App Promotion Summit: SoundCloud on app store success

This post is part of our series of articles from the App Promotion Summit 2013, taking a closer look at the event’s speakers and attendees. Take a look at our round-up of mobyaffiliates coverage from the event.
During this month’s App Promotion Summit we managed to grab ten minutes with SoundCloud‘s mobile product marketing manager Andy Carvell, to find out how a rapidly growing brand such as SoundCloud approaches app promotion and mobile marketing. Read on for the full Q&A.

App Promotion Summit 2013: SoundCloud Q&A

andy_pressphoto_2_1Have there been any ideas at APS that really struck you so far?
I thought the quality of the talks today in general has been very high. But for me what was most informative and insightful was the first talk, which was all about App Store Optimisation – optimising for inbound traffic as opposed to paid marketing. I think quite often people conflate mobile marketing with spending money on advertising, like buying installs. But I think marketing for mobile is a lot broader than that. It encompasses a lot of other stuff.
ASO sounds a bit like a wild west right now. Are you working on ASO at SoundCloud and are you worried about investing in ASO, when it may get overhauled in such a short period?
ASO is definitely something I am currently working on. We can do a better job with our app store presence and a better job boosting conversions using ASO. Our app store presence is our key window to the world. It’s where we display our product. If you have a shop on the high street, things will change – that’s just part of merchandising. Of course, ASO is a much more immature science and there’s a lot of experimentation required just to see what works. Google and Apple could change their algorithms at any time, but you just have to try again, that’s the nature of the space you’re working in. It’s all part of the fun of continuously learning.

“ASO is an immature science and there’s a lot of experimentation required just to see what works.” – Andy Carvell, mobile marketing manager, SoundCloud

Is SoundCloud doing anything with performance ads?
We’re not doing any performance advertising right now and we’re pretty happy with the level of organic growth that we’re seeing. Of course it could always be higher and probably in the future we will be layering  performance channels on top of that. I think there is still work we can do both in terms of organic and referral traffic. We do cross promotion from our website to our mobile apps. For instance, we have app store badges on track pages, profile pages and the main page. So we’re doing a lot to cross promote.
And there’s a difference in terms of user-engagement from cross promotion?
Yeah we see our cross platform users are the most engaged. If they already know SoundCloud and if they already use SoundCloud on the web then they already understand exactly what SoundCloud is all about and how to use the app inherently. I think we still have some work to do in onboarding users who discover us organically – via an app store feature – but don’t know quite what to expect. We have more of a challenge there in terms of explaining what SoundCloud is all about and helping them have a great new user experience. So a lot of our efforts in development right now are to enhance that ‘new user’ experience.
Do you guys have a big relationship with Apple and Google?
Yeah and I would say probably the most important part of my role is to work closely with Google and Apple. We work to build that relationship and keep them excited about what we have coming up. We also keep in regular communication with those guys about roadmaps, release plans and marketing plans and really to treat them as partners. Because they are partners – they are our key distribution platform.
Any barriers to that relationship, or any difficulties working with them?
It’s been great actually. When I came into the job, SoundCloud was already fairly established. So it’s easier to get talking to Apple or Google when you are a bigger brand that’s popular. They also like us and people at Apple and Google use our app too. So it’s been generally a positive experience. They’ve given us time and energy and advised us on best practice, and let us know when occasional co-marketing opportunities come up.
Any examples?
So, for example, for the five year anniversary of the App Store Apple tweeted a marketing message about SoundCloud. They were looking for interesting stories or statistics about iOS apps. So we had a chat and told them there’s been 150 million users who have accessed SoundCloud through their iOS devices – including apps and the mobile site. So that was a nice big number. I don’t think they do that just for us. They’re very open to talking to all developers who are interested in having that conversation.
What’s SoundCloud got coming up in terms of mobile?
In the shorter term we’re definitely focused on making that new user experience as exciting as possible and focusing on retaining users for the first one, three and seven days while they’re new to the app. Broadly speaking, there’s going to be some exciting stuff coming up. We’re always looking at new platforms. But nothing to announce right now.

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