Crush that candy, devs: Verto Analytics, Appnique offer tips to boost a mobile app's shelf life

What's not to like about

Candy Crush Saga represents a true moneymaker for King Digital Entertainment, the brainchild behind the mobile title. 

The game was launched on mobile devices in November 2012, and since that time King has served as one of the world's top app publishers. In fact, King ranked second on app analytics provider App Annie's list of the top app publishers in 2015, thanks in part to the company's ongoing Candy Crush Saga success. 

So what factors are driving Candy Crush Saga's popularity? 

Hannu Verkasalo, Verto Analytics

Verkasalo (Source: PRWeb)

Hannu Verkasalo, CEO of audience measurement service provider Verto Analytics, tells FierceDeveloper he believes there are many reasons for the app's success. 

Candy Crush Saga currently boasts a seven-day retention rate of 37 percent, according to Verkasalo. This represents a substantial figure due to the fact that Candy Crush Saga has been available for over three years.

But ultimately, King knows its target audience, Verkasalo says, which has helped the company deliver a mobile game that meets its end users' needs consistently and helps extend Candy Crush Saga's shelf life. 

Today's app developers may want to design and deploy the next Candy Crush Saga, i.e. a mobile title that user will download and enjoy for years. However, creating an app with a lengthy shelf life often challenges developers, particularly in today's highly competitive global app marketplace. 

Verto Analytics' Verkasalo points out developers must focus on building apps that deliver "a long shelf life" to succeed. In addition, he notes developers must realize the average mobile app user possesses only a limited amount of time and resources, and only the apps that provide engaging experiences consistently can pass the test of time.  

"Audience acquisition cannot be optimized solely on downloads; it must also be optimized for long-term retention and monetization," Verkasalo says. "App developers must consider that there is an average of 50 to 100 apps downloaded on a given user's device."

To boost an app's shelf life, app developers should consider the following factors:

1. App metrics

How should a developer measure the success of an app? Verkasalo points out developers need to understand if their app remains on a user's device after it is downloaded, and if so, for how long.

With these metrics, developers can learn more about their target audience and explore ways to boost their app's reach and engagement. And over an extended period of time, developers can leverage comprehensive metrics to bolster their app's shelf life, too. 

2. Demographics

What should developers know about the people who download their app? According to Verkasalo, it is essential to "analyze and understand the demographics of their target users and affiliated cohorts."

A developer must understand if the app is reaching their target audience consistently. And if an app misses the mark, a developer may need to revamp strategy and focus on new demographics. 

"It's imperative that app developers analyze and understand their users' demographics and behaviors, as well as the path to acquiring those users," Verkasalo notes. "For example, did users discover the app through an app store or social referral or mobile app advertising? Of those cohorts, what does that typical user look like? Knowing where to acquire best and spend to find users who stick around and monetize well is crucial to building a long-lasting app."

3. Use of notifications

How should a developer update app users about new offerings or enhancements to their current portfolio? Notifications must be delivered strategically; otherwise, they may end up doing more harm than good for a developer that wants to increase an app's shelf life.

Jai Jaisimha, Appnique

Jaisimha (Source: Appnique)

Jai Jaisimha, CEO of app development marketing agency Appnique, tells FierceDeveloper that how a developer engages with their target audience via social media may influence an app's shelf life. 

"One key factor that determines this is how those users were acquired in the first place. Users who are acquired through high quality channels such as interest/keyword targeted campaigns on Facebook or other networks or through organic search are generally more loyal and stay engaged for longer periods of time," he says. "This is because the initial exposure to the app is in response to an implicitly/explicitly expressed need. You can also use the keyword/interest affinity of your users to send push notifications or other re-engagement messages to targeted cohorts of users."

Of course, keyword and interest targeting may help a developer boost an app's shelf life as well. 

"It is important to be able to leverage keyword or interest targeting to expand your audience," Jaisimha points out. "Interest-targeted audiences are based on past app activity, page 'like' behavior or other signals that are part of a user's Facebook profile and can be powerfully predictive of engagement. Furthermore, [examining interested] audiences ... allows you to create more effective ads that are tailored to your audience."

Building the next Candy Crush Saga might seem nearly impossible at first. But a developer that focuses on improving an app's shelf life can improve their chances of delivering an exceedingly valuable app that its target audience can enjoy for years to come.