Okay, you know there is no simple five-step recipe for app store success, but stay with me and you will read about the five most effective steps towards world fame. If you own a Windows Phone Store app, that is.
Yesterday, July 18, we fulfilled one of the eternal developer dreams – get in the Top 5 Paid Overall chart. Our hero is GPS Voice Navigation, which has been a top-performing app for over a year already, but after a global promotion became the number 4 paid app in all of the Windows Phone Store (US market and a number of others).
Of course, this does not happen all of a sudden unless you are very lucky/well-connected. We have put a lot of effort both in development and marketing this app and we have observed what works and what kind-of works. For example, the series of major updates we released provided us with several download surges but also powered a steady increase in interest off peak times as well.
This is our Top 5 list of events with the most impact on an app’s downloads (on the Windows Phone Store in particular, though most are universal). Ordered by effect downloads, they are:
1. Get featured as Deal of the Week: a global featured spot coupled with a serious discount
GPS Voice Navigation was just promoted by the Windows Phone Store as part of Deal of the Week for July 11-17. We cut the app’s price in half for it to become a real deal.
How it looks:
GPS Voice Navigation appears among the six featured apps section on every WP device’s marketplace app in a cool red frame, signaling that the app is heavily discounted.
On the web version of the store, it also appeared in the featured apps section (in “all apps,” not within a specific category).
The price went down 50 percent from $6.99 to $3.49.
174% increase in trial downloads the first day of the promotion and over 10 times by day three.
The increase in downloads, purchases and reviews got GPS Voice Navigation to paid app number 4 overall.
How to achieve:
Consistently strong performance and a dose of luck. This is entirely initiated by Microsoft; we have not influenced this decision in any direct way except for making a good app.
2. Become featured in the regular weekly promotions of the Windows Phone Store in any large market such as the US.
GPS Voice Navigation (and more of our apps, for example Hotels 4D and Speed Cameras) get featured regularly in a number of markets around the world.
Greatly depends on the market. In the US, we have observed an increase in trial downloads of 143%* on the day of the promotion (it usually lasts one day).
*This percentage is an average of results from this year.
How to achieve:
Same as above, this is automated and beyond a developer’s direct reach – but greatly appreciated! Go for consistently outstanding performance is the best advice we can give here.
So far we have published 5 major updates of GPS Voice Navigation, which is currently sporting a flashy version 6.0 with offline maps, night navigation mode and other goodies.
Looking at total trial downloads worldwide, the weighted average increase over the entire life of GPS Voice Navigation is 24% on the day of the update. The greatest benefit, however, lies in the long-term effect of updates on an app’s performance: usually after each one, the daily downloads flatten at a rate higher than it was before the update.
How to achieve:
Now this is entirely up to you, the developer. Adopt an update schedule and pursue it rigorously, come rain or come shine. Always stay in touch with customers for ideas about desired features and improvements and take care of all major bugs as soon as possible.
4. Establish a relationship with app reviewers
We have established a good connection with a handful of specialized websites. One prominent example is wpcentral.com where the news about the latest GPS Voice Navigation development gets out quickly to a lot of interested readers. It is important to note that we do not pay for these reviews – one of the benefits of having a top app is that the good specialized sites will find it newsworthy.
The exact effect is hard to measure as the featured articles always appear right after a major update or other download-boosting event such as a promotion or an award. However, on the rare occasions we have been featured separate from such events, we have noticed an increase in downloads of up to 20% the day after the publication. This will greatly depend on the website publishing the review, of course.
How to achieve:
This is a task best shared between the dev and marketing teams, who need to tap into all their connections – or create new ones. Our style of communication is always genuine, friendly and aiming at win-win (sorry for the cliché). With reviewers, this means to never “troll” the conversation and offer only meaningful and timely information of interest.
Our geographical location is definitely a handicap, as it is hard to create personal relationships when you are based in Bulgaria. Still, it is not impossible, either. If you are headquartered in a more advantageous location, make good use of it to create personal contacts with industry opinion leaders!
As for ad networks, we have tried several, but on Windows Phone so far the effect has been too small to invest seriously into this type of advertising. Unless, of course, you invest big time. However, the returns on this platform still cannot justify vast advertising budgets.
In addition to the social media, we try to consistently tell our story on our own website and this blog, which allow us the most freedom in expression, but a much smaller audience.
I have bundled all these together as the effect is more or less intangible so far: creating goodwill, increasing awareness and improving the SEO of our websites. Still, these are all good practices that undoubtedly get you closer to all the above mentioned “perks.”
How to achieve:
Push for restless content-driven marketing, expect value in unexpected places, stay positive and keep experimenting. You know all this.
We will continue sharing insights from our experience as a developer of apps on all major mobile platforms, and you are free to get involved at any time by posting a comment and starting a conversation.
Updated: In the original article, we wrote that GPS Voice Navigation reached No. 5 paid app overall. The day after this article was published, July 20, 2013, our app went up one position, becoming number 4 app in Windows Phone Store’s top overall chart (for paid apps). This article was updated accordingly.