If you’ve built modern mobile apps, you probably already know that coming up with the idea for the app/game and coding it is really only half the battle. Success is largely determined in the marketing strategy you adopt for your app. There are quite a few strategies that you can take and you can likely mix and match them, but there is no one “silver bullet” that will make your app an instant success. This post is the first in a series of five that will give you an idea of some of the ways you can help your app become a success in the Windows Phone Marketplace.
There’s a statistic that was published by analytics vendor Localytics that states that only 26% of all mobile apps downloaded are ever opened more than once. That’s actually a little higher than the numbers I’ve heard around mobile app circles, but still that number is quite astounding. What it means is that for a myriad of reasons, most users are interested enough to open your app but quickly lose interest and either delete right away or never open it again. Those odds are not good, so if you intend for your app to be popular, you need to adopt a strategy that will give you an edge and compel your user base to make use of your app more than once.
There are multiple things you need to do before your app is ready for consumption. One is to have a great idea (this is pretty much non-negotiable in my opinion). Second, you need to build it the right way (i.e.: great functionality, application flow, pleasant interface and intuitive app design). Third, you need to figure out a way for your app to make your users awesome in the moment. All this before your very first user even thinks of downloading your app.
At the same time as building your app, you should be thinking about how you’ll market it once it’s ready. Over the next 5 days, I’ll be posting an entry per day discussing some of the strategies you can employ to help make your app or game more successful on the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Making your apps available on as many markets that make sense to support, not ALL markets possible
The context of this first post is about understanding which geographies you can make your app available in. Your first answer to “which countries should your app be available in?” might be “All of them, of course!”, but keep in mind a few things. The correct answer to this question is that you should assess which countries your app will have value to users and how you will be able to support those users with your app.
For example, there is a fantastic app called “Where’s Timmy?” that RedBit Development created and published that is a consistently popular one in Canada. While there is nothing that limited Redbit from making the app available in every single market, the purpose of the app is to locate the closest Tim Horton’s coffee shop from your location. Tim Horton’s is very popular in Canada and growing in popularity in the US, but has no presence in Europe. As a result, Redbit did not publish the app in European countries but did publish it in Canada and the US.
Another consideration to take into account is localization. Making your app available in many markets may require you to support many different languages for your apps. You must make a judgment call as to which languages you wish to support. While this adds to the complexity of your app from a maintainability perspective, it enhances the local user’s experience while using the app. By localizing the content of your app to the appropriate language and culture considerations, you will likely have better adoption and better ratings for your app in the Marketplace.
Markets Supported by Windows Phone
So with that said, what markets are currently supported by Windows Phone? The graphic below shows which markets are supported (countries highlighted in yellow are markets that have been supported since launch in November, 2010 while markets highlighted in green were added just recently).
Marketplace distribution and targeting the right locales is one of the strategies for being successful in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Stay tuned for further Marketplace strategies over the next few posts on the Canadian Mobile Developer Connection, where I’ll talk about the trial API, pricing strategies, differentiation using Windows Phone-specific features like Live Tiles and Push Notifications and finally, how you can get promoted in the Windows Phone Marketplace.
One comment on choosing your markets: what if people from Europe are on a trip to Canada (either business or holiday) and they would like to find a Tim Horton? If they have a Live ID not from Canada or US, they can't. I have a similar "problem" with Zaagmans (www.windowsphone.com/.../ff477079-f5b3-4b0b-8fad-5c45c1c3f886), a very culturally defined Dutch app. I was asked to please publish it more widely, as many users in the Netherlands are still on a US, UK or DE Live ID, as the Netherlands only has it's own Marketplace and support since last fall. People want this app, but are not on a Dutch Live ID, so they would not be able to download it. Think about that too when you think about markets to publish to...
You bring up an _excellent_ point in that localization and choosing markets to publish in is not a black and white issue. There are always cases (the one you mention is an excellent one) where not publishing to certain markets does present challenges.
That said, you need to weigh the value of publishing in those markets as opposed to not publishing. For example, if you do publish an app like
"Where's Timmy?" to markets that there are no Tim Horton's establishments, you risk having users in those markets downloading the app and getting frustrated by the value it has in that specific market. Users that don't like an app are more likely to rate it in the Marketplace and unfortunately those ratings are likely to be low as a result of the app being useless to the user. With the low ratings, users in markets where the app would be useful will be less likely to download it due to artificially deflated ratings. All this without even getting into supporting localized and cultural nuances (such as different languages) within these markets.
So the right answer as an app publisher is to weigh the value of supporting these other markets.