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Why your app just died – and how to revive it



Many businesses are building apps to grow their brand. But, although the app works beautifully, there is very little interest in it. ANDREW LANNING, who helped design Vodacom’s Rugby Stats App, gives some advice on why an app died in the first place and how to revive it.

So you’ve got your app, you’re proud of the design, the app works on every device you’ve tested it on, and there seems to be no competition in the market your app is playing in.

Nothing can go wrong, right? Well, after day of it being online only eight people have downloaded it and not one of them has left a review.

Off the back of the amazing success apps like CandyCrush Saga or Instagram have achieved, many companies are now launching apps of their own to either grow brand recognition or the company’s bottom line. But unfortunately the tale above is the harsh reality many apps are faced with.

Getting noticed, never mind being downloaded, in app stores is harder than ever. Apple has more than 900,000 apps in its store while Google is booming with more than one million in its store. Almost 70% of apps don’t break even. Most apps average much less than 50,000 downloads, and though that may seem like a lot, it’s not the peak of app store performance.

Additionally, the number of downloads are not actually a sign of app-success. Regardless how many people download your app, if they only use it once, that app has failed.

Here are some tips we use when pushing our apps, like the Vodacom Rugby Stats app, which in less than a month of being live was the #1 most downloaded app in SA in both the iTunes & Google app stores.

Is An App Really What You Need?

Does my business need an app, or do I merely want one? Is this app the right kind of app for my business? More importantly, is it the right kind of app for my customer? Will it enhance our brand strategy and give my customer something that is truly useful? Will it build on the relationship I have with my customer? Can I use data I gather effectively? Answering these questions honestly before even thinking of developing an app.

Would You Use The App, If It Weren’t Yours?

Are we building what we would use or what our developers (be the external or internals) are saying we should build? The South Africa’s consumer app space is pretty cluttered right now, and for a new one to succeed it needs to offer the key ingredients of ‚Äòusefulness,’ ‚Äòpersonal relevance,’ and a feeling of ‚ÄòI can’t live without this’.

Local Is Lekker

The Global Village has arrived, and while it may be tempting to hire that hot European agency to develop your app (because they sent you an email saying they could), knowledge and familiarity of the local landscape is invaluable. For instance, developing a Blackberry app in the UK would be ridiculous, yet in SA, you disregard that platform at your peril. The IAB suggest that close on 40% of South Africans still use Blackberry!

Tell People About It

There is a lot of “noise” clamouring for a limited amount of attention when it comes to apps. Using an established agency like New Media Publishing gives you not only the development skills, but also some serious know how when it comes marketing your product. Working with a Cape based PR agency, and using an existing infrastructure of great consumer and customer brands, we conceptualise and implement strategies to promote our apps. At New Media we also like to think that the work we produce does a lot of speaking for itself!

Content Is Still King

Bill Gate’s famous “Content is king” declaration is as relevant and true in 2014, as is was when first said in 1996. But in 2014, the King has a more than able Queen – the platform. Especially in the mobile space, where content compliments context. Delivering good content should always be the focus: however this needs to be delivered to the mobile consumer in the context, and on the platform, that suits their needs. It’s almost too easy to build an app these days, so it’s worth finding a reason for being before jumping into the overcrowded pool. Let content, mixed with the functionality that an app delivers over a normal web site, be your thought leader.

* Andrew ‚ÄòTank’ Lanning is the Chief Digital Evangelist at New Media Publishing

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA