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Marketing Codea Apps

edited April 2014 in General Posts: 50

Has anyone had success marketing Codea apps and getting lots of downloads on the App Store?

My app is a word game called Spell Collapse (AppStore.com/SpellCollapse). It's current version is rated at 4.6 stars and it is one of the best rated word games on the App Store. There is also a Free version and they have been available for 1 year. It has never been promoted by Apple, even though they have promoted several bad word games, and it only has one industry review even though I have sent hundreds of press releases and review requests. There have only been 85,000 total downloads since the release, but almost all these downloads had to be "purchased" through targeted Facebook advertising. I target a specific demographic with an interest in word games that are currently using an iOS device to download the Free version. I make money from the ads, and from the players that then buy the Paid version and make In-App purchases, but only enough to break even. There must be a better way for a great game to get noticed, but all my other efforts at marketing have failed. Promo codes for Spell Collapse are available for anyone who wants one, and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Comments

  • Posts: 2,042

    Wow! That's a lot of downloads. My app has totaled 95 so far :P

    Hard getting anyone to review it, no luck so far.

  • edited April 2014 Posts: 398

    Impressive 85k downloads - well done! That's a pretty good haul considering the competition your up against to get noticed on the App Store - so I wouldn't beat yourself up too much.

    Here's a whole bunch of questions...

    What's your social media presence like? Have you got a pro looking website and twitter feed to build up a bit of a buzz? All these things make a difference - especially where reviewers are concerned. To that end, how have you approached reviewers? Was it targeted at review sites that have reviewed word games in the past or a general 'gaming' site? What was your press pack like? Whats the games USP that's made it different from other word games and would give a 'journo' an angle on writing about your game? These points can also make a big difference whether youll get reviewed or not.

    As for the App-Store - are you getting the best use of your 'keywords' to get noticed? Have you done any research about how the most successful word games are doing on the App Store and what they are doing differently to you regarding their marketing?

    Above all, there are many articles on the web that give lots of insight and case studies on how to promote an App.

    A good one with some great optimisation and marketing tips is here:

    http://www.appbattleground.com/2014/03/23/aso-beginners-guide/

    Hope this helps ;-)

  • edited April 2014 Posts: 50

    Spell Collapse is on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and it has a website.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spell-Collapse/552086194812600?ref=hl

    https://twitter.com/SpellCollapse

    http://spellcollapse.com

    The game supports Facebook and Twitter so that players can share their best words with friends and followers. It has Game Center leaderboards and achievements and has 36,500 registered Game Center players. It is registered with Facebook so that I can track my players using in-game events, which show that there are 15,000 unique players a month, 6,500 per week, up to 2,500 a day, and a max of 500 in an hour. The Free version shows 60,000 ads per day. These events also give me demographic information, showing that 80% of players are women over 30 in the US. This information lets me target the right demographic when I place my own ads on Facebook. I'm able to maintain these statistics from month to month through this advertising, but in the end I only break even.

    The Game Center stats show that many players have found thousands of words in a single game, and tens of thousands of words in total. Over 6,000 players that have found at least one 8 letter word or longer with many finding several hundred or more.

    The article you link to, is really good, but I've followed much of the advise it gives. I send out press releases and review requests regularly to all the gaming review websites that I have found (over 100) but only receive automated responses, sometimes asking for money for a review or advertising. I've contacted Apple several times, and the people on the phone are nice, but it gets followed up with automated email responses indictating the editors make these decisions on their own. Spell Collapse players have left many great reviews and lots of stars, but any rise it makes in the charts comes from my own advertising. It has been ranked 6th in the UK, 8th in Canada and 16th in the US, in the iPhone Paid Word category on the App Store, sitting beside games like Scrabble, Boggle, and SpellTower. I've tweeted all this information as it happens.

    I don't know what other game companies do for advertising, whether they are big or small, because you can't google an ad. I use Facebook because they can guarantee that my ad only appears on iOS devices, getting the viewer to my App Store entry in 1 click.

  • edited April 2014 Posts: 425

    Have special events like seasonal themes, double points week and put competitions on your Facebook page or in the app: winners receive in game money,points or a free download etc . Graphics updates and new powerups

  • Posts: 725

    @SpellCollapse firstly congratulations on your game - I think you've done pretty well thus far for a one man team. I've enjoyed playing it and can see it has lasting appeal to a certain group of gamer with the myriad of leaderboards and challenges.

    Here's my opinion/things to consider and from the outset I want to state that I have no background in marketing and have never marketed an app or any product before!

    It looks like you have ticked all the boxes in the marketing machine but think you are missing point with a couple of them. To break it down, starting with the website. What is the purpose of an app's website? One of the primary ones must be to encourage reviewers to review your game. Looking at your website you are hit with a tsunami of detailed text, which might be OK for an instruction booklet for the game, but as an aid to the reviewer? I feel this would be off putting. Think of it from the reviewers point of view - what do they do for their day job? Play games and write reviews. So they get your review request in (along with how many others? 10? 20? 100?) and have a look at the website to make a snap judgement as to whether to spend the time installing and reviewing your app. You need to sell your app in these first few seconds - what type of game is this? What is its USP? Does it look any good? First impressions count. There is a "thing" for indie developers at the moment, so casting yourself in this role may not do you any harm. The main page might just have the title, three or four key points on it, a link to buy it on the App Store, a link to your twitter/facebook pages, possibly an embedded youtube video showing gameplay, a menu to the other site content (press pack, about Spell Collapse, testimonials, contact) and maybe your best testimonial or a banner cycling through your testimonials. If this gets the reviewers interest enough to install the game, then it has done part 1 of its job - they'll be installing Spell Collapse and the strength of the game should propel it from there (by this point the reviewer has invested time in visiting your website and installing your app so will be more inclined to review it). First impressions in the game also count heavily so having a simple intro into the game is vital. You've got a lot of this nailed already which is good. Now to the second part of the job of the website - to support the reviewer writing that glowing review. This is the role of the press pack section. After playing the game for 5 mins/10 mins/1 hour/24 hours the reviewer needs to write a review. Hopefully he/she likes the game so much that the enthusiasm will come through, but the review will also need interesting facts or hooks to flesh it out. A bit about yourself adds the human element - a lot of the groundswell behind indie arises from the "big corporations are bad and money grabbing" and we want to support the little people. Other info to include would be facts and figures about number of players worldwide, number of unlockable achievements, the different gameplay styles emphasising the longevity, maybe a bit about the rationale behind the free plus ads and paid models used, etc. There appears to be a bit of a backlash against in app purchases at the moment(rightly or wrongly) so you might want to use this in your text. In short make it as easy as possible for that reviewer to write a glowing review. A final thought on the website - I'd avoid using a website builder program - it makes your operation look cheap and raises questions - if this developer can't create a single static web page by themselves then what's the quality of the game going to be like? If you have neither the time nor inclination to do the website, pay a professional to do one for you.

    For the twitter and Facebook accounts - these should be all about engaging with the end users. This clearly hasn't happened but it's more difficult to understand why. Social media needs a critical mass to get going - getting those reviews will help, but is there anyway of reaching out to your hard-core followers and get them to spread the message? They're obviously enjoying the experience so can you get them to help you out? Could you run competitions via the social channels to generate a buzz? What's the longest palindrome word you've scored? Where is the weirdest place you've played spell collapse? Offer prizes for the first/best entries. Secondly use this as a channel to engage with the community and gather feedback and suggestions for improvements - respond to these in a timely manner will foster the sense of community and give end users a sense of ownership in the game and promote that word of mouth advertising. This will also help develop your reputation and give you a ready made potential customer base you can engage with for future game releases.

    A final thought - your demographic is mainly female. AFAIK this is quite rare for games - perhaps this could be used as a hook for reviewers - "look at this great game - it's got a large female following -is this a new trend?"

    Anyway, please don't take this as being negative - I'm just trying to help. Also, this is all gut feeling - I have no experience whatsoever in this field and these recommendations may have zero effect. I have just had my new game Anagramal, approved by Apple. I'm facing exactly the same issues and deliberations as you are and am very interested in your experiences to date

  • Posts: 398

    @SpellCollapse - You seem to be doing all the sensible things I would do. Out of curiosity, have you checked the GameCentre stats for your 'competition' to see how many users each of these have in order to gauge roughly how well they are doing?

    My other thoughts would be:

    • Localising for other territories. English is great, but you marginalise yourself with a specific English speaking audience. How about a Spanish or French version? or if your feeling brave, Chinese? More work yes, but you're App really does go global then ;-)

    • If ultimately 'monetisation' of your App is the real driver - why don't you investigate changing your ads framework - there are other ones out there that give a better return than iAds.

    • @Coder is right, maybe some regular promotion would keep the buzz going. Your social media e.g. Twitter - should really help you with this and keep the momentum going.

    Above all, I'm interested what sort of level of return/sales your thinking of achieving? You mention your covering your costs - but unless youre doing this full time and have made a significant investment financially, I can't see where your additional costs are ( other than the Developer license).

    I'm interested in this, as I'm going through the same thought processes with my game and intrigued how others have faired.

    Are there any more stories like this from Codea land?

  • Posts: 398

    Couldn't agree more with my like minded friend @West ;-)

  • edited April 2014 Posts: 50

    @Coder - Thanks for the suggestions. I was working on a Christmas theme, but I didn't finish it in time, so I just released the new FREEZE mode as an update. I got a great player comment in the App Store for it.

    "This is a great game that just keeps getting better! This last update with freeze tiles is wonderful. The game is fun, quick paced and has a ton of replay value. If you love challenging word games from a developer that updates and keeps the game fresh and fun, you'll love this one."

    My favourite comment is from the UK, "Love it and have deleted all the others!!"

    The funniest one is from Canada, where I'm from, "Searching searching searching which is boring boring boring". The rest reads like poetry as you can probably tell.

    I'm going to need to beef up my Facebook support to get Facebook based competitions into the game, but that is something I've been considering when I can find the time. Facebook can be a great tool for connecting players, getting information about them, and doing targeted advertising.

  • @West - Thanks for playing Spell Collapse and your praise, and I'm really glad you enjoy the game. You are completely right about my website. I put it up long ago as a instruction document for players. I've recently checked my competition and they all have websites as you describe, in one form or another. That is something I need to fix.

    Finding ways to engage Facebook and Twitter followers has been difficult. Just getting followers has been difficult. Most of my Twitter followers (just over 700), aren't fans, but follow backs from people in connected industries. People do post their best words on Facebook, but these post are private to that users followers. Tweets can be tracked with a hashtag, and players do post and tweet with rewards for doing so.

  • edited April 2014 Posts: 50

    @andymac3d - You are right, Game Center is a great tool for checking up on your competition. The iOS 7 Game Center sucks because it removed the Daily and Weekly tabs, where all the real information is. You can still use Game Center on a Mac to get this information. From this data you can see how many people registered in total compared with how many are playing on a daily and weekly basis. This helps to gauge a game's current level of popularity. The big word games have millions of registered users, but some don't have that many current players. Another word game called SpellTower is a great example of a successful indie game, with over half a million registered players and tens of thousand of daily players, that always remains high in the ranking on the App Store, and gets promoted by Apple.

    I recently ported Spell Collapse to French, and Spanish is in the works, but with only a little advertising, the French version has less than 50 downloads world wide. Advertising the French version on Facebook has very ineffective, even though I was only targeting french speakers in France, Canada and the US, that also liked word games.

    I've recently added support for a new type of incentive adverting. If the user watches a video or makes a purchase from an ad, then I reward them with free In-App purchases. I have yet to submit it to the store, so I will see what happens. This will be separate from the iAds.

    I'm doing this full time, but there have been no real costs besides advertising.

  • edited April 2014 Posts: 425

    Comment no longer necessary

  • Posts: 2,820

    My app only has 149 downloads and only has made $88.79, so I'm obviously not that skilled at marketing (and don't have the money for it). Anyways, I do have some suggestions:
    - Making separate versions of the app for different languages might not be the way to go. If someone has a good review in one country, you want that to spread across all countries. I understand the raises the issue of adding a lot of space for the dictionary of words. You might try downloading them from the cloud depending on the language.
    - You might try adding a store to the game. With in-game credits you earn from playing, you can buy things such as nukes to activate whenever, different themes, and (when you loose) give the user an offer that lasts 5 seconds to continue playing by taking off the rows form the top (similar to games such as Subway Surfers).
    - With the store, you could add in app purchases to buy more credits or get coin doublers or triplers. You can also tell the user that if they purchase any of the in app purchases, the ads will be removed. I understand that this will mean a transition to one free app, though.
    - As others said before, GameCenter would be a good idea. I never use social networking services to share high scores. However, I do occasionally send challenges over GameCenter if I get a high score. That gets the other user to try and beat my high score and play your game more.
    Thanks!

  • @JakAttak, @andymac3d, @Zoyt - What are your apps?

  • @Zoyt - I checked it out in the App Store and it is rated as 5 stars, with lots of great comments. I will give it a try. I noticed that one of your comments says that the app crashes after 20 seconds. I have that problem too with an occasional user, but I have no idea why. It may be that the users device is low on memory and needs a reboot. Have you been able to figure out this problem?

  • Posts: 2,820

    @SpellCollapse - Yes. In some of my native C functions, they return a number of return arguments that was not correct. That means that were objects are left on the stack or Codea was looking for objects on the stack that didn't exist. So I presume it was a memory issue. If this isn't quite clear what I'm saying, LMK.
    Thanks!

  • Posts: 1,254

    ChipBots, which is free, has piled up a large number of downloads, mostly due to some notice by robotics groups.

    Of my two paid apps, ScramWords managed a fair number of downloads after it was reviewed on some app-review sites. BullPuckey has only a fraction of the downloads.

  • @Mark - How did you get your app noticed by the app review sites? They tend to ignore my emails, or ask for money.

  • edited April 2014 Posts: 1,254

    @SpellCollapse Unfortunately, I think it was the novelty of an app "developed on the iPad" that got ScramWords noticed. I'm not sure that card can still be played... but hey, can't hurt to try!

    I made a press release for each game and sent them out to around thirty review sites and general tech blogs, each of them with a code for a free copy. Only two sites ran with it... but those two made a big bump in sales.

  • Posts: 2,820

    The combination of the fact I am a 15 year old developer (14 when released), it was developed on an iPad, and it's not a crappy game (to be blunt) didn't do much for me for App Review sites. I've sent StackIt to a total of 18 sites without a single reply. Quite discouraging.
    One day, I'll get around to putting a bit of money into marketing.

  • edited April 2014 Posts: 2,042

    My game is Scramblers

  • SimeonSimeon Admin Mod
    edited April 2014 Posts: 4,915

    @SpellCollapse what @Mark has done with ChipBots is a good example of targeting a niche.

    If you're looking into this from a purely business perspective, you can try to find a group of people that is under-serviced by the current offering of apps in their field. Then you learn about their needs and make the best, most polished app to suit them. You'll find it much easier to get press coverage on the websites that service the niche your app targets, because there will be less competition.

    This blog post is quite interesting: http://www.trevormckendrick.com/my-first-year-in-the-app-store/ — this guy decided to make a Spanish Bible app because he felt the niche was not well serviced by other apps in the store. It ended up being quite successful.

    If you are looking to focus on games, then I think you have done really well in your marketing attempts so far. Being able to break even and still make games is something that few developers are able to reach.

  • Posts: 2,161

    @SpellCollapse

    I've nothing to add on the marketing, so this isn't really a contribution to this discussion.

    I just wanted to say that I really enjoy SpellCollapse. I like the differing game modes: there's some real variety in there and not just harder versions of the same idea. I'm not much of one for playing games on the iPad - I get bored easily - but SpellCollapse is one that I keep coming back to.

    To try to make that a comment about marketing, maybe that variety of game modes is something to put some weight on. It's possible to play a "Timed" game for a few minutes, or to have a normal game running over a week.

  • edited April 2014 Posts: 50

    @Simeon - Thanks for the advice and the tweet!

    @Andrew_Stacey - You really seem to know the game well. Thanks for playing!

  • Posts: 725

    @SpellCollapse - wow - what a difference on the website! Looking sweet!

  • @West - Thanks, I was going to ask you to take a look. Your suggestion for changing it inspired me to do so.

  • Posts: 2,820

    I'd just like to know that I'm being featured on AppGratis on the tenth, so I'll post the sales when that day comes around. Reports say that they get about 300-500K users in one day with that; that's a bit scary.

  • Posts: 1,254

    Wow, that's great. That kind of numbers, even on a free app, can make a big difference—both for your resume and your next release.

  • Posts: 2,820

    @Mark - Ya. Thanks. At the same time, it's going to be quite a headache due to all the support emails. I'm afraid there's a horrible bug in it somewhere.

  • Posts: 385

    @zoyt how did it go with appgratis? i am really sorry you are moving on from codea. we will miss you. Thanks for all your contributions.

  • Posts: 2,820

    @piinthesky - Whoops! Forgot to post that. Basically, since the lady over at AppGratis was doing this for me just out of kindness, it only got to a few countries. So somebody paid AppGratis to take my spot. So I only got 15K free downloads. Thanks!

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