How To Build, Launch and Market your Mobile App
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How To Build, Launch and Market your Mobile App

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App economy is booming and more and more entrepreneurs are launching their businesses with a mobile app. ...

App economy is booming and more and more entrepreneurs are launching their businesses with a mobile app.

You have a mobile app idea but do not know how to take it to market? This guide will address all your questions about what makes a successful app, how to build one, how do you make sure that when you launch, it is heard and seen by your target customers and how to best market your app.

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How To Build, Launch and Market your Mobile App How To Build, Launch and Market your Mobile App Presentation Transcript

  • HowTo Launch And Grow Your Internet and Mobile App Startup By Rahul Varshneya The Sure-Shot Tech Entrepreneur
  • Table of Contents HOW TO SELECT THE RIGHT DEVELOPMENT PARTNER FOR YOUR STARTUP HOW TO FIND A DEVELOPMENT COMPANY LAUNCHING A SUCCESSFUL TECH STARTUP- FOUR POWERFUL TIPS THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO MARKETING YOUR TECH STARTUP MONETIZING YOUR MOBILE APP STARTUP ABOUT THE AUTHOR
  • HOWTO SELECT THE RIGHT DEVELOPMENT PARTNER FORYOUR STARTUP
  • Every startup today needs a website or an app, or both, to showcase their services or product. In some cases, the website or the app is the business itself like Fab.com or Instagram. Not every startup has the right resources though to hire a team of developers to build the website or the mobile application. It?s not just a matter of hiring one developer, but to create a fantastic product you need a team that starts by putting together a requirements document that details your complete technical specications, usability and graphic design, development and nally making sure that the app or the website is bug free. At a stage when you’re starting up, you want to keep the costs at a minimum. When you are bootstrapping to launch your venture, pool in all your funds, keep the costs low and go with an outsourced provider that understands your requirements best. The most important thing for you at this moment is to get your product in the hands of the customer. Some of the most famous products today were outsourced in their initial days ? Alibaba, Fab.com, Digg, Skype. And these are only a drop in the ocean of such examples. So how do you select the right development partner that will not rob you o your sleep? Look for one that will get into the skin of the entrepreneur and understand the product from their perspective. They should be able to provide business and customer insights through their knowledge of working in the market with other entrepreneurs, help mold your product to carve a niche for itself in the market; essentially helping you build a product that you can be proud of. 4
  • Here are some important factors to consider while selecting a development partner. 1. Look for a developer that is interested in your business more than the development. Those are the people (the good ones) who know what works and what doesn’t through their experience of working with many clients. For example, most developers or development companies will start a dialogue with technical specications. Arkenea starts with the reasons and motivation behind the app idea, dierentiators and then go onto suggestions for making the app even better revenue grosser. 2. Assess their portfolio. A good developer MUST also have excellent U/UX skills. 60% of your application is about how a user interacts with it. Look for beautiful looking apps with excellent user interfaces. 3. Ask for client references. Look for developers who will readily extend client contact information for you to ask them questions and get real feedback on the company that you are going to work with. 4. Development of a mobile application is not a one-time activity. Apps have to go through many evolutions and cycles through constant user feedback. Look for a developer that will stick with you through the lifecycle of the product and not abandon ship once the initial development is done and the app is hosted. Arkenea Technologies, a service partner that empowers entrepreneurs in launching their mobile apps and website businesses, is one such example that does this best (Disclaimer: I’m a co-founder of the company). 5
  • Now for some important don’ts while selecting the right development partner. 1. Do not, and I repeat, do not select a development partner based on a price quote. You need a great product developed, not the cheapest product developed. 2. Do not select an independent developer unless you already have access to a team who will perform the rest of the functions such as design, usability, testing, etc. 3. Do not compromise on design for development of a product. How a website or an app looks is as important as how it works. Go a step further and look at partners who can add value to the usability aspect of your website or mobile app which will dene how users interact with your product. 4. Do not rush into selecting your partner.Take time to know your shortlisted partners. After all, you’d be spending most of your time talking and coordinating with them, not just till your product is out, but potentially for as long as it exists. Focus on the right aspects of your business and you’re bound to see success. Selecting the right partner for your startup can dene whether your startup heads North or South. A little bit of caution and additional time spent in the selection process will go a long way. 6
  • HOWTO FIND A DEVELOPMENT COMPANY
  • 1. You look no further and get in touch with my company, Arkenea Technologies that has over two years of experience in helping entrepreneurs in launching their mobile apps and website businesses. The company follows a consultative development process that oers free consulting on business and customer insights, free marketing support and advice on how to best monetize your business to drive maximum revenues. 2. There are plenty of developer networks where you can post your requirement and developers will respond with their bid. Most of the developers here are freelancers and may be working on more than one project at the same time. It is also dicult to nd a combination of a good UI/UX professional and developer since most of them are independent developers. However, if you must go down this route (although not advised for reasons mentioned in earlier chapters), here are the options: AppTank? found to be the best among all of them; oDesk, Elance and They Make Apps are some other options, but tread with caution. 3. Do a Google search for app and website developers in your area and visit their website and check out their portfolio. Google will throw up many developer websites who may or may not be in your region or country. But that does not matter in today’s world. Stop at the ones with a good portfolio and write to them to initiate a dialogue. The above ways will give you enough fodder to get you started and moving ahead and quite simply at that. 8
  • LAUNCHING A SUCCESSFUL TECH STARTUP – FOUR POWERFULTIPS
  • Tip #1 – Finding The Right Development Partner When you are bootstrapping to launch your venture, pool in all your funds, keep the costs low and go with an outsourced provider that understands your requirements best. The most important thing for you at this moment is to get your product in the hands of the customer. Some of the most famous products today were outsourced in their initial days ? Alibaba, Fab.com, Digg, Skype. And these are only a drop in the ocean of such examples. So how do you choose an outsourcing partner that will not rob you o your sleep? Look for one that will get into the skin of the entrepreneur and understand the prod- uct from their perspective. They should be able to provide business and customer insights through their knowledge of working in the market with other entrepreneurs, help mold your product to carve a niche for itself in the market; essentially helping you build a product that you can be proud of. And of course, at the end of the day, they should have a proven track record of design and development with a good selection of apps as portfolio, excellent customer reviews and ratings. Arkenea Technologies, a service partner to entrepreneurs from across the globe, is one such example that does this best. Tip #2 – Build A Minimum Viable Product You want to build a mobile application or website that catches the fancy of your customers so much so that you are able to build a great business out of it. But, how do you know the market response until you’ve built your product and put it out in the market? Invest in building a minimum viable product or a prototype. 10
  • The idea is to put out something that oers the core value or your app or website or that solves the core problem of your customers. The MVP could be a PowerPoint slide, a dialogue box or just a landing page. This is something that you can often build it in a day or a week. A prototype can be an actual functioning app with the core features oered. Share this with your network and see the response. Are people excited to use it? Do they actually feel their needs or problems are resolved by using your product? Is it easy to use? The answers to these questions will get you far more ahead in the game than most mobile or internet startups that do not invest in building a minimum viable product or a prototype. Tip #3 – Marketing Before Development One thing is to build a great product. But what good is a product that is not visible to your target audience? Don’t make the mistake of starting to work on your marketing plan once your app or website is developed. Successful apps and websites are promoted way before they even go live. Take for instance Clear. This iPhone app started to get tech blog coverage based on demos, previews and teaser videos. It sold 350,000 copies within nine days of its launch! So what do you do? Divide your marketing plans into pre-launch campaign, launch campaign and post- launch campaign. Create banner images that will go up on the app store app prole page. Create a microsite for your app. Use absolutely stunning screenshots of your app in the app store description. Write a fantastic app description and use the right keywords. 11
  • There’s a lot more that you need to do in terms of getting visibility for your application. And justice to that can only be done in a separate article with step by step plan for pre-launch, launch and post-launch marketing, that follows. Tip #4 – Plan For Monetization From Day One For Your Mobile App Startup The trickiest part of it all is to get a x on the pricing of your application. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most crucial bits in the success of the app. Here are a few monetization strategies that are popularly adopted across app categories: Paid application: an application is available on the app store for a price and you don’t pay anything anymore for the lifetime of the application. Free with ads: an application that is free to download and use but displays advertising in the app so that the developer can make money while users get a free experience. Free with ads and upgrade for ad-free version: similar to the above one but with an additional option for users to remove the ads by purchasing the upgrade. Free with in-app purchase: the app is available for free with basic functionalities and premium content is available as a purchase from within the application. This is best used in Games. While there are many options, the way to achieve any kind of revenue growth, you require repeated transactions. Think about how you can constantly get your users to pay while they use your application. I will write a more detailed post on Monetization from the application soon, so do subscribe to stay updated. Importantly, think about monetization right at the beginning so that the entire oering can be structured accordingly so that you get feedback on pricing as well at the prototype stage. 12
  • THE ULTIMATE GUIDETO MARKETINGYOUR TECH STARTUP
  • 14 Marketing begins the day you put your mobile app or website idea into production. The activities are divided into two phases: Pre-launch and Post-launch marketing. Most of the ideas here require no money at all to market. All it requires is time and commitment to get you the much-needed visibility. The day you have rmed up your product idea and put into development, start with Pre-Launch these activities immediately for unbelievable results. Blog: create a blog where you write regularly about the issues that your product touches up on. Remember to keep this generic; no one likes to be pushed updates only about your product. Content marketing is a huge trac driver and helps in mon- etizing. Read this awesome post by Neil Patel on his Quicksprout blog on how to write a powerful blog post/article in two hours. Microsite: create a microsite, typically a one-three page website that is an advertising tool for your app. Even though a lot of downloads will come through app stores directly, a huge amount of trac is driven through the web. Here are some such examples of great app microsites: Piictu, Instagram, Path, Sonar and Assistant App. Social Media Proles: create a prole across social media and bookmarking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Digg, Stumbleupon, etc. This will help you spread the word about your blog posts and also write much more about the category and related content of your product idea. Always include a link to the microsite. Here are 10 ways to get more trac, attention and higher rankings through social sharing. Teaser or Giveaway: what good is a microsite and linking that to posts when the product is not available in the app stores yet? My suggestion is to build a teaser campaign or a giveaway into your microsite and invite people to share their email address to stay updated on when the app or website launches. Now you’ve got your own database from people who have shown interest in your product. These are the people that are more likely to convert as customers. Here’s an excellent example of such a page: Turnplay.
  • SEO: begin search engine optimization or SEO immediately for your microsite. SEO takes anywhere between 3-6 months to start showing good results. By the time the trac starts building up, you would have had a version of your product ready for launch. Even if not, you still have your teaser campaign running and getting more opt-ins for when your app launches.Works both ways and is very crucial to begin with at this stage. Tech Blogs: when you’re about a month away from launch, prepare a fantastic press release or write up about your product idea and why you think it will change the world. Start getting in touch with blogs such as Mashable, TechCrunch, TheNextWeb, FastCoDesign, Ars Technica, etc who are likely to write about your product even before it launches if they feel that it truly is a path-breaking idea or execution. Take for instance Clear. This iPhone app started to get tech blog coverage based on demos, previews and teaser videos. It sold 350,000 copies within nine days of its launch thanks to the pre-launch coverage! This phase covers activities that you need to do when you’re ready to launch and what Post-Launch to do after your mobile application is approved in the app store and your website goes live. All the activities in the pre-launch phase have to be continued through the launch and much after if you want to keep driving greater downloads. App Store Marketing: this one’s a less-hyped activity, but gives fantastic results. A lot of people simply browse through the app stores in categories looking for new and attractive apps.This caters to that huge audience who goes to an app store looking for new apps to maximize downloads. Make sure you have a fantastic name for your app. It should connect with the audi- ence instantly and should be very catchy. Similarly, your app icon should grab atten- tion, as these are two things that people see when browsing through the app store categories. Select your keywords wisely. App stores require you to mention keywords that you feel your customers will use to search for your application. Look at successful apps in your category and learn from them. 15
  • Your app description should catch the fancy of your customer. The rst paragraph should be your selling pitch. Don’t make it too long or boring, as the online audience doesn?t have much patience to read through. Also include your keywords in the description content. The application screenshots that you are required to upload shouldn?t be just screen- shots of your application. These should be customized to attract your customer. Again, think of this as your advertisement. Here?s a great article on how to design app store screenshots that sell. App Review Websites: there is a large audience that reads online reviews and recom- mendations before downloading an app. Once your app is launched and available on the app store, draft a press release and send it to a list of app review websites. Look at generic websites (here’s a good list) and also look at app review blogs specic to your category. If yours is a paid app, Apple gives 50 promotional codes that lets that many number of people download your application for free. Send these to the app review websites along with a link to your application, as most of them will not bother paying to down- load for an app. If yours is a free app, simply include a link where they can download it. Tech Blog Redux: don’t forget the tech blogs you wrote to earlier for after you have launched your app. If they did not cover your idea or product initially, you have another reason to write to them, informing of the launch. If your app does well, that?s another reason to write to them informing of the statistics and how well it has been received in the market. Include customer testimonials and case studies. Ratings and Reviews: you need to nd ways to encourage your customers to review and rate your application. The more the ratings, the more chances of it being down- loaded from the app store. One of the more obvious (albeit fantastic) ones is to build a code in your application asking your users to rate. Another great idea is to gamify the rating itself. Reward customers who rate or review your app. All of these activities, if executed well with fantastic content and a great product, will fetch you unbelievable results. And if you’re ready with your product idea and want it to be designed and developed, I can help you with that. Just drop me an email. 16
  • MONETIZING YOUR MOBILE APP STARTUP
  • 18 While there are many options to monetize, the way to achieve any kind of revenue growth, you require repeated transactions. Think about how you can constantly get your users to pay while they use your application. Option #1 – Free App Not really an option, but something you’d put your bets on, not just for the success of the app, but for getting revenues, if any. This is the Instagram model. You create a free app, get a whole host of users (typically, at least a million engaged), and hope to arrive at a monetization later on, an option wherein you could even sell your mobile startup. Just like Instagram did (sell), or Twitter did (gure out and mon- etize later). Both are very high-risk strategies as you really need to be lucky for someone to consider buying out your mobile startup. Also, you’ve got to have a sizeable number of engaged users, month on month to be able to monetize from at a later stage like how Twitter is doing and so did the social app Path. This strategy does not suit all. Only if you’re building a social app or where you expect users to stay engaged and interact with the application (not utility ones or the ones which run in the background), is where this strategy would work best. Option #2 – Paid App It’s as simple as that. You put up a paid application on the app store. Herein, the users pay just once to download the app and don’t pay anything anymore throughout the lifecycle of the app, even if you have several updates and feature additions. Think hard before you choose to use this strategy. Is your application compelling enough for users to pay to download the app? Is your application compelling enough that users will choose to pay for the download even without sampling it? If you’ve got a must-have app, then sure, you can pull this o. But if you’ve got a nice- to-have app, it’s going to be dicult unless you build enough hype that makes it seem like a must-have app.
  • The kind of apps that do best in this are personality driven apps such as Glenn Harrold’s or utility applications such as Clear, which was a hugely successful to-do app that launched in an already crowded market. This also works with many game apps. Option #3 – Free App With Advertising This option is where an application that is free to download and use, but displays advertising in the app so that the developer can make money while users get a free experience. Many game apps use this strategy and so do many apps that are complete versions with ads for the entire lifecycle of the app, even if there are feature additions or upgrades. See this example, Sleep Easily Meditations by Shazzie. This author has many paid applications in the app store, but has given one of her apps as a free download with ads in it for users to sample what she has to oer. If they like, they proceed to buy more. Her Sleep Easily application received over a 100,000 downloads within a very short span of time since launch. A point to note though: you only make money when a large number of users down- load and use your application on a very frequent basis. So choose this option wisely as you only make money when users click on ads in your app. Here, the iOS apps draw larger revenues than Android apps, generally. Option #4 – Free App With Paid Upgrade For Ad-Free Version These are apps that are basic versions with ads and require the user to purchase a version that does not have ads in it for an un-hindered experience. This is a very good dual monetization strategy to adopt. Especially, when you?re not very sure whether to go in for a free app or a paid one. Or that you want a user to expe- rience your app and then if they want a better experience, they have the option of removing the ads. Here you earn when the app is used for free and you earn again if the user upgrades! One such example is FITEO Free. The app gives users a complete experience but with display of advertising in it. And the users can always buy the version without adds for an un-hindered experience. 19
  • Another great example of this is the Hanging With Friends game. Go check it out how brilliantly they have used the ads in the game app. Option #5 – Free App With In-App Purchase This is the most popular option used by game apps. Free games are available in plenty, which require you to pay (once you’re hooked) to get virtual goods that help you play the game better. See Mega Jump and Jetpack Joyride. The way apps use it is that they oer basic features for free and require the user to pay through within the app (in-app purchase) to download and use premium features in the application. See Pandora Radio and Emoji>. If you feel you’ve got a compelling app, but will take some time for a buy-in from your customer, you can then oer a free basic version and let them buy specic features independently from within the app or a group of features for a price. These are some of the most widely used monetization strategies and there are some others, which are an oshoot of these. Which means that you can get creative even with pricing your app. Most importantly though, think about monetization right at the beginning so that the entire product oering can be structured accordingly so that you get feedback on pricing as well at the prototype stage. 20
  • 21 Rahul Varshneya has spent his entire career either working for startups or starting businesses. He now spends his time between coaching aspiring entrepreneurs in launching their venture, apps and websites and building Arkenea Technologies. Rahul was the co-founder of Emaginative Technologies (web application development, 1998) and Moksha Art (online ne art gallery, 2005) and founded The PR School (world's rst free online public relations training school) in 2010. Rahul writes on starting up at http://rahulvarshneya.com/blog and is a published author at Under30CEO, Entrepreneur.com and VentureBeat. Rahul is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most successful young entrepreneurs. You can follow him on twitter @rahulvarshneya. ABOUTTHE AUTHOR