American Marketer


5 secrets of successful mobile app developers

June 26, 2012

Assaf Kolirin is founder/CEO of buzzdoes


By Assaf Kolirin

Mobile application developers have never had it better – or worse.

On the one hand, the research firm Gartner predicts that by 2015 there will be 1 billion iPad users and 2.5 billion smartphone owners. For app developers, this means the potential customer base is vast.

On the other hand, the app marketplace has become so crowded – with nearly 60,000 new apps created every month – that developers struggle to get noticed. In their attempts to launch the next big mobile app, new developers too often make avoidable mistakes.

If you are getting ready to bring your mobile app to market, ensure your success by studying what successful developers have learned through trial and error.

1. Great ideas do not automatically yield great success. Consumers are overwhelmed by choice right now.

The mere fact that your app is amazing will not help customers find it. Similarly, a bad idea does not guarantee failure.

There are other forces at work when it comes to creating buzz around a new app.

Consider the rise of Angry Birds, the best-selling paid app ever released. It is a fun game, but its success is also tied to its developer’s work to promote the game via a YouTube trailer and a free “lite” version of the app.

All of those factors were important in the enormous success of Angry Birds.

2. Do not rush an app to market. Your concept might be revolutionary, but if your app functionality is clunky, the only market awareness you will capture will be negative.

If there are bugs in your app, take the time to fix them before you launch. You will protect your long-term reputation and establish more trust among users if you make sure your mechanics are perfect before going to market.

3. Words matter as much as code. Once they have perfected their apps, many developers are tempted to sit back and wait for the users to come to them.

Unfortunately, completing the technical work is just phase one of the project.

You should spend an equal amount of effort crafting a compelling product description for target users.

Other supporting content might include a Web site where you give detailed information about the app, share screenshots, announce new developments, and share advice for common problems.

4. Remember the user. For whom did you design this app? That person’s needs and interests should be clear to you. If they are not, your marketing efforts will be more difficult and probably less effective.

Ask yourself, “Who is this user? Which channels will he trust most for help in choosing an app? Where and when will he use this app? What are his goals for using it? How much time does he have?”

5. Market wisely. Advertising is a direct way to reach an audience, but it can also be expensive, particularly for as-yet-undiscovered developers.

Pay-per-success campaigns offer a more budget-friendly option for developers who want to incorporate advertising into their marketing plans.

These campaigns only charge you when the ad leads to a direct download.

The other benefit of such offerings is that you can track downloads and hits and adjust messaging accordingly.

Even more cost-effective is word-of-mouth marketing, since your users do the work of exposing your app to larger audiences. Their authentic recommendations often carry more weight with prospects than ads, and user-generated feedback typically leads to dramatically better download rates.

A five-star user rating, for example, yields more enthusiastic response than any paid advertisement could.

Marketing new apps for maximum buzz
With tens of thousands of new items flooding app stores every month, it is no longer enough for developers to be good.

To capture the attention of a distracted market, app makers also need to be smart, aggressive promoters.

The most effective marketing strategy in this environment builds on the social behavior of customers, who often rely on each other’s activity and advice in choosing which apps to buy and which to ignore.

This is one of the most significant secrets successful app developers know, and it is easy enough for new players to learn it.

Make a great product, learn about the user who will embrace it, and then help her share her experiences with a wide circle of friends. Your results will be measurable in increased app exposure and download rates.

Assaf Kolirin is founder/CEO of buzzdoes, Tel Aviv, Israel. Reach him at