.
★ Go live quickly with configuration support from our amazing product manager, Jill Ward.
Additional Features
★ Mojo lets you use your own domain for the helpdesk. SSL 256-bit data encryption available for extra security.
★ Built-in measurement tool lets you track response times and user satisfaction.

If your app is new to the world when you launch in the Marketplace and you don’t have any customers when you launch, make sure you let a few friends, colleagues, and family members beta test your app so you can get some testimonials from them to use in your overview.

#3 Offer a free trial. 

There are different ways to do this. You can offer your app for free to one user (with the expectation that additional users will require an investment); you can offer a time limited free trial (14-day and 30-day offers are common); or you can offer a free version of your app with limited features.

I prefer the 30-day free trial with unlimited features because it will match or exceed what your competition offers and gives the user a chance to experience all the great features in your app for a reasonable period of time so that they can make an informed decision on whether to purchase the app.

#4 Share your prices on your website NOT on your apps listing. 

We started with a price listing that said:

"Free trial for 30 days. Premium plans range from $24/mo to $149/mo." 
It was a fair description, but I thought we could do better. Since customers have clear access to the pricing page through links that direct back to our website, I thought we’d be hurting our sign up rate if we listed our pricing while our competitors did not. So here’s the price listing we used after looking at what some of the most successful Google Apps did for their price listing:

★ Free Trial - No Credit Card Required ★

I believe that focusing on your trial offer will lead to higher conversion than listing your full pricing menu. Side note: I took me awhile to figure out how to do the star characters with a special key press (I was on a Mac when I did this), so I advise you to do an internet search as the instructions are different depending on your hardware setup.

#5 Email early adopters and get them to review your app.

If you have a huge Google Apps launch and things go viral for you in the Apps Marketplace, then you won’t have to worry about requesting reviews because people who love your app will drop by the marketplace naturally to leave you a review. However, going viral is probably more the exception than the rule, so I thought I’d show you how we tripled our number of positive reviews.

I recommend you wait thirty days after launch or until you have collected at least a hundred emails from app installers before trying this step. By waiting thirty days your customers will have ample time to use your app and by waiting until you’ve collected a hundred emails, you’ll have a critical mass of users to provide you with reviews.

Once you’re ready to email your users with a review request, you’ll need to think about what you want to say. Notice how I’ve referred to this email as a “review” request and not a “testimonial” request. I think that’s an important distinction. When you ask for a “review” it says that you value the reviewer’s feedback. It indicates that you care about your customer’s opinions. It says that you’re not just some person trying to solicit their testimonial. That’s why I prefer an email that asks for a review.

For best response rates:
  1. The email should come from the person who created the app and be written in a casual tone. 
  2. Within the message, let the recipient know that you respect their time. 
  3. Ask for a “review” not a “testimonial.”
  4. Provide a shortened link to you listing. In all likelihood, the HTML links to your Markeplace listing will have an overwhelming number of characters due to the product ID that Google appends to the end of every listing. We used Bitly for our short link.
  5. Tell customers exactly what steps to take once they get to your listing.
  6. Use their actual first name in the subject line and the greeting.

#6 Offer as many Google integrations as you can. 

Build your app for success from the beginning. If you want to win in the Apps Marketplace, it's best to include as many Google integrations as possible. This makes sense both intuitively and functionally - the Marketplace search feature allows you to filter results by various Google integrations as follows: Gmail Integration, Google Calendar Integration, Universal Navigation, Single Sign On, Google Docs integration, Google Contacts integration.

Take a look at the top rated apps in any category and you’ll find that most of them have three to six Google integrations. Here is a screenshot from the Apps Marketplace Project Management section where you can see that all of the highest rated and most frequently reviewed apps have multiple integrations with Google. (The integrations are indicated by small icons like a key, an “@” sign, and an envelope).

I would contend that one of the reasons these apps have so many users (as evidenced by the sheer volume of user reviews) is because they get priority placement in the Marketplace due to their Google integrations.

Conversely when developers fail to integrate with Google Apps it’s a major turnoff to people shopping the marketplace as evidenced by this bit of feedback for another company's app (company identifiers are hidden):

A one-star review with verifying comments could sink your launch in the Marketplace. 

Interestingly, it seems that Single Sign On and Universal Navigation are the two most critical integrations as most highly rated apps have them. Those are the two Google integrations our app launched with and those integrations alone were enough to satisfy the vast majority of our app users.

I should add that we’re big fans of Google integrations and we’re currently working on adding Google Calendar and Google Contacts integration to delight existing users and attract new customers.

Odds and Ends

The above process describes the exact series of steps I recommend if you’re looking to boost your traffic in the Google Apps marketplace. Here is the full Marketplace listing for Mojo Helpdesk again if you’d like to reference it.

Mojo Helpdesk Google App Listing

I would also highly encourage you to take a look at the following article:

Chris Kelly’s Best Practices for Launching an App in the Google Marketplace

It mirrors a few of the recommendations in this post in less detail, but also gives a couple of additional recommendations on things you can do to help your app launch be successful.

Best of luck with your app. 
- Ryan 

Get in touch by emailing ryan at metadot dot com

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