Making apps free
Turns out people like free apps. Last week we made Wedding Anniversaries free for a few days and as expected, the downloads jumped from a few downloads a day to several hundreds each day. This wasn’t really a surprise as apps gone free are always picked up on social media and several websites that collect these apps.
I was sharing my experiences with Aaron, an iOS developer with several apps in the store (he also wrote a great SpriteKit with Swift tutorial guide that you should definitely check out) and he got very excited. Soon he decided to make his weather app Project Rainman also free. He just updated the app so timing was perfect for a small experiment. Then this happened:
— Aaron A (@Mav3r1cksOffice) January 27, 2016
And as a result, shortly after this happened:
#17 on the App Store pic.twitter.com/8IWNrYkMBM
— Aaron A (@Mav3r1cksOffice) January 28, 2016
Turns out the coverage the app got from the “apps gone free” type promotion was enough to boost the app into the top free weather apps in several countries, including the US. The app has beautiful design and it was no wonder it was climbing the charts once it got there. Excited about Aaron’s results, I immediately decided to try the same with Weather Compare, our simple weather comparison app that has been a paid app since it was first launched. To our huge surprise we were able to replicate the success of Project Rainman and also hit the US charts for Free Weather Apps (highest position #21). Within hours the app went from a mere few downloads to 4-digits a day. And here we are after two days:
Now it’s not really a surprise that making apps free boosts your downloads. Nevertheless it was very exciting to experience such download volumes and the amount of feedback also multiplied. What surprised me was the effect on my other apps. Since making the app free, our app portfolio’s downloads have increased by 300-400%. I tried to think about my own behaviour when downloading apps and I can’t recall many times I have checked out the developers’ other apps unless it was a game I really liked and I knew they would have other similar types of apps. However it seems that users tend to do it whatever the app is. The thought of someone downloading Weather Compare and afterwards trying out Move the Lines sounds funny but it looks to happen!
I fully expect Weather Compare to crash through the download charts soon but it doesn’t mean this wasn’t a huge learning experience. We got a lot of feedback, mostly users complaining about not finding the option to change the measurement system. Weather Compare was one of my first personal apps and at the time it was fairly normal to put settings under the System Settings view. However our users don’t seem to find it and thus we plan to add a separate settings view into the app where users can change this. Maybe even a simple popup on the first app launch as you’d expect users to only set this once.
The main thing I learnt from making apps free was the boost I got on all the other apps. I totally underestimated the effect on downloads for all the other apps and I think this may be a very valuable tip for the future. On our next app release I plan to make all our apps free for a few days to hope build an audience the same way. Wether it will have an effect will be seen but during the first few days of an app launch every little bit helps.
If you’ve had similar experiences and if you use app discounts to promote your other apps, we would love to hear more! Contact us at contact (at) darksquaregames.com