Apple has already sold more than 800 million iOS devices and expects to sell more than 1 billion by 2015. For creators of iPhone and iPad iOS apps, the potential market is enormous. But with more than 1.2 million apps currently available in the app store, the competition for users' attention is fierce. Some large developers and brands have substantial resources to run costly advertising campaigns to market their apps, while thousands of great apps developed by businesses without substantial budgets can languish in the store without users.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve the odds that your app will be found and installed. Here are four simple ones.
1. Use Market Research To Build an App Users Want
Predicting the popularity of your iOS app is difficult, but there are tools for targeting your ideal users. Tried and true marketing techniques, including classics like SWOT and PEST analysis, help many app developers determine whether a need for a particular application exists. Use market research to discover the needs and desires of your niche market, and create an application that appropriately addresses them. For example, Worry Free Labs client, KeyMe did their homework in researching the locksmith industry. They uncovered that millions of americans lock themselves out of their homes each year and can pay upward of $150 from a locksmith to gain entry into their home. As a result, they built a business and an iOS app to help consumers solve that problem as users of their service pay a tenth of the cost of using a locksmith. KeyMe's mobile application is now one of the top downloaded apps in the Utility category.
2. Design, Build, Analyze and Update
Building a great iOS app does not stop after launching the initial app to the app store. After you spent the necessary time and effort to build a great user experience and an appealing visual interface that was tested and debugged, you should begin analyzing the results using Google Analytics, Flurry or other tools in the market. These tools are easy to integrate into your mobile app and make it possible to understand your app's overall download numbers, revenue trends, user habits, customer reviews, etc. Use this valuable info to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of the app as well as of your marketing efforts. And then, make the necessary updates to your app to improve it for users.
3. Launch a Grassroots CampaignIn a perfect world, well-designed and highly useful apps would get their shot at success immediately, while lesser apps would fall to the wayside. But that's not how the iOS app market works. Instead, developers can employ various tools to get the word out and increase an app's popularity.
Advertisements are one key tool many developers use to drive traffic to a new application. Placing traditional print ads, online banner ads, and mobile ads within other iOS applications are among the available strategies. All of these options have various merits, and prices vary widely from platform to platform. But many developers are reluctant to spend money on a marketing tool that is not guaranteed to generate application success.
Instead, many turn to social media networks and blogging to generate interest. Many an app has skyrocketed up the charts fueled only by such free grassroots efforts. Also, apps like Snapchat and Instagram grew in popularity largely by "word of mouth" and sharing via friends because they had the "cool" factor.
4. Invest in a Comprehensive Marketing Plan
Advertising and marketing certainly have their place in driving popularity for new apps, but it's also important to remember that many successful apps have experienced organic growth with time. Some of the iTunes store's most popular titles took months to reach any audience at all, but went on to capture the attention of millions.
Forecasting the ebbs and flows of the online marketplace is incredibly difficult, even for the most advanced marketing and development teams. Experts might try to predict trends or pinpoint patterns within the app world, but the "it" factor remains elusive for many developers. In most cases, the best approach to achieving organic growth is to invest in a long-term marketing plan and use a wide assortment of tools to reach as many would-be downloaders as possible.
To be sure, there is no formula for building the next great revenue-generating app. Instead, developers should focus on creating high-quality applications that meet the needs of a specific group of iOS customers. A business may only need to reach a few thousand users to drive sales and be successful.
Every developer might dream of creating the next viral app, but making it your first priority to build apps that are appealing and useful is the best way to get there.