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Last week, LearnLaunch held an engaging class on mobile app development in edtech at Localytics. The class covered a variety of topics from mobile app trends to business models to go-to-market strategies. Panelists included Raj Aggarwal of Localytics, Ted Collins of Playrific, and Scott Weiner of NeuEon and Parents with Apps. The key to app development, according to the panelists, is to make an app that’s really useable. Building great software is hard and it’s an iterative process: you need to be a “feedback machine”.

Highlights from the class can be found below.

App Stores
• App stores are marketing tools. If your app provides value, downloads will drop immediately within three days of launching your app and then will increase slowly.
• The smaller the app store, the easier it is to create a relationship, get noticed, and get more users.
• Your app description should be no more than five words long – discoverability is key.
• The icon needs to be easy to see. Use big eyes or sparkles.
• The first review is the most important because it affects sales. If it’s a bad review, you need to figure out how to push it down.
• There is little visibility into how people got to your product. Having a website that drives traffic to your app makes it easier to track web flows. You also receive no analytics from app stores to help you improve your app.

Which apps store is best? Learn about the pros and cons of each store below.

Apple
• No appeal process if they pull your app from the app store for some reason
• Users do what the company tells them – little discoverability
• They care if you put your app in the app store twice with different icons

Google
• Can put your app in the store twice with different icons
• App store offers more curation

Kindle
• Can put your app in the store twice with different icons, more approachable than Apple
• Users do what the company tells them – little discoverability

Marketing Your App
• The more apps you have, the more found you are.
• Try to get a write-up in a blog to help push traffic to your website.
• Your website should talk about what your company does.

User Testing
• Have conversations with your friends even if the data isn’t statistically relevant. You’ll know you failed immediately.
• Watch how kids are using your app. Get a release form if you don’t know the child well. Give the child a small thank you gift.
• If you’re targeting the college market, you can hire college students to test your app. In the college market, stats have shown that user acquisition is all about word of mouth.

Paid User Acquisition
• Determine the lifetime value of a user, even if it’s based on guesses, and figure out how you can acquire users for less than that.
• Free apps get you eyeballs and downloads, but not money. Try different icons, different keywords in your app description, different pricing models (one-time purchase vs. recurring). You need to gather enough data to make a decision – selling a couple apps per day (which is normal) doesn’t provide you with enough data to make a decision.

Business Models
1. In-app Purchases: They don’t work well, especially with users who are under 13 years old due to privacy constraints.
2. Cross-promotion: Create a different app that’s not as relevant that you can use to promote your main app. This is difficult to do in edtech because of COPPA. You can’t track personal information about a child under 13 years old without verifiable parental consent.
3. Free Apps: You will be making money on ads. This is not good for young children’s apps. If give away your app for free for a day, consider the implications and make sure you are set up to leverage the spike of users you will get.
4. Apps as Brochures: These work well if you’re just trying to make a name for yourself.

Freemium Models
• It’s a valid marketing tool to give away some content for free initially, but developers need to think about where the paywall is.
• Parents love monthly subscriptions, but schools hate them because by the time you’re able to get a subscription approved, the school year is over.

What tips do you have for those who are developing mobile apps? Let us know in the comments section below.