Tools for iPhone Campaigns

This week I really, really appreciated some of the tools we developed in the last 2 month to support our iPhone apps. These server-side tools helped me so much with this week’s mission:
This Week’s Mission:
The bushfires in Victoria / Australia made me think what we could do to help. We decided to donate all the money made with the sales of our iPhone apps to charity.
This was a great non-commercial driver to convince people to buy our apps. I have to say I am much more motivated to use marketing tactics when it is for a good cause.
What I wanted
We have in average 500 daily users using our paid app GeoUpdater for iPhone and 1000 daily users using our free app Firepin Trip Tracker. It would be great to tell all these users about our mission.
Here are some key functions I used for marketing of the iPhone app
  1. Sending push messages to users via our paid apps to let them know that they can donate money to the red cross in Australia.
  2. Sending messages to user via our free apps to ask them to buy our paid app.
  3. Realtime tracking of how many people have actually bought the app so I can donate the right amount every night.
  4. Realtime tracking of how many people are actually using the app.
How can I get what I want?
Unfortunately, Apple does not provide realtime download data or even usage analytics, not to mention push messages. The trend reports are 10 hrs delayed. Not very useful for a short-term campaign.
Fortunately, jTribe did build a server-side infrastructure that we already use for all our iPhone and Android apps. These services can send information from the apps to a central server and vice versa. All these tools and services will soon be available to other iPhone, Android and S60 developers via ShoutMob
So, how did the Campaign go?
Actually, the campaign is still going and it is going OK.  So far we raised around $400 in 4 days from one app.
The Tools I used
They key tool was our push message tool.
The Firepin and GeoUpdater iPhone apps display a message to the users each time they are using the app. The message comes directly from our server and is displayed in a very subtle and non-intrusive manner. The push message mechanism gives us all analytical information about number of unique users and usage. This is similar to what the ad networks like admob are doing but with the difference that we are in complete control of what gets displayed to the users.
The push messages can be controlled from a web page and each app can have a different message. Actually, we can send different messages based on device type, app version or language.
So I have configured a message for the Firepin app (our free GPS tracker) to tell users about our campaign and our other iPhone app (Latitude) that raises money for charity.
Then I configured a message for Latitude (paid app that raises money) to tell people that they can donate money at the red cross website.
I can now check in realtime how the campaign is going. Let me do it right now… nice, just raised another $10 since I started writing this blog.
Other Thing to consider in a Mini-Campaign
  1. I updated the text in the AppStore to let “new” buyers know that we will donate the money.
  2. I updated the picture with a slogan that about our mission. Honestly, I think that did not attract more people. I even think it might have turned some people off. Not sure whether I would do that again.
  3. I twittered and blogged about it
So, did it work?
Yes, yes, yes. We did make it to #4 of paid apps in the Navigation category in Australia and #16 in US. I cannot describe how happy I am to have the shoutmob tools available to use. Currently, the shoutmob tools are still in private beta (actually, we use it only internally at jTribe) but we work hard to make them available to the public soon.