We just had to use that quote for the headline! It’s time for another developer insight talk, this time with Alexander Blach, developer of the extremely successful “Rezepte“-app and also an apprupt Performance Analytics user (also check out his homepage – it’s in German). Alexander gives a lot of great insight regarding what works and what does not in terms of app positioning. Njoy!
1. Tell us about you, your company and the type of apps you offer.
My name is Alexander Blach, 28, and I am the author of “Rezepte” – one of the most popular German recipe/cooking apps.
When I bought an iPod touch in 2008, I really wanted to learn how to create apps for this awesome device. So, I learned Objective C in my spare time and released my first app – “Fundus”. The idea was the same that made “AppBox Pro” from AllAboutApps a huge success in 2009: provide the features of several apps in one app for less. However, my app didn’t become very popular, so I looked for another idea.
I quit my day job as a developer of business software (CRM and human resources software – a lot of database related stuff) and started my own little one-man-show in February 2009. I was asking a lot of people for ideas and one of my former colleagues (thanks, Harald!) wanted an app that he could use to quickly find recipes on the go. So I looked around the Internet for recipe sites I could use. I discovered www.rezeptewiki.org and got in contact with their founder – Daniel Beyer. They now get a revenue share and, in turn, I can use their database of really great recipes. They also agreed to advertise the app on their front page. I think this is a typical win-win situation where my app and their site profit from the popularity of each other.
While I was in the list of top 100 paid apps, I also got contacted by quite some people who asked me to create apps with them. I developed an app called “Food Guide” for the ditter.projektagentur GmbH that recently went on sale worldwide. With this app, you have the most important information regarding almost all of the common food products in Europe at hand – in text and pictures in many languages.
I’m currently working on a new, big project that will be great for car owners. I’m pretty excited about that.
2. What kind of marketing/promotion have you done for your app(s)? Any insights on what worked and what did not?
With “Rezepte” v1.0, I could participate in the “appsforsale.de” Easter-Special a few days after the release of the app. A lot of German developers reduced the price of their apps, and this was covered on a lot of blogs and news sites – including iFun.de. I ranked first in the Lifestyle category and, soon after, was number 16 in the overall paid apps list.
Following that, Apple featured me on the App Store front page. I made it in the overall Top 5. This was in May 2009 and was the best thing that could happen. Sales exploded and I never reached the same numbers after that.
Next, a lot of reviews showed up – the iPhone podcast “Mein iPhone und Ich” (My iPhone and I), Chip.de and many more.
Updates also helped to drive sales. I don’t know exactly why, but I guess that users remembered that they have the app on their device and showed it to other people. Having a large customer base helps sales in the long term.
I tried a lot of other marketing strategies: AdMob (I’m not sure if it really helped – but it can burn a lot of money really fast), Twitter (can be great if you have the right followers), Blogging, YouTube, magazine advertisements (can’t really say that it helped much), web site advertisements (not really helpful), Google Ads (does not work at all for iPhone apps), and lowering the price and advertise that (this helped a lot – in August 2009 I lowered the price to 79 Cent and made number 6 top overall paid app in Germany).
To sum it up: the best thing is to get featured by Apple. To accomplish that, you have to get some media coverage by yourself so the right people notice you.
3. In general: any tips for creating and promoting an iPhone app? What would you say are the most important things to consider?
First you need to decide if your app has mass appeal or if it is a niche app. Then, you need to set the price accordingly. Don’t start at 79 Cent so that you can lower the price later. If it’s a niche app you won’t get into the Top lists anyway – so you have to get your money through higher prices.
You also need a really good idea, a lot of luck as well as time and effort. You have to love making apps and value your customers. It’s quite tough considering that your app is one in over 100,000.