Many SaaS companies offer a mobile app version of their product, which comes with an excellent opportunity for marketing. App marketing has its own set of challenges, and today I’m excited to bring you Eryn Lueders, Senior Growth Manager of Safesite, to talk about how her team has optimized app marketing for exceptional results.
(4:25) If you have an app as a key component of your business, making it easy for people to find, download, and use your app is vital.
We learned pretty early on that app search marketing was the way to go for us. Of course, brand awareness is a big deal. Of course, making sure the Safesite name is out there at events and sponsorships is a big deal. But a key component is making sure we have users who feel engaged with the app and making sure we can acquire new users to hit that overall mission of becoming safer.
(5:31) When setting up the app search page, give as much information as possible. Include accurate screenshots, detailed, keyword-rich descriptions, and information about your organization to establish trust.
Similar to how you may consider SEO, you can translate a lot of that over to an app search page as well.The Google Play Store and the Apple App Store provide really extensive, rich, detailed app pages that you can fill out for your app. If you have all of that information available, fill it out. The App Store is not oversaturated, but it’s definitely saturated.Similar to a lot of other marketing channels, you want to make sure you’re seen as trustworthy and you stand out.
(7:53) High-end reviews make a huge difference.
We do quite a bit of work on our review management and trying to make sure that we can garner some of those higher-end reviews. Since reviews show up right in that listing when you’re searching, it helps with click-throughs, but it also helps with that trustworthiness as well. A recent study found that 79% of people will check the reviews before downloading an app, so it’s a big deal.
(8:57) Don’t hound users for reviews; instead ask in a tactful way and limit the frequency of reminders.
It’s important to always think about the customer at the end of the day. You never want to be pushy, you never want to ask them too many times. Try to reach those customers who are heavy or power users of your app in a tactful and tasteful way, such as triggering an in-app notification or reaching out directly to ask for a review.
(9:53) Use negative reviews to improve your app, and communicate those improvements to show you listen to feedback.
Critical feedback isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you are listening to those reviews and trying to improve the app. When you have those release notes that you can share, when the app updates, you can share some of those updates and say, we listened! And these are some of the bug enhancements and feature enhancements we’ve provided.
(10:56) Paid search is always evolving. Stay on top of your ads’ performance and what competitors are doing, and be willing to pivot as needed.
Sometimes a competitor — or someone bidding on similar keywords and search terms — will sneak in and take away impression share from us, while also causing us to pay more. So you have to stay on top of it. Likewise, as new competitors enter the space, look at what they’re doing and test it out to see if it would work out for you.
(14:05) A lot of successful app marketing boils down to trial and error.
Decide on a test budget, and just try some things out. If you have a relatively small budget, you may have to look quite frequently and make sure the performance is in line with what you’re looking for. But if you have a larger budget, it’ll give you the opportunity to pivot quite a bit and really hit that minimum that may be needed for high performance.
(15:29) While SEO and app search marketing are similar, key differences between the two have to do with how you position your messaging.
When you’re thinking about SEO, or those broader types of marketing, you may be focusing more on brand positioning or various other objectives. With an app, you really have the opportunity to speak directly to that potential customer as they’re searching. So make sure you provide everything that you believe that persona needs, right there as readily available as possible.
(17:14) Apple’s privacy updates have made it much more difficult to track rich data points. This isn’t likely to change, so focus on the data you own, and trust your gut instincts.
You may not be able to get as great of data on the Apple side; you may not be able to see as rich of information on installs, downloads and usage. But as long as you understand that a lot of marketing comes down to your gut with a little bit of data behind it, as long as you continue following best practices on the app marketing side, you should see results.
(Laura 0:03) Alright, Eyrn! I’m really looking forward to our conversation, so thanks so much for coming on the show!
(Eryn 1:26) Yes, thank you. I’m happy to be here.
(Laura 1:28) Awesome. So let’s start with just, you know, a little background on Safesite, your company, and your role there.
(Eryn 1:37) Yeah, so Safesite, we are a safety tech management startup. We are a fully remote company. And what we do is we help organizations with their safety management. So we offer a risk management platform, as well as safety success coaching. And essentially what we do is, for those high-hazard industries where they need safety as part of their day-to-day jobs — so think things like construction, manufacturing, where safety is paramount — we provide an app and a dashboard, so that those organizations can track incidents, hazards, any sort of observations they have on-site, in order to help them become safer as an organization. We have an app, so it makes it much easier for those people who are in the field to be able to, you know, let’s say they see a hazard or an incident, they can easily record it right there through the app.
And then we also have an amazing partnership with Foresight, which is a workers compensation insurance — insurtech. And we have an exclusive partnership where those who are insured under Foresight use Safesite as their safety management. So similar to how you would think about safe driver rewards, where you have maybe an app that shows if you’re driving safer, and you can save money on your auto insurance, it’s very similar to how we are working with Foresight.
So we incentivize companies to be safer — which you know is a win-win for everybody; you want to be safer, you want to go home safely — and then they can save money in the process. And what I do is I joined Safesite in June of 2021, so about six months ago now, and I am a Senior Growth Manager. So what that means is I work in the marketing function of acquisition and engagement. So trying to get, you know, additional customers, and then also trying to get them to engage further in our platform. And so that means a lot of that traditional marketing you would think of on more of the digital side. You know, through SEO, content marketing, paid search, app search marketing — a lot of those areas are what I oversee.
(Laura 3:50) Awesome, awesome. And I love your emphasis on, you know, safety culture in your content. That’s really inspiring. You know, the reason behind all of this and driving all of this — yes, the business outcomes are obviously very important — but it really makes a difference, you know, in the lives of individual people. So that’s very cool.
(Eryn 4:09) Yeah, absolutely.
(Laura) So we are going to be focusing on, you know, your insights for app marketing. But I would love to hear a little bit about how you and your team came to that decision to focus so heavily on app marketing as part of your overall strategy.
(Eryn 4:25) Yeah, so it just made sense, because the app is the key component of our business. So it’s really where the organization started. It’s really the bread and butter of what we do, is making sure that those field users can use the app. And so, the easiest place from an acquisition standpoint is being able to easily download, to sign up for free, and to use it. So we learned pretty early on that app search marketing was the way to go for us. Of course, brand awareness is a big deal. Of course, making sure the Safesite name is out there at events and sponsorships, it’s a big deal. But a key component is making sure we have users who feel engaged with the app and making sure we can acquire new users to, you know, hit that overall mission of becoming safer. So that was really the key reason why app search marketing was so big for us.
(Laura 5:16) Awesome. Yeah. And I know, you know, you’re going heavy on both the organic and the paid side. So let’s hit each of those. You know, on the organic side, I’d love to hear your top tips for getting an app page to rank.
(Eryn 5:31) Yeah, so, similar to how you may consider SEO in an organization, I think you can translate a lot of those over to an app search page as well. And so a lot of what we look at is filling out the page in its entirety. So the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store provide really extensive, rich, detailed app pages that you can fill out for your app. If you have all of that information available, fill it out. At minimum, you get a backlink to your site, so at least get the link in there. But there’s quite a few areas in there where you can really win and you can really shine. So the first thing that you see on one of those pages is, of course, the app screenshots. So make sure those are big and bold, and make sure that they actually show what the app does. And try to use that as an opportunity for someone to learn very quickly what the app is and what differentiates it, for those who are visual learners.
And then, thinking about the description. So a really good keyword-rich, detailed description is important. It’s also important to think about those who may be searching not for your app name. So for instance, someone may not know that they want Safesite, but they know they do want a safety app. Think about the search intent there. So, similar to how you would think about SEO, think about how you may be able to capture that search intent. If someone’s looking more for trying to fill out an OSHA log or fill out some of those key features in your app, like we have, then you can take a look at adding those into your description as well. Again, don’t keyword stuff, don’t make it, you know, too salesy there. But just make sure that it hits those key features, especially those that differentiate you, because that’s really where you can win there, when people are searching. Again, try to fill it out as much as possible.
Same with your About section. So, you have the ability to share a little bit about your organization; share it there. Share what, you know, makes your organization different. Share why someone could trust you. The App Store is not oversaturated, but it’s definitely saturated. So you want to make sure that you can share why your company is trustworthy, why what you’re providing is different than the others out there. Similar to a lot of other marketing channels, you want to make sure you’re trustworthy and you stand out.
And then, lastly, I think a really big component of what we focus on as well is the reviews. And so, you know, I don’t know about you, but anytime I’m going to buy anything, or download anything, I always check the reviews.
(Laura 7:53) Yep.
(Eryn) If it has — exactly — so if it has a low rating on it, you give a second take there. And you definitely take a look at some of those more critical reviews. And so, we do quite a bit of work on our review management and trying to make sure that we can garner some of those, you know, higher-end reviews. And it also factors into the algorithm as well. So reviews, since those show up right in that listing when you’re searching, it helps with click-throughs, but it also helps with that trustworthiness as well. And I read a stat recently — you want to stay above four stars, as best as you’re able to. And a recent study said that 79% of people will actually check the reviews before downloading an app. I know I’m one of that 79%. And I know quite a few people as well. So it’s a big deal.
(Laura 8:40) I’d love to hear your strategy for, you know, motivating customers to leave a review. You know, we all know that it’s usually the unhappy customers that are the ones leaving the reviews. So you have to, you know, put in a little bit of work to get people to actually leave a review. Do you have a process for that?
(Eryn 8:57) Yeah, we’re always honing in our review strategy, because I think it’s important to always think about the customer at the end of the day. You never want to be pushy, you never want to ask them too many times. I think we’ve all been in that situation where something is constantly asking us to review, and it’s more of a turnoff than anything.
(Laura 9:15) Yeah.
(Eryn) So you have to be really tactical and careful with it. One of the key components, I think, is trying to reach those customers who are maybe heavy or power users of your app. So there are quite a few platforms out there that allow you to target, based on app usage, you know, based on a certain screen — so maybe something that only a power user may have access to — and to do an in-app notification, or even reaching out directly to that app user and asking for a review. You can also make sure it’s someone who is only asked every six months, or make sure it’s even less frequently than that. So just thinking about how you can do it in a tactful and tasteful way.
A big piece of it, too, is also making sure your app is up to date and it’s meeting those customer needs. So the critical feedback isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you are, as a product team and a development team, listening to those reviews and trying to improve the app. When you have those release notes that you can share, when the app updates, you can share some of those updates and say, hey, you know, we listened! And these are some of the bug enhancements and some of those feature enhancements we’ve provided. So making sure you are really listening to those reviews I think is a key component as well.
(Laura 10:27) Yeah, and I love the tip for, you know, triggering the in-app notification. I got one recently on one of my apps. And it actually motivated me, because it was timed really, really well. When I had just finished one of my most common things that I do on the app, and then I got this, you know, notification asking for a review, I’m like, oh, yeah, I’ll leave a review. So yeah, that can definitely work. Very cool.
So let’s transition and think about the paid side. What have you learned there? What are your tips and tricks on the paid side?
(Eryn 10:56) Yeah, a key thing I’ve noticed on the paid side is, I think it’s similar to a lot of digital channels, but it’s always evolving. You know, we are constantly having to change our strategy and AB test and really try to think about how we want our paid ads to appear. What’s interesting for us is, I would guess we’re not unique in this, but we try to stay on top of performance as much as we possibly can. Because sometimes a competitor will sneak in — or even not a competitor, but just happens to be bidding on similar keywords and search terms — will sneak in and take away impression share from us, while also causing us to pay more. So it can run away from you pretty quickly, similar to any sort of other paid search you may be looking at. So it’s really important to stay on top of it. I think that’s been a key piece of what’s made us successful there.
And being willing to pivot. So, as new competitors enter the space, thinking about maybe looking at what they’re doing. Maybe they’re messaging in a better way or a different way. You know, there’s no need to recreate the wheel. If they have a nice keyword they’re using that you weren’t thinking about, or they have a little headline or phrase or key phrase that they’re pulling out of there that you think is doing it better, test it out. See if it’s going to work out for you. I think a key piece of just paid search generally is staying agile. You have to really make sure you’re willing to change, and stick within those goals you have. If your goal is staying within a certain cost per impression, or cost per install, or cost per acquisition, any of those, stick with that. If it means you have to pause or pivot in order to hit that, that’s perfectly okay. That’s all part of it. But just remain flexible, as best as you’re able, because paid search is always evolving.
(Laura 12:38) Mm-hmm. Yeah, that’s a great tip. Do you have a framework for, you know, evaluating, testing, and all of that? You know, do you plan to go in once a week, once a month? And look at a certain, you know, checklist? How do you actually, from the mechanics side, make that happen?
(Eryn 12:58) Yeah, we do weekly reports. But we also do really extensive monthly reporting, and that’s really where we can see if there’s any area where maybe we’ve lost some of our impression share, or installs have gone down, or our cost per install seems to be creeping up there. So about once a month is when we really start to take a look at that. And we have those thresholds in mind for us. So we can take a look and see, hey, we got a lot of traffic to these, and the impressions were high, but for some reason, the installs were down. Let’s take a peek at maybe what competitors could be out there. Maybe one of our ads suddenly is underperforming. You know, it just — a lot of it is diving in and sleuthing a little bit, and just, you know, a little bit of trial and error as well. Just trying to figure it out as you go. I feel like a lot of marketing is that way, where you just, you learn as you go.
(Laura 13:44) Yes, that is so true. Being willing to experiment and using the data to point you in the right direction. Yep. That’s what it’s all about.
(Eryn 13:52) Yeah.
(Laura) So, I’d love to hear your advice for, you know, other SaaS marketing teams who, you know, have apps and they’re looking to hone their app marketing results. What advice would you have to share?
(Eryn 14:05) Yeah. I think — I’ve probably said this a lot already — but trial and error. One of the key pieces is just getting started. So, with a relatively small budget, you can do quite a bit on the app search marketing side. So decide what that test budget is for you, and just try some things out. It’s very helpful to do your research ahead of time. So, just like any other marketing channel, you know who your competitors are; take a look at what they’re doing. If you can see what some of their ads look like, or maybe if you’re working on more of the organic side, what their listing pages look like, their app pages, take a look at those. See what they’re doing, and see if there’s something you can do better. Or see if there are certain tags they’re using or certain ways they’re positioning that you want to make sure you do as well.
And then from there, just trial and error. If you have a relatively small budget, you may have to look quite frequently and make sure the performance is in line with what you’re looking for. But if you have a larger budget, it’ll give you the opportunity to pivot quite a bit, the opportunity to, you know, really hit that minimum that may be needed for high performance.
(Laura 15:06) Yeah, that’s great. So actually, that brings up another question. You know, talking about looking at competitors and seeing what key terms they’re focusing on, related, is there — what would you say are the key differences between, say, you know, app search marketing and optimizing for SEO on Google? Are there differences? And what are they? That kind of thing.
(Eryn 15:29) Yeah, I think some of the key differences you’ll find between Google and then what you would see on app search marketing is the way you position some of your messaging. So, when you think about an app in particular, you really want to make sure you’re messaging exactly to those — as best as you’re able — to those personas you have targeted that you know are using the app. When you’re thinking about SEO, or maybe those broader types of marketing, sometimes you may be focusing more on brand positioning, you may be focusing a little bit more on various objectives. With the app, you really have the opportunity to speak directly to that customer as they’re searching. That potential customer as they’re searching. Because they’re the ones who are seeing those results. They’re the ones who are downloading it on their device. And for some reason, at least for me, it’s a little bit more of a barrier for me. I will click through a search result very easily. I’m not just going to download any app on my phone, though. So I think making sure that you show that trustworthiness, and making sure that you provide everything that you believe that persona needs, right there as readily available as possible, I think is really where the focus changes a little bit. They’re similar, though. There are a ton of similarities between the two.
(Laura 16:47) That’s a great point, yeah. And I’m the same way. I’m sure most people are the same way. It takes a lot less to, you know, click and pull up a website than it does to download something on your phone. And most people are not eager to download just anything. So that’s a great point.
So my last question for you is just, is there anything else that, you know, I should have asked you that I didn’t? Anything else that you would like to, you know, share with listeners?
(Eryn 17:14) Yeah, I think one thing that’s probably top-of-mind to anyone who’s doing app search marketing right now would be focused around Apple’s new privacy updates.
(Laura 17:23) Yes.
(Eryn) So, it’s been all over all of the marketing news about how, you know, you, as an Apple user, have a lot more control over the privacy settings on your device. Which, as marketers, makes it a lot more challenging for us to be able to track usage, downloads, you know, all the things we love, all of those nitty gritty data points that we want. And we’ve realized as well, as we’re marketing on both Apple and Google, we just can’t get as rich of data as we once could. And I feel like this is the future. I feel like Apple is the first of many steps that are going to be taken in the privacy realm. And so this probably isn’t going to be getting any better. And I think it’s important to hone in on the data you do have available to you — the data you own. You may not be able to get as great of data on the Apple side; you may not be able to see as rich of information on installs, downloads and usage. But look at the data you own and you personally have, and make your gut instincts there.
So, you know, it’s ever-evolving. Data, generally, is ever-evolving. Privacy is ever evolving. So I think this will be a hot topic of conversation for years to come. But I think, as long as you understand that a lot of marketing does, you know, come down to your gut with a little bit of data behind it. I think that’s where it’s going to be going on the app space as well. So as long as you’re following some of those best practices that you know, on the app marketing side, just continue doing those, and you should see results.
(Laura 18:55) Yeah, that’s a really good point. I think data is amazing, and it’s very helpful. And I think a lot of times, you know, as marketers, we can come to depend a little too much on the data and think, oh, no, we don’t know anything without the data! So that is a good point. And also, like you said, you know, proprietary data, the data that you are collecting yourself, can still inform, for sure. So, great advice.
Well, thank you so much! This has been really, really good; really, really helpful. I know that people are going to get a lot out of it. And, you know, especially as more and more SaaS products come out with App versions — which I think will only continue — I think that this will be really helpful for people. So, thank you again.
(Eryn 19:38) Yeah, I really enjoyed the conversation. I appreciated being on, and thank you for having me!