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7 Onboarding Hacks to turn App Downloads into Active Users

App onboarding increases the likelihood of new users becoming loyal customers of your app. Why should you apply onboarding strategies for your mobile app? Simply put, if users don’t understand your app right away, there’s a good chance they’ll never open your app again. 

The onboarding process is designing the first impression a user has of your app. Doing it correctly increases the chance of successful user adoption. The onboarding procedure highlights the key benefits and features to reinforce your app’s value. An app’s retention rate increases by 50% with a strong on boarding process making this practice is essential to app success.

Onboarding allows your app to build strong relationships with engaged users. When done poorly or ignored entirely, you risk users not understanding your app through a negative experience that leads them to potentially abandon your app altogether.

So what exactly are the key aspects to a great onboarding experience? Read on to find out the 7 best app onboarding strategies that are guaranteed to keep your users satisfied, informed and coming back for more.

 

1. Highlight Your Value Proposition

A lot of startups and businesses make the mistake of trying to tell users everything they can about their app, rather than showing how their app offering can improve the user’s life.

People don’t care about features – they care about what they can do with those features. That’s why you should always lead with the value proposition of your app. As previously mentioned, a value proposition is a positioning statement that explains the benefit your app provides for whom and how your app does this uniquely well.

Now I’m not saying that impressive functionality and innovative features aren’t important, but in the long term, showing your users what they can do with those features is what wins them over. Jason Fried, Founder and CEO of Basecamp, said it best:

Melbourne App Developers

 

2. Emphasize Core Features

While your app’s value proposition should always come first for onboarding, your target audience still need to understand the main functions of your app. Showcasing the key features of your app to users will help them follow through with desired actions by utilising highlighted key buttons and callouts.

Remember, don’t go throwing in the kitchen sink when onboarding. Instead, just stick to the core features that demonstrate the value your app provides. Those less-essential-but-really-cool features can always be showcased later with your second, third or fourth app promotion. These additional features can easily be introduced by apps using in-app messages.

App Development Australia

One Minute Closer focuses on the key features that users care about in onboarding.

 

3. Only Ask Users For What You Need

Many apps require messaging permissions or data access in order to provide the most valuable experience. By using permission requests, you can ask users to allow your app to access this data.

When particular data is critical for key app functions, be sure to prompt the user to provide data access. This does not mean you should bombard users with permission requests during the app onboarding process. Research shows that 60% of users have chosen not to install an app after finding out how much personal information the app requested.

The best way to avoid losing potential users is to only use essential permission requests initially. Clearly state why you are asking for access to only these areas of their smartphone and how that information is vital to them getting value from your app. Save ‘nice to have’ permissions for when the potential user is an engaged app consumer.

 

4. Make It Easy to Sign Up

The sign up process is a can often become a barrier to app adoption, so you need to make sure the signing up to your app is simple, fast and easy.

If possible, you should always give users the option to log in to your app with an existing social media account, such as Facebook or Twitter. Not only do social network options allow users to access your app in one or two clicks, but it also helps them to build trust with your app offering.

iPhone App Development

Apps that let users log in with Facebook, Google Plus or email. Source: Kiip

 

To optimise your app user onboarding process, test a variety of login options – do more users prefer to sign up with their email address or via social? Do users prefer to sign up with Facebook or Twitter? Could you get rid of a sign up route all together?

 

It is also important to experiment with timing. Some apps require users to sign in as soon as the app is launched, even before onboarding begins, while others have more success prompting users to sign up after the onboarding process.

 

5. Keep It Quick & Don’t Overwhelm Users

Stick to the basics when prioritising your app’s on boarding experience.  You don’t want to force users to swipe through countless screens before they even try your app!

Get your point access with app screenshots and illustrations rather than written explanations. As a general rule of thumb, stick to one feature explanation per screen to ensure that users don’t become overwhelmed. It is recommended to include progress indicators as part of your onboarding process.

 Wearable App Development

Progress indicators show how many onboarding screens users need to read through. Source: Life Pulse

 

Progress indicators are often presented as parallax images or small circle that provide the user with a sense of build-up and movement. These indicators help users understand if they are near the start, middle or end of your app’s introduction.

 

6. Avoid the Obvious

An efficient app onboarding experience gets to the point. Therefore, you need to trim off any redundant fat to keep the onboarding process as streamlined and quick as possible.

Stating the obvious is a waste of time. App users understand that a camera icon will launch their device’s camera function, while most users will know the type of icons associated with liking and sharing functions, just as long as they’re not too different from the norm.

If you’re not deviating too far from standard design principles, explaining an app’s navigational framework is largely unnecessary.

 

7. End With a Call-To-Action

To guide users towards the next step to take at the end of your app’s onboarding experience, consider integrating a direct call-to-action (CTA). Prompting users to get immediately involved with your app helps them get excited about the app and grow towards being engaged users.

Mobile Music Streaming Service Spotify implements an effective CTA technique. One look at Spotify’s homepage makes it pretty clear that their goal is to get users to subscribe for a paid premium account, while the CTA for the free sign up option is very much secondary.

App Development Melbourne

Spotify’s homepage features an effective call-to-action. Source: HubSpot

 

Not only does the headline give this away, but so too does the colouring of the CTA buttons. The ‘Go Premium’ CTA is coloured lime green so it pops off the page. In comparison, the ‘Play Free’ CTA is plain white to blend in with the rest of the page. This contrast is done to draw potential Spotify users to the premium CTA.

 

So the App Onboarding Process Is Over – What’s Next?

In most cases, users want be able to know ‘everything’ about your app within the onboarding process.

Therefore, it’s important to make resources available to users that allow them to continue learning about your app’s functionality after onboarding. Your most loyal and engaged users will seek out these informative materials, so make sure you have them ready!

What is the onboarding process for your app? How could the onboarding experience your app provides be improved? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

The Blueprint to Designing Your App Icon

As the visual anchor for your app, you need to nail the icon design at the beginning. In this post, we discuss the best practices to creating a memorable and unique icon that entices app store browsers to download your app.

Uber may only be 6 years old, but that didn’t stop the $85 billion company from recently rolling out a redesign for its entire brand. In doing so, Uber completely changed its highly recognisable monochrome U-shaped icon into something that looks like:

a) A backwards ‘C’

b) An evil Pac-Man

c) It’s forever updating

d) All of the above

So what was Uber’s rationale for the new icon design?

The square is meant to represent the bit — a nod to Uber’s technology. The colours and patterns being introduced to the branding represent the atom — the people and things that Uber transports and the places where it operates.” 

Travis Kalanik, CEO of Uber

That sounds kind of cool and interesting, but Uber’s previous icon had imprinted itself in the minds of budget-conscious travellers everywhere. So why would the transport unicorn completely drop its familiar ‘U’ for a non-distinct shape?

Armin Vit opines for Brand New: “Let’s assume that it’s a matter of being used to poking an app icon for the last six years and that we just need to get used to poking at this new one. Even then, it seems like this is an icon for something else altogether.”

Uber App Icon

Uber’s new icon eating it’s way through the transportation industry.

An app icon is the one, singular piece of graphic design that users will interact with first each time they see your product. A great app icon becomes synonymous with what the app enables users to do and how it makes them feel.

So you’ve validated your app concept and now need to design an identifiable and unique app icon. But what exactly makes a great app icon?

We’ve put together an essential guide to designing an app icon that screams ‘Install ME!’… Without the unnecessary redesign 6 years later.

Scalability – Big or Small, the Icon Needs to Look Good

Your icon is going to be shown on a variety of screens, and in a variety of sizes, so it’s important your creation maintains legibility. It needs to look good on the App Store, on Retina devices and even as a favicon for the app’s promotional website.

One Minute Closer App Icon

An app icon needs to work at multiple resolutions retaining the legibility of the concept across the range of sizes. Source: One Minute Closer

When designing your app icon, consider the following scaling tips from App Icon Template:

  • Design and test the icon in multiple contexts and sizes.
  • Think simple and focus on a single shape or element.
  • Your icon should retain its recognisability when scaled.

As for software applications that let you design with this scalability, we recommend the use of Adobe Photoshop. If this is your first attempt at creating an icon, working with a free Photoshop template from AppIconTemplate.com is probably the best approach.

Simplicity – Clearly Convey What Your App Does

You have a confined 57×57 pixel space for your app icon. This is the first thing that browsers see when searching on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Do these potential users a favour by having your icon clearly convey what your app does.

You can’t always rely on users tapping your app to view it’s optimised screenshots on the preview page. Your icon should stand on it’s own.

App Analytics company App Annie provide the following rules of thumb to keeping your icon simple:

  • The most effective icons have a simple design and clear message.
  • Make sure the icon represents the core brand values of your app. This could be the app’s primary function, such as Gmail’s use of a letter or a gaming app using the main character.
  • The colours used in the icon should pop while still reflecting the in-app colour scheme.

Applying these rules of thumb will greatly assist in highlighting your app’s unique selling point.

Uniqueness – Stand Out in the Crowd

Let’s consider a user who downloads your app, closes their iPhone and then opens their menu screen later on. On a smartphone that’s already filled with apps, what is it about yours that is going to grab the user’s attention and stand out from the crowd? It’s an app icon that’s instantly recognisable and unique.

App Store Productivity Apps

It seems that uniqueness doesn’t enter the design process for Productivity apps. Source: idApostle

When attempting to create a unique icon, focus on a shape or object that stands out. Consider Snapchat’s ghost. The icon both sticks out and highlights the app’s unique selling point of ‘poof-it’s gone’ snaps.

Also consider choosing colours that contrast and pop, as this is often an overlooked way of positioning an app. Spotify does this well by pairing green with a starkly contrasting black. When a user browses the App Store for a music streaming service, these colour choices are what help Spotify stand out from competing apps.

Avoid Text – The App’s Name Often Accompanies the Icon

Words and images are separate representational tools. Combining them in what is supposed to be a visual representation often leads to a cluttered and unfocused experience that is difficult to decode. As such, you should avoid using copy or text in your app icon.

‘But this blog started with a Kanye-like rant about how Uber’s rebranding from a ‘U’ text icon to an unrecognisable shape was a mistake’, I hear you say.

Well first of all, I think we can all agree that this blog’s introduction made more sense than any rambling tweet from Kanye West.

Secondly, if you’re using a singe letter and validate it as a suitable fit, then the letter avoids being ‘wordy’ and becomes iconic by itself. However, this is more often the exception than the rule.

Your app’s name will be written next to the icon on the app stores and smartphone menu screens. Therefore, using text – especially if it’s your app’s name – is redundant.

Before designing your app icon…

An app’s icon is highly influential for standing out on the app store and engaging potential users with your product. Make sure that it’s scalable, simple, unique and visually conveys the app’s core value.

Along with the product strategy you plan to implement, nailing the icon design will put you on the right path towards a successful launch into the market.

Do you have any tools and tips for designing an app icon? We’d love to hear about them.

An App Entrepreneur’s Guide to Instagram Advertising

Instagram reached two important milestones in 2015. Neither of them had anything to do with Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber. Firstly, Instagram surpassed Twitter to become the second biggest social media platform in the world, after its parent company Facebook. Secondly, and most importantly for this blog topic, Instagram activated its advertising API for marketers to use in their advertising collateral. Read on to find out how Instagram ads can help get your app more downloads in 2016.

As we have stated in one of our previous blogs, businesses are moving away from traditional advertising channels and taking advantage of social media’s powerful influence on society. Instagram is following Facebook’s lead on advertising and now allowing small businesses, as well as large companies, to advertise within the app. We have seen the benefits of Facebook advertising for small businesses but can Instagram Advertising have the same effect?

According to eMarketer, Instagram’s global mobile ad revenues will reach $2.81 billion by 2017. This will account for over 10% of parent company Facebook’s global ad revenues, surpassing Twitter and Google’s ad revenues altogether. This indicates that Instagram will quickly become a leading platform for advertising. As a rsult, early adopting businesses will reap the rewards of using the Instagram app for mobile marketing.

Instagram Mobile Marketing

Instagram’s Ad revenue is set to surpass Google and Twitter by 2017. Source: eMarketer

But how will Instagram ads be different from what’s in our feed’s now?

Previously, Instagram ads were targeted based on country, gender and age. Now Instagram will use an algorithm, which incorporates data from users Facebook profiles and Facebook ad buys, to make their advertisements more relevant but without a huge increase of ads on the average feed. This means that advertisements are going to be more effective as the relevant people are going to be reached.

So you’re an app entrepreneur that wants to make use of Instagram advertising, but want to understand the science behind what makes an Instagram ad effective. Here’s our top 5 tips and tools to creating adverts that are #instagood.

1. Learn About The Different Forms of Advertisements On Instagram.

Instagram advertising has evolved quickly in the past year. There is now an array of options that you can apply for your Instagram advertising campaign. Lets look at them below:

Photo Ads

Photo ads are what users see the most in their Instagram feeds. They use high quality visual imagery to deliver your message and engage viewers. They are simple but extremely effective in reaching target markets and creating brand awareness. All these ads have a small ‘Sponsored’ icon in the top right corner to distinguish themselves from regular Instagram posts.

Video Ads

Video ads allow up to 30 seconds of creative video, including sound, to entice your viewer. The use of short video advertisements is rising and the benefits of video advertising are there for all marketers to see. However, it’s important to use engaging visual imagery to capture the viewer’s attention and not rely solely on sound to deliver your message, as the ad must be clicked on to for sound to be heard.

Carousel Ads

Carousel ads are Instagram’s newest advertisement feature. You can advertise your app using a number of different images in the same advertisement. Swipe right and the viewer see’s another image, with a different message or call to action. Swipe right again and they see another image. Carousel ads are strong performing and flexible, allowing you to use a number of different images and call to actions.

Instagrams Advertisements

The three Instagram advertising formats. Source: Instagram Business.

 

2. Get Your Advertisement Design Right.

The design element of your advertisement is crucial to the overall success of your advertisement. Unfortunately, just posting up an image of your product that hasn’t been given much thought will not get the desired response you are after. I’ve outlined some key steps to follow when designing your advertisements.

  1. Create a focal point in your image, which will engage the viewer and capture their attention.
  2. Make use of the rule of thirds and symmetry in your advertisements. Rarely place your focal point in the centre of the image.
  3. Use your logo subtly, not as the focal point, as it becomes a distraction and takes away from the content of your advertisement.
  4. When using text, utilise it to compliment the focal point and make the same fonts, one or two max, consistent across all of your posts. Only 20% of your image can be made up of text.
  5. The use of colour and contrast is key to creating a strong image. Use a plain background to help your focal point colour shine and make the image pop. When using a coloured background, contrast this with a white coloured focal point or text.
  6. Be consistent with your brand advertisement look. Your different advertisements should have a consistent look, whether it is similar compositions, use of fonts and colours or place of logo. This makes your brand recognisable and distinguishable to customers from other content.

3. Make Your Advertisements Look Native.

Making your advertisement look native doesn’t mean you need to have images of people from the depths of the African jungle in your ad. What I mean by native is making your advertisement blend in so it appears as though it isn’t even an advertisement.

You want your advertisement to look like any other Instagram post that might pop up on the average newsfeed. This means that you are not ruining the users overall Instagram feed by spamming them with obvious advertisements, much to the chagrin of many users (myself included!) and creating negativity around your app.

Instagram Ad Post

The Sprint ‘post’ to the left is clearly an ad, while the post to the right looks like a normal Instagram post. Source: The Verge

 

4. Use calls-to-action

Before Instagram allowed advertising, the only way to create traffic to your website was through putting a link to your website in your bio. Instagram was great for promoting brand awareness, but for directing users to a buy now page or prompting them to download your app? Not so much.

With the new advertising API release, Instagram has created Calls-to-Action buttons for use in advertisements. You can use these calls-to-action including, Install Now, Shop Now, Sign Up, Download and Learn More.

Instagram Ads Call To Action

These calls-to-actions can do a number of different things, such as opening a shop inside of Instagram or linking the user directly to their respective App Store for download of your app. Calls-to-action are making Instagram a far more effective marketing tool and all strong app marketing campaigns going forward will make use of them.

5. Make use of relevant hashtags.

Hashtags are critical to brand promotion, audience engagement and can be used across a number of platforms. Using hashtags comes easy for most of us on Instagram, but for advertising, you need to use them strategically. When used correctly, hashtags can reward brands with a larger audience and engagement outside of their local area. There are three different forms of hashtags that businesses can make use of.

Content Hashtags

Content hashtags, such as lifestyle, event or location hashtags, can get you views and click throughs from people who are searching for or using these hashtags. Hashtags such as #mondays, #coffeefix or #melbourne are all great examples of content hashtags that can be used to great effect in advertising.

Trending Hashtags

Making use of trending hashtags allows you to potentially promote your brand out to a large-scale audience, without the need to create the hashtag yourself. Businesses use trending hashtags such as #AFLGrandFinal or #fitness to effectively promote their brand and engage with a wider audience.

Custom Brand Hashtags

You can create a hashtag for your marketing campaign and promotions. Some of the top brands across the globe use their own hashtags in their posts, which become recognisable to their brand and can then be used by other users to create a community of followers and content around the brand’s hashtag.

They can be difficult to create and maintain, but if your custom hashtag becomes popular, the brand awareness can be immense.

A great example is KitKat’s marketing campaign featuring the hashtag #mybreak. KitKat utilises the hashtag across their social media pages and many other Instagram users upload photos of their own KitKat’s along with the hashtag, creating a community of KitKat fans and a growing audience.

Your Instagram Advertising Campaign Starts Now

Instagram advertising looks pretty straightforward. But without following these key steps, you won’t get the most out of the potential it can offer.

First, decide on what ad format you will use. Next, get your advertisement design looking on point. Your advertisement shouldn’t blatantly look like an advertisement – make it look native to the Instagram newsfeed. Use relevant hash tags to promote your brand and advertisements. And don’t forget to make use of calls-to-action!

Using those tools and tips above will help you design strong advertisements on Instagram and contribute more to the overall advertising of your app.

Do you have any other tools or tips to use for advertising on Instagram? Let us know in the comments below.

4 Key Ingredients to a Successful App Startup

What makes an app startup successful? We outline the four components of successful mobile apps so you can strive for App Store success.

Success comes to those who persevere. It also comes by design and not by chance. Understanding this subtle, yet pivotal difference can set the direction of your efforts on the right path.

If you want to transform your innovative app idea into a sustainable business, there’s no secret method or ‘growth hacking’ technique that guarantees App Store success.

As an app entrepreneur, a well-crafted app development process that addresses market strategy, user experience and product execution provides the building blocks for a successful mobile app.

These are the four key ingredients that constitute those building blocks. An understanding of each component increases the likelihood that your app startup will attract a loyal user base and generate ongoing revenue.

 

Value

The building blocks of a marketing-leading app development process are laid down by identifying the value provided to its intended users. Every successful mobile app offers a solution to a problem that customers are willing to pay for.

Some of the most successful startups were established from problems that the founding entrepreneurs experienced themselves and then solved with an ideal product/market fit.

It’s not just about solving a problem, though. It is about whether iPhone and Android Phone users would be willing purchase your solution or shift from an existing app because you solved an intrinsic problem that no other app could.

Identify the core value the your app intends to provide to its target audience and validate whether there is a need to use the app a second, third and fourth time on a consistent basis.

 

Design

A key element in the success of any mobile app is a user-centric approach to design. The app’s design, experience and usability  should resonate with the target market.

As the late Steve Jobs succinctly put it: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Design can be broken down into two main aspects where one leads the other. The first is the functionality and form of the app. Once you’ve selected the first set of features that will comprise the app product, it’s essential that the flow from one screen to another, or from one feature to another, is as simple as possible for the user.

To make the navigation process more intuitive, you should aim to minimise the learning curve for the users. This part of design, commonly referred to as User Experience or UX, is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability and accessibility provided by the interaction between the user and the product.

This is followed by the graphic design or User Interface Design (UI), which is the process of understanding of who the customer is – factors such as age, gender and geographical location play an important part in how the app will look.

Furthermore, the colour scheme of an app design is scientifically proven to drive certain emotions in people. This is why you see specific colours used in certain brand logos and product design.

 

Branding & Marketing Colour

Colour Psychology in Marketing and Brand Identity. Source: Visme

When you have an understanding of your target market, design an interface and experience that incites an emotion that you would like your user to feel.

 

Distribution

Distribution can literally determine whether your mobile app is successful or not. Getting your app into the hands of both iPhone and Android users is potentially the biggest hurdle.

There are multiple marketing channels available to spread the word about your app, including Facebook Advertising and Blog Writing. In my experience as a Product Manager across an array of app development projects, you need to start the distribution process by exploiting every market channel at the early stages of promoting your app offering. This is the only way you will discover which channels produce the best results.

Mobile App Marketing

Flipkart distribute their app to Android users that Google a product that is available on Flipkart. Source: Business 2 Community

For our apps, we research and develop a marketing strategy document with a comprehensive execution plan across all channels. We then study the results of our marketing efforts across all the channels over a quarter to half-yearly period. This provides a comprehensive insight into the most effective channel that delivers best user conversion rate and ongoing revenue stream.

Along with a marketing strategy, you should create a compelling story about your app that shows its value proposition clearly. Consider Instagram’s value proposition: “Capture and share the world’s moments.” When it comes to emotionally connecting with potential app users, it doesn’t get more clear and simple than that.

 

Scalability

Scalability is all about how adaptive and flexible you are to your users’ feedback. It’s also about your commitment you are to continuous product iterations, improving the app’s features and enhancing the overall experience it provides over a period of time.

A good way to approach this is to identify a narrow market segment to begin with. This could be within your own social circle or an extended network of people that are potential app users – randomly selecting a user base doesn’t help. Another efficient form of market segmentation is reaching out to customers within your city – similar to how Uber started.

This helps you to understand the behavioural traits of app users in a close and personal manner, while also highlighting the mistakes that need to be rectified more quickly. The faster you learn from your users, the easier it gets to deliver them a better solution.

The moment you are able to satisfy the app needs of this smaller market segment, all you have to do is scale your efforts to distribute your app offering to similar users with the confidence that your app provides an ideal product/market fit. And remember, a loyal advocate of your app startup is worth a million!

Looking to launch your app idea towards startup stardom? Contact us to find out what we can do for you.

4 Mobile App Trends for 2016

Mobile app development is at the top of the agenda for many entrepreneurs and businesses in 2016. We share our top 4 predictions for the year ahead on the changes in the mobile industry and app market.

2015 was a huge year for apps. Mobile overtook desktop as users spent more time on their mobile devices. The app development market experienced tremendous growth, profitability and expansion. Mobile devices became the new normal for delivering content, entertainment, transportation and much more.

App developers must evolve its strategy to be relevant across new channels and screens moving forward. We expect an exciting year ahead. Here are the top four app trends for 2016.

 

User-Centric Apps

Whenever we do a Rocketfuel Workshop with our clients, there is one key process that ensures we define a minimum viable product and lockdown their app concept’s product position: User Persona Modeling. Personas are an effective tool to create the right product for the app’s intended target market. This allows our clients to understand the motivation of their app’s target users and, in turn, define the product features that satisfy the market.

App User Persona

An example User Persona Model, including the intended user’s bio, motivations, personality and goals. Source: Xtensio

We apply this user-centric approach to app development because, now more than ever, entrepreneurs and businesses need to consider the complete user experience their app provides. With mobile apps now accounting for more than half (52%) of all the time spent on digital media, a user-centric approach to app development is crucial to creating a meaningful app experience.

However, you can’t just assume to know what your target users want in an app. You need to track and analyse relevant Big Data for it to become Meaningful Data that provides insight into your app’s potential consumers. This is essential to creating a user experience that caters to how your consumers are actually using the app.

At Launchpad App Development, our mission is to help entrepreneurs and business transform innovative ideas into successful apps. If you want to create a successful app in 2016, your target users should be defining the app product.

 

In-App Ads

Three of the largest players in the mobile space (Google, Apple and Facebook) have all been investing an enormous amount of time and resources into powering ‘virtual assistant’ type technology. Google created Google Now, Apple has Siri and Facebook is testing M. The goal of all of these companies is to become the best personal assistant you’ve ever had and in large part to provide personalised ads proactively before a user even makes a request. This represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about in-app advertising.

As businesses improve their ability to create data-driven experiences for their app users, the targeting of ads will greatly improve and consequently become much more effective. Once users have opted-in to a data program they will often provide a great deal of information regarding their preferences, as well as geographic and demographic information that can be quite useful.

By developing a data program, apps will be able to leverage the behaviour of users within the app to refine their experience with ads that are more relevant. Personalised in-app ads draw double the click-through rate of normal display ads and, in many cases, bypass ad blockers to reach the right audience in the right context.

With nearly three times more spent on in-app advertising compared to mobile web, personalised in-app advertising will continue to flourish in 2016 and beyond. By 2018, Juniper Research predicts it’ll reach $17 billion, making in-app the fastest growing sector in mobile advertising.

 

Mobile Video

Mobile video is growing quickly. IAB found that 58% of people watch videos daily from their mobile device. Clearly, quality video production intended for the small screen can be truly effective in reaching this growing audience. This makes businesses eager to capitalise on this trend.

 

As eyeballs shift away from the TV screen to the smartphone, advertising dollars are quickly following. As a result, redirect viewers to an app plays a key role in the growth of the mobile video format.

Mobile Video App

The explosion in engagement for YouTube’s smartphone and tablet app highlights the rapid shift to mobile video. Source: comScore

When it comes to mobile video, apps are clearly the consumers’ choice for viewing them. 48% of the respondents to IAB’s study confirmed they access video content via applications rather than visiting a mobile website. While only 18% indicated they would rather view video via mobile website. The mobile video market is expected to reach over $13 billion by 2020 and grew rapidly in 2015. It’s safe to say that we can expect continued substantial growth in 2016.

 

Apps Becoming Part of Our Lifestyles

The problem with app adoption in the past can be nailed down to one singular issue – mobile data. With data caps and overcharge rates, apps have been limited how creative and forward thinking they can be. As a result, we  restrict ourselves to apps that provide individual features. For example, an app for music streaming, an app for weather, an app for fitness tracking etc.

Expect apps in 2016 to become an integral part of your life. For instance, a fitness journal that displays the weather before your run and provides music playlists customised. Sound a bit far-fetched? Not to us app developers!

As long as there are forced restrictions on how much you can download, apps themselves play a pivotal role in positioning themselves as a lifestyle attachment, rather than a usable ‘thing’ that can quickly be uninstalled in favour of the next big thing. There’s only so much data that will fit in a mobile plan – better make sure your app is making the most of it.

What’s more, the apps you choose could very well communicate your values in terms of your lifestyle. The apps you use every day could soon tell people “I’m proud to be a _____ and that’s why I use (app).” The more attuned these apps become to our goals, likes and dislikes in life, the more they’ll find themselves being used likely far beyond what even us as developers envisioned.

What app trends are you anticipating in the year ahead? Let us know in the comments section below.

The Best of the Best: Mobile Music Streaming Apps

The rise of the mobile apps has led to an abundance of streaming services for us to get our music fix on the go. In this blog, we cast an eye over the current big name Mobile Music Streaming Services to find out which one comes out on top as the best of the best. 

A funny thing happened on my train to work recently. After noticing a fellow morning commuter’s swanky Beats Headphones, I had the sudden urge to finally listen to Dr. Dre’s new album (and also received a sudden lesson in cross-promotion). So I tried searching for the album on Spotify but could not find it. “Where is Dr. Dre’s new album?!” I thought to myself.

A quick Google search revealed that the album is exclusive to Apple Music and not available on Spotify. It was a disappointing revelation, but considering the incredibly crowded field of streaming services, it wasn’t a surprising one.

There is little doubt that the digital music market is moving away from downloads and towards streaming services. With mobile devices and apps driving the change towards streaming music, both big names and emerging brands have realised these huge opportunities in the mobile music streaming industry.

Apple Music launched its long-awaited streaming service in June this year, while Google continues to invest in expanding YouTube’s Music App. With much to gain for the winners, competition in the mobile music streaming space is intense.

So what’s the best streaming service for us app users? Well, if you asked me before that train ride, I would have said that Spotify provides the best mobile experience. If you ask me as I got off the train, I would have told you that Apple Music has the best catalogue of music, including access to exclusive albums and songs. However, if you asked me at work that day after chatting with our Graphic Designer Julian, I would have suggested that Pandora provides the best instant playlists optimised to your music preferences. That being said, I know that some of the people in our office at Launchpad App Development swear by Tidal’s excellent sound quality.

Despite my indecisiveness, I know that not all streaming services are made equal. Therefore, it’s about time I get off the fence and evaluate the marketing-leading music streaming apps to find out which is best for those morning train rides.

 

Spotify – The Best Mobile App

With over 75 million active users worldwide, Spotify is the brand many associate with music streaming. Boasting the top streaming service app worldwide, more than half of Spotify’s active users stream music on their mobile devices.

Spotify

Spotify’s mobile app cements their spot as the global leader in mobile music streaming. Source: App Annie

The Spotify mobile app is clean and simple, working in a similar manner to the desktop application. You can create custom playlists, and add tracks on the fly through search or while browsing. Users can also follow artists or other subscribers to keep up with their recommendations.

Spotify has a Freemium business model that, for free users, only offers shuffle playback of your playlists rather than track-by-track selections. Mobile streaming is only available in 96Kbps, 160Kbps or 320Kbps (the latter bitrate for iPhone and Android only and with Premium service). Furthermore, the free service is ad supported, which sucks for frugal users, but is effective for generating paid subscribers to the Premium service.

Speaking of which, Spotify offers three months of their Premium service for AU$0.99. After, it costs $11.99 per month and offers no ads, mobile listening and offline mode. For Premium users, Spotify also allows you to log in and keep listening to your music outside of your profile country if you travel.

The low-down:

Spotify is the genuine all-rounder and was one of the first ‘search for a song and play it immediately’ services available on iPhone and Android mobile devices. Despite missing out on exclusive artists and access to 24/7 radio services, Spotify offers a community where users can make and share playlists with other subscribers, add friends to share music with and see what other people were listening to. There are even playlists themed around what mood you are in or what activity you are undertaking.

Considered by many as the gold standard, Spotify is the mobile music streaming service that others are measured against.

 

Apple Music – The Best Music Catalogue

The new(ish) Apple Music has been built from Beats Music, which Apple acquired for a lazy $3 billion in 2014. So how is Apple trying to push aside the likes of Pandora, SoundCloud and – especially – Spotify to be the one-stop destination for all things music?

Well, having the largest music catalogue of 37 million tracks, along with exclusive access to artists like Taylor Swift and (cue defeated sigh) Dr. Dre is a damn good place to start. Add to this a new all-live worldwide radio station, Beats 1, and an artist-centric social network, and you’ve got an all-in-one streaming service app.

For the loyal Apple fans, there’s the added bonus of Apple Music being pre-installed on all iOS mobile devices for instant access to all iPhone and iPod users.

apple_music_screenshots.0

When you sign up for Apple Music, you get a free three-month trial with full access to all of the features. After that, it costs AU$11.99 a month, or you can get a family subscription for AU$17.99 which will allow six people to share the one subscription. Furthermore, Telstra is offering iPhone users on a 12- or 24- month Go Mobile Plan a year’s worth of Apple Music for free from the carrier.

The low-down:

Apple Music gets a lot right – a massive music catalogue, great voice control integration with Siri, and good cross-platform support (it’s coming to Android later this year). But with all of those features jammed into one app, Apple Music falls short on navigation and user interface – which is something of a surprise, given Apple’s long time focus on superior design.

Stuck in fourth place behind Spotify, Pandora and YouTube, Apple Music isn’t providing enough incentive for mobile app users to leave established streaming services. Apple have a long standing reputation for taking a wait-and-see approach with new technologies, but in an industry where the competitors have shown no signs of slowing down, Apple’s name recognition just isn’t enough anymore.

 

Pandora – The Best Internet Radio

The market-leading music streaming app in the United States, Pandora highlights the demand for Interactive Radio by offering users a way to consume music without choosing individual tracks. Pandora’s model is simple – enter any artist, genre or song you like, and Pandora will provide a stream of similar sounding music.

Pandora

Users can then give a thumbs up or down to refine their radio stations to songs they want to hear. You can save artists as favourites, with an option to by specific songs with link-out agreements. It’s more of a music-discovery service, or an instant playlist without the hassle.

The free service is ad supported with radio stations that stream at 64Kbps. The premium service (in the form of Pandora One) costs $4.99 per month and removes ads. With Pandora One, users also get more skips per hour and an improved streaming quality of 192Kbps.

The low-down:

Pandora offers a true radio experience with a simple and intuitive user interface. The iPhone and Android apps introduce you to a lot of new music and allow you to easily optimise your Internet radio experience.

However, the pessimist in me can’t help but have a ‘glass half empty’ view of Pandora. There are limitations, such as only being able skip 12 songs a day and large data consumption. Plus 1.5 million songs in its catalogue is not a lot when compared to other services.

Cue the trombone… Womp womp womp woooomp.

Pandora’s not the best streaming app available, but it’s never been an overall music service like Spotify or Apple Music. Instead, Pandora’s all about keeping things simple – push a button to listen to songs you like, without setting up playlists or searching for music. Internet radio doesn’t get much better than that!

 

Tidal- The Best Sound Quality

Tidal, formerly known as Aspiro, is the Swedish music streaming service that was recently purchased by Jay Z for a casual $56 Million in March 2015. The rapper/business mogul has vowed to create the first artist-owned music streaming service – owned funnily enough by some of pop music’s elite. Lets not talk about that bizarre press event, which has to be one of the worst marketing campaigns I have ever seen.

One thing Tidal is doing right is pledging to pay higher royalties to artists, songwriters and producers. If this is true, it may see bigger bands and artists removing their music from Spotify, which in turn may help smaller bands that are struggling to make ends meet. But lets get down to what’s on offer with Tidal.

Tidal

Tidal’s star-studded press conference. Source: Engadget

Tidal offers the highest quality audio on the market, something that will appeal to a number of listeners out there. Tidal HiFi, Tidal’s superior streaming service, offers high fidelity lossless CD quality audio – FLAC 1411 kbps – for $23.99 a month. It makes sense for subscribers to subscribe to Tidal. Why buy an expensive set of headphones if you aren’t getting the best sound out of them? The FLAC 1411 bitrate audio offers a fuller sound with much more detail. There is also Tidal Premium, which features standard sound quality (320 kbps) for $11.99.

Tidal’s music catalogue is over 35 million, with a few noticeable gaps, but will give access to exclusive content and is ad free. Unsurprisingly, the Tidal app is very sleek and modern but a bit buggy. There is a 30-day free trial to give Tidal a shot but no free service like what Spotify offers.

The low-down:

Tidal actually has a lot more going for it than just being owned by some of the world’s biggest artists. It offers up the best sound quality, with that lossless CD audio being far superior to its competitors. Furthermore, its extensive music catalogue and access to exclusive content from artists is a real eye-catcher.

However, at a cost of $24 per month, I can’t help but question if what Tidal offers is worth it. At $288 a year, it’s double the cost of a Premium Spotify service and an Apple Music subscription. Not to mention I am already paying for Netflix, Foxtel and an expensive phone bill each month.

Can a guy catch a break?

With no free option, Tidal is positioning itself as the highest quality and aiming for the audiophiles market. Does helping ‘fledging artists’ pull at your heartstrings or does Tidal’s cost makes it seem like too much of a hit to the bank account? I think I can feel my back pocket burning…

 

The Best of the Best

Let’s face it, no music streaming service is going to offer everything we want in a mobile app.  Spotify provides great user experience and extensive music catalogue, but means missing out on exclusive content. Choosing Apple Music subscription ives you exclusive content, but forgo Tidal’s FLAC 1411 quality audio. You might get an excellent Interactive Radio with Pandora, but a lite catalogue of music to listen to.

No mobile music streaming service is perfect.

For now, Spotify remains the best option available. The app is user-friendly, has a great music catalogue, and lets you make and share playlists. Not to mention that it’s free if you can put up with those pesky ads.

FYI I’m a Spotify user and ended up buying a CD of Dr. Dre’s new album. Who knew that music could still be a physical product??

What music streaming app do you use and why? Let us know in the comments below.

 

The 4 Myths of Mobile App Development

“For an industry that’s built on science, the technology world sure has its share of myths.”

–David Pogue, Founder of Yahoo Tech.

The app market continues to evolve as developers and users explore the possibilities of mobile technology. In 2015, the number of mobile-only internet users surpassed that of desktop-only, with people now spending at least 54% of their digital media time interacting with mobile apps.

As the top digital disruptor in business today, it comes as no surprise that everyone, from first-time entrepreneurs to multinational corporations, is sensing the urgency to break into mobile in a big way.

However, there are so many misconceptions around mobile app development that a lot of entrepreneurs and businesses end up squandering time and money they simply can’t afford. In my experience at the helm for numerous app development projects, I’ve been able to observe what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating a best-in-class app product.

If you’re looking to create an app that innovates rather than regulates, here are the top 4 myths that you need to bust to do mobile right.

 

MYTH #1: Developing apps natively per platform is a waste of time and money.

REALITY: 

If you want a five-star app, build natively. Period.

The benefits of building a cross-platform app seam clear. You only have to code some once and you can push it out to everyone using any device. Sounds simple. Logical. Facebook thought so initially, as did LinkedIn. But the ease was countered by some pretty dramatic downsides. How dramatic you ask? Well, Mark Zuckerberg called Facebook’s over-reliance on HTML5 as opposed to native as “the biggest mistake we made as a company”.

In comparison to native apps, a cross-platform app is worse across every important metric: functionality, performance, UI etc. When entrepreneurs and business go the easy route of app development, they don’t realise that all they’re doing is creating a crappy experience for everyone everywhere.

But cross-platform approaches still lure startups that don’t want to invest more time and money developing separately for iOS and Android Operating Systems. Instead, they rely on HTML5, hybrid applications and cross-platform toolkits, but none of these work well enough to build the high-end mobile experiences users expect. They will eventually, but they don’t right now.

Each of these solutions come with their own set of drawbacks:

  • HTML5: Cross-browser compatibility issues are difficult to resolve, which means that you end up needing to optimise for each platform anyway.
  • Hybrid Apps: There’s a leaky abstraction layer (E.g. “Is that a URL bar refreshing in the app?… Seriously??”) and the communication layer between the app and web view is complex and littered with errors.
  • Cross-Platform Toolkits: Require large amounts of custom code per platform, making it easier and faster to write native code for each.

The takeaway: Instead of going broad and writing something once, spend the time and go deeper on your most popular platform first. Then expand from there. You want to pick the platform that resonates most with your users — whether it be iOS, Android or both. It all depends on what you want the app to do and the audience it’s designed to reach.

Figuring out your optimal platform means you need to dig into the demographics of your user base. In a previous post about validating your app idea, I discussed how researching the size and shape of your market is a critical step in influencing the direction of your app concept. You need to see firsthand that different users’ habits are largely driven by the platforms they use. Android users look for functionality in different places than iOS users, and so on. From both a speed and quality perspective this is the only way to go.

 

MYTH #2: My backend server is ready to support mobile apps.

REALITY:

You will need to change, upgrade, or completely rebuild your backend to create the best mobile experience.

Most companies still aren’t used to building the type of backend server that creates top mobile apps. Without the right API design and implementation, an app will perform poorly in the real world. Some companies see increases in mobile traffic that are 200% higher — or more — than their website. Take banks as an example: Whereas customers can now check their account 10 times a day on their smartphone. Your server needs to be able to handle that kind of workload.

To avoid crash issues due to increased mobile traffic, here’s a checklist to consider when integrating a mobile app with your web server:

  • Maximum Payload Size: In mobile, the best experiences are the ones where the minimum amount of data is sent. A good API for mobile should allow the client to specify the maximum payload size returned from the server (4 KB is usually enough).
  • Retry rather than Redo: Given the flakiness of network connectivity, users should be allowed to send the same API call to the server multiple times for certainty. Retrying the same API call should not mean two calls on the same server end (E.g. Posting the same Facebook status message twice).
  • Low Latency: Bandwidth isn’t the only networking issue when dealing with mobile devices. The lower the latency on each API call, the snappier your app will feel.
  • Single API Call per Screen: This requires tighter coupling between the mobile device and the server, but can make for a very compelling mobile experience. Ideally, every screen on mobile would make at most one API call to the backend. To loosen the coupling, the API could be designed to allow variable return data, with much of the heavy lifting done on the server side.

 

MYTH #3: You can develop your mobile app internally as fast as an outside company.

REALITY:

Developing your app yourself will take 3x longer.

Throughout my time helping entrepreneurs and business embrace mobile innovation, lots of folks have asked how long their app will take to make. I may assess that an app would take three months to develop for one platform. Sometimes they’d come back with the decision to develop the app internally. Keeping tabs on these app projects, it comes as no surprise to see them finally launch almost a year later in the App Store.

If you want to develop an app, you can’t make the mistake of thinking just because you have HTML, CSS and JavaScript capabilities that mobile will be plug-and-play for you. Unless you have a dedicated, built-out mobile team, this will probably not be the case. And very few entrepreneurs and startups have this luxury. When they decide to go internal, they’re essentially choosing to pay with time instead of money.

Why does it take startups so much longer to do it on their own? They don’t anticipate their most critical need: Hiring.

If you are planning to build internally, you want to be confident that you already have the people and skill sets you need to execute. This isn’t just about coding talent either. You need to have people with mobile product experience, mobile Quality Assurance (QA) testers, and mobile UI/UX Designers. You need all of these people working together to put out a great product. Otherwise your developers may head down one road only to discover they had the wrong product vision, or they hadn’t even thought of QA.

When you bring in a development company, you are provided with experts in all of these areas who can work in parallel to iterate quickly and deploy internally. Having a Mobile Product Manager keeps you focused on the three to five (maximum!) core functionalities an app should have.

Speed isn’t just important for its own sake either. The sooner you get your app into the App Store or on Google Play, the sooner you get to see people’s reactions to it. The faster you can gather that feedback, the closer you are to your next release.

There’s also the chance that you’ll realise halfway through that your company simply doesn’t have the people or resources to finish an app it’s started. Then you have to call in a company for what we like to call “a rescue.” It doesn’t sound good — because it isn’t.

This doesn’t mean that working with any outside developer will do. When choosing an app development company, you’re really choosing a partner. To make sure you end up working with the right partner, we suggest asking every company a series of probing questions:

  • How do they learn as they develop new mobile capabilities?
  • How do they capture and leverage the data from their previous projects and experiences? What have they learned from working with other clients?
  • Do they offer the ability to co-innovate (pairing their own staff with the client’s to develop, design, and test)?
  • Do they follow agile methodologies (test driven development, quick iterations, constant communication)?

For all of these questions, the ‘right’ answer is not a one-size-fits-all, but the one that best suits your business. At agile development companies, internal knowledge sharing is accomplished through a combination of human and technical means: lunch and learns, demos, company-wide standups, an internal project management site, and rotating staff across projects to expose them to a wide range of experiences. You want answers that make it clear that it’s easy and encouraged for you to participate.

 

MYTH #4: If I outsource to a mobile development company, I won’t have to do any work.

REALITY:

For the best outcomes, clients need to be heavily involved with the company they’ve contracted.

Sometimes we have clients who just say “Hey, pretend to be me and make the decisions you think I would make”. In other words, they just want to hand the whole project over. At Launchpad, what we’ve found is that to do the best work, we need as much information as we can get as fast as we can get it, and that requires client participation.

In my experience as a Product Manager across a wide variety of app development projects, the greatest apps I’ve been involved with resulted from the client working very closely with the design, coding and QA teams. Ideally, they have the opportunity to collaborate with the client to see what everyone wants and envisions.

The best case scenario is actually having our client sit with us to work toward building a solution — not just trading emails or checking in every so often over Skype. We call this co-innovation, as it allows the key stakeholders to build together.

When you work side by side with someone, trust forms so much faster. It’s so much easier to make decisions and work through issues. Simply put, the ability to be co-located with someone and to co-invent is a key factor for app development success.

Ultimately, busting all of these myths depends on finding the right partner. You want someone who gets you, gets your app, and is just as invested in your success as their own especially if you’re at a smaller startup or a company that is only beginning to invest in mobile. Given the increasing importance of these platforms, finding this exact fit could not only make or break your mobile strategy, but your entire business.

Do you have any questions about mobile app development? Feel free to ask in the comments section below.

5 Reasons an App Startup Is the Shortest Route to Financial Freedom

The top 1 percent of wealthiest people in the world didn’t become rich trading time for money. And in light of this, it’s fairly logical to assume trading time for money won’t work for you either.

Financial freedom is only possible with a strategy and business model that is scalable. “How do I do that?” I hear you ask – welcome to the world of digital business.

Digital businesses have created a new economy that is accessible to everybody. They can be websites but at the bleeding edge of this global technological disruption trend are apps. Apps provide a vastly improved user experience in comparison to mobile websites. Coupled with the ability to take full advantage of smartphone functionality like GPS and push notifications, mobile websites don’t even stand a chance.

It’s the sheer size and explosive growth that has already changed our perception of the traditional way of doing business. Uber, Instagram, Airbnb and numerous other tech companies have completely redefined their respective industries and have practically overthrown their traditional brick-and-mortar counterparts.

What does this mean for you? Well, the advent of App Stores that allow third-party entrepreneurs to create new software experiences has in many ways levelled the playing field for entrepreneurs to compete with major corporations.

This is because apps have the unique ability to grow exponentially. They present endless possibilities to scale with a lot smaller investment then traditional business models of the past. Of course, creating the next revolutionary app isn’t going to be easy but it also doesn’t happen by chance. Check out our 5 Top Strategies to Get More App Downloads blog for a better understanding of what’s involved in getting downloads and creating a successful app business.

Moving on, here are the top 5 reasons why taking your energy to the App Store will help immeasurably grow your business (and wealth) and regain your long lost freedom.

1. Scalability and exponential growth

Regardless of what type of business or industry you are in, scalability is an essential for growing your business. Establishing a business model that includes an app is the shortest route to truly exponential growth and it’s possible with a shoe-string marketing budget. The most successful businesses today are rooted in highly scalable app business models – Uber, Google, Facebook, Snapchat – the list goes on.

An app startup provides all of the essential ingredients to create the perfect scalability formula. Some of the main ingredients that app development provides, among countless others, include:

  • Instant access to more than 2 billion potential customers (roughly one-third of consumers worldwide).
  • Low costs to build a world-class app in comparison to starting a traditional business.
  • Robust integration capabilities with social media and free access to the most sophisticated and user-friendly marketing platforms.
  • Overnight proof of concept with real time customer-feedback.
  • Drastic reduction in costs for all aspects of running your business.

Success and scalability are intertwined. Taking your business to the App Store lets you achieve the scalability necessary for your business to thrive by maximising output while minimising costs and time.

 

2. Time over money

App Startups are not in some parallel universe that is exempt from the laws of reality. This is quickly discovered by many self-proclaimed entrepreneurs that hire the cheapest freelancer to develop their app. Your app concept will not simply reach a million- or billion-dollar valuation just by being on the App Store.

However, building an app startup does provide certain shortcuts to those who leverage its benefits. By understanding and mastering these benefits, you will be able to drastically increase your business’ growth while scaling back the amount of time you spend in your business.

Once you design and launch your app, little additional time is required to run it because of the efficiencies and automation tools provided online. Virtual assistants have reduced your time commitments even further and for next-to-nothing prices. This gives you more time to focus on big-picture projects that take your app startup to the next level. It also allows you to live life on your terms, and focus on the things that keep you motivated and engaged.

 

3. Create raving fans and loyal advocates

The goal of business is to create raving fans and loyal advocates. They go out of their way to promote your product to anyone and everyone, not because you asked them but because they want to. This is the Holy Grail of marketing that you cannot put a price on. Creating a mobile app to attract these zealous supporters is paramount, and the quickest, surefire way to achieve exponential growth.

An app gives you the best opportunity to prove your credibility and authenticity. By showing your customers that you can consistently provide them value and deliver on your business’s promises, you can earn their support. Creating a personalised app experience allows you to shift your customer’s perspective from a one-time user to a lifelong raving fan and loyal advocate.

iPhone-6-Eaton-Centre

Apple’s loyal fanbase will (literally!) wait in line for their latest smartphones and tablets. Source: Mac Rumors

 

4. Maximise, not minimise, your time

It’s not about working hard, or working smarter, it’s about working right. App development has paved the way for this principle that has taken the entrepreneurial world by storm. In less than 24 hours you, as an entrepreneur, can think of an idea, create a minimum viable product or service, list the app product for sale online with a global customer base, receive instantaneous user-feedback, then modify and adjust your app startup based on that feedback! Efficiency at its finest.

Validating that your app idea works by attracting users and generating revenue is priority number one. Remember, your customers are marketing geniuses. They know exactly what they want and it is your job to find that out. Too many entrepreneurs begin with an idea for a app product that they think people want. They spend months, sometimes years, making sure the product and business are perfected without ever testing or even showing it to potential users! App development has given you the perfect platform to do just that.

 

5. Now is the perfect time

What are you waiting for? There will never be a perfect time to take action and develop an app. If you’re waiting for the right time, regret is guaranteed. Forget the naysayers and be decisive. I am telling you from experience that now is always the perfect time to chase your biggest ambitions. 

Your only one call away from a confidential discussion to evaluate your app idea. To find out how we can help you launch your app startup, give us a call on 1300 277 434 if you’re in Australia or email me at dane@launchpadapps.com.au if you’d prefer.

How many apps do you need to download before you create your own? Stop being a mobile consumer, and switch teams to be a producer first, and a consumer second. Those focused on building something bigger than themselves are the ones that produce results – they are changing the world, not just consuming it.

 

5 Top Strategies to Get More App Downloads

All app entrepreneurs want the same thing: to increase the number of people that download their app. Growth hacking should be one of everyone’s top priorities. So, what can you do to increase app downloads? In this post, we provide five strategies to app growth that inherently increases user retention and product success with the App Store market place.

We’ve all heard the naysayers complaining about how competitive the app market is today, and how you’re app is likely going to fail. However, you need to brush this negativity aside and continue to push forward with full momentum if you plan on being a successful entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that developing an app is easy – in reality far from it. But in my experiences, everything in life that’s truly rewarding requires hard work and determination, and creating your own app is definitely no exception. 

If you agree with the statement above you already have a head start on the mindset you’ll need to be successful. This will keep the passion alive and maintain your determination and willingness to do whatever it takes to see your app become as successful as possible when it hits the App Stores. 

If you were to come by my office tomorrow looking for advice on how to get enough downloads to propel your app into the ranks of Startup Success, I’d tell you six things. One, you’ve come to the right place! The next five things would be my 5 top strategies for increasing app downloads.

 

1. Use Smart Banners to convert Mobile Web Browsers to App Users

Mobile web remains very important for mobile apps. Developers use it to drive brand awareness and traffic on mobile devices in ways that apps (currently) can’t. There are two main ways that users end up on a mobile website: through organic search or a link.

On a mobile device, web search is one of the best ways to get discovered. Hopefully, when someone enters a query in Google (or Bing, ha!), your mobile site pops up. This is why it’s crucial you have a strong web presence with indexed content. Google will not automatically return your app content on search. Skip to step 4 for more on that.

If you receive organic traffic to your mobile website, it’s up to you to design an experience that will drive people to your app. The best method for this is a smart banner. As simple as this seems, smart banners continue to drive mobile downloads. According to Branch Metrics, an analysis of 12 million link clicks found that 15.5% of smart banners clicks resulted in an install. That’s actually pretty high in comparison to most channels.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-18_at_5.24.06_PM

Click-to-install rate by channel.

The second way users find themselves on a mobile website is from a link click. Sometimes, the mobile web is used as an interstitial before a new user is routed to the App Store. In fact, compared to sending someone directly to the App Store after a link click, sending them to a mobile web splash with a View in the App call-to-action converts users 2 to 6 times better. Web banners work because of Cialdini’s principle of reciprocity. By giving users a preview, or a free sample, of the app content you want them to see, they are more inclined to give the app a try.

 

2. Provide a personalised App Onboarding experience

Onboarding continues to be a crucial step in converting valuable users. In summary, the App Store is a huge barrier to entry, but so is a generic welcome flow. By giving users a personalised experience, you provide them value right off the bat. 77% of mobile users downloaded an app in the past six months because of a recommendation from a friend or family.

Why not remind users that they came from a friend’s recommendation when they open the app for the first time? Gogobot did this by showing the name and profile picture of the referring user and saw a 78% lift in conversion to sign up.

Now, I know what you’re probably saying to yourself: “The title of this blog was about driving app downloads. Onboarding is after my users have already downloaded the app.”

But what good are app downloads if they don’t convert into active users? Spoiler alert: none. Well, except for maybe costing a lot of money and providing you with some vanity metrics.

tu225

You don’t need Condescending Wonka telling you how important user retention is.

The best-personalised welcomes rely on deep links to pass information through the App Store that you want to show a new user. The newest research shows that day-1, day-7, and day-30 retention rates double for users who come from a deep link.

 

3. Give Desktop Users direct access to your App

Links created from desktop via a text-yourself-the-app feature have the highest conversion to sign up rate compared to other deep linking features.

Let me explain why this is the case. If users have spent the time to enter their phone number, open a text, and click on a link, they’ve probably already made up their mind that they want the app. This is why we see an install rate of about 42% when it comes to text-me-the-app link clicks.

This is also why text-me-the-app is the default for branch link clicks on desktop. But how can we make this the default when so many apps are mobile-first and don’t have a website?

As mentioned in my 3 Steps To Validating Your App Idea post, we recommend creating a desktop landing page that is built seamlessly into the user experience provided by the app when you click ‘Download Now’. Instead of relying on the badges below to drive web traffic to your app, get potential users to enter their phone number to be texted a link to the App Store.

Screen_Shot_2015-09-18_at_4.30.48_PM

App Store Badges on Desktop.

4. Make your App discoverable

App discovery is the hot new topic when it comes to driving downloads. Leading the charge are Apple and Google with their App Indexing and Spotlight Search.

Although these are still unproven channels for driving app downloads, you have two of the most valuable companies in the world, who also happen to control the app ecosystem, working hard to make app discovery a possibility. I’d bet on seeing some significant improvements in app discovery very soon.

Apple’s recent iOS 9 update allows developers to list content with CSSearchableItem and CSSearchableIndex (Before we get any further, make sure your iOS app is setup properly for deep linking… Done? Great!). Once you’ve done this 1) your app content can be listed on cloud and local search, 2) you can deep link directly from Spotlight Search results, and 3) you can start tracking clicks and downloads coming from Spotlight. Win-win-win.

For Google to properly index your app, you need to have a website with corresponding one-to-one mapping to the content in your app. Bit of a drainer, right? Before doing the ‘eye-roll, back-turn’ at Google, there is a solution that will host and configure your indexing tags automatically. Similar to Spotlight Search, this solution will allow you to list your app content, deep link from search results, and track and measure search results.

As I mentioned, these are still unproven channels, but indexing your app content now will definitely get you ahead of the competition.

 

5. Focus on valuable content

Too often I hear people say, “I want my app to be viral,” as if virality is a special feature you can simply switch on. Virality is a goal, not a choice. What entrepreneurs should be saying, or asking, is “why are some apps viral?”

Apps are most viral when they have good content. Good content is defined as content users think is worth sharing. The more your content is shared, the more users will download your app (assuming you build the sharing features for them to do so). It’s that easy.

Not only is it more shareable, but it will also become more discoverable, as app search engines will likely reward highly shared app content with higher search results. Creating good content is not an easy solution. It’s no get-rich-quick scheme (like App Store Optimisation), where you’re promised immediate results. It’s a solution for long-term success and discoverability.

We’re at a time when creating a mobile app is like creating a website before Google. Once app search and discovery becomes prominent, it will change the game for everyone.

Am I missing out on any strategies to getting more app downloads? Let me know in the comments section below.

 

10 Apps on the Right Path of Disruption: Part Two

Disruptive apps create a ‘new normal’ for consumers and businesses alike. They make life easier and often improve upon the traditional practices that came before it. We look at five new apps that are changing the way we shop, find a car park and do chores.

A disruptive app strives to challenge the status quo within an industry – so much so that the traditional way of doing business becomes obsolete. That’s easier said than done, and a lot harder than creating an app that follows market trends and consumer demand. So why are so many app startups aiming to innovate rather than regulate?

Well, as the late Steve Jobs succinctly put it: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

In the first part, I discovered apps that aim to change the way we live. For instance, grabbing a coffee, finding nearby friends and even monitoring our health. I also discovered that these app startups that are crazy enough to think they can change world, are the ones who do.

Related: 10 Apps on the Right Path of Disruption: Part One

In this second part, I examine five more apps that disrupt the way we live our lives for the better.

 

1. Witness

What if live streaming, like those that run today on apps like Periscope or Meerkat, could be used to save lives? That’s the premise behind Witness – An app that does everything your phone can do to keep you safe in an emergency. With one touch, the app broadcast your location, audio and video to your loved ones and emergency contacts.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Live Mobile Video Streaming

Winner of the TechCrunch 2015 Hackathon, Witness can be activated by launching the app and pressing the ‘Witness’ button. As soon as you activate it, it will call and text your emergency contacts.

In addition to alerting your friends and family, Witness will record your location, camera and microphone activity. It also streams it over data and Wi-Fi to your emergency contacts in real time. In the meantime, your screen fades to black so nobody can notice that you’re streaming what’s happening.

Witness App

Source: iTunes

Changing the way we stay safe in an emergency

What makes Witness a game-changer in the live streaming app market is that rather than having the stream sent out to the public via social networks like Twitter, only designated contacts you’ve previously configured in the app’s settings are alerted to the incident via phone calls and text messages.

“Whatever emergency I have, I pretty much always have my phone and my wallet with me,” developer Marinos Bernitsas explains. That’s why he says it made sense to take advantage of the smartphone’s camera, microphone and GPS to build an app that could help keep people safe.

Operating as a ‘panic button’ of sorts for your iPhone, Witness empowers individuals and law enforcement agencies with a secure and efficient way to capture and deliver digital media in an emergency situation.

 

2. Membit

While searching for disruptive apps, I found that one of the most difficult industries to shake up was social networking. Companies like Facebook and Google are always striving, and spending, to remain at the forefront of how we connect to one another. With that being the case, how can a startup disrupt an industry where the most powerful are also the most innovative?

Well, when your app has a feature that Snapchat filed a patent for, it’s safe to say that you may have the attention of Silicon Valley. That’s what Membit has – a breakthrough mobile image sharing app that utilises a patented Human Positioning System (HPS) to share images.

Membit is a new way to share memories by letting users unlock past clips (‘membits’ ), captured at a specific location.

Changing the way we share memories

“Membit is destined to become the world’s way of memorialising and sharing moments that matter.” It’s a bold statement by Membit Founder Jay Van Buren. But when you consider the patented form of augmented reality the Membit has for geo-locative photo sharing, it’s a statement that he can say with confidence.

Membit photos know where they belong in the real world, and users can share Membits simply by leaving them in a particular place. Others can experience these images through a 3D interface or through their mobile devices at the Membit’s actual physical location. It’s a uniquely compelling way to experience and share photos.

 

3. Mallzee

Tinder-esque ‘swipe to filter’ interfaces (A.K.A. ‘Tinderfaces’) are in app vogue right now. ‘X app is the Tinder of Y’ has become the standard descriptive shorthand for this trend, named from the dating app Tinder which popularised making snap aesthetic judgements swipe style.

U.K. startup Mallzee is just one example of apps following in the gestural footsteps of Tinder by applying a Tinderface to high street shopping decisions.

The self-proclaimed ‘Tinder for Fashion’, Mallzee has captured the attention of fashion labels and investors alike. With a database that let’s you search over 2 million products from around 200 major brand retailers, the company has raised a nearly $6.7 million since being founded in 2013.

mallzee-app-screenshots

Source: Student Fashion

Changing the way we shop for clothes

Mallzee’s personalisation technology and retailer analytics appears to be the biggest draw here. The former creates what the startup describes as unique personalised style profiles that make finding ‘the perfect outfit’ quick and easy. This includes sending you alerts when items you have swiped-to-like are reduced in price.

For the retailers, Mallzee provides a data insight tool, which claims to provide ‘actionable real-time knowledge’ of how their products. For instance, how they are perceived and used across various consumer demographics, such as location, age and gender.

It’s quite the innovative shopping startup, but it’s Mallzee’s clever social twist that’s shaking up the personalised shopping experience for users. The app lets you share the item you intend to buy with friends. If the consensus is a thumbs-down, Mallzee will actually prohibit you from making a purchase — the buy button becomes disabled — helping to avoid any potential fashion faux pas. This feature could prove to be a viral hit with the young demographic. Or just a bit annoying. Time will tell.

 

4. DoStuff

Algorithms can’t tell you what to do tonight. You need a local who knows about all the events and can tell you what’ll actually be fun. That’s why DoStuff hire natives from cities across the United States to power recommendations in its new event discovery app.

The app is smartly designed to find awesome local events that are the real deal. While most other event aggregation apps force you through the chore of sifting out what’s good (I’m looking at you, That’s Melbourne!), DoStuff has real humans curating the events.

Changing the way we… well, do stuff!

So how does DoStuff stand out from the heavily saturated event discovery market? “There’s probably been 87,000 companies that have tried to tackle this,” DoStuff’s founder and CEO Scott Owens admits. “Where we’re different is that we’ve become a part of the scene in those communities by partnering with people.”

DoStuff understands that it doesn’t have to build an empire to create a disruptive app. The fact is that the companies perhaps best equipped data-wise to nail event recommendations just don’t care. EventBrite only makes money by selling tickets to events on its system, so Owens says “they’re fighting against themselves if they surface other things.”

Owens thinks similarly about Facebook. “It’s not in their DNA to be a part of a local community. They’re a platform.” Facebook knows where your friends are going, just not if where they’re going is any good.

Event discovery may be saturated, but that just shows there’s a clear need for it to be done well. DoStuff have realised that it’s people that are needed to do that.

 

5. Parkhound

After publishing the first part of this blog, I had a mate astutely say ‘Cool apps bro. Any Aussie ones?’. Considering Launchpad is Melbourne-based helping Australians develop their innovative app ideas, he had a good point.

As such, this app startup is disrupting a something that most Australians can relate to: finding a car park!

Enter Parkhound – An online marketplace that connects drivers looking for parking with local property owners who have spare parking spaces. A 2014 Australian Mobile and App Awards nominee, the app aims to make sure you won’t have to drive around aimlessly looking for a parking spot ever again.

Changing the way we find a car park

Parkhound works very similarly to Airbnb, but as a marketplace for empty parking spaces instead of rent accommodation. Drivers reserve a parking spot in advance and parking space owners get to make extra income on the side.

As a Melbourne motorist that heads to the city every morning, here’s how I feel about this app…

Blog Meme

As indicated in the above meme, parking has been a major issue for all Australian motorists. Lack of investment in infrastructure meant that parking is either unavailable or is too expensive.

Instead of ignoring the issue, Parkhound has decided to challenge it head on. The solution? parking spaces need to be better utilised. Through collaborative consumption, here’s hoping that Parkhound can give the Australian parking industry the much needed shake-up it deserves.

 

Bonus App (Surprise!)

Apps like Tinder have gained popularity by shallowly focusing on physical attractiveness. It’s unfortunate, but also understandable. How is another way someone can find the perfect match with an app? Well, Oscar Mayer believes it has found the perfect equation for this and it all comes down to bacon.

Last month, the company released Sizzl, a dating app that allows lovestruck users a closed network of bacon lovers where they can scour for their ideal dates. This ‘totally real dating app’ allows people to “specify their bacon preferences in a customisable profile, upload photos and start swiping through profiles of local fellow bacon lovers, with the ability to message and meet up with other Sizzl users based on a mutual-matching system,” according to a company press release.

Changing the way bacon lovers find their soulmate

“In love, as it is in bacon, it’s important to be discerning when selecting your perfect match and to never settle for less than the best,” said Eric Dahmer, Oscar Mayer’s marketing director in a statement. “With the launch of Sizzl, we’re thrilled to give our true bacon lovers the chance to find each other and potentially meet their soulmates, in life and in bacon.”

This is a real app, and you really can attempt to meet your love match via a bacon-based matching service. It may not be disrupting the online dating industry anytime soon, but let’s be honest — it can’t be any worse than what’s already out there.

Are there any other disruptive (or bacon-centric) apps we should be checking out? We’d love to hear about them.

 

VALIDATE-MY-IDEA!

 

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