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How to Optimize Your Video App

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Just because you've built a great video app doesn't mean that people will be able to find it. From the iTunes App Store to Google Play to Roku, all app stores have their own best practices for discovery, but here are some pointers from Neulion and UFC about what has brought them success.

Cross-Platform Promotion

"Cross platform promotion should always be there so the user knows where to consume your content and what applications are available," said Chris Wagner, executive vice president, marketplace strategy, Neulion. "In your marketing promotions you should be able to deep link into the app so someone can go and download the app and go to the exact location you want to send them to."

If your potential customers don't already have your app installed, they're brought to the app store first. Deep linking also provides publishers with possibility of attribution so you can identify where your customer is coming from.

"There are multiple points or paths to finding our app," says Edward Muncey, UFC senior vice president of technology and a Neulion customer. "Our corporate website UFC.com is one of the primary drivers. Our social media team does a great job. As we get closer to the event they are always pushing the application. We also use email campaigns and paid marketing." As a result, UFC has had approximately 2.8 million downloads over the last 12 months. What is the best thing Muncey has found to drive traffic?

Event-Driven Downloads

UFC sees large app adoption when they have a major event. "We see our highest inflow of new users who download the app for the first time for our tentpole events," says Muncey. These tentpole events are the 13 pay-per-view fights UFC holds each year. UFC also has a number of other events like the 40+ UFC fight nights and 120 live non-UFC events, exclusive content found only in the app.

UFC follows the best practices the app stores recommend for submissions, including trying to keep their images and description updated often, sometimes more than once a week. They are also looking at using 15-30 second-long video clips, which is a new option in some of the app stores, instead of static screen images, to highlight new features.

UFC had previously highlighted multiple events in its app descriptions, but found through testing that that less detail was better. UFC also includes a FAQ so users can be aware of the most common questions that come up; most common are questions about black-out times and subscription terms.

Ratings Management

So, while they are doing everything they should to get noticed, UFC's app still had viewers in the Apple store who gave the app a low rating. In a report on how customers buy from Tune, a company that develops mobile marketing tools, the description is identified as the most important piece of information for customers, followed closely behind by buyers preferring apps with high ratings.

UFC customers in the Android store showed more than 25,300 reviews, with an average of 4 stars, while  the Apple store showed 743 ratings at 2.5 stars (the iOS app store doesn't indicate the total number of downloads). Regardless of which store you are working with, bad reviews can stay around to haunt an app, even one that has had millions of downloads.

The solutions for UFC could be working with a service from a company like Apptentive that promises strategic guidance for app owners to build two-way communication to help companies address bad reviews and low ratings. On the other side of the spectrum, if the stores love you, then you become the favorite child. "If Google and Apple think you have a great app, they actively will promote it on your behalf and that has a big impact on downloads. They want to promote apps that really showcase their stores," says Wagner. "Even if you're a small company building your first app you can follow their best practices and be selected."

In-App Purchasing

Make it as easy as possible for customers to give you money. "We now are seeing people who buy on their mobile device with the full intention of watching on a larger screen. The in-app purchasing has been a fantastic conversion tool," says Muncey. "If you go and click purchase, assuming you have your iTunes account set up, a menu will pop up and you select the price point and you're essentially done. It's very easy," says Edward. "If people go to our website and they don't have an account with us, they have to input their credit card info. It's a bit more fluid buying thru [the] app."

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