5 steps to getting 1 million downloads for your app


iTunes and Google Play are swamped with apps that just never get more than a few thousand downloads. Why don’t these ideas take off?

Perhaps they’re too similar to other popular apps, or maybe cost is turning users off. It could even be that the market just isn’t ready for your app yet.

When app developer Six to Start launched its first fitness app, Zombies, Run!, it had to overcome a lot of these pitfalls – from strong competition to introducing a subscription model. But, with nearly 4 million downloads to date, it seems to have cracked the formula to app store success.

>See also: What’s key to designing a successful app?

Here are Six to Start’s four top tips to hit the 1 million download mark.

1. Do you have a killer idea?

Start by looking through the relevant app stores to find out if a similar idea already exists. You want to avoid leaping into a market already overcrowded with popular apps. However, don’t be put off if you do find at least something similar, it shows that there is some interest in your idea.

Quality has really shot up over the years, and with hundreds of new free apps released every day yours has to be nothing less than awesome to stand out. So, ask yourself if you have all the skills and resources to make the app awesome.

Remember: this app idea may take years to fully come to fruition, so make sure it’s an idea you love. Find an app idea you’d enjoy using then you really will be working for yourself.

2. Testing the market

Some people say that the only way to truly test the popularity of your app idea is to launch it and see.

But there is a way to test your app idea on a paying market without developing a single line of code! All you need is to create a demo and launch your crowdfunding campaign.

Crowdfunding is amazing because it both helps raise the money to develop the full app and allows you to test your idea on a paying audience.

When Six to Start launched Zombies, Run! on Kickstarter in 2011, it gained around 3,500 backers and raised nearly $73,000, far exceeding its initial target of just $12k. But far more importantly, it got the proof it needed that its idea would work.

Now it’s doing the same for its next project, this time using equity crowdfunding site Crowdcube. The greatest benefit of crowdfunding is that you can create an engaged community, from scratch, in a matter of weeks.

Nearly 3,500 people wanted to see the app come to life so that they could get their hands on a copy. They had vested interest in the app’s success. So, they were a great support when it came to launching the app to market.

3. Making money

Finding success with a paid or subscription model app can be incredibly hard when there are so many free apps and games on the market.

Back in 2012, when Zombies, Run! was first launched, it cost $7.99 – pricey, but back then most apps were paid, so it wasn’t that unusual. The vast majority of apps these days are free, especially the most popular ones. By making your app free it reduces the barrier to entry, which can help you quickly find out whether it’s something they will pay for.

In 2015, Zombies, Run! was made free to download, and let users play one mission a week without any costs. To remove the audio ads and get new content more often, it charged a simple $20 per year subscription. Switching to a subscription model may be nerve-wracking at first, but in the long-run it can pay off.

The real trick to getting paid is to get people hooked on great content and then give them the option to pay for more. They won’t be able to resist.

>See also: How an app revolution is transforming healthcare

4. Making the most of feedback

A lot of apps fall at this penultimate hurdle. They launch their app, watch the first 10,000 downloads trickle in, mark it a success, and then move on to their next idea. Reviews and feedback get pretty much ignored.

But great customer service is the foundation of your app business. If you can respond quickly, clearly and solve the user’s issue, you’ll develop a loyal fanbase.

By investing in customer support, Six to Start actually saved money in the longer term because it fixed all the bugs and streamlined usability based on the feedback. So, when its user base skyrocketed, there were much fewer support issues to deal with.

You also show users that they can rely on you for updates, support, and new features/content. Their $8 isn’t going to waste.

If you believe in your app, it has space in the market, and you listen to what your audience want, you’ll be on the right track to hit that magic 1 million downloads mark.


Sourced from Adrian Hon, Six to Start

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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