By: Spencer Burke (@spncr_b)
I feel as if I read almost as many articles about Kickstarter projects as I do about VC funding announcements these days. A single Kickstarter campaign can shake up the news cycle: the Ouya project recently broke several records, and the Pebble smartwatch saw great success and continues to receive press as it moves towards production. I’ve seen a number of apps show up on Kickstarter, and a quick search for “app” on the site returns an impressive 84 pages of results. Since we launched Appboy, it’s been exciting to see app developers find innovative ways to succeed in the product and funding marketplace. One of the exciting use cases we’ve seen is using Appboy to leverage an app’s community to fund a new Kickstarter project.
Coding an idea you’ve already sold
Startups constantly face the problem of paying the bills while a product is still in the works. It’s essentially the challenge of selling an idea — whether you’re marketing to your family, VCs, or the internet crowd, you face the problem of selling something that doesn’t exist yet. Using Kickstarter, developers can remove some of the up-front risk of investing time into developing an app. Kickstarter also has the advantage of providing creative incentives to contribute to boost revenue per contributer.
Breaking the $0.99 barrier
Above and beyond the initial stages before a product is on the market, most developers also grapple with how to effectively monetize over the lifetime of an app. The root of the monetization question usually comes down to charging for a download or in-app purchases. Most evidence indicates that the latter is more widely used
. Effectively monetizing an app requires more than convincing a handful of $0.99 downloaders or in-app purchasers. Kickstarter’s tiered pledge system allows developers to provide benefits above and beyond a basic download, and leverage the most interested or engaged contributors to provide more revenue. Boosting engagement with users is a critical component of taking advantage of these opportunities, and a key advantage that Appboy provides.
Community and Engagement
Affix Task Management
has been available in the App Store for $0.99 for a little over a year. This week, the developer launched a Kickstarter campaign to develop a new app called Walker
and made Affix Task Management free. As a result, the app jumped as high as #15 for Productivity apps in the App Store. This huge leap in rankings for one app created a perfect opportunity to leverage Appboy to boost the Walker Kickstarter project. There are several challenges to starting your app on Kickstarter, but developers who already have an app (or apps) in the App Store have an advantage with the right tools.
Using the communities that you’ve already created is a great way to build support for a Kickstarter project. Your app already has a dedicated user base that you can leverage, similar to using social media or a blog. Developing a sense of community around your user base can be key for monetization.
Most apps don’t have a way for developers to update users on news or new apps. Typically, a blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed substitutes for in-app functionality, but removing these sources to another medium lowers conversion. Affix
uses Appboy to encourage user reviews, list bug fixes and announce updates, all from within the app (screenshot below). Affix also used Appboy News & Alerts to kick off the Kickstarter campaign for Walker
. Using the Appboy dashboard, developers can quickly add news items like this to keep users up-to-date on new developments. These outreach methods were complemented by a series of cool rewards that let users/contributers connect with the developer.
Building on the success of your current app shows that you have a track record of producing great products. Everything you promise on your Kickstarter page might not prove feasible, but having a strong community gives you flexibility to test new features. Iterating quickly and receiving user feedback also lets you make mistakes or learn as you go. An amazing feedback experience for both users and developers is a key component of the Appboy platform. Affix uses Appboy to let users send feedback and respond via email, Twitter, push and in-app notifications. The strongest communities on the web rely on feedback tools to grow (that’s largely the purpose of ‘social coding’ on Github
, for example).
There’s no guaranteed path to success in the App Store or on Kickstarter. Tools that let you have a two-way dialog with your users go a long way to starting conversations that build a community and a better product. It’s easier to ask people that know you to pay for the app or an in-app purchase. If you’re already monetizing, make sure you can communicate the value of the app and let users help you build new features.
Sign up is open on Appboy.com
– Download the SDK now.
Walker has succeeded in it’s funding goal. Check out the Kickstarter page for updates on the project.