According to Statista, there are more than 2.2 million apps available for iOS users and more than 2.1 million on the market for Android users. A report published by App Annie found that the average smartphone owner uses an average of 30 apps each month and nine per day, with most users spending well over two hours each day on their apps.
Needless to say, apps have become an integral part of our daily lives, so it’s no surprise that major corporations and small startups alike have made their development a central part of doing business. Alas, not all apps can be successful. In fact, there is a very high chance that yours will fail to generate purchases or even the downloads needed to thrive. After all, while there are millions of apps available, the average person only uses a tiny fraction of them. If you’re not careful, even the most well-designed offering will slip through the cracks and go unnoticed, especially if your app falls into the following four fatal categories.
1. It doesn’t solve an actual problem.
Without a doubt, the biggest reason any app will fail to make an impression after launch is if it fails to solve an actual problem. Even gaming apps solve a problem for their users by providing desirable entertainment. As app developer John Sela writes in The Next Web, “To determine if your mobile app concept will satisfy a real market need of users, be sure to ask yourself and your team the following questions … Does this audience need a mobile app? Will this group of people be able to take away more value from our app than they can currently get anywhere else? Can we influence customers to download this app?”
Ultimately, you have to take a deep dive into the problems your target audience is facing. Consider how you can digitize real-world solutions or improve on other apps. Use social media, focus groups and other resources to identify the top pain points in your niche so you can better understand what your target audience is actually looking for.
2. You’re limiting your potential audience.
While proper targeting is crucial to app success, this doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to a domestic audience. The latest iteration of AppsFlyer’s Performance Index report, covering the 20 billion app installs that the attribution company tracked during the second half of 2018, notes that “the Africa/Middle East region showed substantial growth, reflecting the region’s continued economic development. As the number of smartphone owners increases in the area at breakneck speed, the region represents fertile ground for marketers vying to attract and retain new customers.”
As further proof of this, a report by Newzoo ranks countries like Nigeria, Iran and South Africa among the top 30 in the world for the number of smartphone users. It wouldn’t hurt to consider your app’s market potential across the globe. Just be mindful that the problems experienced by your domestic consumers could be as applicable overseas. In some cases, with just a little bit of tweaking, your concept could have even greater appeal in a market with less competition. For instance, Chinese app developer Cheetah Mobile has achieved more than 450 million downloads by focusing on less saturated markets outside its home country.
3. You haven’t invested in marketing.
Your new app will face a lot of competition, and you can’t expect an overnight success. You must retain some of your budget for advertising so that a marketing strategy can be executed during the buildup to the app’s launch and create some level of hype. Use that strategy to communicate the value and unique features of your app. As part of your beta testing, utilize positive feedback for your marketing materials. You could also provide special offers or access to premium content to early adopters to help build an initial user base.
Social-media campaigns, outreach to tech blogs and paid advertising will all be necessary to ensure a successful launch. By investing in marketing early on, you will be more likely to rank as a top-downloaded app on launch day and subsequently spur organic downloads from interested users who didn’t even see your ads.
4. You don’t have a monetization plan in place.
At the end of the day, your app needs to make money. Without some source of income, you won’t have the resources you need to make updates that keep your users coming back for more. Fortunately, there are many possibilities for monetizing your app beyond annoying pop-up ads or selling your own products or services.
“Freemium” apps like Dropbox are especially successful. Users can download the basic app for free, but select features can only be accessed after a payment. This gives users a chance to try out the app’s basic features and decide for themselves if the extra content is worth the investment.
In-app purchases have also proven to be an effective option for gaming apps. As Sensor Tower reports, Nintendo’s smartphone game Fire Emblem Heroes has grossed more than $500 million worldwide. The app itself is free to play, but optional in-game purchases unlock additional characters and items, spurring recurring spending. In comparison, the company’s Super Mario Run (which was a paid download with no in-game purchases) has only grossed $68 million.
While eliminating bugs and providing continual updates to keep app users engaged will go a long way in building a loyal audience, you won’t get far without the basic building blocks in place. By addressing these common pitfalls before you launch your new app, you will be better equipped to make an actual impact on the market.