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What makes an app great?

With the majority of South Africans accessing the Internet via their mobile phones, the app market is more exciting than ever before. But what makes an app successful? And how do you ensure it doesn’t get lost in cyberspace, never to be discovered or downloaded? 25AM joined Google’s latest App Workshop. Here’s what they had to say.

The stats are glaringly obvious: South Africans love their mobile phones, and are more frequently using apps to perform basic tasks online. According to studies by the MMA, 65% of South Africans who use online banking are now transacting on their mobile phones, whilst only 35% still use their desktops. Even basic online shopping has shifted to mobile, with 51% of local mobile owners now making clothing and food purchases via their cellphones. The same goes for music downloads, dating, and Classifieds like Gumtree or OLX. On an international scale, a startling 90% of time spent on mobile phones in 2015 was spent within apps.

But what makes an app successful?

According to Google, the most successful apps have passed ‘The Toothpaste Test’, which poses the following two questions:
• Will I use this more than once or twice a day?
• Will it change my life?
Think about WhatsApp, MyFitnessPal or Waze. These apps, once used, become indispensable. They solve problems and contribute to a marked improvement in your lifestyle. Once you start using them you begin to think – How did I ever survive without this?

“An app should either offer a service that doesn’t exist or improve massively on an existing one,” says Bianca Quinn-Diavastos, Head of Business Solutions at 25AM. “Even better, a successful app should, by its very nature, require the input of a group or community so that it is grows organically. Think of Strava or Instagram, where the app itself is founded on sharing, growing and interacting.”


Image courtesy of Google

But apps still face challenges: 60% of apps have never been downloaded. It’s easier nowadays to build apps than it is to get them noticed.

How can you avoid getting lost in cyberspace?

“There are very low odds of someone discovering your app unless you’re driving a strategic campaign to get them there,” says Bianca. “You need to ensure you reach potential customers at the moment that they are searching for your product or service.”

Google’s Universal App Campaigns help push your app across Search, Google Play, YouTube, mobile web and apps in the AdMob network. For every 10 searches done in South Africa, 6 of these are on mobile devices, so you know you are driving your app to a responsive and relevant audience.

Equally as important is in-app tracking.
“It’s essential to track and measure everything,” says Bianca. “Determine what is driving people to download your app, and optimize on that. There are several options available to advertisers to drive downloads and to get the user to re-engage with the app.”

Conclusion? A great app is not only made, it is marketed by a great campaign. Build something indispensable to your market, and then drive it to the right people on the right platform.

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