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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

3 Steps To Validating Your App Idea

All successful apps begin in the same way – as innovative ideas. To help you validate your app idea, we examine what you need to know, do and expect to determine the market demand and long-term viability of your app.

So you’ve got a great idea for the next app that is going to change the world. Most likely, you’ve browsed the App Store and seen there’s nothing else like your idea, so now you’re seriously considering joining the new wave of App Startups taking the shortest route to financial freedom.

But will your idea stand out from the crowd in the app market? How do you know whether there is a target market large enough that are looking for an app like yours?

Based on a small sample size of you and those you’ve mentioned your idea to, these are difficult questions to answer.

Before you start investing time, money, and effort into developing an app that others may or may not use, you need to spend the time upfront to validate your idea. Idea validation will help you focus your efforts on creating an app that people want to use and increase your chances of building a success app startup.

To help validate your idea, let’s examine the three steps to making sure that your app can attract users and generate revenue.

 

Research

Researching the size and shape of your market is a critical step in influencing the direction of your app idea. Is your target market broad enough to support an app funded by advertising? Or is it perhaps niche enough to generate word-of-mouth recommendations and community loyalty?

Seeking out similar apps is an easy way to start, but we
 don’t necessarily need to identify existing competitors to prove that we’re building something that people want. If we can’t find competitors, we can alternatively look for people blogging about problems that the app idea solves, or discover if people search for topics related to the app. Luckily for us, there are more research tools and data sources freely available to do such research than ever before.

In a previous blog about naming your app, I discussed how more apps are discovered through the App Store’s keyword based search engine than any other discovery method. When it comes to validating your app idea, use the Google Keyword Planner tool to find the audience who is seeking a product like your app idea.

Type in words associated with your app idea, like the problem you are trying to solve, the benefits your app will provide or other terms associated with your concept. You can also use App Store Optimisation tools like Search Man or Sensor Tower to help find the right keywords for your app. The keywords can then be optimised based on search locations to see the average number of local and global monthly Google searches. This is a good indicator of market demand and, in turn, the validity of your app idea.

 

Minimum Viable Product

It’s tempting to include every feature that your potential users could possibly want as part of your app idea. This would appear to maximise the app/market fit and, in turn, the chance of market success. But there are three main problems with this ‘all-in’ approach:

  1. It’s possible to include ‘too many’ As the number of features increases it becomes more difficult to build a usable product, and the result is often a confusing interface through which the user cannot navigate even simplest functions.
  1. The market potential of your current list of features is anybody’s guess. You have yet to test all these features with real users, so would you really want to risk excessive development time for features that may be unwanted?
  1. It’s not practical and doesn’t make good business sense. Even if you can afford to do so, there’s no point delaying the launch of your app by months and investing thousands more dollars if you can launch earlier and still achieve success.

The challenge is to determine which features are required for launch and which can wait for later updates. At this idea stage, you need to build the minimum viable product (MVP). The idea here is create an app prototype that has just the required features that address the problem you are trying to solve or demonstrates the core value of your product.

The MVP can then be shared with early adopters to see their response. Are people excited to use it? Are their needs or problems resolved by using the app? Is it easy to use? Note this feedback and revise the app.

I should reiterate: Building an MVP is not the same as creating the best app product. Your app idea is not yet at the ‘sweet spot’ where the minimum features satisfy the maximum number of users.

MVP

The minimum viable product has fewer features than an app at the sweet spot.

The MVP is a much earlier product than this ‘sweet spot’. It’s the minimum product that can be presented to the market in order to attract some paying app users and to validate the research about what they want. Market research gives us a good idea of how to achieve the MVP, while the MVP enhances our findings and takes us to the next stage.

So how do you go about building the MVP?

Use your existing research

Your research into similar existing apps and target market trends provides the best foundation for feature prioritisation. You should have a good understanding of what really matters
 to your potential users: their principal needs and motivations, and their relative importance. If you researched the App Store and Google Keywords, the features that appear most frequently should come higher on the list.

Prototyping

A prototype MVP is something you can often build in a few days as an actual functioning stripped-down app with the core features offered. As part of Launchpad’s Idea Validation process, my go-to prototyping tool when creating the MVP for App Entrepreneurs is InVision. Not only does InVision allow you to transform your App Idea into a clickable, interactive Mobile prototype; it’s also free to use! Creating variations of the basic app interface on a prototyping tool like InVision will greatly assist you in identifying and prioritising the features that will maximise you app idea’s potential success.

VALIDATE-MY-IDEA!

Landing Page

Once you have researched your target market and conceptualised the MVP, you need to micro-test your app idea to validate it’s potential. You may not have an app yet, but you can still have potential users sign up for it by creating a landing page that describes the main benefits of your app, the key selling points and the core problem it solves.

A promotional landing page doesn’t take weeks to plan and develop. A simple teaser page can be created in less than a day and will deliver a number of tangible benefits:

  1. It allows you to market your brand and benefits, even if passively to begin with. If you decide to talk publicly about your future app concept, for example in social media post, you can refer the people to the teaser URL.
  1. Search engines will be able to index your domain. It can take weeks for a new domain name/website to appear in some search engines, so an early teaser page can start this process while the app is developed. Furthermore, if the page looks beautiful and the app sounds appealing, people will link to you from their websites, which is great news for the app’s future search engine rankings.
  1. The teaser site can help you build a database of interested potential users. These people can be notified when the app is launched, which guarantees you some initial interest and early feedback. If they have granted you permission, you can also survey them during the application development, perhaps to ask whether a particular feature would be valuable to them.

To create your landing page, use platforms like Launchrock or KickoffLabs. Both platforms allow you to easily make a free website and email collector. Furthermore, they provide built-in analytics to include as part of your landing page. So pick a template, add content about your app idea and start sharing the URL.

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The landing page for Cleaver & Co. Hair’s Web App. Source: Cleaver & Co. Hair

Once your landing page is ready, you need to start sending traffic to it. There are a number of free options to gain visibility for your landing page, like posting your app to applicable subreddits, sharing on social media, and contacting blogs and websites related to your idea.

There are also paid options that you can use to get exposure for your idea early in the process. A small ad campaign through Facebook Marketing or Google Adwords provides an affordable option to present your app to a wide audience of early adopters that may be in your target market.

Across all the promotional options for your landing page, be sure to focus on collecting the email address of visitors. This will allow you to engage with potential users throughout the full app development process and let them know when the app launches.

 

Before validating your app idea…

By applying these three steps, you will have a much more successful app upon release than you would have if you hadn’t validated your idea.

You will know the market demand for your app. You will know the features to include in your app. And most importantly, you will know that there is an audience waiting to download your app.

What other tips do you have for app validation? Let us know in the comments below.

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4 Key Elements to Write Blogs for Your App Startup

Photo Source: Essential App Marketing

Entrepreneurs need to market their App startups. When it comes to marketing an App offering online, content marketing through blog writing is one of the most effective methods to spread the word about your App and position yourself as an industry expert. But an effective blog post is not the same as churning out written content.

Effective content marketing is about telling really great stories that connect with your target audience. To write a great blog that attracts clicks, reads and shares from your target market, there are key elements that need to be incorporated.

As part of my blog writing practices for Launchpad App Development and our clients, I have researched the methodology applied by Online Marketing expert Neil Patel and formatted the key app marketing elements to accomplish the writing goals of successful App Entrepreneurs.

So, without further ado, here are the four key elements of a successful blog posts when marketing your app.

 

The Title

The headline is vitally important to a blog post’s success, as it is the first piece of content your audience will read. You may have put a substantial amount of time and effort into writing the blog, but if no one clicks it because the headline is boring, you might as well have not written anything to promote your app.

Research from Copyblogger found that, on average, 8 out of 10 people will read the headline, while approximately only 2 out of 10 will continue on to read the blog post.

So how do you create a title that has the power to draw eyes and clicks?

Use the following practices to create your blog headline:

Give yourself at least 30 minutes to generate a great headline

Do not rush the key element to grabbing the initial attention of your target market. Instead, apply a different kind of R&R once you have written the blog content: Research & Review.

Research articles that cover similar topics to your app product, as well as the titles of those that received a high-volume of shares and comments from readers. How were the headlines effective in getting the online audience to read the article?

Review the content you have prepared for your blog. More specifically, assess the keywords you have applied throughout your writing. This will help to understand the point you want to communicate in the headline and the keywords that will advance your audience to be engaged, read on and, in turn, download your app.

Include numbers to catch the eye of readers

Research has shown that including numbers in a title directly leads to more clicks and shares of the written content. Along with a subtitle of how long a blog will take to read (E.g. Read in 5 minutes), this technique helps the reader to know exactly what to expect, timewise. If a title includes that the blog is comprised of ‘5 tips’, no more and no less, than the audience can instantaneously make a decision on whether they have the time to read on.

Example: The title for Launchpad’s ‘Naming Your App’ Blog

✗   How to Name An App – Overused phrase in ‘How to’ with no keywords that express the blog’s benefits or prompt action from the reader.

✓   A 3 Step Guide to Naming Your App – Clearly states what to expect from reading on (‘3 Step Guide’) and engages the reader to do so (‘Your App’).

 

The Structure

So your title has persuaded people to click on your blog post. Now your content needs to sell your app.

Here’s some proof why content sells: In one study, 71% of B2B marketers  used content marketing to generate leads, and content marketing generated three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but cost 62% less.

If you want potential customers to read on and engage with the content, you need to organise the layout of your blog. Organising the flow of the blog into easily digestible content will determine whether readers leave your page without care or stick around to get the most out of your app offering.

Here’s the model you should follow to engage readers with your blog content:

Introduction – Set the stage for your discussion

After the title, this is the next step to hooking the interest of your audience. Therefore, you’ve got to have a hook within your introduction. The hook of your introduction is where you truly grab the attention of the reader and is preferably achieved by presenting a problem that your reader desperately wants solved.

So what constitutes a hook?

A question is one of the most effective techniques to draw people in. Once a question is posed, our natural response is to look for an answer. Another technique is to tell a story. Depending on your particular audience, a story that readers can relate to is quickest way to grab the attention of your target audience.

Example: The hook in ‘How To Make Your App A Money Maker

  • How can you be sure that you are moving forward with the best monetisation strategy for your app concept? We examine the ideal business models available to help you generate the most revenue.

  ✓ Presents a premise that any App Entepreneur can relate to.

  ✓ Poses a question to prompt the action to read on and find out the answer.

Body – Make your points and explain them

Your planned blog is made up of any number of tips, steps, ideas or any other particular way to itemise your written content. Each of these points make up the body of your blog post. Therefore, each point must be something that your readers can latch onto by solving the problem you have presented to them in the premise.

Be sure to outline each point and explain them in a succinct manner with the use of subheadings, paragraph breaks and bullet points. Do this for each point you want to communicate to the reader. Solving your reader’s problem in this organised and clear manner will ultimately decides whether they respond to the call to action at the end of your blog or not.

 

The Visual Appeal

Reading text on a screen is a lot different than reading it on paper. Whereas a magazine article can feature long paragraphs and complex sentences, blogs need to be visually broken up in some way to help readers understand the content. Therefore, how you present your blog in terms of format, imagery and length is what will make the written content look professional and approachable to the reader.

Focus on the following details to improve the visual appeal of your blog:

Format – Use headings, subheadings and dot points

When reading online content, research has shown that Internet users gravitate towards shorter blocks of text that are broken up with space around and between lines. The reason for this is that many users often skim through online content in comparison to printed publications.

Therefore, you must format your blog in a way that allows the reader to easily speed-read through it, while still digesting the content and being prompted to your call to action. The best way to accomplish this is shorter sentences and paragraphs, subheadings for each point you are making, and dot points to communicate a concept in an efficient and effect manner.

Images – Use them to enhance the written content

First things first: The written content of your blog is the most important thing for search engine optimisation and to spread the word about your App. However, your blog will be more aesthetically appealing if it includes images that are complimentary to your written content. Therefore, you should have a goal to include 1 to 3 strategic images that help your readers and enhance your content.

Smartphones in the air

Content-relevant images enhance the aesthetic appeal of your Blog. Source: News Cred

Length – As long as it takes to say what you need to say

The ideal length for a blog post is a matter that remains under continuous debate. However, all the market research and data point to long-form content performing better in social sharing, search indexing, organic traffic and conversions.

Your aim should be to regularly create content that is in the 1,000 to 1,500-word range. As long as this written content is broken up into manageable blocks with strategically placed images, your blog will attract people based on visual appeal.

 

The Call to Action

The call to action is the way to achieve results from your blog post. The blog content has an eye-catching title, a clear structure and is visually appealing. Now that the reader is ready to respond, do, click and/or engage, you need a call to action.

What do you want the readers of your blog to do? Whether it’s capturing an email address, visiting another page or downloading an App, the call to action is the key to accomplishing this.

Truly effective calls to action begin and end with a strong, compelling conclusion to your blog post. The conclusion needs to feature an appeal – the reader should be invited to take the next step or do the next logical thing.

Example: The conclusion and call to action for this very blog!

Blog writing is one of the most effective content marketing methods for App Entrepreneurs to connect with their target audience.

In my experience, you need to carefully consider the Title, Structure, Visual Appeal and Call to Action of your blog to ensure that your potential app consumers engage with your content.

If you have an approach to app marketing that includes this blog writing methodology, you’ll start generate more traffic, build your startup and, most importantly, increase app downloads and user loyalty.

What other tips do you have for writing an app blog? Please share your thoughts and let other readers know!

✓ Strong and compelling in summarising the blog’s main points.

✓ Invites and guides the reader towards the next logical step.

 

How To Make Your App A Money Maker

How can you be sure that you are moving forward with the best monetisation strategy for your app concept? We examine the ideal business models available to help you generate the most revenue.

When entrepreneurs and start-ups decide to develop an app, they do so with a variety of goals they want to achieve. More than likely, one of those goals is to make money.

In March 2015, a survey from App Annie found that 70% of app developers had an objective to earn revenue within the App Store (E.g. In-app purchases, paid downloads), while more than 45% wanted to generate income through in-app advertising (E.g. Banner Ads).

So the clear favourite goal for developing an app is to earn revenue, but what is the best monetisation model to achieve this?

As part of our Rocketfuel Workshop, I have collaborated with entrepreneurs on a variety of app projects to answer that very question. From my experience, the most effective monetisation models have been implemented based on the conceptualised app idea, the user experience it provides and what works in the current app market.

To help you move forward with the right strategy, let’s examine the three main monetisation models you can choose to generate income from your app.

 

Freemium

The freemium model is considered to be the market-leading method for app monetisation. Under this strategy, the app is available as a free download with in-app purchases and/or subscription options for a defined price set by you.

From 2013 to 2014, app revenue generated from the freemium model grew by over 70% across both the App Store and Google Play. This substantial growth can be attributed to freemium’s appeal to a broader user base by eliminating up-front costs, while also creating ongoing revenue streams for entrepreneurs.

When applying the freemium model, there are a number of value propositions to consider so the model is aligned with the app and it’s user base:

  • Usage – The app offers limited usage, so the user pays to raise or remove those limits (E.g. Tinder).
  • Free Trial – The app offers full functionality for a limited amount of time, and then the user pays to continue using these functions after the time period is up (E.g. WhatsApp Messenger).
  • Functionality – The user pays for virtual items, content, add-ons, upgrades, services or capabilities (E.g. Clash of Clans).
  • User experience – The app that is ad-supported, so the user pays in-app to remove ads or through a separate paid download (E.g. Words With Friends).
  • Combination – The app applies two or more of the value propositions (E.g. Evernote – Functionality and Usage).

So what are the right value propositions to choose as part of your monetisation strategy?

Well, the most commonly used by freemium app developers are Functionality (55% of developers) and User Experience (43%). This makes sense when you consider that both can lead to ongoing in-app purchases from active users. However, Functionality and User Experience may not be applicable for certain app concepts and target audiences, so be sure to assess each value proposition in relation to your app idea and the market you’re entering.

Here are a few tips if you choose the freemium model for your app:

  • Choose your purchase options wisely – Provide the user with multiple features they can pay for, but don’t charge for every valuable function the app offers! The user needs to perceive value from the free app’s functions in order to spend money on enhancing their experience. Also, make sure that the purchase is optional and not a necessity. The user will be eased towards a buying decision if the purchase does not disturb their app experience.
  • Focus on WHY users should buy – By making the app free to download, the user has already been provided with their preference to ‘try before they buy’. This decision is based on emotions for the user, and so are their subsequent buying decisions within the app. So when determining which features to make available for purchase, focus on WHY they would spend money on it. Finding and presenting the emotional reason to buy a feature will guide the user towards purchasing it.

Freemium Mobile App Development

Freemium is the top monetisation strategy in most app categories. Source: Statista

 

Paid and Paidmium

Charging a fee to download is the most visible and easy-to-understand way of making money from apps. When applying this strategy, you can either do a once-off fee to download the full version of the app (E.g. Minecraft – Pocket Edition), or make it a paidmium app with additional in-app purchases (E.g. Card Wars).

The simplicity of this monetisation model might make it the most appealing, as it is the strategy that most closely resembles the traditional way of doing business. However, the success of paid apps is entirely dependent on the uniqueness of the product and the marketing of the product’s value.

Consider the psychology of the user when browsing the iOS App Store. Most people are not going to eagerly wait to pay even the small price of $1.29 for your iPhone app – unless they have a compelling reason to do so. The majority of apps are given away for free to create an audience and then generate revenue from them. Once you have that audience’s attention, you can find multiple ways to make money through in-app advertising, in app purchases etc.

Pay-per-download can be a good revenue source under the right circumstances, but for first-time app entrepreneurs who don’t have a proven track record and an eager audience of users, you’re better off giving away your app for free. Get users to download the app, and then make the money.

Mobile Game Apps

Almost 50% of the most popular games on Apple’s App Store are paid apps. Source: Apple

 

In-App Advertising

In-app advertising is a core strategy used to make additional income in conjunction with an applied monetisation model. It involves having ads (E.g. Banner ads, video ads etc.) displayed in certain places within the app. The advertiser then pays you a defined amount whenever users tap on the ad and are directed to a particular link set by the advertiser.

When utilised properly, in-app advertising can generate a profitable revenue stream for app developers. Research from market intelligence firm IDC found that 49% of developers used paid advertising within their apps in 2014, which was an increase of 7% from the year prior. This increase can be attributed to developers more recently focusing on app functionality and the user experience. Therefore, it is essential to find the right balance between monetising through the app stores and monetising through in-app advertising.

You need to be strategic in order to make your app stand out in the mobile app market. This makes picking the proper format/s a key to maximising in-app advertising revenue.

Static banner ads and static full screen ads are the highest earning formats for the majority of developers, with nearly 40% earning most of their revenue from banner ads and a subsequent 25% from full screen ads. These are the recommended formats to apply for in-app advertising as they are less likely to affect the user experience and, in turn, generate the most overall revenue.

In-App Advertising

In 2015, Facebook combined app installs with deep linking so a specific in-app purchase ad opens once the app downloads. Source TechCrunch

 

So what’s the right monetisation strategy for your app?

When choosing the business model to generate the most app revenue, you need to understand your app product first and foremost.

Find the underlying value of the conceptualised idea. Examine the user experience it provides to the target audience. Research the current market your app will be entering.

For our recent app products, the most effective monetisation models have been a combination of freemium and in-app advertising, but even this strategy may not be right for certain apps.

If you have a large consumer base that you know WILL buy your app when it’s launched, then you should charge a download fee for the value it provides!

The decision you make will ultimately affect the success of your app in terms of download traffic and generated income. Choose wisely.

What other monetisation strategies do you think are effective for apps? Please share them in the comments below.