Testing some productivity apps in a real-world situation is not always feasible. For example, we make a travel app, Trip Boss travel manager, for business and personal travel. Unless we plan a trip each time we test the app, testing will only be simulated travel. Day to day usage can be replicated, but actually using the app for travel can provide a new perspective on the app. True in-depth reviews are also rare, unless reviewers use the app to travel. Unfortunately, getting someone to review your app, let alone someone who just so happens to be traveling, is difficult to coordinate.
When looking back, it's easy to see how technology has changed throughout the years. Recognizing trends during the present isn't as easy. How things changed in our (my) parents generation is obvious. They went from radio to black and white TV to color TV. We moved onto video and now we have so many options to view media. I often tell my kids we used to have to watch TV live, get up to turn on the channel (with a knob), adjust the rabbit ears for better reception. We could miss our favorite show, or be forced to watch some stupid show if all we felt like doing was vegging out in front of the TV. In the US, we only had 3-4 channels to choose from: ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and maybe something local. My kids' eyes widen and can't believe there was life before TiVo and multichannel cable/satellite TV.
Recently my husband and I did a presentation at our daughter's 5th grade class on entrepreneurship, running a business, and making iOS apps. Our oldest daughter is writing an iPhone game with her dad, so was thrilled to be validated in front of her peers. It was very rewarding to us because we could introduce a seed of thought to the kids in the class—options! My mom's advice to me when I was a new mom was to expose my kids to as many things as I could—to show them they have choices in the world. We are thrilled to be able to have that chance to introduce the ambiguous world of entrepreneurship and encourage STEM. I had wished that entrepreneurship had been demystified for me when I was young. My parents intro'd me to a world of information and experiences, but I ended up quite risk-adverse; I even took an entrepreneurship class in my business master's program! So, here I am, an entrepreneur, running my own indie mobile development business with my husband. How did I get past all that fear of risk? Surprisingly, goals are what have driven me down this path, and those goals have as much to do with my children and family as my personal drive for achievement. In this post, I will share my story, from mechanical engineer to program manager to mom and president of my own company.
The new iPad (aka 3rd generation) adds a new complexity to universal apps this week—high resolution images and graphics—which could quickly fill up that 16/32/64 GB storage space. In addition, other things happened this week—the 20 MB download limit over non-wifi (3G/4G/4LTE) increased to 50 MB. Updates are no longer showing up in New Releases. Considerations for going Universal may now shift. This post will discuss some of things to consider when deciding on a universal app vs a device-specific app.
Customer service can make or break your apps. Most people contact customer service for help, to complain, or to vent frustrations. If you're lucky, you'll get a rare email that raves about your app. Polite, prompt, and helpful responses can prevent frustrated customers from venting on the reviews, which can affect your overall rating, or even sales, if the reviewer brings up a perceived flaw of your app (merited or not!). Managing your customers satisfaction doesn't have to be hard. This post will cover some tips on a common sense approach to customer contact and how to provide exceptional customer service.
Launch an app, tell everyone about it, hope for an Apple feature, and spread the word. The three key promotional aspects of marketing your app are Launch Blitz, Apple Features, and Word of Mouth. A developer has the most control with the first, very little control with the second, and indirect control of the third. All three feed each other, and using the 4 P's of Marketing: Product, Place (Distribution), Price, and Promotion will help in working these three aspects, which I've covered extensively in my seven part series, Applying the 4 P's of Marketing to Apps. This final post of the series will touch upon the loose ends of promotion and conclude with a spreadsheet you can download and use to make your own marketing plans.
App complete, check. App tested, check. App submitted to Apple, check. Pre-launch promotion prep work done, check. Now what? It's all about the timing. Based on our experience in the AppStore, there are three things that contribute most to sales numbers: 1) Getting noticed by Apple (and being featured) 2) Word of mouth and 3) Launch Blitz. I discussed the strategy for getting noticed by Apple in previous 4 P's posts: make a great product, include new iOS tech, follow the HIG, have a polished icon and screens. Word of mouth is just the snowball effect—the more people own (and use) your app, the more they tell their friends, the more you sell. Ensure this by making a great product, providing excellent customer service, providing convenient ways to share your app with others and cross-selling, up-selling within your app. This post will focus on the third item, the blitz of promotion at launch, where you bring out all your promotional tactics at the same time, to get your app noticed in bulk.
Developing mobile apps is a business. Many mobile devs are one- or two-person shops, so in addition to the coding hat, other hats must also be worn, to be successful. Great apps won't sell themselves, especially in the sea of apps that have come to fruition in the most recent three+ years. When we learn to develop, we read books, we self-teach, we take classes, we attend conferences. Marketing is another side of the business that must be learned, in the same manner. As a dev, you usually have a game plan and timing plan for the development process. A marketing plan must be also woven into this process. In my past Applying the 4P's of Marketing to Apps blog posts, I've covered using Product to enhance your marketing, which should be addressed deep in the early app design process. I've covered Place (distribution) both in shelf-space prep (pre-launch set up), and in where to list your app (pre- and post-launch). Most recently I covered Price (pre- and post-launch). In this post I'll start the process of covering Promotion, an extensive topic, too long to cover in one post. At the end of it all, I'll provide to you a 4P's of Marketing Checklist that you can download for your own use.
My brother is always calling me with app ideas. One day, way back in late 2003, he suggested writing a calculator that took recipe ingredient amounts and adjusted them by changing the serving size. My husband, our developer, is an avid cook, so the idea intrigued him. He wasn't satisfied with just a multiplier, so he started creating a complicated algorithm for the Palm PDA that would also factor down the result into the simplest amount of steps. So, if you size up a recipe calling for 1-1/2 teaspoon from 4 servings to 14 servings, the little app would tell you “1 Tablespoon and 2-1/4 teaspoons”. He wasn't satisfied with just that, so he displayed the result also converted into metric. Thus Serving Sizer was born and released in February 2004, at the inexpensive price of $9.95. We've since 'ported the app to iOS, both for iPhone and iPad, learning many lessons along the way. Being able to react quickly to market realizations, potential for features, and more, has helped us along the way. This post will cover some of those lessons learned on the road to making Serving Sizer a successful app.
Your gut reaction is “Hey, I put in a lot of time and effort into this app, there's no way it's only worth 99c.” Yet in many cases, if it's not 99c, especially a game, it's dead-on-arrival at the AppStore. You can rant and you can rave, but market pricing rules in the mobile universe. On the plus side, the “wealth” is spread amongst many developers as consumers consume more apps than they would have if they had spent $35 or more on one game or app. The trick is to get more of them to consume your app! But let's start at the beginning, should all apps price to the bottom? If not, how do you select that perfect price? And how do you take advantage of that price selection (or change) in your marketing efforts? In this next post in my series, “Applying the 4P's of Marketing to Apps,” I'll focus on the third “P”—Pricing. I'm not covering business models (freemium vs paid, or free version vs IAP upgrade), but rather, how to pick your price from a marketing perspective.