If you are in business as a developer, particularly a mobile developer – odds are you are fairly young (30’ish) and working in a fairly young company. One or both of you will be around for a while. You depend upon results – sales revenue to keep your company going and to keep food on your table. A little bit of consideration for the long-term, a bit of strategic planning, can go a long way for you. While we continue to focus on the subscription service model for premium apps, more or less the same consideration applies to all internet models, and even some brick-n-mortar business models, too.
Product vs. People. Some companies are so focused on their products that they ignore the market – that is the people serviced by those products. The US automotive industry is a particularly good example of this – effectively a bail out worth $60 Billion across Ford, GM and Chrysler, continuing to produce vehicles that people weren’t buying, long after they stopped buying. Fundamentally, the people who buy your product are more important than your products – without them, you will be out of business. It is that simple as we live in a world where your competition is one click away.
It pays to be in tune with your customer’s interests. This extends directly to your “potential customer’s interests”, too. The competitive reciprocal is that you can also be just one click away from your competition.
Mailing Lists. When you have a digital product, software or mobile apps, which requires or actively encourages registration you get a direct line to your customer. With this you can run a newsletter or offer monthly specials. Whether you release a new app once every quarter or once every other year, your customer mailings are likely to be of much greater value than you realize. The point here is that you are not limited to promoting your own apps. Between reseller or commission arrangements with other developers, businesses or affiliate programs – you have several additional options for revenue. The main issue is to focus only on things that will be of interest to your customers.
Segmenting your mailing lists. You don’t want to lump all of your email addresses into one huge mailing list. The rise of crowdfunding has underscored just how important it is to do your best to segment all of your customers into sub-groups for more personalized and customized marketing – because it does have much better conversion rates.
As discussed previously (here and here), the Opera Mobile Store Subscription Service is able to reach customers using specific mobile carriers in specific countries, in specific languages. You have a direct mail channel plus the social networking channels, but what else?
Community volunteers, affiliates and even interns – Taking everything just one step further involves finding just one person, more if you like, willing to volunteer in representing your company in their market area. This is especially relevant where language barriers are involved. If you wanted to be especially creative, your business could go so far as to develop an internship program to attract college students. This can be tied to a commission program, monthly stipend, or any of a variety of compensation models. Such community based efforts help develop long-term relationships.
Growth – There is a major difference between getting the maximum for your product vs. getting the maximum for your business. The production cost of a digital product is very nearly the same whether you only sell one copy or millions (compared to physical products). Within a digital environment, volume of distribution trumps product price in every case but one — knowingly producing a bad app.
The world’s population is growing, more people are using mobile devices, more apps are developed, more apps are downloaded. Virtually every prong of analysis substantiates that mobile is growing – even if the rate of growth fluctuates.
Per the Law of 72, if mobile is growing at 8% annually, the number of mobile users will double in 9 years!
Income expressed in purchasing power parity for most developing markets is doing the same thing!
The developer that is best able to understand what this means and applies to it won’t have to worry about the price of an individual copy of their app.
Today, we get a special opportunity to talk with Sandra Ilyina, Sales Director at Opera Mobile Store. Charming, extremely knowledgeable and experienced in the Mobile Market, she was part of the original Handster team which is now the core of Opera Mobile Store.
Sandra is a graduate from Zaporizhzhya State University, fluent in Russian and Ukrainian, as well as English. On top of that, she’s conversational in German.
Sandra heads the entire OMS Business Development Team and has a complete handle on all of the ins and outs of what goes into the best performing advertising campaigns. She is a veteran public speaker and conference-goer which has accrued to her having met and talked with hundreds, possibly thousands of developers. If you are in Mobile, Sandra is someone you want to know and what she has to share for developers has a high tendency of standing against the tests of time. Plus, she has a lot of new things to bring you up to speed with Opera Mobile Store
Mark: This is the first chance we’ve really had to meet up since the holiday season started – for our readers, we have two sets of holidays starting with Christmas which many people celebrate on December 25th and Orthodox Christmas which is celebrated in Ukraine on January 7th. Then there’s New Years Day, but also Old New Years which is celebrated on January 14th. Which ones did you celebrate? And was Santa good to you?
Sandra Ilyina: This year my winter holiday celebrations were very unconventional for a Ukrainian. I spent them in the southern state of India with my friends. Huge prawns, fresh tropical fruit juices, palm tees decorated like New Year’s trees — it was an international “chilled- out” party. We had a calm fire on the top of the house under a deep, star-filled sky instead of a family dinner with a fir tree and snow outside. Santa was very good this year bringing lots of revelations, challenging adventures and many new dear friends.
This trip also helped me understand the people of India much better. India is one of Opera’s core markets and is a significant content source. So, this trip was not only pleasant and relaxing but also very helpful for my work.
Mark: Over the past six months, a lot of interesting changes have been implemented with regards to how Opera Mobile Store is able to work with other divisions of Opera Software and Opera MediaWorks. Can you tell us about some of these developments – what kind of new products are you able to offer that you weren’t before?
Sandra: There are really a lot of great changes both in the service quality and the range of available inventory that we are happy to offer to customers. Opera Mobile Store is one of the premium publishers offering high quality traffic for Opera Mediaworks performance advertisers.
Opera MediaWorks is one the biggest premium user acquisition platforms, globally. It can offer both Opera owned and operated ad inventory inside Opera’s mobile browsers with over 270M users and Opera Mobile Store scoring 105M monthly users. Opera’s owned ad networks which used to be big and well-known players in the mobile market are even bigger now – AdMarvel, Mobile Theory, 4th Screen, Moolah Media and Hunt – offer access to 425M uses via 14,000 premium publishers. So we are glad to say «yes» to any advertiser.
Mark: For the mobile market, which region do you find especially interesting? What special challenges and advantages do you see there?
Sandra: Observing both social apps and games products one of the interesting regions is Asia. Previously this market was not very receptive to western products and were not expanding its user reach outside the region. Now one can see an expanding interaction between the East and West with mutual penetration of these markets. Asia has a huge population and its number of smart phone users is growing quite rapidly.
The challenge is that some users in the region do not have the purchasing power which is characteristic of the US or Western Europe. Nevertheless, such a huge number of users, the volume, can generate significant revenues.
Mark: What do you believe is the most valuable reason for a developer to advertise through OMS?
Sandra: OMS is the most dynamically growing and the biggest cross-platform app store now. It follows the main trends of the mobile market increasing the number of smart phone apps downloads. Moreover, its unique end users are intending to install and use great apps. One cannot ignore such independent big market players after publishing an app in a native store.
OMS campaigns can be also easily expanded to Opera Mini browser and other Opera MediaWorks’ publishers.
Opera’s account management team is doing a great job of launching and fine tuning campaigns. Their efforts are focused on QA, third party tracker integration, banners improvements and targeting improvement. As a result CTR and conversions can be increased up to five times.
Mark: On the side of networking within the industry, which trade shows and conferences have you found the most interesting to attend?
Sandra: Our team is always searching for big trade shows in our core markets. Exhibiting, having speech slots and meeting important partners proved very valuable in St. Petersburg at the Winter Nights Games conference, Casual Connect in Kiev, and Pocket Gamer Connect in London. Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is definitely the must-go event of the year.
Mark: Which ones would you most strongly recommend up and coming developers to prioritize attending?
Sandra: Regional events are a must. Networking with local publishers and traffic providers is very important. Big global companies tend to attend all big events so it’s highly likely to catch up with them. Depending on the mobile content type (games or apps) some events are more relevant. Billing and tracking solution partners can be met at almost all mobile trade shows.
Mark: Broadly speaking, what do you think is the one area most developers can improve upon with respect to making their app more successful or profitable?
Sandra: Tracking solutions should be given close attention. The OMS tech team faced many challenges while tracking the effectiveness of mobile apps campaigns. Opera has done a lot of work cooperating with third party trackers such as Has-Offers, Ad-X, AppsFlyer and Kochava to improve their SDKs for a more accurate geo and traffic source tracking of users. Developers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of cooperating with the team that provides traffic. Perfomance advertising requires some efforts at launch. Once everything is tuned, users acquisition process goes very smooth and ensures revenue growth.
File size for Android apps and applying a freemium model also matter. In case of the size — the smaller the file, the higher the conversion is to installs or CPI. Some app developers and creators let users download a small sized apk file and force additional downloads after the user has registered. Freemium apps and games generate about 95% of the revenue in all stores (especially for games and social apps).
Mark: Are there any special words of advice you would have for a new developer seeking to promote what they think is a great app, but don’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising it?
Sandra: Fortunately, the majority of market players already understand that marketing budget is vital for any product. For initial user acquisition, new developers should first publish their apps to native app stores and the largest independent store fronts. Publishing reviews and searching for press coverage also help.
Mark: In closing, as with our interview with Victor Shaburov… and our future articles, the last question I have for you is, what is your favorite desert of all time and where did you discover it?
Sandra: I am a big fan of healthy life stile and organic food. One of the best deserts that I have had was an open top apple pie with vanilla ice-cream and caramel topping served in one of Odessa’s cafes. I also cook a great lemon tart that I have had a chance to taste in Paris.