The App Store has been around for nearly a decade and has seen countless apps come and go in that time. Currently, the App Store contains more than 2 million apps, all clamoring for your attention and vying for that coveted distinction as one of your go-to apps. With those odds, it might seem next to impossible for your app to garner any attention amid the sea of available apps, but with a little creativity and outside-the-box thinking, your needle will be found in that haystack.
Alex Craig, a Business Development Executive at Bottle Rocket, which makes mobile experiences for brands, gave a talk at a recent event hosted by The Mobile Growth Agency about how to stand out and be noticed, even sometimes using unorthodox methods. He said building a successful app is all about creating value for users.
“Why does somebody want to actively use my app? That’s the question you need to ask,” Craig told the audience.
Craig said with so many apps and companies fighting for your attention during their split-second of screen time, it’s harder than ever to get your product in front of an actual audience, get their attention, and convert them to actual users. You retain users long term by building a quality product that adds value to their lives, but getting them to notice you in the first place is the trick.
An example he cited is the ubiquitous dating app Tinder, which blew up initially by hosting wild parties on college campuses. The ticket for entry? A download of the then-fledgling app. Using that same model, Tinder was able to spread like wildfire across the United States and then the rest of the world.
Sandwich giant Chick-fil-A approached Bottle Rocket with a challenge to reduce long lunch lines at their restaurants using a mobile solution. That solution was the Chick-fil-A One app, which allows in-app ordering, and gives special surprise and delight rewards to increase stickiness.
They put a call to action mention of the app on every soda cup, every sandwich wrapper, every fries container. But just saying “hey, come download our app” isn’t always the best approach. To really get the downloads started, Chick-fil-A leveraged the most exciting word in marketing, “free.” By offering a free sandwich to anyone who downloaded the app, the Chick-fil-A app saw more than 4 million downloads in less than a week, propelling it to the number one app in the App Store.
“Suddenly you have 4 million people with the app to get their free chicken sandwich, which is then going to drive them to use the app to order their sandwich from the phone. They go pick it up at the store, more than likely they’re going to buy soda, going to buy fries. What does it cost Chick-fil-A to make a sandwich? Sixty cents? A dollar? Suddenly you drove all those people into trying your app and drove them back to your business by creating value and putting it in front of them,” said Craig.
A smaller scale but no less interesting example Craig detailed was a mobile game he created in college called Electric Boogie. Craig said he realized halfway through the development process the enormity of the challenge of standing out in the app store and came to a stark conclusion: nobody was going to download his app.
He said he knew then that he had to reach his desired audience in a creative way beyond advertising. He thought about how to game the algorithm on Reddit by creating good content. They created an alternate ending to the game which was accessed by scoring 100 points on the final level. The ending revealed a supposed resignation letter by an app designer who snuck it by his boss to quit his job. Of course, it was all made up, but that didn’t stop a video of the ending on YouTube from going viral, garnering more than 200,000 views on its first day.
As a result of the campaign, and the subsequent torrent of media coverage and Facebook shares, this little game got more than 24,000 downloads.
“Taking that same approach of building something of value, putting it in front of your channel of impressions and converting your users in a creative way made me realize that shareable content is key. How can you get people to share with who they’re following? Their friends. Word of mouth marketing is the best marketing you can have,” said Craig.
• Don’t feel boxed in by the most common channels to reach new users. Sometimes you reach new pockets by looking outside typical methods.
• With over 2 million apps in the App Store, it’s those apps which come up with a creative way to make a splash that get noticed.
• A flashy introduction for your product is worthless if the product behind it isn’t of high quality and usefulness, something that delivers value to its users.