Updated: Dec 5, 2018
Every app is dreading the day that Facebook becomes too expensive, or when Google makes one of their products obsolete.
To prepare for this uncertain future, mobile marketers are constantly testing new channels. They put their efforts into other social media channels, affiliate marketing, and even offline advertising for more breathing space.
A few apps have gone beyond that and discovered the scalability of content marketing.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing refers to driving growth through a blog. Traditionally, this is done through organic means, such as SEO, or social sharing. In the past few years, blogs have proven to be a great tool for paid advertising as well. In fact, the latter can effectively drive conversions for apps, when used in the right way.
Before going into that, I’d like to introduce you to two more protagonists in this story, the native advertising platforms Outbrain and Taboola. Around a decade ago, the founders of these companies caught on that online newspapers were struggling to monetize, and didn’t want to rely on selling ad space to Google. They offered these brands a better alternative — to sell ad space to other publishers. This led to the birth of the “From around the web” section that appears at the end of every article on most websites.
Like every novel thing, this new type of advertising has been met with skepticism. From my experience, based on the power of this platform, this skepticism will disappear with time. Both Outbrain and Taboola are actively improving the quality of their inventory to fulfil their mission — to allow consumers to discover valuable content.
Ed Wood, previously the content marketing wizard at Babbel, was the first one to make native advertising work for apps.
Content vs. ads
Everyone runs mobile app install ads. What if you advertised an article instead and informed the reader about the product before driving them to the app store?
This might seem counterintuitive, why would you create an extra funnel where you can lose people?
This is where the magic happens: people are a lot more likely to click on an article than an ad. And once they’ve read a few hundred words about your app, they’re more willing to try it out, renew their subscription, and spread the word.
How do you sell an app through content?
The more abstract your app is, the more you can benefit from content marketing.
Take Blinkist for example. We’re a reading app that condenses key insights from nonfiction books into quick reads and listens. Most people wouldn’t even know such a product exists, let alone understand why we built it. With Facebook, we get to explain ourselves in two sentences. With content marketing, we get to share our mission in detail — we offer quick insights from books, so people can learn faster and become better versions of themselves.
We use book lists, success stories, use cases and even direct-selling content as our “ads”. As a content company, we have a lot of material to use.
Content marketing is also important to us from a branding perspective. For example, our paid articles live on our magazine, which has great content on self-improvement. Once we drive people there through Outbrain and Taboola, they also stick around and explore the rest of our magazine.
In the end, we succeed in branding Blinkist as more than just a reading app, but a powerful tool for anyone who wants to improve themselves.
Getting the content right
Recently, a lot of apps are testing content marketing. A few succeed, but most fail. This all comes down to getting the content right.
With app install ads, you only need to say a few words about your app. The banner image, carousels and videos do most of the heavy lifting. In content marketing, you have to write an article that people are interested in, that has a strong connection to your product, and explains its value proposition.
Most apps use the wrong articles, which either do not have a strong connection to their product, or aren’t appealing to the general public.
In addition, unlike social media channels, Outbrain and Taboola doesn’t allow you to target beyond device and country. This limitation is actually a blessing in disguise, as it forces you to create content that attracts the right people.
If you want to make content marketing work for your app, spend time on getting the content right before launching the first campaign.