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How we as an app maker launched no.1 in 22 countries

As app creators, we developed App of The Year in 2012, which went No.1 in 22 countries. It was a process that was underpinned by key principles and one which can definitely be replicated.

Here's six steps we used to take our app to the masses and dominate the global charts. 

 

1. Build an awesome app experience.

One of the key principles we repeat to clients and any entrepreneur that wants to become an app maker, is that in order to win the App Store, you need to understand the post-launch development decisions. With often little to no marketing budget, you have to create an awesome app experience to make a lasting impression. Build something that is ten times better than all the existing competitors because this will give people to spread your platform.  Word of mouth coupled with built in viral campaigns will be the growth drivers of your product. It all comes back to building a good experience. With our first app “Inside the World of Dinosaurs” we built the best app experience for children. Period.

 

2. Build a great team.

In Silicon Valley, the most influential investors look at the team before they look at the product. This is the factor that gives investors confidence of your success — a coherent and adaptable team, who are willing to adapt to an ever transient market environment. Being an app maker is more than just the idea. Your team needs to include designers, engineers and business people. They are the fabric of the startup and will ultimately determine your probability for success. 

 

3. Build in linear explosions for launch.

It’s one thing for app makers to choose a great team and build an awesome app experience, but you still need to execute a great launch. At M5859 Apps, we planned methodically for 3-4 months prior to launching our first app “Inside the World of Dinosaurs” with what we term “Linear Explosions”. These are marketing decisions that will return you a one-off return of downloads, ergo their impact on your growth curve is linear. An example could be a publicity feature, an Apple feature, a celebrity Tweet etc. To be an effective app maker, you need to plan for dozens of linear explosions leading up to your launch date, to ensure that these marketing boosts happen in quick succession of one another. This will increase the probability that your app with chart highly in the app store in a small window of time and thus give people a chance to take notice  of your app. over the first 1-8 weeks post-launch, each explosion overlaps the other, causing a massive surge in downloads - which will result in your app charting high enough in the appstore charts. You want to chart in the Top-50 apps —  linear explosions will get you there. 

4. Build in virality into your app.

Great, you’ve now launched your linear explosions grass roots marketing campaigns, and you’ve reached Top-50 in the app charts as an app maker. But then your app starts sliding out the charts. You can’t keep it up there because the reason why it was there in the first place was due to all your team’s hard work with marketing and linear explosions. You did all the heavy lifting, but now the app needs more of that to keep it in the charts. That’s where building virality into your app comes into play. With our first app, ““Inside the World of Dinosaurs” we made a lite free version with in-app purchases. We then did another marketing campaign around the lite version, which resulted in over millions of dowloads and created mass awareness for the pro version of the dinosaur app (selling for $16/unit). Virality engineered into your app is now part of a growing movement called growth hack marketing.

 

5. Work closely with Apple or Google.

One of the great things we decided to do early on, when building “Inside the World of Dinosaurs” was to work closely with Apple. We showed them an early build, politely mentioned that it would be released in a few months and add details about our marketing plan. Naturally, it helped that we had secured Stephen Fry as the narrator of the dinosaur app, but together with a jaw-dropping app, that was enough to get Apple to feature it upon launch. This helped propel the app's awareness in the charts from the start. We also worked closely with Apple to incorporate features of their latest operating system in our app because this gave them an added incentive to promote our app. Companies like Smule, Evernote and Flipboard were built on the success of Apple features, and as an app maker, you should try, where possible, to work alongside Appstore owners like Apple and Google. 

 

6. Regular feature updates and refreshed content.

One of the best ways for your app to stay top of mind of your existing users and to incentivize them to spread the app is to offer new content regularly (i.e.characters, levels etc) . This keeps your cusomters coming back for more and staying on your platform. When customers stay longer on your app, there’s a much higher chance they will purchase digital goods, share the app, or watch banner ads. Either way you win when customers are highly engaged. But engagement is usually a direct linear result of either an “addictive app experience” and/or “regular feature updates and refreshed content". The best app makers combined both strategies for success.

These were three fundamental concepts that we, as app creators, needed to consciously execute to ensure we tackled the charts with a unprecedented tenacity.