Appnique, Enola Labs, Gummicube shape the keys to boosting an app's visibility

App discovery

App discoverability often challenges developers. And as more apps become available, many developers are considering innovative solutions to ensure consumers can discover their offerings quickly and easily.

The growing apps marketplace

Online stats portal Statista reported Android users were able to choose between 1.6 million apps in July 2015. Also, the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) App Store remained the second-largest app store with 1.5 million available apps as of July.

The expansive collection of apps has made browsing an app store's selection exceedingly difficult for consumers. It also has transformed the way developers market their apps to consumers. 

Jai Jaisimha

Jaisimha (Source: Appnique)

Jai Jaisimha, CEO of app discoverability solution provider Appnique, tells FierceDeveloper that paid marketing remains "indispensable" for developers. However, the nature of paid marketing has changed from conducting burst campaigns that drive organic rank improvements to ensuring that all paid channels produce high user engagement and return on investment (ROI), he says.

In addition, Jaisimha notes app store optimization (ASO), i.e. the process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in an app store's search results, offers limited value for today's developers.

"While purely organic techniques like ASO are no longer sufficient to have your app discovered, it is important to perform ASO on your product to ensure that your paid campaigns convert and that users who go back to search for an app that they may have seen an ad for find the app," he said.

Helping consumers find the right apps

ASO may offer some value for app developers, but it can become "like a drug," said Josh Martin, Strategy Analytics' director of analytics research services.

Martin (Source: Strategy Analytics

"Most (ASO) services do have a free tier, but it's not a sustainable model for developers," he said. "Once you drive traffic, you need to keep it coming back."

Instead, Martin offers two tips for developers to ensure their apps are discovered consistently:

  1. Support the entire iOS or Android ecosystem. Martin said Apple, for example, "seeks to tout developers that are building across its portfolio." 

  2. Leverage social channels. Reaching influential bloggers who can mention an app if they like it, Martin said, can help an app earn media recognition.

Perhaps the best way to boost app discoverability, Martin notes, requires developers to focus on building an app that solves a consumer's pain point.  

"Building another mouse trap is not good enough anymore. Develop something truly unique with a strong back-end to support it and there is a decent chance someone will recognize it. However, those apps are fewer and farther between," he said.

App discoverability and its influence on app development

Many app discoverability services are available as well, including:

Apptentive mobile phone

Apptentive's feedback app.

  • Apptentive -- Enables developers to gather feedback and deploy surveys to drive higher app discoverability.

  • Fiksu -- Provides developers with user segmentation tools to engage target audiences.

  • Gummicube -- Delivers ASO intelligence for developers.

These services may prove to be valuable at times, but boosting app discoverability may require developers to leverage analytics to monitor an app's discoverability levels over an extended period of time.

Creating an analytics strategy, Martin said, and monitoring downloads and customer feedback empowers a developer with actionable data it can use to enhance its offering.

"It's important to think through the analytics as this data can tell you which channels to focus your marketing and customer acquisition efforts on," he said.

Collaboration between app development and marketing teams also may help developers bolster an offering's discoverability.

"Design teams should work with marketing to understand how to create the conditions within the app that aid in in-app virality," said Sean Killian, marketing lead at app development company Enola Labs. "An obvious example is ensuring you have avenues to the right social channels built within the app that allow you to share the unique content that makes your app special. This allows your app's users to aid in your marketing efforts."

Offering valuable apps remains essential

Fiksu CPI Index

One of Fiksu's analytics charts.

Developers can provide consumers with valuable apps if they devote the necessary time and resources to fulfill consumers' needs.

Jaisimha notes many apps derive their value from usage; therefore, creating a user-friendly app interface may increase an app's discoverability.

"It's very important that the first run experience needs to be optimized carefully," he said. "In addition if you are developing a free to play freemium title, it is critical to set up your pay wall so the user has an opportunity to experience the game and understand why it is worth paying for. Many games fail because this process is not thought through upfront."

Furthermore, Killian saidaround 60 percent of today's consumers are finding the app they need directly through an app store. He adds that developing and deploying an in-depth marketing strategy enables an app to reach the top of an app store's charts.

"Plan every detail (of your marketing strategy), setup every channel and launch every piece at the same time," Killian said. "This will give you the best chance for your app to receive quick, high volume downloads -- a key indicator to push your app upward in app store rankings. [And] with a little luck, you can crack a few top charts, which will only further push your app to sustainable downloads and placement within the store."

Top image source: iStockPhoto