How to Turn Your Mobile App into a Scalable Business
Monday, August 25, 2014
It might be easier than ever to develop your own app, but turning that app into a viable business is only getting harder.
Apple's App Store is adding close to 20,000 new apps every month, and Google Play is matching or even topping those numbers. This makes for a crowded market where app developers are struggling to cut through the noise to have their product discovered by the right users.
Creating a great app is clearly only the first step to success, and app developers need a whole host of skills beyond product design and development to turn their product into a business.
At ironSource, the founders - a team of indie developers themselves - ran into these same problems. What they developed was a set of solutions that today help tens of thousands of developers turn their apps into scalable businesses. Below are a few tips based on this experience of helping developers run businesses that can last.
1. Think Big
Before you even begin with launching, marketing and monetizing an app, spare a moment to think of the long-term evolution of your product. While mobile is a great place to start when it comes to developing a software product, don’t be afraid to dream big. In many ways, ‘mobile’ as we understand it today isn’t going to be around much longer.
When a MacbookAir is almost as light as a tablet, and smartphones are turning into phablets, the lines dividing what constitutes a mobile and a non-mobile device are blurring. The question becomes less about developing or strategizing for mobile and more about addressing the user who owns multiple portable and non-portable devices.
When developing your software product, think of how it might work on an iPad, a laptop or desktop, or even on the web. Cross-platform distribution is beginning to take off, and you’ll want to be ready once it does.
Discoverability has become a huge issue in the Apple App and Google Play stores. With more apps being added every day, developers have to start thinking about how to ‘work the store’ to make their apps more discoverable much earlier in the development process.
For developers developing on iOS today, it will be useful to bear in mind the new features Apple has added to the store to improve discoverability. Making use of tools like video previews, and app bundling can help developers make the most of their marketing campaigns to make every promotion or ad count. While the Google Play Store might not yet have the same features, engagement levels are a huge part of how apps are ranked there, so investing time in making sure your app is structured to encourage and maintain engagement will go a long way to improving your discoverability.
3. Quality Over Quantity
Once your mobile app is launched, the first step to success is building a strong user base. While conventional wisdom might hold that the more users the better, immediately following the launch of an app it can be more effective to focus on quality instead of quantity.
If your initial users are fully engaged with your app and getting value or enjoyment from it, they are more likely to recommend it to their friends or pay to make in-app purchases. In these cases the more isn't necessarily the merrier, and a targeted approach to user acquisition may serve you best.
Even if you manage to get your app in front of a user, monetization remains another huge challenge. According to Flurry Analytics, by 2013 90% of apps in use were free, meaning that for most app developers today, advertising is the primary means for generating revenue. As a developer, it’s key that you find a way to both generate revenue from advertising, and keep users happy by preserving the sanctity of their in-app experience.
Native advertising that mirrors the look and feel or your app answers this problem. In the same way traditional advertising takes immense care to create beautiful and engaging ads in print or on TV, digital advertising should also present ads that engage users long-term as opposed to chasing short term clicks.
5. Do Your Research and Your Homework
Before you even approach the idea of buying traffic or downloads, do your research on your target audience. Find your audience online and start engaging with them to gain insight into what encourages them to respond positively. Then, once you’re armed with some idea as to your desired demographic, do your homework on the mobile marketing solutions out there.
Look for an advertising solution that gives you the most ‘bang for your buck’. Marketing campaigns can be costly and don’t always result in good ROI. Cross-app promotion may be effective for those with more than one app, since it offers access to high-quality, targeted users who are already interested in your product
6. Keep Your Eye on the Data
Make sure that whatever advertising platform or SDKs you’re using give you as much data as possible. The more granular the better. Listening to the feedback of your initial users will be a great way to refine your product, and data analytics will hold the key to refining your marketing strategy.
Read more: http://www.ironsrc.com/
This content is made possible by a guest author, or sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of App Developer Magazine's editorial staff.
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