I recently popped into a store to quickly grab a lip balm. I walked to the right isle and was confronted by a wall of lip balms, each of them with colourful packaging that was begging for my attention. I was so overwhelmed I left without buying anything. That's how I feel about app marketplaces. There is a plethora of apps out there and consumers are overwhelmed. As a developer, how do you get your app noticed in an over-saturated market? We have some advice.
Mobile app devs put your hands up image from Shutterstock
There are currently around two million apps on Google's Play Store and 1.5 million on Apple's App Store. Unless you have the dedication to trawl through both those app stores, you're never going to see all the apps that are available and a lot of them get buried.
There is an enduring notion that developers rake in the dough with their apps. While nobody can deny the app industry is lucrative, success isn't guaranteed for all developers. According to a report by InMobi, the average mobile app revenue is under US$6000 with 55 per cent of developers making US$1000 per month. Indie developers make around $1500 per month while large studio’s revenues can reach $44,000 over that same period.
"It's true that anybody can build an app cheaply with some knowledge and put it out there quickly to make some money from it, but that's not how it works anymore," Proxima co-founder and creative director Sebastian Pedavoli told Lifehacker Australia. Proxima is an app house that specialises in geolocation technology. He's had a great deal of experience working on different business and consumer apps.
"Developers that make apps motivated by the desire to make a quick buck end up not delivering good experiences for end-users and are ultimately just adding another app to the saturation," he said.
Pedavoli's advice for app developers to help their apps cut through the noise is to focus on marketing. This sounds like a no-brainer but many developers have no clue in this department. Another finding of the aforementioned InMobi study was that most developers find it extremely difficult to differentiate and market their apps.
"You can make a great app that is beautifully designed but unless you have a way to get it out there, it will sit with all the other forgotten apps," Pedavoli said. "It's like back in the early 2000s when people were starting to build websites and they thought all they had to do was index it on Google and people will start flooding to it. It took them a while to realise that's not how you're meant to do it."
You should strive to spend just as much time and resources marketing your app as you did on research and development, he said. Marketing is not as simple as blindly promoting it on social media either.
"A lot of people see some unicorn startup pop up every now and then and go viral with just one tweet. This rarely happens," Pedavoli said. "In reality, it's a combination of juggling the understanding where the market exists for your app and finding the best way to reach that desired audience."