Is Your Mobile App a Big Win or a Steady Win?

When you’re planning to enter the mobile app market, you need to remember that 90% of all existing apps lose customers’ loyalty even if they are a big success at first: open rates and customer retention come crashing down, and it seems like all hope is lost. Let’s have a look at two basic app strategies that are in the market now: the superstar strategy, which is difficult to realize but brings enormous income, and the steady-win strategy, which gives a guaranteed and regular income. There’s also a third category, apps that do not bring sufficient sales, and I’ll review the ways in which successful apps are different.

First, being really successful in App Store or Google Play is truly a challenge. The number of apps available is impressive, so it’s tough to stand out even in a small niche. Another problem is that high competition pushes web developers to set really low prices, such as $0.99. Considering this price level, it’s difficult to reach the breakeven point, after which you can start to make a profit. About 80% of all apps are priced at $1.99 or less, according to Flurry Analytics.

Source: Engadget Blog

Every day, 500–600 new apps are published in the App Store while 7500 apps are sent for approval every week, according to Jeffrey Hughes fromXcelme. If you look at any category in the App Store (for example, Lifestyle), you’ll see long lists of best free, best paid and most profitable apps. However, the chances of getting into the first 100 apps on any list are rather low in spite of the App Store attempts to democratize itself.

But you don’t need to panic. The statistics above only show how rapidly App Store is developing now. You have to work out a smart marketing strategy to succeed.

What do superstar apps look like? They have a perfect marketing strategy, a great market niche and a really high quality product — the mobile app. If you give up on any of these points, your app won’t become a superstar, ever. At least your chances will be low (since there are exceptions). Hope is a bad strategy, and if something great happens with your app, it will be a miracle.

Superstar apps are usually published by well-known developers or companies. The average life cycle of such apps is rather short but the developers will just publish another app, creating hype around it. Sometimes new content and frequent updates make a single app interesting for a long time. Superstar apps are simple and easy to wrap your mind around. A regular user does not want to learn another set of rules before they can use a new app.

Independent web developers generally can’t compete with app development giants in terms of graphics, mechanics or sound. Just because it takes a lot of time. Popular apps also receive great support from mass media, including reviews, ratings, comments, articles and much more. Positive feedback published on authoritative websites can become sales accelerators for your app, and that is where word-of-mouth starts. This is the Holy Grail of marketing mobile apps.

Photo credit: Cristiano Betta / Foter / CC BY

Even if you find it hard to develop a superstar app, there is still another opportunity for you. You can publish an average app that will enjoy steady success with your target audience. Don’t ignore this app category. The success of such apps depends on customer reviews, positive feedback from bloggers, advertising and getting to the “wall of glory” in the App Store, where an app is listed as “New and Noteworthy,” “Editor’s Choice” or “What’s New.”

Steady apps use good old marketing, and that’s why the income will be more predictable if the seller understands what marketing steps are the most effective. Your success won’t be measured in millions of dollars, but it will still be sufficient. Steady apps have a good value proposition, and usually, they are not games. They are dedicated to finance, lifestyle, health, travelling, productivity, or many other topics.

In the tables below, you can see the pros and cons of both superstar apps and steady-win apps. Before you start your mobile app project, choose your strategy. Having clear and realistic expectations will let you act consciously and save your mobile app from the giant trash bin into which all unwanted apps are dumped at some point.

Photo credit: Meryl Ko / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

If your app is unsuccessful, it’s time to ask yourself several questions:

  1. Is there really a demand for your app? Have you studied all of your competitors, especially in the free category? There’s nothing bad about entering a competitive niche but your product has to overcome all the rest! Do some research, starting with your own family and friends to find out whether they are ready to pay for this app or not.
  2. Is your mobile app well coded? Many apps have bugs and other drawbacks. Download rates will quickly fall if you make such mistakes, as people will tell the world that your app sucks.
  3. Have you tried marketing? This goes far beyond merely publishing your app in the App Store or Google Play. Think about additional advertising, the design of your icon, the quality of your website if you have one, and other ways to inform your customers about the advantages of your app.

There is one more app type: B2B apps. They are not marketed as the other apps because they serve as a channel to communicate with customers in different ways: support, announcements, loyalty programs, games, etc.

What strategy have you chosen for your mobile app? What is your experience? Please share your ideas in the comments!