By Andrew Till
Last week I and several colleagues attended the latest OSiM London event. I had the pleasure of presenting Teleca’s take on the evolving applications landscape and some of the challenges for developers in maximising their success in bringing compelling and profitable applications to market. At the end of the presentation I shared our “Top Tips” for success with applications based on our experience of developing applications for customers across multiple platforms. I thought it would be interesting to share these recommendations on our blog – enjoy and hopefully you will find these insight and useful.
1. Take a position, solve a utility or entertainment problem
It’s absolutely critical to be clear about the purpose of the application you’re developing and to also ensure that it solves a real problem. For example it’s not clear that we need any more calculator applications in the Android Market place given the number already available. Being clear about the problem being solved will help all the way through the development process and when it comes to loading you application on to an application store and the supporting messages you include with it.
2. Focus on User Acquisition, Engagement AND Retention
We see many developers and companies who only focus on the initial acquisition of users for their application but in our experience continued focus on regular engagement and retention is also key not only to the success of the current application but also for future application releases as well.
One interesting way of managing this is to measure how new features or feature removals drives key metrics such as application downloads, uninstalls and user rating.
3. Use the Metrics and know your competition
Many application stores now provide a wealth of data on how your application is performing, where it is ranked, who is downloading it and which market they are in. Using this information on a daily basis significantly improves your chances of success as it enables you to respond quickly to changing market demands, optimize pricing, assuming you are charging for the application, based on what is happing with your application and those it competes with and to critically identify when you hit the sweet spot with different demographics.
Using such metrics can also help you understand who you are really competing with and to plan accordingly. Most people assume they are competing with other applications in the same category but this may not always be the case as you may simply be competing for share of wallet and hence in reality your competition with many different types of application.
Put simply if you’re not using the tools provided by the store vendor they you cannot expect to have a killer app on your hands.
4. Release early and often
Trying to build the perfect application often leads to long overruns and being beaten to market by competitors. Increasing we are seeing that it is much more effective to release early and provide frequent updates to users. This has a number of benefits such as enabling you to “land grab” in new areas, helping to build a regular dialogue with consumers and critically building customer delight each time you provide an enhanced set of features. Typically apps can see > 80% of active users upgrade to the latest version within 30 days of release especially on platforms that provide notification services.
Using this approach can also enable one to identify if a feature is really worthwhile fully developing or if it is only going to resonate with a small number of users thus saving time, money and effort. Another benefit can be to help user re-engage with an application when they see that new features are available and thus helping to maintain a healthy active user base.
5. Integrate Facebook, Twitter and other social engagement channels
Leveraging social networking sites can bring many advantages. The most obvious is that it helps to increase visibility of your application and can stimulate a level of viral growth that is hard to achieve with other mediums. Today most social networks have standard APIs to enable seamless login and posting of a users account and make these available for integration via standard SDKs.
6. Build communication channels with your users to foster a community
Creating an on-going dialogue with your users is often the key to sustained success. Typical App store ratings are very binary (love/hate) and provide limited insights. Increasingly developers are now moving to utilise platforms such as GetSatisfaction, Twitter and other which enable a much richer level of communication and also provide detailed insights as to why users really love or hate what you have done. It also enables you to grow your voice in the market place, provide you engage and respond to users posts and build to app missionaries from your user base.
7. Show focus by Platform and Devices
With such a proliferation of platforms and device types it can be a killer trying to release on everything everywhere. Increasing we are seeing customer decided to focus on getting one platform right before moving to multi-platform deployment. While this may mean that you yield some time to market on a particular platform is also means that when you do move to multi-platform support you have a robust codebase to port and an growing user base, and hopefully evangelists, to support your expansion.
Of course there are many other tips and learning’s we’d like to share but in the interest of keeping this post to a reasonable size I will finish here. However do feel free to come find me at Droidcon in London later this week or Planet of the Apps next week.