30 Days to 30,000 Downloads…
I debated on how to write this as my intent was to add value to other indy app developers that were in the same boat we were 30 days ago. We built an app and the question we were asking was how do we get customers? We had no platform, no suite of other games and no distribution network to get the word out. This was our first title and first release for our new company MobileFWD. The app is a social trivia game called Trivi.al and if you’re reading this I encourage you to check the app out, and at the very least, leave us some feedback in the comments section below.
We looked at and searched for as many app launch case studies as we could find to understand what we we’re getting ourselves into. Some help, as such the one on Techcrunch that was posted today as I was writing this, and others not so much. It just so happens that we are 30 days in and have 30,000 downloads so the timing was perfect for our own case study.
Aside from building the app with viral loops and social mechanisms to invite players which we’ll talk about in later posts; we did several things leading up to the launch and post launch to acquire customers. I’ll break up the post into prelaunch, launch week and weeks three and four. To date we’ve spent no money on paid advertisements or incentivized campaigns and our growth has been organic via the app and or our social media efforts.
Everyone will tell you to make as many media contacts as possible to help tell your story, and for us it couldn’t be truer. The keywords here being “tell your story.” I can not even begin to tell you how many apps are launched each week, so launching an app isn’t always the most compelling thing to catch a reporter’s attention. Leading up to the launch of our app our media traction seemed to be that we were a tech startup from Arkansas. Maybe an unlikely spot for a social gaming company but that was story worthy and it helped us get visibility. We started seeing spikes in web visits and we wanted to capitalize on this by making visitors join our mailing list first thing. We saw almost a 50% conversion rate and we were able to alert those users once we launched via targeted email campaigns. This was highly effective in seeding our user base on day one.
We knew having a website to promote the app was highly important but the question arose what to do with users once they got there. How do we convert them to downloads? We saw a tactic that our friends at Leap used, and considering we used it ourselves to download their app, we wanted to provide it for our visitors. We used a service called Twilio to create a SMS link on our site that allowed to user to enter their phone number and receive a text message with a link to download the Trivi.al app from iTunes. We knew not all of our traffic would come from our website but of those that did visit via certain articles or links we saw an 18% conversion rate vs dropping off.
We used the services of TriplepointPR, a PR firm out of New York, to help with PR early on and validate our app amongst the gaming community. Days before launch we showed up in an app called Wanna Play that asks its community of users would they play the game or not. We saw almost a 75% unanimous vote yes and we stayed in their charts for several days. You can imagine we were pretty stoked when launch day finally came as we knew now there was a demand for our app.
Prior to the launch week we had a trailer for the app created by Explainify and made available via Youtube, Vimeo and many other game trailer websites. This tactic allowed users to see the app and how it works before they downloaded it. This started popping up on many other sites and helped with visibility and continues to get a lot of play.
We also were introduced to the group Indie Developers Re-Tweet Group who go by the hashtag #IDRTG on Twitter. This group was fantastic as its community will tweet and retweet about your game if you do the same for them. We’ve found it to be one of the most effective free marketing techniques available on Twitter and we saw our engagement increase 1500% via Klout.
We built several tactics/features inside the app and via our CMS that allowed for us to communicate with our user base via email or in app messaging. When users would leave reviews and or feedback we made it a priority to address their issues and in doing so we’ve managed to retain many of those users. We’ve seen retention in our app of users playing 5 times or more grow to over 65% since launch and uninstalls remain relatively low. When customers get a direct message from the founders asking about how we can help they were more susceptible to understanding sometimes things just don’t happen as planned. We were able to address and fix issues without further complaints.
In the back of my mind I knew we couldn’t just focus all our efforts online for customers, we also had to look offline as well. We discovered and approached a trivia pub group called The Big Quiz Thing that hosted live events in major cities like LA, Boston and NY and we partnered with them to do some promotions of their upcoming shows. We even got a great blog write up on their blog and some love from their founder Noah. We also reached out to Paul Bailey at the Trivia Championships of North America (TCONA) and we will be doing some cool stuff at their august competition in Las Vegas this year. Another effective offline tactic was stickers. We had such a huge demand for our stickers I wrote another blog post about it called How Custom Stickers Can Grow Downloads For Your App.
Week Three, (Our largest download week to date)
Week three was an experiment in price for us. I was having lunch with my dear friend Josh Clemence and he showed me a new app he said all his coworkers were using called Apps Gone Free. He said each day he gets a notification that shows him 5-7 great apps that are free for that day only. I checked it out and saw some big names in there I thought sure lets try this. I emailed the guys with the day our app would go free and BAM! we were in that day’s version and saw more than 5,000 downloads come through in 24hrs. A huge spike and lesson for us considering we already had a free version available, we just didn’t have these distribution channels. You can see in the picture this spike drove the charts considerably.
This week we were able to see the viral loops in the app really work as we’re seeing download numbers increase day over day with no external advertising. We did receive three great write ups one on BetaKit and two on Mashable. Both Betakit and the second Mashable article involved us reengaging the prior article’s reporter so you can see how the relationships matter. The stories on Mashable were a video on the History of Trivia and an interesting take on the 15 Most Missed Questions in the App. All are great reads and you should even check out the video @jeremiahjw did based on seeing the history of infographic we did months before launch.
So, here we are now looking at the future wondering what that magic number is to hit critical mass and then the viral loops completely take over and put us in the million download range. Maybe we have a long ways to go maybe not. We’ve learned a lot in 30 days and think our next 30 are going to be even better. We’ve listened to our users and their feedback and submitted a new version of the Trivi.al app to iTunes. Any day we’ll have a new improved version out and we hope you continue to play.