6 Things We’ve Learned From Developing Apps – Part 2 – Marketing

Part two of our blog, looking at what we’ve learned so far in bringing our first apps to market. In this second part we look at how you can market your app in a situation where you don’t have a huge marketing budget to fall back on.

#4: Social media is an effective marketing tool.
These apps had to live or die based only on an initial burst of marketing activity (PR and social media) followed by a low-level but persistent campaign of tweets and Facebook posts, supported by a simple promotional website. We didn’t have a marketing budget for ads. Below shows the downloads for the Geordie Motivator, this time showing where we had a particular social media push and where we were quiet. Even in the quiet times, the rise continues which we are sure is a positive word of mouth effect. And we are getting new Twitter followers all the time.

#5: In the absence of marketing budget, you need time.
A good app will succeed through word of mouth. Even Angry Birds was once unknown. We thought that downloads might fizzle out after the initial launch push. With the Motivator downloads in particular, we are watching them climb steadily as people tell their friends about it.

#6: We still haven’t figured out the best paid-for/free approach.
As well as the download gap we discussed in our last blog, between Android and iPhone platforms we also saw, in the case of the Geordie Motivator app, a noticeable difference in download rates between the free and paid for app.

For the Geordie Motivator app, we are aiming to recoup what we spent on developing it. The main category of motivations (General), along with the motivate on demand functionality, is free, and additional categories and functionality (like Exercise and Diet, motivate at intervals, favourites and alarm) are in the fully-paid version, which we priced at 79p/$1.20/€1. An alternative approach would have been to have adverts in the app and make the download completely free, which we were initially reluctant to do. This is a consideration that we may look at if we don’t see a higher rate of conversion to the paid version of the app though.

Our Conclusion
In bringing these two apps to market we have learned a huge amount along the way. Although we already had all the transferable skills needed for these projects, being a fully fledged software and web agency, there are specific challenges that apps present that differ from other projects. One of the key considerations is the amount of time and effort needed for apps. You should expect to spend at least six months getting your app to the point where it is ready to launch, more realistically nine months. You should also have a good budget. Unless you want to do a lot of the work yourself then there is a lot of specification, design and testing work needed around the development. You should be prepared to invest £20,000+ for a high quality and professional app with a modicum of functional elements. But if you make the right investment in both time and cost then at the end you will have a quality app that people enjoy using.

If you’re interested in developing an app or getting further consultancy on an app idea you have then please contact us.

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