Depending on whether you decide to develop one app and stick with that, like Zolmo, Tweetdeck and Touchnote; or turn your app talents into an agency, like The App Factory, you’ll want to grow your business into a bigger venture. So how do you go about establishing your app as a market leader, and get yourself known in the app world?
The best start is building/publishing a great app. “There is an old cliché that says the best marketing is word of mouth marketing,” says Tristan. “This is true for so many reasons, but the key to getting this kind of marketing is by building a great product - followed up with great PR.”
And think long term from the development stage. If you think your application has a shelf life, then you should develop accordingly. So if you’ve got a game that you think is going to be popular for only three or six months, for instance, then you should plan to evolve it. On the other hand, if you have something you think will be around for the next three or four years, then you need to keep on improving it and iterating so that you can keep your customers engaged.
Some, such as David Carter of The App Factory don’t believe marketing is strictly necessary. “If we do an app on iPhone or for Google or Blackberry,” he says, “they take care of promotion themselves. Once it’s in the store, that’s it.” But if you are planning to promote your app, earlier is best, if you take Tweetdeck’s advice. “If you develop a kind of fanfair, some kind of PR, then you’ll be able to give it a better shot. From what I’ve seen,” says Iain, “it really is all about that initial spike of interest and downloads and obviously revenue from selling your app. So if you can maximise that spike, you should.”
There are many paid-for apps which work on this basis. They exploit the initial spike of interest by adding on new levels to games. The developers produce version two of the app, version three... and it keeps interest going. In this way, they keep downloads high. The trick is to drum up numbers when you first launch the app – and then keep interest by iteration and new developments.
Keep in mind, for your app to be profitable, and to get enough return on your investment, you need to be getting 50,000 downloads, or even 100,000 or 200,000. There are far too many apps that haven’t made that, according to Touchnote’s Raam Thakrar. “You need to think about it,” he says, “You need to build and develop a marketing campaign, or somehow you need to have built a sufficiently addictive or viral enough proposition that people start telling each other.”