29 May 5 Tools Everyone in the App Industry Should Be Using
Whoever said “Do one thing and do it well” didn’t understand business very well. That’s because, whatever thing it is you want to do, there are always supporting tasks needed to ensure success—and you’d better do those things well, too. It’s like that with mobile apps. Building and publishing the app is just the beginning: then the real work begins to market and sustain it.
You could be a game developer starting from scratch, or a retail shop owner building from templates. Once the app is available for download, both your jobs start looking pretty similar. There’s marketing, updates, version testing, store optimisation, pizza and beer—a whole list of supporting tasks that shouldn’t be ignored.
Really, don’t ignore them. It’s easier than you think to deal with all this, and I’ve made it easier with this list of software tools. Each one provides a nice assist in different ways. If you’re looking to boost your downloads, or add some personalisation to the user experience, read on. I’ve got you covered. There’s also several other areas I cover, but that last sentence would have been too long if I’d listed them all.
1. StoreMaven (App Store Optimisation)
You’ve probably already heard about ASO, and followed all the rules to optimise your app store listing with keywords and screenshots. But optimisation doesn’t stop once you’ve published. You can’t know if you’re getting optimal conversions if you aren’t tracking the response. StoreMaven lets you do that, but what I like is the way it helps you do better. It’s an A/B testing tool designed specifically for your listing on app stores. You can create as many variations of your page as you like, and then test them on a target audience. StoreMaven doesn’t just give you the raw numbers, it tells you exactly which elements—screenshot, icon, description, keyword—are performing the best. Once you’ve hit on the right combination of elements, you republish to the world and then obsessively track the results.
2. Unbounce (Landing Page Creator)
Landing Pages are essential for converting prospects to active users. You benefit twice from having a landing page. First, it’s a pretty effective way to get found on the web—not all searches on the app store. Maybe more important, though, is the goldmine of data you get from trackable URLs, which is great if you’ve got landing pages tied to specific campaigns. You can build variations of your landing page from Unbounce’s templates, use them for different campaigns, or just A/B test them to see which is more effective. Ultimately, landing pages are about conversions, and this is what I like most about Unbounce. With it, you can create overlays that appear, with targeted offers and messages for the user. You define certain triggers to determine the right message, and then based on location or browser history, your users are given a personal nudge in your direction.
3. UXCam (User Testing)
Sometimes you don’t get the desired response out of your user base, and that has little to do with whether they like the app or not. Maybe no one’s unlocked level 2 of your game playing because they can’t find where to tap and proceed. Or maybe no one’s shopping through your app because the order flow is confusing. These are the kinds of frustrating experiences that cause users to delete an app and never look back. With UXCam, you can record videos of their sessions, and see exactly what they’re doing. That’s not as creepy as it sounds, I assure you. The videos are screencaps of them using the app, so you can see where they’re tapping and how they navigate from screen to screen. A heatmap shows you what parts of your app get the most attention, and which are ignored. You can use UXCam to identify all kinds of events, and segment users according to where they drop off, and get a real understanding of what your users are actually doing from launch to exit. If there’s a design flaw causing people to abandon your app altogether, you’ll uncover it with UXCam. But you don’t need a flawed app to get any value from the service: user experience can always be improved, and this a great way to see how to do that.
4. Apptimize (App A/B Testing)
I’ve mentioned A/B testing for your app store listing and landing pages, but what about for your app itself? Coding variations, even minor ones, to see how one version performs against the other, can be a nightmare of epic proportions. That may sound like hyperbole, but IT’S THE TRUEST THING YOU’LL EVER HEAR. With Apptimize, you can make variations of your app based on any element—color scheme, navigation menu, you name it—and the software tags the changes, deploys the variation instantly to a user segment, and then monitors the results for you. It’s a pretty extensive testing suite, and you’ll be able to make short work of determining what changes are getting a good response. Now, I noticed I didn’t make a big deal about the changes happening instantly. I really should have, because that’s kind of a game changer for app developers. Back in the old days, if you wanted to make even a simple change to your app, even if it was just the text on a button, you had to resubmit the whole thing to the app store and wait for approval. But now, these simple, cosmetic changes can be deployed instantly. Noticed a typo in your app after the fact? Change it. Is it the Christmas season? Deploy a holiday themed interface. These kinds of changes can even be done on a targeted basis, allowing you to create personalised experiences based on locations or user segment. This real time deployment, coupled with performance analytics, makes for a powerful tool to manage your app in the present and for the future.
5. HelpStack (Support)
Yes, computing is easier than it’s ever been, and mobile makes it easier. It doesn’t get much more simple than dragging and tapping your finger along a screen. Like it or not, though, there will always be people who need help. It’s your job to make sure they get that help. A stack of help, in fact. With HelpStack, you get all the help you need to give help. Many apps will link you back to a website with information for support, but that’s not really ideal. HelpStack makes it so you can embed Knowledge Base articles right into the app for those users who just need a little direction. It also provides a support contact interface and, even better, in-app messaging for those times when users need to speak to a human. Technology may be grand, and it can solve a lot of problems. But when people need help, automation never feels comforting.
Ian Naylor is the founder and CEO of AppInstitute, one of the world’s leading DIY App Builders (over 70,000 apps built).
Naylor has founded, grown and sold 4 successful internet and technology companies during the past 18 years around the world. He gives seminars as an expert authority on startup mobile app trends, development, and online marketing and has spoken at numerous industry events including The Great British Business Show, Venturefest, the National Achievers Congress and numerous industry exhibitions around the UK.
AppInstitute regularly provides leading publications with app analytics, business data, case studies, white papers and statistics for established publishers across the world. They were named in the top 50 creative companies in England by Creative England.