10 tips for 10 million. How to earn in app stores

By | 05.07.2017

Since June 1, 2014, one of my applications has experienced 65 updates and in December 2015 has finally received more than ten million installations. So I felt that I have the moral right to make an article with tips on how to achieve similar prosperity :).

1. Investigate the market and make a plan

Development pioneers were easy to live – everything they wrote was in demand. Now it is practically meaningless to take up a new application without a long market study. The application should either be unique and unrepeatable, or solve all the same tasks, but faster / better / free (and without advertising). But this is not really enough. You need to think in advance about the content of the application, its niche in the store and ways to monetize.
Start developing with the analysis of the market, for this answer the questions:

  • What are users looking for?
  • What needs are not yet satisfied with the applications?
  • What are the applications that do not have a couple of killer functions?

2. Make the localization

Native development tools allow you to immediately release the application with interfaces for different languages. To do this, just add a new strings.xml file to the desired project folder. The operating system itself will supply the appropriate string resources while the application is running. And if it does not find suitable ones, it will take resources by default.

For example, if we have Finnish on the device, and only Russian and default English lines are available in the application, the OS will select English lines, since there are no Finnish resources. If the device is Russian, then Russian localization will be loaded.

There are many sites that help to localize applications. For example, oneskyapp.com – it can organize the translation of XML-files with the indication in the screenshots, where the line will be used in the application. This is very important for an interpreter – the context of the phrase may be incomprehensible. The project can be made open and invite everyone to help translate their application.

3. Translate the description on Google Play

The Developer Console allows you to add descriptions in different languages. We can put up different icons, banners, texts, adapting them to the specific features of users of a particular country. Here we see great scope for ASO (search engine optimization of applications). Each country has its own frequently used keywords, we definitely need to use them in the text of the description.

Attention: IT expert comments

All schoolchildren dream about iPhones, but they buy, according to financial information, usually smart phones on Android. And this is our programmatic, international pain: poor students, without going through the lessons, assess our applications and write incoherent responses to them, which do not matter to other users, but are counted by Google and affect our rating and place in the search results.

4. Experiment

Yellow or green icon? Blue or red background with a banner? Often it is not immediately clear what is best to choose a design or description. Therefore, there were invented services for testing options by users. They answered the question what they like best. And now you can conduct such experiments right on Google Play. You can also customize the experiment in the Developer Console. The market itself will split the users in half and say where there were more installations, and where less.

Run several experiments at the same time does not work, so experiment constantly.

5. Increase the project staff

Not very anti-crisis advice, but … with the growth of application quality and competition between them requires the work of not one developer, but the whole department. We need a designer who understands how the user interacts with the application, he needs to know the features of the operating system and the principles of navigating around the applications and inside them. You need a product manager who is responsible for the consumer quality of the application, who knows his niche in the application store and prepares for the application the name, description and other tinsel, without which the user will not notice you. Do not hurt and an expert in the promotion of applications, because each store has its own methods for this. And of course, you are a programmer who will make a fast and smooth animated application (stylish, fashionable, youthful). Optimization of the application requires a fairly high skill and knowledge. So connect the project of friends, acquaintances and everyone you can.

Earn as a hacker

Advertising, whatever one may say, irritates users. And what if you remove it altogether and earn on its views, but do not show it to the user? For this:

  1. You make a site with banners paying for views (read – for visits).
  2. You make a service in the application, in which this site will be loaded.

It is not necessary to show the site to the user. Everything works, the user spends a bit of traffic and a little electricity, and everyone is happy … until (if) you do not overtake repression from the side of Google.

6. Test the application

This may seem trivial, but there are not many tests. Test yourself, connect your friends to the process! You can write automatic tests (this is a big topic for a separate article), there are also services for testing applications on real devices. Tests can be arranged right in the market (alpha and beta testing). For these tests, you can build a group in G +, all its users will be able to install an un-published application or receive an update. You can also send an invitation to test on email.

When the testing is over, you can immediately publish this version of the application.

7. Do not forget about feedback

To collect opinions, it is most effective to organize a community of users in social networks. It is necessary to read reviews about the application in GP, and it is better to answer them.
Users often tell themselves what functions they lack, so this is a real opportunity to improve the application and increase its value in the eyes of consumers.

The formula for calculating search output

Here is the formula for the formation of the issuance of applications on the search query: rating + installation + “magic”. I think, with the first two mathematical factors, everything is clear and understandable. They have grown a whole industry of buying and selling installations and feedback (the same IT expert for 50 cents, using school Wi-Fi, write a praise and download an application that he does not need).

But in the section “magic” regularly try to look at whole agencies, so we learned something about it:

  1. The “magic” factor is changed by Google to shake applications in the market.
  2. It is affected by the name of the application package and keywords from the description and title.
  3. The factor takes into account earnings, that is, the purchase of the application itself or inside it (this is of direct economic interest, since Google will receive 30% of it).
  4. The technologies applied in the application are taken into account, that is, using the recommended design or libraries in the search will raise you above those who do not use them (this thesis is controversial).
  5. Responses to negative feedback.
  6. Factors of utility for the user: the time of work with the application, the lifetime of the application on the device.

8. Ask users for feedback

Feedback and evaluation are very important for promotion, but we only need good ones! Therefore (and not by us with you) it was thought up to ask about the rating of only loyal users. To do this, you need to collect small statistics inside the application and understand it by it, ask for it or not ask for a response. Another option: to display a dialog box with asterisks and, if the user puts 4-5, send to the market to leave a review, if less – to catapult the user to write a letter of support with claims or wishes.

9. Ignore the competition

The advice is not for indie, but I’ll still tell you a not entirely honest, yet very effective way to increase the profitability of already running applications. For example, one company has in the App Store a lot of applications that sell audiobooks. They have several developer accounts, and they compete in the main with themselves, selling the same content, but in different packages. Agree, it’s nice, when there are five applications in the answer to the request of “audiobook” and all of them are yours. It’s very easy to do this with legal content on hand. Formally, everything looks honest and there is nothing to complain about, and in fact – rudely violated the rules of competition.

10. Leave the illusion

One sentence: to develop the same “Angry Birds” invested from the very beginning of a million dollars, and she shot only with the 52nd attempt (one million, Karl!).

Monetization options

  1. Paid version for 99.99 USD.
  2. Advertising in the app: A) a small banner; B) full-screen banner; C) native advertising; D) video advertising; E) advertising other products within your application.
  3. In-app purchases.
  4. Selling of the personal data of the user.

Let’s go over all the points in more detail.

Paid version of the application, here you can also include in-game purchases. If you are planning to make money on this, then you need to say that Android users (unlike iOS users) do not pay much for applications.

According to my rough estimations, there is one purchase per thousand installations. So you do not have to count on big earnings.

You can collect and sell personal information of the user. But, firstly, it is becoming more difficult to collect them, and secondly, we need a buyer. And he would rather go to known monopolies: there is no doubt about the quality and volumes of their data.

So, we have only advertising.

To advertise, you need to select a network, such as AdMob from Google or MoPub from Twitter. There are a lot of ad networks, they often resell advertising to each other, so solving the issue with their profitability is the topic of a separate study. All of them provide their SDK for integration into the application. You choose where and when to show ads. Advertising formats are almost the same everywhere.

Banners and full-screen ads have been seen by many, they irritate users and are paid only if they are clicked. Native advertising is trickier, it is embedded in the content of the application, especially without reaching the user and often at the same time disfiguring the interface is not worse than banners.

There are also video ads, they pay for the fact that the user watched the commercial. You can stimulate the user to view this video, for example, give him a game currency for it or open additional options (for example, disable advertising). It is important to take into account the user’s restrictions on access to the Internet: on a mobile Internet, a long video can fly into a pretty penny, and the victim will write an angry response, as users do not forgive mistakes (they will be prompt, free and without advertising, and you will be awarded one and two Asterisk in the store).

If your “sales department” finds suitable partners, then you can sell advertising of any related products bypassing the advertising networks.

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