If you opened a small food store in a crowded city, you wouldn’t expect to immediately have the visibility and sales of the market heavyweights like Tesco or Asda. But with careful planning, clever marketing and great products you could still expect to carve out your own profit making business. The same applies for apps. The days of releasing your app into the wilds of the app stores and having it receive tens of thousands of downloads overnight have gone (if indeed they ever existed!) and that great game idea that you’ve got is not likely to be the next Flappy Birds style viral hit whilst your back is turned. However with a clear target market, a strong marketing plan and a well-built app, taking a slice of the $25billion app store pie is very possible.
Find your target market. Being sure of the target demographic for your app or game is key, knowing who you are aiming at is crucial to focusing your marketing and development efforts as well as developing an app that really meets your customers’ needs. To begin with, this may be a small group of hand picked individuals* to whom you can release beta versions of the app and gain feedback from. Their testing and comments should drive the direction of further development. These conversations also help to build up an initial fanbase who may become advocates for your app as you grow.
*a quick note- It’s better to find some willing strangers rather than relying on friends and family who may be biased when giving feedback.
Marketing: Good targeted social media advertising can work very well, especially if you have already developed a small following that are interacting with you. However it’s important not to rely on social media alone. Getting in touch with your target market where they are, in real life is crucial. Depending on the sort of app you are making, this could be trade fairs, games festivals, local clubs, businesses meetups. Whatever it is, it’s important to get out there and meet people. Talking about your app, watching new users navigate it for the first time and gauging the interest of groups are all valuable, plus all this promotion will give you something to post about back on that social media newsfeed!
Monetisation: Thinking through how you plan to get revenue from the app can be tricky, there are many options from straight-up pay to download, in app purchasing, to free with advertising. It’s important to do your research, as the best methods are different for every app. You may also need to do some wrangling between how you would like revenue to work and what your customers expect. For an outline of the different methods see our earlier post on monetising your app.
Quality: Over 12,000 apps are added to the app stores every month so making your app visible is of great importance. It is likely that there will be other apps available offering the same or very similar functionality. The solution is to be the best. It may be that your app has fewer functions than its rivals but it does them exceptionally well, or it comes at the same problem from a different angle offering a simpler solution. Thorough testing and interaction with your initial customers will give your app strength here. Time spent testing will also ensure that the nuts and bolts of your app are of a high quality. If thorough testing has been carried out in real life scenarios you are far less likely to experience problems with bugs and crashes as user numbers grow. Lastly it’s important to combine the excellent functionality with excellent design. With the vast array of high quality screens and even higher quality apps from the big names, customers expect an elegant, well-designed experience. Whether your app is a simple to-do-list or a full 3D animated game the design should be well thought out and well implemented to ensure your app stands out from the crowd.
Connecting with your market, thorough testing and conversations, and a high quality app should set you up for success but there is of course a lot more to it than that. Thankfully the Internet is awash with useful information. Here are just a few useful resources I have used with clients and on our own projects.
Marketing data, insights and guide to the mobile app economy as well as analytics tools you can integrate into your own apps.
A practical guide to researching and designing the mobile app your customers want.
For those near us in the East Midlands: Nottingham’s creative quarter is an organisation designed to connect companies to promote business growth through meetups, events, support networks and funding. If you’re not from around here: many cities have similar initiatives so it’s well worth seeing what’s in offer near you.