Posts tagged customers
Now that the Thanksgiving table has been cleared in the US, thoughts turn to holiday shopping and wishlists. We have a short wishlist of our own that we, as iPhone app developers with a global view, would like to present to Apple.
We strongly believe that consumers want well-designed, easy to use, feature-rich tools that entertain, organise, inform and improve their quality of life… and that they will pay for quality. In order to create quality apps, it takes time and, of course, financial resources.
We have understood the importance of marketing and promotion from day one. We knew that this responsibility was squarely on our shoulders and were happy with this fact. The App Store is merely a distribution channel and that’s okay.
HOWEVER, there are small things that Apple could do that would make our efforts just a little easier or more effective:
1. Allow a peek into the black box of App Store
It’s very difficult to take a leap of faith when there is only anecdotal information regarding the impact of marketing efforts on sales. Many developers have created offline systems to get around this, but none provide clear tracking data that shows the unbroken path between marketing effort, click-through and sale of a specific app.
App Cubby hits it on the head: Developers need at least a little peek into the black box that is the App Store. Pinch Media is a great source of summary data (thanks, Fred Wilson), but developers need app-specific data regarding activity in the App Store. Allowing click tracking all the way through to purchase is a minimum, but additional data would be helpful (such as where shoppers are coming from: direct links, search, top lists, featured pages, etc.).
We’ve seen the trend of Apple opening the doors ever so slightly. As of this month, developers can now see more detail in the approval process – whether the app is Waiting for Review or In Review or Ready for Sale.
Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend.
2. Allow demo videos in the store
This will get rid of 90% of the crap because people won’t waste the time to download crap even if it’s free! Most serious developers make demo videos for their websites anyhow, so it wouldn’t be an additional burden for most developers.
3. Allow gift cards for specific apps or at least the App Store itself as opposed to iTunes in general.
People love gifting songs and creating playlists for their friends and family. It’s a time-honored tradition, harking back to mixtapes… It’s a thoughtful and personal gift. So many people don’t have the time to dig into the App Store as deeply as they would like. There are so many apps – it’s always nice to get recommendations from friends and it would be even better if they were able to send apps to you directly.
Dan Grigsby from Mobile Orchard points out that ‘providing a “Gift This App” mechanism would open up a universe of novel marketing, bundling and promotional opportunities — all of which would drive App Store revenues, none of which would threaten Apple’s commission. Taking a page from Amazon and providing a simple API would further support this.’ So true. We aren’t asking Apple to do the marketing for us. We’re just asking for them to give us a chance to do thoughtful marketing.
Apple needs to take this issue seriously for both consumers’ and developers’ sake.
4. Give promo codes outside of US
For goodness’ sake, let us give promotion codes OUTSIDE the US. We are a global company (hey – just like you) and expect to have customers in many of the stores, if not all. We’d like to build up our customer base in Italy, Russia and Japan for example. For this, we know we need to do our legwork and talk to local journalists, niche media and bloggers. We’ve got the language skills, but it’s slightly less effective when we can’t give them a promo code.
So a short wishlist – please Apple, we’ve been awfully good this year:
1. More info on tracking click-throughs
2. Demo videos in the App Store
3. Gift This App
4. Promo codes valid outside the US
Of course, the ultimate gift would be the Holy Grail of marketing info – a list of our customers! A girl can dream, can’t she?
What other items could we put on this wishlist?
Evernote, of course, has a devoted following and this app is used by such a wide variety of people for all sorts of productivity improvements. I personally love this video about a dairy farmer using Evernote in his business. This is no ordinary dairy farm!
I’ve been a fan of Evernote forever (not just because they come from the land of the White Nights or because they’ve got Esther Dyson on their Board, but because their product is so truly innovative), but I can’t claim such exciting use. I’m sure this video has given many people new ideas on how they can use Evernote in their own businesses.
We want our users to use our apps in ways we might not have expected or for purposes that aren’t as obvious. We’ve already had one user tell us that he (yes, he) is going to add his scarf collection to the myShoebox database by giving them all the Style of ‘Other’. Clever!
We are in our last few days before we submit and we have now made our final pricing decisions. This is a crucial decision that allows your app to gain traction, reflect value and, of course, potentially earn a bit of revenue that can feed the next set of updates.
As many app developers point out, price is often relative to its context not necessarily perceived absolutely from its value to the user. This is especially difficult in the App Store where the context is thousands of apps at $0.99 or free. As David at App Cubby demonstrates, some of his users seem to be excessively demanding at the $10 price point because they are judging the app among a sea of much cheaper apps.
However, when you dig a little further, you discover that there are plenty of apps that are priced above $20. As Appsfire mentioned recently, ‘If your app brings something real to the table, …then price it accordingly. Don’t succumb to the temptation of the 99 cent app, it’s a lure and only serves to feed the get-rich-quick fairy tales that even kids would find hard to believe.’ This will separate the wheat from the chaff.
As developers, we all agree with the premise that out of the 100,000 or so apps in the App Store, probably 90% of them are of little value. If you then assume that there are approximately 10,000 apps of real value and more than 6,000 are priced above $5, this is uplifting. However, the trick is to get the consumer to understand this! (For all you detail-oriented people out there, I am assuming that, for argument’s sake, only a small percentage of the higher-priced apps are useless.) We are pushing water uphill, though, in the midst of mainstream media describing the App Store as a ‘digital dollar store’ (Jon Fortt of Fortune)
This chart gives you the price distribution for September for non-game apps:
We thought long and hard about the price point for our apps and feel strongly that we want to shift the user’s context so that our price is reasonable not only because of the enormous value it offers the user, but also because relative to similar items providing similar value, the app is actually very inexpensive.
For example, our myPause app, which empowers women by giving them a tool to track their menopause symptoms and treatments, we felt the appropriate context was taking a girlfriend out for a cup of coffee to compare experiences and knowledge. This cost would be around $10, which is our target price, though we have discounted it for the initial launch period as an extra incentive.
For myShoebox, which manages your shoe closet, we felt the appropriate context was time saved in duplicate purchases and misplacing shoes. This is a softer comparison point, but still well beyond the $2.99 we’ve set as our introductory price.
The key is to embed these comparison points into all marketing material so that it is the first comparison our user makes. All developers should take the time to create these relevant price comparisons so that we can educate the consumer and get out of the rut of competing with all the other apps at the lowest price possible.
Understandably, game apps will have a hard time shifting the context for the user’s price sensitivity. Many other apps, including App Cubby which is extremely value-add, should fight aggressively to shift their user’s context. Put this information in your App Store description in the first few lines. It will take time, but users will start to appreciate the difference between quality, feature-rich apps and impulse purchase apps.
Does anyone else feel that we will be able to shift the customers away from the $0.99 comparable and focus them on the more relevant comparatives?