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Our special guest this week is Sean Casto from PreApps, a leading app marketing agency. We discuss what it takes to have your young app grow and gain the traction that you’re looking for and validating app ideas. Sean also talks about the pros and cons of marketing an app during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about PreApps here: https://www.preapps.com/

VO: Get ready for your semi-regular dose of random ideas from the guys at Codeelation. We like to talk about big ideas companies that are winning, and those that aren't along with current events in our crazy world of software startups. So come along with Erick and Josh, who challenge you to think big, start small and turn your ideas into something on this episode of, from idea to done.

Josh: Hey everyone, I'm Josh

Erick: And I'm Erick. And this week we have a special guest on the show. We have Sean Casto and Sean, do you want to just kind of give us a quick intro about yourself and your business?

Sean Casto: Absolutely um, so I'm Sean, Casto the founder and CEO of preamps. Uh, we are the number one app marketing agency. I've been around for a little over eight years now. Uh, we work with startups to billion dollar apps to be able to help achieve their goals. And to date, we've worked with over 3000 apps over the past eight years now reach over half a billion and down. So it's been quite a journey.

Josh: Wow. That's pretty impressive. And so the apps that come into interiors world don't have an audience yet.

Sean Casto: Oh, of course you will. Absolutely. So, you know, in terms of the people and type of apps that we work with, it's all across the board, you know, from startups to existing billion dollar apps. And so, you know, our sweet spot has definitely been more on the early stages of apps, kinda fun, fun, um, piece of it all because, you know, it's very easy to go from 100,000 downloads to a million downloads, a hundred thousand downloads is kind of that tipping point. So once you want to know what works, it's very easy to be able to scale and grow the difficult part. And the exciting part is actually in the early stages, you know, going from zero to 100,000 downloads, and that's definitely our, our sweet spot. And so a majority of our clients actually come to us even prior to their official launch, you know, 2, 3, 4, 6 months prior to their launch to be able to help them with those initiatives and be able to make sure that their app is launched successfully and reaching the top of the search results and getting featured by apple and just being able to scale and grow from there.

Josh: Cool. So you, you work with, um, apps as they're still moving through their development phases.

Sean Casto: Exactly, exactly. Because, uh, when it comes to marketing, uh, you know, and that needs to be your marketing strategy needs to be created far, far, far before you're ready to actually launch. And so that's where, you know, we come into play to be able to be a full service marketing agency, to be able to craft all the marketing initiatives needed and strategy to be able to execute and reach those objectives.

Josh: Awesome. Would you say that you've got a kind of overarching strategy outcomes in, um, that you like to deploy or does it depend on the industry or the vertical that are going after it does?

Sean Casto: It definitely depends on, um, the, uh, category, the app is going to be as well as, you know, iOS versus Android and also which country that they're targeting. But, uh, that being said, you know, over the past eight years, we have developed a program called skyrocket downloads program, uh, that, uh, you leverage as a number of different strategies, uh, about a dozen different initiatives to be working all at the same time, uh, to be able to maximize results and to be able to reach those objectives from early stage standpoint. And so, you know, in our skyrocket downloads program, this includes all the different initiatives needed to be able to, you know, reach those initial goals in today's market. It's not, there's not one strategy that's going to be able to, you know, reach the goals that you're looking to achieve. It's not just abstract feminization, it's not just Facebook ads. It's a number of different initiatives that need to work together at the same time to be able to really cut through the noise and, um, and reach the top of the search results and getting that type of traction that most are looking for.

Erick: Perfect. And so how important is it to validate your idea before you start an app build?

Sean Casto: Oh, it's incredibly important. Um, you know, user testing, beta testing is all incredibly important. Um, being able to understand the wants and needs of your target audience and to be able to adapt and evolve from there. Um, that being said, you know, it's important to be able to have an MVP it's in suborned to be able to get an app out there it's the marketplace as quickly as possible. So you can actually get, uh, you know, real user testing, as opposed to just general, um, thoughts and ideas from people in terms of your overall concept of Iraq. Uh, we get pitched every single day with app ideas, um, and there's really no such thing as a, a million dollar app idea. Uh, it's all comes down to a million dollar app execution and, uh, it's something that we always emphasize with people that we speak with.

Sean Casto: And then another big factor that a lot of people get a little too over involved with is just the idea itself. And, um, you know, we get pitched, you know, all different types of, of, uh, app ideas, but mostly it's all about creating a better product. Uh, in many cases they tell us like, Hey, we're working on creating a better Tinder or a better social network like Snapchat, or maybe they're working on a better ride sharing app like Uber, but contrary to what most believe creating a better product is the easy part. Uh, you see what most don't understand is that it's not about creating a better product. It's about creating a better business. And, uh, it comes down to, you know, marketing innovation in those components, not just, Hey, connect, create a pretty design that has a, uh, one additional feature than, than Tinder or on all those different components, because it really understands when it comes down to understanding the overall business metrics, uh, up at all.

Josh: Absolutely. We've, uh, you know, us being a software development, you don't have company, we look at a lot of stuff as technologists and stay well, it shouldn't be too hard to build. And so we go build it in the search of a better mouse trap and it turns out nobody actually cares about the thing. Exactly. No, well, this world we're kind of going through right now. The COVID-19 is, it has definitely changed how we're seeing business coming through the door. What are you seeing in terms of trying to, you know, market, um, your customers apps as we're in this, you know, social distancing world, um, are things increasing for you? Are people kind of pulling back just what's kind of the state of the world as you're seeing it?

Sean Casto: Yeah, I mean, when it comes to marketing now, in terms of the app business in general, uh, there's really no better time than now to be in the app industry. There more downloads, more users, more engagement than any other time in history. People are really connected and, um, they're just overly consumed with their, their, their phone than ever before. And, and so there's more downloads, more engagement than, than any other time in history. And so when it comes to marketing and getting an app out there now is the time. But at the, the flip side, um, you know, marketing is also very difficult because a lot of people are spending more, there's more Facebook ads going on than ever before at the same time. And so, although the opportunity is there, you know, when I say opportunity, I mean, there's new million dollar apps created every single week and still new billion dollar apps launch every single month. But the flip side, there's just more competition and more, um, marketing issues involved with that.

Josh: Yeah. I wish sometimes I could take the knowledge I have now in 2020 and go back 20 years to the year 2000 and, uh, disrupt things. It feels like it's never easier to be able to create technology than it is today. Exactly.

Sean Casto: No, that's absolutely right. You know, it it's, I mean, you can create an app in a matter of days and weeks. So it previously took, you know, months and years. And so, you know, developing the app is to some degree, and I know you guys were in the development phase, but to some degree is the easy part, right? Because you can create the product, but just by creating a product doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be successful. And so that's where, you know, business fundamentals come into play. And that I feel like most apps get lost. I mean, statistically 95% of apps fail in the first year. And, uh, and that's what, you know, our agency is seeking to, to solve. But when it comes to creating a successful app business, there are really only two fundamental steps you don't really know to over-complicate it just to, um, and those two really consists of number one, attracting high quality, high value customers at an affordable cost and number two, retaining, nurturing, and growing the value of those customers. And so, so many people get lost in, in features and functionality and, and, um, you know, ideas, but they get never really go back to the fundamentals, which is how do I attract quality, high value customers and affordable cost. And then how do I nurture, retain and grow the value of those customers over time?

Josh: What I'm hearing kind of under the hood there is that you need a, you need a well-defined target market and to be able to solve a problem for them.

Sean Casto: Exactly. And not just solve a problem, but also be able to understand how do I re-engage with them, because it's great to get, you know, a million downloads. And we have clients that come to us and they're like, I want a million downloads, you know, next month. And we can do that through various different channels, but what good is getting a million downloads if only a small percentage are actually going to use it once. And then none of those people don't actually come back to the app ever again, and where they don't engage to become a subscriber or they don't, you know, purchase that in that purchase or whatever that looks like. And so just getting users and downloads is just the high level first step, but it just comes down to how do you retain nurturing where the value of those customers over time? So they don't just come once or twice, but multiple times over the, the weeks and months.

Josh: Yeah. I mean, that level of June's got to get really expensive really quick if you're not focusing on your, your downstream metrics, so.

Sean Casto: Exactly

Erick: We're launching an app actually later this year kind of, you know, going over validating ideas. And so in this, the current state of the world, do you have any marketing advice for us or even other businesses kind of going forward through this COVID-19 and going forward in 2020?

Sean Casto: Yeah. And when it comes to marketing, you mean?

Erick: Yeah

Sean Casto: Yeah absolutely. I mean, so when it comes to marketing, like I mentioned before, there isn't a one size fits all, or one magic strategy or one magic channel. That's just going to be able to help you reach those goals. You've got to kind of go back to the fundamentals and things have evolved within the fundamentals. What I mean by that is you're going to have to have to have that omnipresence. Now you have to have multiple different strategies working for you at a given time. Uh, once you know, you're ready to launch and scale. And so for example, there are certain things that are now required, uh, when getting an app out there, uh, things, for example, as advanced abstract mutation, that's a requirement now, uh, video marketing, having the right videos per platform is essential. Now, apple prioritizes apps with the video, um, having, uh, market validation and brand recognition through press and media outlets upon launch has become a standard now. And then obviously being able to understand what your lifetime value is, how much you can monetize from each new user, and then understanding how much you can spend via paid advertisements. Let's say Facebook ads or apple search ads to be able to scale and still saying still stay profitable. Um, during that process,

Erick: That's awesome. I honestly, I feel like I could pick your brain on stuff all day and I just want your answers to be longer, but, uh, we'll just of wrap things up a little bit. Is there anything that you'd like to promote yourself? I mean, you, like I said, these answers have been awesome and, and I really appreciate the time that you took to be on our show, but is there something that you'd like to promote?

Sean Casto: Uh, I mean just if, if any of the listeners listening today, uh, you know, like what we talked about and want to go deeper, I encourage you to subscribe to our podcast, which is the app marketing secrets podcast available on iTunes, Google play, um, where we'll have content weekly basis just like this, um, that kind of goes into more depth of our systems and processes. And it goes in depth of our, uh, 10 X revenue model or viral app blueprints, uh, things like that. And then if you're in a position where you would like us to help you actually market your app directly, um, and have the resources to be able to do that. So I encourage you to go to our company website, which is preapps.com, P R E a P P s.com. And you can schedule a free app strategy call with one of our specialists that have worked with billion dollar apps to be able to connect and see how it can help.

Erick: Oh, that's awesome. Josh, did you have anything else? You are any other,

Josh: I just want to say thank you very much for taking the time today to talk with Eric and myself and, uh, stay six feet apart. I guess I will. Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure.

Next Episode

Our Favorite Apps for Remote Working

About the Show

Erick and Josh talk about big ideas, companies that are winning and those that aren’t, and current events in the crazy world of software startups.

Josh Christy


Erick Roder

Director of People
and Nerd Culture

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