Understanding & Identifying the Untapped App Market with MobileGroove’s Peggy Anne Salz

Jun 5, 2017

Thinking beyond the basics when looking for new App marketing opportunities is one of the best ways to set your App apart from the competition. In this episode, Peggy Anne Salz, a Top 30 Mobile Marketing Influencer and Chief Analyst for MobileGroove, speaks about untapped App markets, top UA trends and the importance of diving deep into your marketing data in a conversation with our CMO Louis Tanguay.

Mobile Growth: We’re here with Peggy Anne Salz from MobileGroove. Hey, Peggy!

Peggy: Hey, great to be here!

Mobile Growth: Let’s dive right into the first question: When it comes to marketing apps, specifically UA, what are some top trends that you’re seeing?

Peggy: I’m seeing it at two different levels, because of the work I’m doing in the app industry, so I’m looking at a lot of the data, and I’m seeing, of course, everything is very data-driven. In fact, marketing is data-driven, I think that’s defacto, I don’t need to go into that. If you’re not doing data-driven marketing at this point, you’re really not doing effective marketing, and something’s really wrong, so that’s one end of it, so it’s very much looking at the data, understanding the data, syncing up on KPIs and being very focused on that.

Peggy: The other side of it, however, is interesting because it’s the exact opposite; it’s about being more human in our marketing, you know, understanding the user journey bringing things back from mobile marketing into app marketing that maybe you might not have thought of before, like for example different ways to engage with the user. I was just reading, for example, an interesting paper the other day and it was outlining the 30, right? 30, Louis, 30 ways of using push notifications. I didn’t know there were that many ways to do it, right? But there are ways you combine it and you put it with a coupon and you put it with a survey, so it’s one level getting very, very deep into the data, and going way beyond demographics, by the way, and location for that matter. And at the other level, looking at the human side of the app experience and saying, ‘how do I engage, re-engage, re-target the user?’

Mobile Growth: Awesome. What do you think – where should app developers focus more or spend more?

Peggy: They always wanna spend more – I mean, some app developers, it might be just actually getting together a team for UA, would be helpful. A lot of small-mid sizes, you know, app companies don’t have that, so I would say given the importance of data in your UA, definitely you know, if you can’t afford a team, at least bring your data scientists and your marketers together.

Mobile Growth: Now, do you think – what would you suggest as far as like a growth cycle goes, as far as, say like startups, versus more established businesses, at what point do you think app marketers should start bringing people on board?

Peggy: I’ve been talking with people about that, because it’s interesting that it’s in the app companies, because of the nature of an app, right? You start with an idea, you start with a dream, you’re not really thinking about financials, finances, funding growth, bringing in a CFO, very, very few games companies, app companies, really you know have a financial director there. Maybe they have some guy with spreadsheets and that’s what qualifies for that. So, you know, where do they have to put more effort, I think, is when you see that your app is definitely starting to be profitable, and you wanna dial up everything and you wanna say, ‘Okay, look, we have something here, we wanna double down, we wanna do it right,’ then you want to just not be spending money to make money, you wanna be having a business.

Mobile Growth: What are some of the app categories where you see the most action in terms of growth, and what do you think that is?

Peggy: Well, I could be sarcastic and say we’re seeing more growth because they’re getting it right this time, but I didn’t say that. I’ll take the other spin on it and say that where I’m seeing a lot of activity is, for example, the apps that weren’t that well done before, so financial services, the next level of commerce, so understanding that commerce is not just removing the friction from sort of on-app, in-store type of engagements, but rather really making it into sort of like social commerce and understanding that, contextual commerce. So, it’s actually, and I looked at this, so it’s not just me, it’s also held up by some app numbers and elsewhere, but where the real growth is – is in these absolutely must-have apps that we were reaching for before, ’cause we needed them on our phone and they weren’t doing so well, so this time around, they’re a lot better, and that’s where I see the growth.

Mobile Growth: Do you think they’re a lot better because of the UIUX, and that they’ve figured it out, or do you think ’cause people are just – they just kind of need it and are more familiar with getting to using apps on their phones so they’re more open to just getting different types of apps, as opposed to just games these days?

Peggy: A little bit – a little bit of both. I’ll give you that, Louis, because of course, if we’re not using the apps and with some sense, um, so you know, we all know that we spend more time on our mobile apps and on the mobile web and we have all of these consumer stats that tell us everything about human behavior and app user behavior, but at the other end of the scale, I have to think it’s because they understood that the whole idea of an app is to remove friction and to streamline something, so the whole idea of a singing, dancing, all singing, all dancing app that does everything, which was sort of a little bit of mark of honor before, look how – how much stuff we can stuff into our app, now it’s like, no, it’s actually a one point solution, we have to sort of offload things off of the app.

Peggy: We have to make it simple, we have to make it straightforward, and probably also come to think of it, you’ve got me thinking now – come to think of it, I would also imagine that another reason is because we’ve gotten a lot better in the onboarding process that starts right in the app store with the app store assets and the whole app store presence, so ASO, and it’s the whole idea of you can use our apps to do this, and you need to spell it out very simply there, so ultimately, the apps are simpler, and our need for them is greater.

Mobile Growth: All right, now you’ve got me thinkin’ – you notice how a lot of apps, instead of going through and making someone fill out a whole form, which people just don’t wanna do on their phones, they have the Facebook login, or they allow Linkedin login, ’cause obviously we’ve seen different social networks fall by the wayside, although those look very strong right now, do you think that that’s a viable option for people to quicken the onboarding process, or do you think that they should be on the lookout for alternative sign in methods?

Peggy: I think that it’s still in the realm of social at this point, I mean it’s very strong, it’s where we get exposure to apps, it’s where we get our news, it’s where we get everything, so we are living in that – in that space, so for the moment, yes, I would say, however, there are some geographies and there are some sort of niche markets where other ways are emerging for the simple reason that you just want to sort of own the user journey from beginning to end, and that also allows you to engage more effectively in the end.

Mobile Growth: Everyone’s looking for the Holy Grail, so help ’em out, where do you feel that there are some untapped or uncontested markets out there?

Peggy: Now you’ve gotten to something I’m really excited about, because I’ve been watching the app economy, and I’ve been thinking about the whole idea of a duopoly, not just in the advertising, ’cause we’ve seen a lot about, you know, Facebook, Google, they dominate, did it have to be that way? So take that out of the equation, look at the distribution, you know, is it really two app stores, and as we’re seeing the numbers increase across alternative app stores, that we need to take seriously, that’s where I see untapped opportunity, because I’m a great fan of Blue Ocean strategy, so for me, it’s the blue oceans where not everybody is, where the opportunity very well could be, and you certainly won’t knock yourself out competing there.

Peggy: So, you know, Amazon Appstore – right? Amazon.com. Need I say more? It has – has a reach of two hundred countries, a growth of – I have it here, in fact, six hundred thousand plus apps as of April, 2016. Double the year before. Apptoid, Opera, Mobile Store, so I’m excited about the alternative app economy, granted, it’s for Android, and granted, it’s not the all-singing, all-dancing duopoly where you’re starring with your app, but you have to think about it: If there’s less competition there, then maybe you have a better chance of reaching your audience and – and actually moving the needle on your own app.

Mobile Growth: Yeah, and iOS developers: ‘whomp, whomp, sorry!’ Actually, here’s a – I’ll just throw this one out at you: Because, when Steve Jobs was around, obviously Apple was all about Apple 100% and they, you know, for their computers, they tried to do that kinda offshoot, but it didn’t work out, they brought it all back in-house where you had to buy Apple, and it’s kinda the same thing with their apps, for the app stores, do you think that maybe, in the future, they might see these alternative app stores getting a lot of traction and allow the iOS apps to go into alternate app stores, or do you think they’re just not that type of company?

Peggy: I can’t read Apple, because I’ve been wrong a couple of times, because there are things that you would just think are logical, and it doesn’t happen, so I mean, when – when markets are mature, and they’re saturated, i.e., what we have right now in North America, and certainly increasingly in Europe, where I’m based, is the situation where, you know, it should be onwards and upwards, so you know, got that, been there, done that, move on, look for new opportunities, look for new growth. At the very least, investors will always push you to – to new growth, so I don’t know how it’s going to be, but it’s a little bit like the automotive industry, you know, we have Portia and it’s fine, and it’s expensive, and it’s niche, and that’s sort of the way Apple has always been seen inside like, you know, in the – in the fragmented internet, so within the fragmented app store economy, but also with the devices, so maybe they stick to where they are, but certainly, if you’re – if you’re serious about growth and you’re aware of what you need to do in a mature, saturated market, then I really don’t see any alternative.

Mobile Growth: Without getting into like exact data points, if you don’t have ’em right in front of you, how much would you say that these alternative app stores are growing, would you say like they’re growing at a fast-pace right now, or is it something where they can actually be a real, viable option for major downloads?

Peggy: This is a real, viable option for major downloads. I’ve been looking at a company in stealth mode, at the moment, but hey, what the heck? Called “App Scatter,” that makes it possible for developers to basically take an app, and say, ‘Okay, I wanna go into these stores,’ you know, pick twenty, and then they sort of streamline that for you, making it possible, taking care of your assets, taking care of the registration these app stores – all the red tape, all of that, I won’t go into that, but the point is, that they’re already distributing to three hundred stores, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And there are stores that are just for specific types of apps, you know, like children’s apps and things like that, just as we see, in real world retail, you know, we have hypermarkets, we have supermarkets, we have boutiques. I think that app developers, app companies, need to look at it on a bigger picture level, and say, what kind of app do we have? Where do we wanna be? Where is that audience? And then go there.

Mobile Growth: I think that’s a great way to frame it, it’s kinda like some of these mom and pop shops, and you might get a better value outta those.

Peggy: Yeah! Absolutely. I mean, you know, there – there are things we want, we have Amazon, and we have Etsy. We want things that are handmade, we want things that are custom made, but we also want the mass market and cheap. It’s sort of really at the end of the day, because of what an app is, it’s about the user – so the user will get the app, where they want it. If they wanna get – if they wanna discover your app through WeChat, that’s what they’re going to do. If they want to discover your app through an alternative app store, why not just be there? What harm does it do?

Mobile Growth: That’s true, then, if you have a certain niche app, then they’ll be along with other apps in that niche, and then the user who are really into that, you can have a way higher quality user that way, who will download your app.

Peggy: So, here, you got me thinking again. So let’s get back to our long-tail, remember? So, the long-tail is all about the idea that, you know, there’s an audience for everything, rather than there’s an app for that, there’s an audience for that, right? So, it can be, however, ’cause I have a lot of eclectic interests, and I’m sure you do, too, Louis – you know, you have certain interests that, it’s a tribe, and it doesn’t need to be a big audience, it’s just a super loyal audience. Don’t you wanna be in front of that audience, because they won’t just download you and delete you, they will download you and more likely love you, because you’re there, where they are, so for me, it’s – it just makes no sense, why not do it? It costs very little, it’s not a lot of effort, and you’re picking up that low-hanging fruit along the way.

Mobile Growth: Absolutely, you’d rather have a handful of high-quality evangelists than a group of me.

Peggy: Yeah, exactly.

Mobile Growth: Okay, so, moving on… How should app developers prepare to grasp some of these opportunities that you highlighted in a couple of previous answers?

Peggy: Okay, well, for the – for the distribution, I mentioned one company in stealth mode, App Scatter, of course, look at the mobile operators, don’t forget them, either, right? Mobile operators are also finding ways to put your app in front of their audience, I’ve looked at example for Verizon in the US doing that really well, operators outside the US as well, you know, look at those different alternative routes and figure out how you’re going to sort of systematically divide and conquer, so that’s one side of it.

Peggy: The other trend about the data and the engagement and all the rest of it, there, I think, it’s really about thinking beyond the – the basics. You know? What good is it – if you have a demographic, and I have demographic, how am I going to compete and win against you, Louis? I can’t, right? If I have psychographic, or other data, or other kinds of data sets, then I have one up on you. So the point here is fighting smarter with your data, by having, basically, better data. Deeper data. More granular data.

Mobile Growth: Okay, well, speaking about data, what types of data do you think are gonna be most helpful to app marketers?

Peggy: Well, as we move more and more into the whole idea that it’s all about the user, which is nothing new, by the way, but we – we treat it that way because now we have the data to do that, context is going to be something similar to table stakes. Already, people like Forester talk about the mobile moments, you know, that one moment when you reach for your mobile phone to do something, in that context, in that need state, et cetera. So that’s – that’s going to be the way you also interact with your apps and not just make purchases, and so with that as background, what we’re going to need to do is, it’s going to be about that granular data, and also another opportunity I didn’t mention, but it’ll only be for app developers with large audiences, unfortunately, but also turn it around and there are ways to unlock your first party data as app developers, and I see companies doing that.

Peggy: You know, the likes of Shazam and others, to be more effective in your own targeting, so I guess it’s – how do you prepare? Go deeper in your targeting by looking for deeper data.

Mobile Growth: That’s awesome. All right, I wanna end on kind of like a question about programmatic, as still being a viable option or still being erased to the bottom for the lowest placed click as opposed to quality of traffic, ’cause the thing that we’ve seen here is a lot of people losing a lot of money in programmatic, because it’s very similar to what the online website world did with ad words, you could buy a whole bunch of keywords, but if you’re not really optimizing and doing long tail and everything like that, then you’re gonna lose a lot of money, and I see a lot of people losing a lot of money in programmatic and it seems to be erased to the bottom for the lowest paid click, but there are ways to get quality of traffic. So, do you think that programmatic is still a viable option, or there are better ways to do your UA?

Peggy: I think it’s a viable option, I just think it’s the – the responsibility of the app company to do more than treating it as if it was something like ad words. I mean, there are ways to check and make certain about the data quality. There are companies and players – I’m not gonna plug any vendors here or any companies, I’m not gonna do that, but I look at their policies on things like data transparency, data quality, of course, validating data, I’m not gonna go there, we haven’t cracked the code on that one yet, but you have companies that are making an effort to do that, and if you’re working with those types of companies or if you’re looking at like open marketplaces and marketplaces for data where you bring your data, if you have it, and then the other party bring it, and then you mash it up in some private way and have some amazing second-party data, why not? But it takes an effort, that’s the point, this is something you don’t set it and forget it, you pay as much attention to the data and programmatic as you would with any other aspect of your business.

Mobile Growth: Yeah, I think that’s what a lot of people are missing is, people just think about set and forget it attitude, these things, we have the same issues in mobile that we saw back in the internet world, back in the bubble burst of 2000, is a lot of people – a lot of mobile companies learning how to actually be a company, and understanding how not to waste all that VC money.

Peggy: And also not just wasting the money, but really do your homework about the companies you’re doing business with. I mean, it’s so attractive to say, ‘I can get how many installs, what are you offering me?’ I guess it’s that old thing, you know, if it sounds too good to believe, it probably isn’t true, so it’s the same idea and the same mindset here.

Mobile Growth: Awesome. So,let us leave this interview with, let’s throw out a couple of things that you might think are coming down the pipe that everyone should be aware of as far as trends in mobile growth, you don’t have to give me a lot, just think of, what are some of the major things you think that app marketers should be aware of in the next coming months?

Peggy: I would say, what I’m hearing a lot about is understanding all the different channels, all the different media that lead to that acquired user, and it’s not just last click attribution, it’s really coming to terms with the fact that it’s a long, long path, and trying to understand, and we haven’t figured this one out, Louis, so I’m not saying it’s possible, but it’s focusing some effort on trying to figure that out, because that’s gonna be very important, that’s gonna help you figure out the attribution, the way it really is, so which channels are really giving you what you need, and which mash-up of channels together are giving you a quality user? They see something somewhere, but then something else happens somewhere else, you have to understand that flow, so I would say that’s sort of for me, number one, is getting our head around that, because up until this point, it’s been less click, but it’s not going to be any more.

Peggy: And I guess another thing is just basically paying attention to that deeper data. I’m excited when I hear people talk about how they’re looking at user psychology or psychographics, just move beyond the demographics and the location, because guess what? Everyone has that. So, think about trying to be more personal and think about personas in what you’re doing in marketing and targeting.

Mobile Growth: Awesome! Well, thank you very much for your time, and your expertise, Peggy. And you can catch Peggy, she curates our weekly mobile growth newsletter, so thank you very much for doing that, it’s really great stuff that everyone should subscribe to on our website!

Peggy: Absolutely! Shameless plug here, but it is great stuff, I mean, I read it myself, so I share what I think is interesting.

Mobile Growth: Awesome, and thank you very much, Peggy!

Peggy: You’re welcome, Louis!