As it turns out, those cliché posters you see are right: “Be yourself and good things will happen.” At least it’s true in the mobile app market these days.
Instead of improving on the same common formula, try creating something completely different. Creating apps that are ingeniously different and uniquely creative can be a game changer. With 2015 ending soon, it’s time to implement some strategies to make 2016 your best year yet!
Why does focusing on creating something different have an advantage over always being better?
The short answer is, more times than not, trying to become better than your competition is more expensive than being different. Being different for the right reasons evens the playing field and connects with the aspect of human nature that wants to be trendy. The app world is a unique marketplace where the indie developer can actually compete with huge gaming studios, often with more profitability and creative opportunities. The big studios may have more resources, but with more resources usually comes more red tape. Large overhead and constant pressure to produce similarly themed apps that are congruent with the company’s brand can kill great ideas. It can also slow down reaction time to market trends in the app stores. A smaller game studio or indie developer has fewer restrictions and more room to grow ideas faster and naturally. In the instantaneous world of social media, even the smallest ideas can become overnight successes.
On the flip side, there is nothing wrong with having access to resources and large promotional budgets. The key is determining what side of that you are on today and learning how to capitalize on your advantages.
Welcome to the world of creating something different.
The majority of developers try to make a big splash with a small budget. Achieving that takes some astute creativity and timing. The amount of money it can take to beat your competition while getting some buzz is staggering, especially when compared to being different in the right ways and achieving similar results.
It has never been easier or cheaper to stake your claim in the Wild West of the mobile application empire. If you have an idea for an app, you are not limited to sifting through over promising or under-delivering programmers on freelance websites. Instead, you can utilize a valuable marketplace of mobile app source codes that saves you time and money. If your goal is to get an app into the store, why would you start from scratch when someone else has already done most of the work for you? They’ve laid out an idea and had it built and tested. All you need to do is make it your own. Start with your own theme that has consistent graphics, sound effects, and great ASO (App Store Optimization). Then get it into the store for feedback.
You can come back later and add extra features as updates over the life of your app. The most important thing is to get your app into the store so you can begin receiving feedback. A common mistake developers make is to try to make their app perfect in terms of color scheme and features before submitting it into the store. Research is a powerful tool and spending the time to do it is valuable. Learning market demand to understand target users and produce what they want is essential; however, direct feedback from those users can get you much more accurate information. A few easy ways to receive this feedback is from app reviews and a support email button within the app. You could even change it up and send a push notification that includes a link to a simple landing page asking 2-3 questions. In return for this feedback, change the price of a popular in-app purchase to “FREE” for the day. The push notification could look like this:
Thanks for playing (your app name here)! Answer 2-3 questions about this app for a free coin pack (usually $4.99). Today Only!
Another option down the road is to install an analytics SDK (Flurry) to see how users are navigating through your app, session times and frequency, and active users. All this feedback is available if you do one thing first: get your app into the store!
Below are some interesting tips we’ve gathered with feedback and research on how to improve certain apps.
- Add more levels.
- Add coins to collect during gameplay that they use can use towards power-ups
- Add a remove ads in-app purchase
- Offering video ads that the user can watch to receive a bonus or to continue gameplay without starting over
- Bonus Rounds
- Mini-games within the game
Content Based Apps
- Adding more individual content packs
- Offer a discount if they buy them all
- Implement video ads to unlock a pack
- Add the option to review the app to unlock a pack
- Add the option to share the app to unlock a pack
- Carefully pay attention to ad placements and ad frequency. This feedback is usually the first negative thing a user will leave a review about. There’s a fine line between just enough ads that a user will deal with and too many ads.
- Don’t immediately bombard the user with ads. Let them play the game for a minute to establish some value and trust. If they like the game and they have some momentum, they are much more likely to put up with a few ads.
- Spread the ads out enough so the value of the game outweighs the minor inconvenience of having to click out of a pop-up ad. I find it’s best to only show video ads if the user can ignore without watching the entire ad, or if you can give them a reason to watch the entire thing. As mentioned above, reward them with coins, extra lives, or a shortcut in the game for watching the ad.
- If the source code you license already has a push notification SDK implemented, it’s worth the time to set it up. If it doesn’t, you can hire a programmer or implement it yourself. I use Pushwoosh, but there are other options available as well.
- You can build up your users in an accessible network to tap into later. Websites build email lists and you can too, but in the app world you also have the ability to communicate directly with them in another medium. When you launch a new game, it’s valuable to send out a “download it now” push notification to all your users that opted-in on any of your other apps.
- If you’ve build up a reputation of producing value to your users either by entertainment or content, many will download without any extra incentive. This allows you to keep them up to date with new entertaining apps. To help make your push notifications more successful, it’s a good idea to incentivize the offer and specifically state that in the push notification. A sample notification for your new free app could be: Just Launched! Download (Your App Name Here) to claim your $4.99 token pack. FREE today only!
- You are leveraging all your users to download a new app within hours of launch to improve your ranking and buzz. You can even send a follow up notification to ask them to leave a review.
I have just scratched the surface on improvements you can make to a source code to make it more appealing to your users. You will be able to afford to make these upgrades because you only spent a fraction of the original development cost by licensing a source code. You got to start with someone else’s code that’s already proven and finished. They took the risk and the market of users validated there was a demand for the gameplay. Now it is time for you to take the wheel and drive your app up the charts.
What if my app idea isn’t supported by any of the source codes available for license?
Look closer. Your exact idea may not be “packaged” into a neatly wrapped box, but that is a good thing. You can take a proven gameplay model and put your own spin on it. For example, you could literally spin the gameplay around so the game is now in reverse. I bet there is something you can use and modify to meet your needs. I have intentionally licensed source codes from Chupamobile.com just to modify them to make the app I wanted. Sometimes the changes were minor and sometimes they were pretty substantial. I was able to do this in a cost effective manner because I did not start from scratch. The main functionality was already there, so the focus could be shifted to tweaks and features.
The market may be constantly shifting, but one thing is clear…our demand for apps is NOT going away anytime soon. From toddlers to college students and musicians to business professionals, phones and tablets are a part of everyday life now! Try not using your device for 24 hours and then tell me that app development is not an ever-growing market. There will always be a need for innovative apps that make people’s lives easier and more entertaining. If you can consistently provide value to meet those demands, you will always have your own corner of the app store.
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