Appiness.io blog

02 Jul 2014
by Admin

4 Marketing Mistakes That App Developers Make and How to Avoid Them

The day has finally come. You have been working on a brand new mobile application that is designed to fulfill a certain need for mobile users. The final touches have been added, and the product has been completed, it’s ready to be sent out into the world.

Once an application has been approved and listed in the marketplace, surely thousands of people will find it, buy it, and send a wave of cash to your doorstep, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. You accomplished one milestone by creating the application but now you must learn how to market the application to get the ball rolling. There are a few rare cases where an application had the ability to go viral on the marketplace. But in most cases, applications need to be advertised. Marketing campaigns need to be created which are dedicated to this one specific application.

A lot of app developers are blinded by the idea that making money developing applications is a simple process. They’re in a hurry to publish the application because they expect that as soon as the application is published they’ll be rich. The hurried mindset often distracts them from considering vital steps such as marketing. It’s not enough to create an amazing application. You’ll have to spread the word about the new application as best as possible to encourage people to buy the application. The same rules apply for any new service or product.

Unfortunately, app developers make quite a few mistakes when it comes to marketing. We’ll discuss some of these mistakes (so you’ll know what to avoid) and provide more effective solutions.

Common APP Marketing Mistakes: 

Here’s a list of top four marketing mistakes that app developers make. Learn to spot these mistakes and you’ll be able to create an application that sends plenty of cash to your doorstep.

1. Failing to Create an Effective Marketing Plan for the App.

This is one of the most important points to remember when it comes to creating a successful app. Too many app developers fail to create a marketing plan for the product and have to waste time creating a plan when they already have a finished product. Think ahead; don’t create a product without a marketing plan. You want to transition from each step in the business model smoothly. If you fail to complete one step, it’ll stall the process, and the results won’t be as close as you thought. And that’s why it’s important to create the business plans before you start working on the business. You should create a marketing plan at the beginning of the process, before you start developing the application.

It’ll keep the public awaiting the release of the application and it’ll motivate you and your team to work towards releasing the product. Because, if there’s already advertisements, billboards, and commercials circulating regarding your unfinished product, you’ll be pressured into completing the product.

2. Failing to Create App Features That Intrigue Users

There are hundreds of thousands of apps in the mobile marketplace. How many of these apps are used on a daily basis? Not much. In fact, it has been estimated that 90% of people who download a particular app will uninstall the app after a period of 6 months. Does that have to be the case? No.

There are ways to intrigue users and encourage them to continue using your product for the foreseeable future. Take some time to brainstorm intriguing features that can be included into the product.

For example, social applications always do well because people are competitive. Create a game that includes your friend’s scores, and I guarantee people will keep this app on their phone for as long as possible. People like to compete with each other, include some competitive features and elements into the application, and it’ll intrigue users. The best way to do this is to create an application that solves one particular problem.

3. Failing to Gather Feedback from Fans

How many apps have you noticed in mobile marketplaces that have a rating of one out of five stars?

There’s a lot out there. Mobile marketplaces such as the Apple Store have made it easy for users to leave reviews on various applications. But do app developers read the reviews and take the feedback into consideration?

As an app developer, it’s important to always collect feedback and work towards creating a better product. One way to do this would be to utilize an existing asset. In other words, if you own a website and already have a collection of loyal fans, ask the fans for advice on what features to include into the app. The feedback could be priceless. Not to mention the fact that if you design an app for a pre-determined group of fans, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll purchase it.

4. Failing to Select the Right Monetization Methods

Most people assume placing a price-tag on an app is the best way to generate revenue from that particular app. However, in most cases, the opposite is much more effective.

One simple way to understand this concept is to think about what you, on a personal level, would prefer. Would you purchase an app for the default price of $0.99? Or download it for free?

Most people would select the second option. There are thousands of applications being sold for $0.99 and most people are not sure if the app is what they’re looking for in the first place. People want to test out an app before handing over cash. Therefore, it’s often much more beneficial to avoid placing a price tag on the product. Remember, a price-tag is not the only way to earn revenue from an application. There are two other ways which are often much more effective.

Monetizing a Mobile Application

In-game purchases are one of the leading revenue sources for most applications. Create a product with intriguing features and additional premium features that can be purchased. It’s one of the most effective ways to earn money with applications. But that’s not all.

The last monetization technique would be in-game advertising. In other words, ads that are placed somewhere within the area of the application. There are several mobile ad-companies that pay per impression and per click much like the ad companies that can be found on a regular website. Get enough people to view those ads and the ad company will compensate you. Most people don’t mind an occasional ad or two.

So when it comes to developing an application, it’s important to plan the entire process in detail before beginning the journey. Make sure there’s a marketing plan in place, decent intriguing app features, monetization methods, and built from the feedback of loyal fans. Most importantly, don’t rush the process; take it a step at a time.

Remember these four points and you’ll be well on your way to creating an incredible successful application.

07 Jun 2014
by Admin

5 tips for increasing Mobile App Engagement

We live in an age of a demanding, and fickle, consumer. This generation of mobile consumers are impatient, know what they want, and, most problematically sometimes, are quick to shout when things go wrong. Fortunately, they also shout when things go right (think Facebook Likes).

To give you a sense of how impatient and demanding they are, I’d like to tell you about one of my apps I released to the App Store. It was a game developed in Unity3d. Because I used the free/community edition of Unity3d, I get the default Unity Splash screen while the app loads. Well, one of the reviews left on the app store was a 1 star review. You’d think my game must have been terrible…but no, this is what the reviewer wrote “Great game but the splash screen has nothing to do with the app and it takes too long to load”. Ouch…great game but I got 1 star for a slow splash screen. I have somewhat digressed from the headline of this article, but I wanted to make the point that anything can cause a user to leave your app, and getting users to remain engaged with your app is more challenging than ever. With users now having more than 41 apps installed on average (Nielsen), it is imperative that you gain mind share of your app with your users. So, let’s look at five tips for increasing mobile app engagement.

Tip 1: Sexy is where it’s at

What is that expression about you only having one chance to make a first impression? Well, this clearly goes for apps. See my sob story above about my splash screen. Here is the reality: Your app may be the best thing since sliced bread but if you don’t capture them from opening to closing, you risk losing your users. Even if your app invented perpetual motion, if it doesn’t look good, people won’t use it. Forget about your coding prowess for a minute, and think about your look and feel. Invest in graphics and graphic designers. Heck, I’ll go as far as to say that sometimes bad apps succeed because they look good. Yes, there are exceptions. I can almost hear you screaming “What about Flappy Bird?”. Ok, you have me there…but do you really want to roll the dice? Come on, spend a bit of money and make your app look like a thousand dollars.

Tip 2: Push, baby, Push

Hey, I’m with you. As a developer I keep thinking I don’t want to bombard my users with Push messages. And you’re right, don’t bombard them. However, there is a ton of value in delivering push messages for the right events. One of the apps we created was a voting app, where users vote between one item or another. Adoption was meager. We had the downloads, but people did not use it on a continual basis…something known as “app decay”. Then we added push messaging to let people know when important things happened. “Congratulations, someone just voted on your item”, or “A new vote was just created in a category you are interested in. Click here to check it out”. What happened? Our adoption more than quadrupled. That simple little push reminded users that your app is still there and something worthwhile happened to warrants another look. Push is a great way to get mindshare of your app. That is, if you can figure out the Apple push mechanism 😉

Tip 3: I have a 5 second attention span

Not you…you’re a developer. You wrote a great mobile app. You clearly have an attention span. I’m talking about the average app user. They have the attention span of a door knob. Don’t drop them into an app where its going to take more than a few seconds to understand what’s going on. If your app is a little complex, add a guided walk through experience for the first time user. Yes, it’s a pain to implement but can easily be the difference between using your app versus browsing to the next one in the app store. Similarly if you have a long running operation…put a spinning icon there at a minimum, or better, try add some interactivity. Remember, they’re door knobs I tell ya. Amuse them constantly.

Tip 4: Your app is more than an app

Your app is great, I’m sure. However, make sure you create a webpage for your app. This can be as simple as creating a Facebook page. Create a nice banner, and KEEP the page updated by posting on the page. Now, here comes the deviously tricky part. In your App, drive people to the Facebook page. For example, pop-up a random message in your app  like “Get a free life using an unlock code. Visit facebook.com/mycoolgame for the code”. So now the user goes to the FB page and what do they see there…a community of activity around your game. Cheats, tips, tricks and yes…a special unlock code. “Like us to receive the Unlock code” … so now you slowly build a community around your game and then you can market V2 of your game or your new game to an existing user base. Don’t think mobile app only.

Tip 5: It’s a connected world, Mikey.

Playing games on your mobile can be boring if you don’t have a sense of social connection. No, your game doesn’t need to be multiplayer. But even a solo game should have a leaderboard where high scores are kept (or lowest times or whatever). This can be a great incentive to keep your users playing your game. And don’t just list the top 10 … some users may never get there and may get frustrated. Display encouraging messages “You’re not on the top 10 list yet but you’re getting there quickly! Based on this last game, you’re in the 70th percentile and improving all the time. We’re confident you’re going to get there!”. And cross post to your Web page (see Tip 4) “John has the new high score. Can you beat him?”.

Look, I know implementing these are not trivial. As developers, we like to focus on the core of our app…not on this “periphery”. But trust me when I say these 5 tips can make the difference between an ok app and a killer app. Be sure to search for 3rd party toolkits and libraries that implement much of this functionality for you. You may be pleasantly surprised at how easily you can implement these ideas. Please use the comments section below to share your tips or your knowledge of 3rd party frameworks you’ve used or heard about to implement these tips.

Happy app developing and app marketing!

03 Jun 2014
by Admin

Apple Swift Programming Language

Well, you probably heard about it already. Apple unveiled a new language called Swift at yesterday’s WWDC.

What, a new language you say?

Yes, indeed, a new language. To understand why they’d rock the ecosystem so much and force you to reopen you grey matter, it helps to take a look at the history of the current set of development tools.

As you know, developing natively for iOS is done using xcode and Objective-C. XCode is actually quite a nice and rich IDE. The real issue comes with Objective-C. C is around 40 years old (Who hasn’t read Kerningham and Richie) and Objective-C isn’t much newer. It’s claim to fame was during Jobs’ respite from Apple when he founded NExT…and in fact, Objective-C is still littered with NExT remnants, such as NSString etc. In short, the language hasn’t evolved a whole lot and we’re carrying a lot of legacy baggage with it. People have also said Objective-C has mysterious syntax, what with all the [[‘s.

So, enter Swift.

The first major difference between Swift and Objective-C is the fact that Swift is a scripting language. Meaning you can interactively execute code, interrogate variables, make changes etc. My simplistic explanation is think of coding permanently in debug mode 🙂 Scripting languages have become popular…originally they were frowned upon for performance reasons but optimizations have largely voided that argument. Python is a great example of a successful scripting language.

So xcode introduces a new concept called Playgrounds which will let Swift developers essentially visualize their script in real-time while coding. Generally speaking, developing in a scripting language should make the development process faster than traditional compiled code. (Note, I said development time, not runtime).

Swift promises a slew of new benefits including closures (yeah ok, Objective-C did have that with Blocks), multiple return types, Generics, namespaces…um yeah ok, not all unique and new, but we can assume it is a capable platform built for the modern day operating system.

One of the first questions people had was “Can I still use Objective-C” – and the answer is yes. However, it is likely that Apple will be pushing hard to move the developer community over to Swift as the de facto standard going forward.

Here is a snippet of Hello World in Swift:

// Playground – noun: a place where people can play
var s = “Hello” + ” World.”

import Cocoa

let hero = NSImage(name: “myimage”);
let images = [“round, “star”, “heart”].ma[ {
NSImage(named: $0)
}

What you don’t see in above is that with Xcode, on the right hand side you’d see the results of each statement live as if it executed. That is the cool part about the playgrounds and it being a scripting language. Personally, the syntax will still need to grow on me – you do not need to use the ‘let’ syntax fortunately. Oh, and wait..I started talking about the legacy NS prefixes and guess what, they’re still there 🙁

Apple claims that Swift was designed to be fast. And remember, it is a scripting language during the development cycles but then turned into native optimized code for deployment.

All in all, I think this will be a good thing. Yes, we need to learn a new language. But let’s face it. It’s really only syntax. Logic is still logic. True still equals !False. And on the bright side, you can’t see job descriptions requiring 5 years of Swift on iOS.

01 Jun 2014
by Admin

Quickblox revises pricing

Another BaaS (Backend-as-a-service) company has revised its pricing structure. I’m talking about Quickblox this time. This is good news for developers, and most of the viable BaaS products on the market have a very capable “free tier” – honestly, I can’t see much need for the indie developer to waste their time developing the backend for their mobile app. The free tiers offered by companies such as Parse and Quickblox will be more than adequate for most mobile apps. In fact, should you need to move into a paid tier, this is probably a nice problem to have because it means your app is doing quite well!

Quickblox recently revised their pricing. Both the free tier and the first paid tier make the service quite accessible. The free tier is quite capable, allowing your app to have around 20,000 monthly user and supporting 20 chat requests per second. That’s pretty decent. The first paid tier comes in at $49 per month, half the price of Parse’s first paid tier, and gives you 35,000 monthly users and ups the chat requests to 35 per second. Certainly, Quickblox is offering a competitive pricing plan.

20 May 2014
by Admin

Review My App

“Review my app, please!”

This is a common refrain from many the weary app developer – review my app please! The app store is so crowded these days that it’s not longer a case of “build it and they will come”. Instead, our poor app developer needs  to actively market his or her app to help get it downloaded. And while you can certainly use an app review service like our appiness, here are some additional marketing tips:

I published my app, now how do I market it?

This is a common question. If you’re like most of us, you’re a hot developer, you enjoyed cranking out your latest masterpiece, and you didn’t give much thought to the marketing aspect. Back in the early days of the app store marketing was easy – but now – well, you’re drowned out in a noise of other apps.

Here are some guidelines for marketing your app. Unfortunately, yes, it does take some work, but, the results will be worthwhile.

First the free resources:

Social Media Presence

Make sure you have a Facebook page and a Twitter page for your app. Especially Facebook. Spend the time to make it look polished. A good suggestion is to use an inexpensive service to create your facebook timeline page for you, so that you have nice banner image and professional look. Then, update your facebook page regularly. This should be easy: You’re excited about your app, so keep talking about it. Don’t make it too salesy, but you can give tips, hints and more. “Here’s a tip for all of you struggling on level 2: Make sure the widget is aligned with the player”, as an example.

A website
Put up a simple one page website. With auto wordpress installs and thousands of themes available, putting up a website should take you no more than a few hours. Hop over to themeforest – you’ll find themes dedicated to mobile app landing pages.

A Youtube trailer
Record a 20 seconds of your game and create a youtube trailer. You can do this for free but I’d almost recommend spending just a little money to have something that looks professional. You can get this done cheap or if you have time do it yourself. Many app review sites will just want to see a video trailer so that they know if they want to waste their time or not reviewing your app. So put your best put forward and get that video out there. And yes, you can then use it on your website and facebook page.

Submit to review sites
Ok, this has both a free and a paid option. There are many review sites where you can submit your app. Some will charge a fee to “expedite” the review. For now, we focus on the free ones. Submit your app asking for a review, and include a link to your video and your website or FB page. Make the reviewers life easier!

Update your forum signature
You’re probably a member of a number of forums, perhaps technical forums for when you were developing your app. Update your signature to talk about your new app.

Paid Resources:

App Directories
There are app directories which will charge you to be listed and reviewed. Find some of the better more well established ones and consider paying for inclusion.

Banner Ads
This can be expensive…but it can be effective. Create a snazzy banner ad for your game and publish it across a couple of game networks.

In game advertising
Look at services like Chartboost where you can advertise your app inside another app. This can be an effective marketing tool.

Oh, and lest we forget…a plug for our own service (full disclaimer), appiness.io. Statistics show that when people look at an app in the appstore, they FIRST scroll down to see how many downloads and how many reviews an app got before bothering with it themselves. So while you need to engage in a myriad of the marketing activities described above, we highly recommend you first get some real downloads and reviews of your app using a service like ours….then you’ll no longer be asking “hey, review my app”!

Good luck!

09 May 2014
by Admin

Parse, a really neat BaaS

Hello App developers!

If you haven’t yet checked out Parse.com, you owe it to yourself to hop on over and give them a try. Parse is one of the players in the Backend-as-a-service (BaaS) vertical. If you’re not yet familiar with BaaS, it’s basically where you use a hosted server and database for your app or web app. Imagine if you want to create a mobile app that, say, stores contacts, but not on the phone, and rather on the “cloud” or a hosted database. Traditionally, you’d need to write not just the app, but also the server code…say a PHP script running on a mysql database. Well, with a BaaS, you can focus on the mobile app part, and use the BaaS to store your data. And of course I’m simplifying it here. You can do so much more.

There are a few BaaS providers out there including Parse, Kinvey and Quickblox. Right now I’m writing about Parse but certainly check out the others too.

Where Parse really shines is in the API provided for various platforms. You can natively hook in with iOS, Android, Windows, Unity3d and more. Plus you can make pure http requests. And the API is very rich. I used the iOS API and very quickly created a little app with all the bells and whistles you’d expect, such as “drag to refresh” and more.

Parse.com also shines with the example applications to get you started. They are feature rich and well written, and the accompanying documentation makes learning a snap.

I did have some issues with multi-table queries (complex joins), but was able to work around most of them. They also have a active forum.

From a pricing perspective they have a free tier which will work for most new apps. And if you need to upgrade to a paid tier, congratulations, your app must be doing well.

So, go check out parse.com

And may you have some appiness!

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