How to (aggressively) promote an app?

Discussion in 'App Store Business, Legal and Marketing' started by rowingwithmessi, Jan 18, 2015.

  1. rowingwithmessi macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2015
    So my game has been in the app store for a week or so now. I've seen something with this game that I haven't seen with my other one - people are actually consistently playing it (based on admob stats). Problem is, it isn't getting downloaded much so my userbase isn't growing. I've shared it on facebook, twitter, posted on forums, et cetera.. I think it's time for aggressive marketing.

    I've heard that iAd is a poor way to market an app, and that you'll end up paying a lot for only a few downloads. So, if I'm willing to spend money, where is my money best spent?

  2. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    Marketing apps has been a huge problem for most apps, those that don't already have a huge following or budget, have been left to struggle to find an effective way to get downloads.

    Here's a site that's pretty active:

    Studies on Twitter have indicated it's not a good deal at all. Things might have changed, IIRC it was a while ago and it was a pay for celeb tweet that didn't pan out well.

    FB was a great deal before, but I understand the cost/download has changed and so it's probably an issue of how much you are getting from each download. IIRC, something near $1.5~$2.0 was needed to make it worthwhile.

    Press releases have been done for a long time and seem pretty worn out, getting a review for a game is much, much harder now given all the games out there.

    Some have tried cross-app promotion, I'm not sure how well that's turned out.

    I understand Apple has the new app-bundling now, that might be a good option.

    I'd be very careful about companies that promote apps, there's been plenty of scams out there.
  3. rowingwithmessi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2015

    This is kinda what it seems like to me, which is precisely why I've decided to stop making free games. My next game will sell for $2.99. I have hired a 3d modeler and I will be using Unity to make it really look like a game worth $2.99.

    And even if it flops and nobody buys it, it still won't have done much worse than my last two games.
  4. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    If you look back at the evolution of software on the PC (when software became mainstream) you'll see a pattern:
    Once the chips/memory reach a certain point, the languages/APIs can advance to a higher level and the demand for what the software does, advances as well.

    The consumer sees this and demands more as well.

    Consider: back in the "old days" we bought file managers and screen savers as separate products, now they are built in.

    Flashlight and weather apps were separate, now they are built in.

    Customers expect (and eventually get) more.

    Point: if you move to an advanced game dev platform (Unity) you'll not only need to be nearly as advanced (and polished) as the current market, but you'll need a fresh theme, something clever / different.

    As far as prices go, we the developers have created this problem. It was because of at least 2 things: 1. customers steeling the product (still a problem with IAP) 2. too many apps digging for gold during the gold rush days of the app store.

    What we have now is at least 2 problems:
    1. app discovery
    2. app revenue

    Apple and Google have contributed to this mess because they were bragging about how many apps they have. Now they realize (or should realize) they need the "killer apps"

    Developers will realize that the easy "flashlight gold rush" days are gone, some will look for other work, while some will dump good money trying to make the charts.

    The devices will soon became nearly the same, probably in the next few years. At that time, the main players will realize the value of being the last phone people buy vs the next phone people buy. This will be when the killer apps will take center stage.

    Apple needs to give the consumer a reason to buy their product. It's never been price, it's usually been features and strong following. Those reasons will fade, once the devices become nearly the same (quality, speed, features, security...)

    Apple knows this, that's why they made a deal with IBM. IBM, already has mobile enterprise solutions for iOS. They introduced a new language (Swift) with an advanced visualizer to encourage more game development. They could have went forward with ObjC/C++ or a more universal language. They didn't because they want/need the killer apps to be on iOS.

    65% of the customers download zero apps in a month... Apple knows this, there is no need for 1.5 million apps when the average device has some 50 apps on it.

    Apps have become the new spam, anything can get old after a while.

    Look at the thread about apps being profitable (same forum section), much has been written about this there.
  5. rowingwithmessi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2015
    Well, I agree with you to some extent. Obviously the number of apps in the app store will continue to grow, and the number of people who will make tons of money off of their apps will probably remain about the same - the top 100 apps in the app store will still be the top 100 apps, making about the same amount, a year from now. Obviously they'll be different apps but you get my point - the "cream of the crop" apps are the ones that will make money. This will never change.

    So basically with more and more people trying to be the "cream of the crop", the competition gets stiffer, and more and more people will fail. I knew that going in. The "average" app (measured by median, not mean) will get less than 1,000 downloads during its lifetime - and that's for a FREE app. If you treat app-making as a hobby, you shouldn't expect any sort of monetary returns at all.

    But all this means is that you need to have better graphics in your games, and better gameplay - or a new, original and useful idea to hit the top of the charts. Will you have to spend some advertising money to get started? Yes, probably.

    If I, or anyone, is coming into the app market expecting to make an "average" app and cut a salary, they're going to be disappointed. But the next game I'm working on is not average, it's a unique idea, and the graphics guy I've got working on it with me is great.

    And sometimes all you need is a little bit of luck. I disagree with
    ... Have you seen flappy bird?

    What about "Goat Simulator"? That game sells for 3 dollars and would be pretty easy to make with unity. It's not "polished" at all.
  6. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    TBH, I really don't get into mobile games, so I can't say too much about them. I'm into mobile enterprise solutions.

    What's a bit odd is that there's a $3 game in Unity that is easy to make and doing well. I would guess it would be knocked off by many clones offering the same thing for free.

    Some will find a path based on luck, can't stop that and it's hard to predict what will or won't catch on.

    You're right about the "average" app not making it. You can't have an average 1000 download app and make a living off it.

    We could see the "top 100" to make it move wider as we'll see apps that are different. In other words, games might split into more and more sub categories or follow some kind of fad/trend. Something like the hot Xmas toys do.

    Also about the skills, you make a good point, it's perfectly possible for a run of to mill app to hit the charts. In fact, people may not value polish as much as we think they do. Once most apps become "perfectly polished", polish will loose most of it's value as it will become standard issue.

    Just like Retina is no longer a selling point... Retina is not news, it's now standard equipment.

    This is the same with marketing. Having a web site and FB page doesn't have value anymore because every app will have them. Sending tweets will happen so often, the value will tank.

    As will the value of social media marketing. Once a app marketer finds a good fishing spot, everyone joins in and fishes it dry. The next thing will only be the next thing for a short while.

    This is where we are now in app marketing. Good apps and bad apps are looking high and low for the next marketing thing while scammers are saying they found it but they won't tell you what it is unless you pay them and when it fails to chart your app, they'll blame your app or remind you that there is no "sure thing" in marketing unless you cheat.

    We had a guy on the other site that claimed to have a "magic formula" to chart an app. He sited an app as a case study that was reviewed by 2 sites (news and gizmodo, IIRC) Then he was challenged over and over again about his "magic formula" .. it ended up he admitted he owned the app that charted and tried to spin it into a marketing service to make more money from other developers.

    I like your idea about having a clever take on a game, being clever is important.
  7. rowingwithmessi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2015
    There are. Just like there are lots of clones of Clash of Clans that offer reduced prices for gold, lots of copies of flappy bird that offered more customization and more options.... But a lot of it is who gets there first. Once Goat Simulator is in the top 10 games, it's getting tons of downloads per day just because it's in the top 10, and those free knockoffs don't stand a chance.

    In ANY market there will always be knockoffs of originals, selling for a lower price (or free), but somehow the originals always make the big money.

    I'll probably just have to bite the bullet and pay for a real advertising campaign. I may lose money on it at first, but hopefully the multiplier effect will earn me some of that money back and at the very least I'll get my name out there.
  8. AppSwage macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2015
    I will add that Apple continues to do a terrible job in making available appropriate metrics to developers when it comes to store presence. One cannot even get a sense of how many people are even seeing their app page on the store. Apple has promised better tools but as of yet none have come. Can you imagine trying to run any sort of business with zero data and analysis coming from your point of sale? A website admin with zero idea on the number of visitors, clicks, etc.? This is the absolute stone age we are operating in when it comes to understanding our product's presence on the store and the customers interactions (sans actual downloads) with it.
  9. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    100% agree with this.

    I wish Apple would actually start providing some useful data, like deletion rate, user retention (obviously with user's permission), which search results are most used to find your app, search rankings etc.
    I use App Annie, but even that isn't that comprehensive.

    Things like TestFlight are starting to help developers, but much more is needed. iTunes Connect must be one of the worst apps written for iOS - there's a scroll view within a scroll view (why?!), numerous bugs and only really shows downloads in a very specific range.

    Sadly I think developers need Apple more than Apple needs developers (well, most developers anyway), as apart from increasing the app count, Apple couldn't really care less about most hobbyists.
  10. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    Exactly! There will be few points in time where this could change. I read about a major game that was paid by Apple to delay their release to Android years ago.

    This could change when/if the new killer apps are not on Apple 1st. Apple knows that having killer apps is important and they have the upper hand because they have market share.
    It's like Walmart saying you can't sell your products at Walmart unless you follow Walmart's rules.
    Most give in because they need to be on the shelves where the people are in order to make the money.

    One thing that has changed is that Apple has very strong control over what goes on the device. They combine the control of the device with making the device great, in order to sell more devices and keep market share.

    This could change if Android continues to gain market share. I read that Microsoft had an edge in the growing markets (Asia) because most there didn't have credit cards and they have a payment processing system that doesn't require credit cards (bill to phone bill).
    Along with cheap phones, Android and Windows have a chance to really eat up the market share.

    If this happens, Apple will find itself in the same spot they were with the PC/MAC. Apple held steady on their closed mac system and might do the same with the iPhone.

    However, the long term killer apps aren't here yet. There'll be many long term killer apps that can become real game changers.

    Apple policy of taking 30% almost always could be a game changer with SaaS business model where developers get paid not for the app but for the backend service.

    Why would a developer pay 30% to Apple for content or to maintain back end services?

    I don't expect Apple to change much, but they have to admit that the race is well underway with devices becoming very, very close in specs, and buying Apple only won't be based on hardware alone.

    BTW, does anyone know Android's rules on paying for subscriptions? I hear it's tough to not pay Apple's 30%.
  11. jeminacrown macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2015
    Mobile ux design and development

    Nice Discussion
  12. Zxxv macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2011
    I don't buy apps very often let alone games. The last game I bought was threes. I bought it because of a macrumours article. Why I bought it was because the comments section from posters on macrumours said the other game others were recommended was a rip off of threes. I clicked to threes website where they laid out the development of their game and why it was better than the other rip offs and told how you could beat the other games with simple moves and how threes couldn't because they spent a lot of time making sure it would be playable for years. I liked what they said and so I bought the game. I don't play it very often but its there for when I do and like they said they wanted it to be playable for years. Most games aren't like that. I could pick up mario and replay it, same with sonic, and many others but theres two very famous ones everyone should know.

    Maybe if you videod your game being played by you and put it on youtube it might get attention?

    For people like me who then go onto tell others about how good the game is its about word of mouth.

    Hope that helps in some way from some one who doesn't buy many apps unless they add value to my daily life #

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