What’s wrong with my app?

by | Mar 21, 2019 | Tech

Reading time: 4 minutes

In an app market of over 3 million, why are you not standing out?

Yes, you still remember when it happened. You were thinking about that thing in that place and you thought that a mobile app would make that so much easier, to the point that it boggles the mind that NOBODY has done it before. Incredible. A virgin market. It was going to be revolutionary.

Then you started talking to friends and family about this potential new app, and everybody thought it was a great idea. Off to the races you went, seeking investors, searching for developers, haggling prices, making business plans, etc. Finally that MBA was coming in handy, for once.

And after a lot of SWAT analysis, a hundred modifications, tons of AB testing, a few server crashes and a thousand lines of contract with Google Play and Apple’s AppStore, you’re ready to launch. The business model requires 25,000 downloads and 4,000 monthly users to break even. After that, all you need to do is ride the wave and develop v2.0, which will finally be what you envisioned but couldn’t implement from the beginning because the developers outright lied to you on what they could do for whatever price.

Unfortunately, once your friends and your friends’ significant others have downloaded the app, you can’t seem to find traction. As for users, not even your friends are into it. Of course, you already knew that because they are not the target market and, to reach that, you need to advertise, you need a marketing plan, and you need an ad platform.

In here, and depending on budget, people go nuts. Some advertise on billboards, on the radio, via Google ads, adsense, and the Facebook universe. There’s perhaps some direct advertising in a few publications, or outright advertorial content on some app review channel. And what they are all missing is the main ingredient. What is the consumer behavior?

Let’s not focus on how many apps the average phone currently has installed (it’s around 44, just FYI) because that will not determine whether your app is going to be downloaded or not. Not at all. What’s important is how your potential users are going to get that app. And here is the bad news: users don’t like to download applications over their data package.

Yes, they will gladly stream instagram stories, watch them, view Youtube videos, play online, and listen to the radio or a podcast. But for app downloads, they will wait until they’re connected to WiFi.

We conducted a study that found 85% of mobile users will only download apps through WiFi. Why? The reason is simple. No matter how large your data package, it’s like your salary. You will accommodate your expenses to the largesse of the paycheck. Hence, if you have n-Gb per month data package, you will listen to 320Kbps audio, and watch 4k videos, and play VR games. But, for sure, you will consume as much bandwidth as possible by the end of the month, because unlike money, you can’t carry it over to the next billing cycle.

Hence, any unexpected data usage is psychologically unadvised. And thus, people just won’t download apps over their data packages. And here is where the marketing plan and download projections break down. Keep in mind that the Appstore has over 2 million apps, and Google Play is even bigger. And our memory is very small. Our retention of a mobile app name is fickle.

However, people are on their phones all the time. Over 6 hours a day on average. And they are on social media, games, browsing, email and other work related issues. And a good portion of those hours are spent outside WiFi coverage. But, your marketing plan has not defined anything about this. All your ad suppliers will give you the views or the clicks based on your preference, but they can hardly define whether the device is on data or WiFi.

Therefore, over 60% of your marketing budget is likely to be wasted on good potential customers that simply won’t remember your app name by the time they are on WiFi. You will be able to look at the metrics and they will be appalling. A million views of your app’s ad, with a 0.5% click-thru-rate, and an even more disappointing download rate. And any of those platforms is going to clearly (read ‘dubiously’) show you that the target audience was right, the time of day appropriate, the ad was seen, and even the click was clicked. But the downloads are not there, much less the users.

In despair, you go to the corner cafe and see all your target audience, logging on to WiFi, and you ask yourself, where am I going wrong? Well, now you know.

So, what can you do?

There is light at the end of the tunnel. You can make sure that your advertising goes only at certain times of the day. Those when your target market is most likely to be on WiFi. You can advertise on certain apps, such as food ordering apps as these are, in general, operated over wifi. Or you can just advertise on wifi, on systems such as Tanaza or welikewifi.com, just to be certain the download is not going to cost data bandwidth.

And most of all, track your conversions. Monitor your click vs. download ratios. An app, unless it’s a paid one, is not a meditated choice. It’s a spur of the moment. It’s the equivalent of the chewing gum at the check-out counter. If your ad investment does not immediately translate into a download, pull it out, reconsider, reframe, change the message, adjust your approach, but be as quick as the internet. Remember the ad platform is only obligated to display your message. The rest is up to you.

Remember. The app could still be incredible. There is still a virgin market, and it might still be revolutionary. You just need to make sure you stand out.