Summary: B2C mobile apps
Roles: Development, Strategy
Results: 12.5M+ downloads, Gazelle Nomination
I co-founded Nijo Software in 2016. The company has developed and launched a dozen apps for consumers world wide (except China). My roles were primarily as strategist and front end developer. Some of our most successful products are party games, including versions of the classic Truth or Dare and Never Ever.
To promote the apps we relied on influencer marketing and organic growth. The best results came through influencers from Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, which we selected to grow those markets specifically. After experimenting with various formats, it became clear that YouTube videos of around 30 minutes worked the best. Here the content creators would interact with our products while leaving enough time for the audience to form a connection. We also partnered with winners from popular reality shows such as Paradise Hotel using a similar format.
The measurable ROI from direct installs through influencer marketing was not the driver. The true value came from increased organic traffic and improved App Store rankings, which was more difficult to measure and evaluate. To improve those results we focused on App Store Optimisation (ASO). We were able to focus on high-value keywords with less competition, identifying niche audiences and tailoring the products toward them. We made heavy use of A/B testing, both on the store page and within the apps themselves. We ran hundreds of tests on everything from visuals to pricing, allowing us to rank #1 in several countries on select keywords.
Much of our success came from understanding that every region is different. Our products were translated to 13 different languages, including Brazilian Portuguese, which helped us gather millions of downloads from Brazil alone. This would not have been possible had we not localised our content and marketing materials, something which is often overlooked. Good translations can be hard to come by, so it is often helpful to have natives evaluate them. Tone and style is ideally adjusted to fit the individual market.
From the time we started and until now we have seen big changes in the market. At first it was enough to beat out a few hundred competitors while now that number easily crosses thousands. Getting traction early on is key. It’s necessary to gather enough data that effective A/B testing becomes feasible, as otherwise it becomes very difficult to optimise the product to the point where it becomes competitive. That creates an advantage for those that are already solidified in the market, making the barriers to entry much higher.
Looking back, some of what we accomplished was sheer luck. One time Google Play mistook one of our apps for a popular dating app, letting it rank alongside Tinder, Badoo and others for about a month. During that time we beat out 7-Eleven’s app on the top gross revenue in the foods and drink category, and we had no idea why it was even happening. We released a few very similar apps, and where one took off for 1M+ downloads, the others died at less than 10K. Why? To this day I couldn’t tell you.
We experienced first hand a less glamorous side of things as well. At one point subscriptions were just being introduced as a form of monetisation on the app stores, and we decided to offer our content through one of them. We saw revenue increase by up to 200%, and it kept going up every time we increased the price. At what point do you stop? People were signing up for 3 day free trials, forgot about it, and then realised they spent hundreds of dollars on something they didn’t use. In many places of the world, that a lot of money. We had it up for a few months before we removed it out of concern.
One time our most profitable app was automatically, and incorrectly, flagged as soliciting reviews for rewards. It was removed from Google Play. We quickly learned that Google is a machine, and that it was impossible to get in contact with a human. There is something frightening about having automated systems govern something important to you. During another incident a competitor raised a false DMCA takedown on one of our apps. The claim was supposedly made from Bangladesh using the lowest effort website I have ever seen. We were eventually able to reclaim it, but at that point the damage had been done. The rankings we had worked to built were reset, and the app was effectively dead.
Through ups and downs, trials and tribulations, Nijo Software continues to be a successful venture that I’m proud to have cofounded. The experience has taught me a lot on both a professional and personal level – much more than I could reasonably cover here. Feel free to reach out and I will be happy to share.
Ja Tak (Yes Please)