App development is no easy game. Competition is rabid, users are ruthless, and the majority of financial return is routinely modest. But for some developers, their apps are unprecedented successes with the potential to turnover millions. So what exactly separates the hot shot developers from everyone else? Here are six secrets of successful app developers to help you strike App Store gold.
Don’t Rush to the App Store
The number one way to kill any app before it’s even had a chance to find its feet is by rushing to the App Store as soon as the coding’s finished. The first thing to consider is that your idea might be great, but it just might not work as an app. When you think you’ve come up with a solid gold niche for an app, take a couple of days, sit with it, and decide if it really is a frontrunner for development, or just a good idea in the abstract. Then, once you’ve decided go ahead an develop, immediately start evolving your marketing strategy in tandem with your app. The two go hand in hand, and should be as strong as each other. Make sure to iron out all the bugs or glitches in your app before you release, as nothing brings in bad reviews quicker than poor functionality. These pitfalls are easily avoided with a little patience and a lot of testing.
Keywords and Visuals are Crucial
As stated above, marketing your app is just as important as the app itself. You must learn to treat the project like a business and not just a hobby; it doesn’t matter if you regard yourself as a businessperson or not. The app world is fiercely competitive, and you’ll need to be aggressive and smart in your marketing. If not, your app will make zero noise upon its release, no matter how good the idea is. Many developers seem to think a good idea is all they need; unfortunately, it’s only fifty percent of the recipe for app success. All the app stores run on keyword algorithms, so finding the right way to succinctly describe your product in an attractive, relevant way is crucial in making your app visible to the browsing audience. Likewise, a screenshot or visual is the first thing that people encounter about your app, so making it attention-grabbing, bold and distinctive are important in getting people to click inside.
Find Your USP
The app market is extremely competitive; there are millions of apps available out there, the vast majority of which remain undiscovered and unsuccessful. A large part of that is due to them not having a unique selling point (or USP). If you’re going to compete with the big boys in the crowded waters of the most popular app genres, you’re going to need a highly valuable USP. Even in the less-crowded waters, there are large amounts of apps competing for the same audience. So really put some serious thought into what makes your app stand out? Say you’ve developed a language-learning app – what’s your new, innovative method for helping people memorise their chosen language? It’s got to be different than the heavy-hitters already on the market, or else people will just stick to the established behemoths (we’re looking at you, Duolingo!). Your USP is one of the most important tools when it comes to finding an audience for your product.
Get Creative with Marketing
Some indie developers prefer to see themselves solely as ‘developers’; in a perfect world, their app will simply take flight off the back of its own self-evident genius. Ninety-nine percent of the time, this is not going to be the case. The marketplace is simply too crowded, and people already have plenty of distractions to fill their days with. A creative flair with marketing your app can really help get your message out. You should utilise all possible channels and start building your campaign months in advance. Facebook and Twitter are the big ones, but there are plenty of other avenues open to people who aren’t afraid to get a little bit creative. For instance, an increasingly popular tool in online marketing is video content. Why not create a video series for your app, documenting it in action, or building up a bit of mystery before its release? Or if it’s a game app, create a funny video and attempt to make it grow viral? In the world of online marketing, there are precious few hard and fast rules. Thinking outside the box can be a major benefit for your app campaign.
Learn How to Keep Them Coming Back
Customer retention is a hugely undervalued aspect of app development; unfortunately, the majority of developers don’t discover this until too late in the game. You need to identify early on in your app’s development the element that is going to retain your customers loyalty. Finding the correct answer to this question is the key to a successful app with a long shelf life. Without it, even if your product is solid and does well at launch, it will remain a flash in the pan, and won’t provide the longevity most developers desire from their products. You can help find your retention rate by carefully studying your statistics, and identifying what percentage of users you’re either turning into paying customers, or that you’re enticing back for more. If your goal is longevity (and it should be, as the app business is shifting towards better quality product with a longer shelf life) then you should initially focus on establishing a core group of diehard fans, before expanding out and building on those solid foundations.
Design an App that You Would Use Yourself
The best inventions come from a personal need, and apps are no different. They’re a new technology, certainly, but the core intention of business hasn’t changed. If you’re able to find an idea that you yourself would use on a regular basis, that idea will surely resonate with an audience. What you don’t want to do is come up with a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. So as you examine your ideas, the only question you really need to ask yourself is ‘would I really use this?’ If the answer is ‘yes’ then you’ve got a great jumping off point. And now you know all the other secrets of successful app developers, the rest should be easy!