I have found some secrets to making apps popular and I want all our readers who are interested to be able to see this case study and Android Market ranking tips. So here goes.
Being that I am obsessed with playing with my Droid X I decided to make some apps and it has worked out well so far. I have three apps right now. I released them a few weeks ago. I am over 17,000 total downloads so far I think. Here is a link if you want to see what I am taking about.
Free Version of the “1 Touch Love You” Android SMS Texting Application
UPDATE 4/25/11: 34797 Downloads and 10998 Active Installs
UPDATE 9/02/11: 122,857 Downloads, 18,677 Active Installs, 2,465 ratings avg 4 stars, and 560 comments!
UPDATE: 11/20/11 157,838 Downloads
Old Pro Version Video of “1 Touch Love You” App
1 App. ) Just over two weeks ago I launched a social app called “1 Touch Love You.” I recently added a Safe Driving feature that uses GPS speed detection to the pro version. Here is the live demo video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSouBXwYLgU It makes it easy for me to send my wife ‘love you’ messages when at a stop light or when in a rush.The app makes it easy for her to respond when she is busy with kids etc. I even have it so if two people register each others phone they can text “where are you” to each other and the GPS location address link will be auto texted back. There are 50 different “Love you” type of messages for each conversation library. There are now 7 full libraries so people don’t have to manually text very often. Each time someone hits the big fat “Send” button it randomly picks one and sends it. My wife’s friends seem to love it. So far it has around 14,000 downloads and 38% active rate. I got 21 sales amounting to about $60 in the last four days after launching the paid version. Here is the video to train users how to use it and shows off some features. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPQNkgnhyXw
Here are a few tips I can share from my research and my own ideas. I contacted over 50 of the top Android developers and got awesome advice and feedback. Hope you all can learn from it and benefit as I have.
Respond promptly to all complaints.
Always, always offer refunds to unhappy users.
Put your feedback options in your app to keep bug reports out of the Market comments. Make this very easy to use.
Make the app sharable. Put Facebook, Twitter, Email and Text Message sharing buttons directly in your app. Put some type of advanced feature in the app that is visibly disabled and only activates when they share your app.
NOTE: I temporary removed the disable feature for add and remove messages that didn’t work unless users shared the app and the install rate plummeted. I feel confident this strategy is sound. People will share apps if they get added features!
Put ads in your apps to your other related apps so users can download those as well. Keep them theme related.
Put notifications in your apps encouraging sharing your app with others after some measurable time and actual use of the app to make sure they are actually happy with it.
Use all of your text description to write about your apps in as much “keyword” rich detail as allowed.
List the names of other related apps in the bottom of your app description so you can rank better in the “related” apps section when users are viewing other apps. It is a good idea to actually write an original statement about the app and why it’s good or bad or similar to your app or not. Don’t just fill it with spam.
NOTE: Do not make your app web dependent for basic functions. If there is a slow data connection your phone will appear broken. Make the app as self contained as possible!
Making money with apps:
Release a paid version that is advertised in a free but limited version. Have all the sharing buttons in the free version send people to the download page of the paid version.
NOTE: I used video very effectively to encourage sharing and rating. Most people don’t even know they can rate and comment in the market. My app has a pretty high rating and commenting rate compared to other similar apps with far more downloads. This is vital for internal market ranking.
NOTE: App ranking seems to be based on a combination of download rate and viral spread mixed with app crashes, freezes and uninstalls counting against those metrics. The most important factor is positive ratings and comments along with a high active user rate.
NOTE: Bad comments, spam and sabotage comments are common in the Android Market. AI developers should ban together for protection. You can rate down bad comments and mark them as unhelpful and even mark them as spam. This is pretty cool because your positive comments can float to the top of the list. I got about 10 people I know to rate and comment to get my app going. If anyone needs a real app review of something they are proud of let me know. I would love to leave a positive comment and rating if the app deserves it.
Not using ads at all is an option, well sort of, there are hardly any apps using CPA affiliate links in their app functionality. If you provide a cool app that is basically a service, like a calculator or finder tool, find CPA networks or companies that have click tracking capabilities and send customers to them on a revenue sharing model. The advantage is the link does not look like an ad plus the payouts are usually 20 times more profitable than click ads like AdMob and Adsense who just rip you off.
NOTE: There are some errors users are going to experience with AI apps. I strongly suggest you use AppToMarket and set your API level to at least 7. Allowing old phones to install your app will create tons of bad ratings and bad comments because they don’t have a new enough phone to handle your apps.
NOTE: Adding too much functionality and complexity will kill your active install rate. I added a ton of cool features and saw my active rate drop by 10% which was over 1,000 users at the time because I thought I was adding cool stuff. Keep it simple or get your app ranking killed in one day! The last thing you need is 10 uninstalls where the user click “Defective” as the reason.
NOTE: Amazon is selling apps so get yours in there as well!
Generally, my experience with getting into Android development has been shockingly awesome. I am so grateful to Google’s AI team and AppToMarket! My life course has been altered permanently for the better. I am more confident now then ever that moving into app dev was the right move for me. Not quitting my high stress high paid day job anytime soon though. I genuinely appreciate everyone in the AI forum’s insight and feedback. A special shout out to the guys who figured out the math for the GPS speed calculation. I had to add a ton of stuff to stabilize the readings but i worked out! Thank you very much in the most serious way. I hope the conclusions of my research somehow provide value to you in a way that makes you more money!
Have a great day making awesome apps! Add me to your contacts and Facebook and Twitter. I love Skype video and screen sharing though! I want to stay in contact with everyone here and I will keep you up to date in my adventure from going from my current expertise to delving in the app world. If I can help you in any way like you have helped me don’t hesitate to ask. Again, sincerely thank you for all the info and advice from the forums!
P.S. Text me a link to your app in the market and we can build some real reviews and comments!