Author: Pulkit Ahuja, Entrepreneur, Author of Googled by God.
A majority of people have interesting ideas for developing mobile apps which can be capable of solving some huge pain points which we observe in our everyday lives, but the caveat with us is that we are not sure of what lies ahead of us and how to go about preparing for a smooth app launch.
If this sounds like you and if you are wondering about what is it that stands between your innovative idea and a popular mobile app – Welcome to the World of App Entrepreneurs – let us discuss a few basics to ensure that your journey towards your first Play Store app is a smooth one.
1. Google Developer Account
Getting the google developer account is one of the easiest things to do while planning to launch your app. Just pay 25 dollars to google and you are up and going with a developer account from where you can upload multiple apps on Play Store, track the analytics of their performance and make changes and updates as and when required.
2. Developing the App
Irrespective of whether you are coding the app yourself or getting it developed from a third party, the quality of your app should be one of the prime things in your launch checklist. Ensure that you test the app on the wide spectrum of devices (or emulators) for android versions that you plan to support on the Play Store.
Google Play Store, unlike Apple App Store, does not require developers to get their apps approved before launch, thereby shifting the onus of the app’s quality completely on the app developer. But, almost once every three months, Google does remove low quality apps from the Play Store (which are typically in the 10% range of the total apps live on Play Store).
Also, apart from this quarterly vacuum cleaning, Google takes the complaints from the app’s users very seriously. I have seen more than a few apps having as high as two hundred thousand users being taken off the Play Store because the developers didn’t take the user complaint mails seriously. Therefore, before promising anything to your users in the play store description of your app, it is a good thing to be doubly sure that the app will live up to its promises.
3. App Store Optimisation
Just like SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), using the right keywords in the Play Store description of your app becomes critical to attract organic users who search for apps using keywords for a given purpose.
There were over 1.5 million apps on Google Play Store as of April 1st 2015. Thus standing out of the clutter becomes essential for your apps survival and thereby literally a one in a million thing. Make sure that people searching for apps like yours are organically able to find it in the first few search results itself.
Higher rankings help increase the visibility of your app thereby increasing the number of downloads, and higher downloads in turn give way to higher rankings. But apart from downloads, your app’s Play Store ranking depends on a majority of other factors with 2 major factors being – Reviews and Retention.
Reviews – To ensure transparency, Google prohibits developers from incentivising users for giving them good reviews. But reminding your users every now and then through in-app pop ups about rating your app on the Play Store always helps.
Retention – The stickiness of your users is one of the most prominent metrics that shows how successfully you have gauged your audience and the power of your product to address your audience’s pain points. The more recurring users you have, the better your active user rate and better your rankings.
5. App Categorization
Choosing the right category for your app is one of the first strategic decisions that you can take as an app entrepreneur. Various app categories differ inherently in terms of competition for the top rankings and trending apps spot. Depending on the benchmarking of other apps in your chosen category, you can see wide variations in your Play Store ranking within categories even for identical number of downloads, ratings and retention rates.
So if your app enjoys the flexibility of fitting in the description of multiple categories, going with the least competitive category could be the smart option.
6. The Top New Free Category – The first 30 days are the most crucial!
In the excitement to experience how all of this works, if you are planning to just upload the app and later make changes to the basic functionality of the app before it can be marketed to users – I have just one suggestion for you – Please refrain from doing this.
When you upload (not update!) your app on the Play Store for the first time, Google gives your app an additional advantage of getting featured in the ‘Top New Free’ ranking list for the first 30 days of your app launch. Now as you could have realized, the competition for this ranking list is much lesser as you are competing only with new apps and not the world renowned apps that might be there in the main rankings. But a sure shot way of letting that advantage slip away is to upload and launch a half-baked app and then spend those crucial 30 days in just making updates before you can market your app in full throttle.
It becomes important here to note that being agile is a good thing, rolling out updates as and when you develop new functionalities, but at the same time, you need to guard yourself against rolling a substandard initial product.
To sum up, I would like to congratulate you on your thought to enter one of the fastest growing industries in the field of technology – Mobile Apps. It’s a beautiful journey, to see your ideas conceptualise and come to life. Each day as an app entrepreneur comes with a new set of promises and newer challenges. Be creative, be patient.
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