If you’ve been developing apps for a while you’re going to be familiar with the following pattern: You launch a new app, the first week or two of sales are great, but then in the following months, sales start to slow down. Your app revenue is in gradual decline and you wonder when it will stop, and where your daily revenue is going to settle at. It finally settles, and of course it’s lower than you’d like, so what do you do now?
The same as you’ve always done; you get back to work adding features, telling yourself that if you just get feature X in there, sales will pick up. But you do the update and guess what? The usual thing happens, you get a bump in revenue then after that things settle back down to the way they were before. I’ve been there, many times and it’s frustrating to say the least.
I’ve put together a list of five things that have helped increase the revenue of our apps at Realmac. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it covers all the basics. Before we get into the details, keep in mind it's not one specific thing that helps, it’s a combination of all the ideas outlined below.
1. Update often and listen to your customers
Listen carefully to your customers, pick out the feature requests that keep coming up and implement those. Don’t spend all your time building fancy features no one has requested. Updating often is a win for everyone involved, customers absolutely love seeing new features and enhancements, and it reassures them the app is still in development and not abandon-ware.
Consistency is the key here, keep delivering timely updates. Somewhere between every 3-6 weeks is perfect. It can be hard to keep this up constantly, especially for smaller teams or those working on multiple products. Even if you don't achieve it, having this goal gives you something to aim for. If you do manage to update anywhere near as often as I suggest, your users will love you for it. In turn they’ll talk about your app more, and those regular updates you keep pushing out will translate into an increase in revenue each month.
2. Improve App Store metadata
More widely known as App Store Optimisation. I always feel slightly dirty even mentioning this phrase, but ASO works - it's not a magic bullet, but it does help. Take a look at your app details on the App Store. I'm 100% sure there's something you could improve upon. Is your app icon, screenshots, and description really good enough? These details are essentially your advert on the App Store, you need to make the most of them.
You should spend time for each release fine tuning your app name and keywords, these play a big role in helping your app get found when users search the App Store. I won’t go into more detail here as I’ve previously covered the basics of getting started with ASO.
3. Localise your app
Customers browsing the App Store are less likely to download your app if it’s not in their native language. It's not hard to see why localising the app description and screenshots on the App Store will result in more sales. You just need to be careful as costs for localisations can escalate very quickly.
If you’re new to localisation I’d suggest starting with just the description and keywords on the App Store. You may also want to start with a subset of the recommended languages. Pick just a couple and once you’re happy with the results, you can slowly add more over time. Here's the standard list of languages you should consider supporting: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese & Spanish.
There are plenty of services out there that offer translations. Over the years, I've used two different companies and have been very happy with both. If you're looking for a personal service go with Applingua, for something more automated use OneSky.
4. Ask customers to rate your app
As you're probably aware, ratings can make a huge difference on the App Store; customers use them to instantly gauge if your app is worth downloading. If an app has a low star rating most potential customers will just move on, I know I'm guilty of ignoring apps with a 3.5 or lower star rating. If you compare this with seeing a highly rated app with 100's of 4+ star ratings, customers will generally think; “this must be worth looking at with so many great reviews”.
I know it’s much easier said than done, but if you update often and give users what they want you should start receiving more 5 star ratings for your app. However, to really increase the number and quality of your ratings you're going to need to give your customers a gentle nudge every now and again. To help with this I wrote an article on the best way to ask customers for reviews without being annoying.
5. Market outside the App Store
The App Store should not be used as an excuse for not marketing your app. A lot of indie developers think that because the App Store exists, Apple is going to do all the hard work for them. That all they need to do is put their app in the App Store and the sales will magically happen. If you've already released an app or two you're probably aware that this is unfortunately not the case.
You need to get out there and spread the word about your app, start putting some effort into marketing it. Marketing comes in many forms. Putting your app on sale is marketing, talking about your app on Twitter is marketing. Writing a blog post, doing an interview, switching to freemium, producing a video, updating your website, sending out a newsletter, all of these things are marketing.
You need to be thinking about ways to get your app noticed above all the noise, do whatever you can to get it in front of more people. If you're not doing this you're going to have a really hard time making a sustainable business.
An upwards trend
I know from first hand experience that following the advice above can make a huge difference to monthly revenue.
I hope this article has given you something you feel you can go away and implement today, above all else I hope it puts you on a path to increasing the revenue for your own apps.