Industry Exposed #13: AppsBuilder: "App Store Submission: Do Your Homework"

By Johana Leeflang | April 17th, 2015

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Welcome back to our Mobile Industry Exposed Interview. This week we sat down with Daniele Pelleri co-founder and CEO of AppsBuilder, to discuss the need for programmatic platforms to improve monetization, innovation for acquisition and the importance of proper planning before app store submission as well as during and after you have launched your app.

appsbuilder-Dan-Daniele is the Co-Founder and CEO of AppsBuilder, a professional, easy to use app development platform that empowers marketers to build powerful apps at their desk. Keen on computer engineering and the Internet industry from a young age, Daniele has been an entrepreneur for as long as he can remember, and set up his first web marketing agency when he was 22 years old. At the helm of AppsBuilder since 2011, his vision was to develop an app building software that eliminates the need for complex technical knowledge or coding, and reduces go-to-market time. In 4 short year, AppsBuilder has become the resource-light solution for any business or brand looking to deploy a native app. Sign up for a free trial or find out more at www.apps-builder.com 

Q: Can you briefly present AppsBuilder and its business model?

AppsBuilder is a professional, yet easy-to-use mobile app development solution empowering marketers to build, publish and manage apps directly from their desktop. Eliminating the need for complex technical knowledge or coding, and reducing go-to-market time, we help marketing professionals launch powerful cross-platform native apps and scale in-house development with our white label builder. 

Q: Which problems in the mobile industry are you trying to solve?

Four years ago, we started with the mission to create a cloud-based software that marketers and agencies could use to deploy native apps quickly in-house, without compromising quality or spending a fortune. 

From personal experience heading up a small digital agency, I knew that developing mobile apps was a resource intensive task, often requiring outsourcing skilled mobile developers capable of programming cross-platform native apps. We also realized that although more and more businesses started embracing mobile-optimized websites, the potential of mobile marketing was only partially being exploited, primarily due to misconceptions about the cost and expertise needed to build native apps. 

With AppsBuilder, users can create apps with custom content or sync RSS feeds, social media accounts, even eCommerce shopping cart, into screen layouts designed with UX best practices. Essentially, by eliminating the need for coding and long development schedules, we help marketers create great looking apps that can be published quickly, so they can get on with mobile marketing activities.

Q: Which interesting trends and developments are you seeing right now in mobile advertising and mobile in general?

In mobile advertising, I’d say that the most interesting trends are programmatic platforms, which is improving monetization for app publishers and ad product innovation. The latter includes video CPI and re-engagement ad products from leading social and search platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube, which are proving to be the paid acquisition method of choice for app marketers.

In general, app publishers are looking to get the best return on their app, so innovation in acquisition is always going to strike a cord. That being said, there are also developments impacting adoption and engagement, like beacon technology and mobile payment, which are also helping us create better mobile experiences for users, bringing them closer to our brands and improving LTV.

Q: How do you think the main mobile platforms and app stores will evolve in the coming years? Is there room for a third app store?

It’s funny because historically there has been such a big difference between the Google Play and App Store. From the content and quality of the apps, to app descriptions, screenshots and preview video, publishing guidelines vary greatly between the two platforms. 

We’ve recently seen that Google has cracked down on the quality argument by increasing their content reviews and requiring age-based ratings on apps, while the App Store has made some strides in helping developers with promotion by including app preview videos and showing leniency in app screenshots. 

As both platforms fight to help publishers with discovery, I think the big evolution will be the move towards paid advertising within the stores (Google Play is already testing this). Although a third app store is a bit unrealistic (IMHO), I do think there is a lot of potential for discovery platforms to change the game. 

Q: What are your main tips to developers when it comes to app store submission, distribution and optimization?

We’ve helped clients launch thousands of apps, and with this experience the biggest tip I’d have to share is to plan, plan, plan. Doing your research on what will get your submission rejected can save you a lot of headaches and can help you avoid having to redesign your app because it doesn’t fit the guidelines. Likewise, when it comes to promotion and optimization on the stores, get started early, develop a game plan before you launch, and put aside a budget to help you achieve your goals. Research keywords that you can leverage to rank in the stores and plan your online and offline promotional strategy to help drive downloads. Put simply, proper planning can help you concentrate on the channels that will bring you the best return.

Q: What can be done from a legislative and regulatory point of view, in the EU and elsewhere, to help app developers thrive?

A unique challenge to European app developers is that they face a series of hurdles to distribute across the EU including language, copyright rules, fragmented approaches to data protection, etc. Developers in larger single markets like the US and India don’t face these challenges when marketing their apps, and from a legislative and/or regulatory point of view, it would be great to be supported to level the playing field. That however will depend on policymakers fully embracing the view of a European digital economy. Mobile should no longer be treated as niche and should be integrated into sector-specific legislation, from payment laws to health and medical device rules, to education. And on that note, the education system in Europe needs to continue its investment in e-skills that ensure our digital economy is ready with a skilled workforce that is supported to innovate, grow and compete.

Q: Besides discoverability, what are the main challenges facing developers today?

Putting aside the challenges with innovation and developing an engaging app, I see managing acquisition costs and retention as the biggest challenges to having a successful app today. Organic and viral user acquisition are key to any growth strategy, but it’s paid ads that will bump your app up in the rankings. That being said, it’s important that app marketers chose the right channels, to ensure that their CPIs are lower than their LTV and that they are turning a profit. This brings us to retention, which is increasingly hard judging from the sheer amount of new apps that are fighting for user attention. After all, most users on average use about 5 of the apps on their smartphones. Increasing usage and retaining users is dependant on app developers adopting proactive CRM strategies that include push notifications, personalisation and targeting. To beat these challenges the best course of action is really looking at your analytics on a daily basis, setting up optimization flows based on user events and working to increase your KPIs.

Q: Which upcoming technologies do you see as potentially helping developers?

Technologies to help acquisition and retention are definitely making an impact on developers. When it comes to acquisition, tools that are helping track dollars spent against usage can help developers make better investments in acquisition as well as for retargeting campaigns. Also, interactive push notifications and increased use of personalisation and targeting can help developers increase LTV. I think the future of success will be in harnessing the incredible amount of possibilities that data is giving us, into strategies that are meaningful to app users, as well as to an app developers bottom line.

Johana Leeflang
Johana Leeflang is Leading EMEA Events and Community at AppLift. Johana writes about mobile marketing trends and in-depth market analysis. When she is not digging deep into mobile marketing, Johana enjoys dancing salsa, listening to old-school R&B and hip-hop and traveling; her favorite holiday destination is Milos, Greece for its beautiful beaches and lovely people. Connect with her on LinkedIn here

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