You’ve worked hard to get your app or website up and running, and you certainly want people to use it. And it would be really nice if everyone who used it did so often and stayed for a while. In industry lingo, that effect is known as stickiness, and it’s an important measure of your app or software success.
Let’s talk about stickiness. And no, I don’t mean that icky feeling you get when you go outside on a humid day. Nor do I mean what happens to gum after it’s been pasted on the underside of a school desk.
What I mean when I say stickiness is how well your app or website keeps users engaged and involved. How long do users spend on your app or website and how often do they come back?
These activities are signs of stickiness and they are important because they help your business grow. When users stick around on your app or website and revisit often, they’re more likely to click on links and ads, and share your app or website with their friends. In monetization terms, increased stickiness means increased growth and increased revenue.
If I’ve convinced you that stickiness is important (and I do hope that I have), now is a good time to offer some tips on how you can make your app or website stickier.
1. Update your content.
What do fish, socks, and content have in common? They all start to smell when they get old! More seriously though, you want to keep your app or website fresh and exciting because that’s what keeps people coming back for more. Remember, it’s stickiness (not stinkiness) we’re striving for!
2. Make it useful.
People are busy. They don’t want to waste time with apps and websites that don’t provide them with a useful experience. If you’ve got a useful product or service, people will come back for more, over and over again.
3. Allow for personalization.
This may not be relevant for every app and website, but if you can make your product conducive to customization, go for it. Users want to feel connected to the apps and websites they use. Think avatar. Think weather. Think personal photos. Think customized background.
4. Build a community.
Everyone wants to feel connected. It’s part of human nature. Let people engage in your app or website in the way that’s most natural for your product – through community-building features such as user feedback and content contribution. If you notice that a certain feature is really popular, grow it. If you notice that a feature is receiving sub-stellar feedback, kill it.
5. Make it fun.
Even if your product isn’t a game app or website, that doesn’t mean you can’t integrate some fun into your product. If users have fun, they’ll come back for more fun.
6. Think like a user.
To really gauge how your users feel about using your app or website, step into their shoes and walk around. Would you say things like “This looks great” or “I love this feature”? If not, think about changes you could implement to make your product better. Strive to create something that you would like to use. Make your app or website brag-worthy.
7. Cross-reference yourself.
It may sound like you’re tooting your own horn, but integrating hypertext cross references into your site helps keep people on your site even when they leave a specific page. How’s that for sticky?
8. Make like a wheel and squeak.
Don’t let your users forget about you. Just because they’ve been away for a week or two doesn’t mean they’ve deserted you. Maybe they were on vacation. Push notifications, updates, and social media posts are great ways of letting your users know that your app or website is alive and kicking. Not to mention squeaking.
You’ve worked hard to create your website or app, and you want people to keep using it. The more people use it, the more opportunities you’ll have to learn what they like, and the more you’ll be empowered to improve it. As your business grows, so too will your opportunity to monetize.
Stickiness is important because it means people like what you are doing. It’s not just a form of flattery – it can also improve your revenue.
Contrary to what you might think, localization isn’t the welcome you get when you move into a new neighborhood. It isn’t the over-zealous neighbor wanting to show you around town, or the local gossip wanting to bend your ear over coffee.
Localization actually has to do with the printed word: namely, what happens to text when it’s translated into other languages. How does it appear in the UI? Are fonts distorted or sentences cut off? How about usability? Is the meaning – to borrow a cliché – lost in translation? These are just some of the questions a localization manager must ask when adapting text for a foreign market.
We caught up with CodeFuel’s localization specialist, Lena Aronov, to get an insider’s perspective.
Why don’t you start by briefly telling us what localization means?
To understand localization (or l10n, as it’s known in the industry) you first need to understand internationalization (or i18n). This is the process of adapting an application, webpage, or other code to different languages, while allowing for regional differences.
We start by “externalizing” the text from the code, which basically involves inserting a placeholder text, or key, into the code, rather than hardcoding the text itself. This way, if we have to make a small change to a page that exists in 20 languages, we don’t have to update the page 20 times over – we simply update the one key and we’re done! Of course, such changes are bound to affect the layout, so it’s essential that the UI design is flexible enough.
How do you internationalize language that’s specific to a particular region?
We build an infrastructure that’s capable of supporting all kinds of variables, from number formats and currencies, to zip codes and clothing sizes. Also, we prefer using copy that’s easily translatable … that means no obscure local phrases!
How do you judge whether the text will fit?
There are several ways of approaching a UI challenge. For example, if we’re dealing with a language that takes up more space than English, such as German or one of the Slavic languages, we’ll convert the text into a “pseudo language”. We usually define it to be 40% longer than standard English, to give us an indication of how the text will look in the UI, but it can be any length.
Using a pseudo language saves the developer a lot of time and effort in the long run, even before translation has begun. Otherwise, he’d have to check and update the text for each language separately.
What else goes into creating a localization-ready website or application?
Many hands are involved, each with their own set of challenges. Developers, for instance, will look for technical solutions, ask the author to shorten the source text to fit, or work with the designers to modify the layout. Copywriters will try to write neutral copy, avoiding things like slang wherever possible. For their part, designers will create a “breathable” UI that allows for linguistic nuances. It’s a truly collaborative effort.
So far you’ve talked about internationalization – how does localization fit into the picture?
The localization process starts with the creation of an app language. This is essentially an app’s most widely-used terminology compiled into a “glossary”. We do this for the sake of consistency, so that the same language is used throughout the texts.
When preparing a file for translation, we’ll check the structure of the text for common mistakes, such as incorrectly split sentences, bad syntax, or failure to use placeholders where needed. This helps us avoid problems with the translated text later on. We also prefer to have some form of context – whether that’s an explanation or screenshot (or both, if the author is feeling generous), as this gives us a general sense of how the text should read.
Sometimes, we’ll ask a foreign language copywriter to write the copy from scratch, rather than translate the English copy, as this method produces the most organic results.
Once the text has been translated, it passes a linguistic QA stage, it’s implemented it in the app UI, and finally, it undergoes a functionality and layout QA. After all this has been done, the application is ready for use by a foreign-language speaker.
Localization is an integral part of an app’s development process and, as such, should be carefully coordinated along with the other development tasks. Many businesses come unstuck because they leave localization to the last minute. In this industry, it pays to plan ahead.
Finally, can you think of any examples of translations gone horribly wrong?
Oh my goodness, there are so many!
Engrish.com has a pretty good selection of funny mistranslations. Some are just so ridiculous, you’d think they were made up. But in parts of the world where English isn’t commonplace, writers may not know if their text contains a double entendre or simply doesn’t make sense!
Thanks to the efforts of people like Lena, it’s possible to speak to users in a way that’s so natural and familiar, they don’t even realize they’re reading a translated text. To achieve this, you’ll need a fully localized installer that adapts its language settings automatically to user location. This will bring the linguistic and cultural barriers crashing down and maximize your download monetization in the process. For everything else, there’s Google Translate!
So, you’ve developed an amazing new app that even your grandmother uses every day, but you’re still not making any out money out of it.
Your grandmother has told her friends about the app – and they’ve told their friends – but you’re still not making a penny from it. You’ve done everything right, or so it seems, but it still doesn’t look like you’re going to be a millionaire this year. In fact, you’re not even sure you’ll be able to pay next month’s bills without a bit of help from Grandma.
What you need is monetization !
I know, it sounds frightening. It’s that 12-letter word that’s standing between you and that brand-new laptop you’re dreaming of. And for many software developers, monetization can be the element that stops them from pursuing their dream of creating even more software.
After all, if you’re not making any money from the awesome software you’ve already developed, why make more?
Monetization is hard, but it’s certainly not impossible. In fact, there are many different ways that you can monetize your app. You just need to choose the monetization plan that works for you, and make it work. Here are some of the more popular monetization models around today.
1. Premium Products – The most straightforward way of monetizing your software is charging people to use it.
That’s right. Just put a price tag on it ($0.99 is a popular choice, though some apps are selling for as much as $999.999!) and hope that lots of people want to pay for it.
Seller beware! Most people expect apps to be free these days. So even though $0.99 may be less than a cup of coffee in most countries (heck, it’s even cheaper than water in some places!) the price may still be high enough to deter people from downloading your app in droves.
2. Integrate Ads – Advertisements have been funding entertainment since the beginning of time. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, anyone? The same is true for apps.
Most free apps feature in-app advertising that promote everything from online deals, other amazing apps, and limited time offers. The upside is, many users don’t mind putting up with advertisements in order to get free apps. The downside is, the return on this type of monetization can often be very small.
3. In-App Purchases – Who would have thought people would pay hundreds of real dollars to buy virtual candy?
As it turns out, they will. That’s why the in-app purchase model has proved so successful for games such as Candy Crush, earning millions of dollars for the people who create them. This monetization model is used in many Freemium apps, so the primary product is free and customers are enticed to improve their experience by buying upgrades.
4. Bundling – For many developers, this is the easiest monetization model of all.
You earn money on your app without charging users a penny.
You don’t need to add in-app purchases or integrate advertisements.
All you do is bundle your software with third parties that have their own monetization platform and you’re ready to go. These third parties present offers to your users while your app is installed. The more offers your users accept, the more money you earn. You can develop more great software while your bundle partners do the monetization legwork.
Monetization may seem daunting at first, but that could be because it’s such a long word.
The bottom line is, monetization can be simple if you want it to be. Just choose the monetization plan that works best for you – and your app. You’ll be glad you did – and so will your grandmother.
Who doesn’t love a good freebie? Certainly no one I know. It doesn’t matter if it’s a keychain or a speedboat, the allure of that-which-we-do-not-have-to-pay-for is pretty damn hard to resist – whether we need the thing being given away or not! Nowhere is this more apparent than in the emerging world of mobile gaming, where freemium apps (apps that are free to use, but include in-app purchases) are all the rage. At this very moment, billions of idle thumbs around the world are engaged in epic battles between plants and zombies, building up armies to defend entire towns, and matching up colored candies in order to “crush” them.
Freemium’s rise in popularity is hardly surprising
In-app purchases can be dirt cheap, and they offer instant gratification. Currently, only 4% of users take the digital bait. That might seem like a drop in the ocean, but when you consider that Candy Crush Saga alone has 93 million users playing more than 1 billion times a day, that works out to some serious spendage.
Enough to finance the development of the game and then some!Wondering how the freemium model works? Allow me to break it down for you. You come up with a wickedly addictive game (think Angry Birds meets Flappy Bird, with a Candy Crush coating) and distribute it for free. Once players are suitably hooked, you reel them in with paid-for extras: an unlocked character here, a bonus life there.
Perhaps an option to customize the look and feel of the game – the possibilities are limitless. And because these micro-transactions are integral to the gaming experience, users don’t seem to mind the additional expense.
Game developers are not the only ones jumping on the freemium bandwagon. Spotify recently opened the gates to its much-loved music streaming service, under the banner “Music for everyone.” The company’s new freemium philosophy should sit well with those who believe that music is as much a basic human right as clean air, water, and… free Wi-Fi! Spotify’s mobile offering does come with a caveat, however: it shuffles your playlists, only lets you skip up to six tracks per hour, and won’t let you listen offline.
Oh, and playback is subject to the occasional ad. It’s a trade-off most are willing to make in return for free ear candy, but one that Spotify hopes will gently nudge users into upgrading to a $9.99-a-month premium subscription that removes all of these restrictions.
Also dangling a golden carrot in front of its users is the ubiquitous note-taking app, Evernote. As with the aforementioned apps, Evernote shows just enough leg to tantalize, while holding back premium features for paying customers. For a mere $5 a month, users can enjoy offline notebooks, collaborative note-taking, increased storage, and more. Its creators are banking on the fact that once users are tied up in their ecosystem, they’ll be eager to have all the extra bells and whistles, even at a price.
While there’s certainly no shortage of monetization models out there, freemium is perhaps the most user-friendly proposition. It offers the same rush you get when you discover a hidden Easter egg in your favorite video game that lets you run faster, jump higher, and live longer. Only this time, the Easter egg has a price tag on it.
Programmers often quip that their pastime is like banging one's head against a wall, but with fewer opportunities for reward. As far as they’re concerned, they’ve sacrificed any semblance of a social life to sit in a dimly-lit room, hacking away at pages of code for goodness knows how long, while the dishes and dirty laundry pile up. And for what? The warm, fuzzy satisfaction of having produced some awesome new software?
Sure, it might earn them some cred among their fellow geeks, but it sure as hell won’t pay the bills. Not unless their phone company happens to accept brownie points as a means of payment.Whether you develop software yourself or are simply in the business of distributing software, success can only come when you connect the right product with the right audience at the right time.
In the past, a software house would take care of the donkeywork for you – putting it on diskette or CD (remember those?), the manufacturing, packaging, distribution, and marketing. Of course, they’d also take their cut of the proceeds, but it would still be worth it for that sweet, hassle-free pay check. Nowadays, it’s all about self-service software distribution over the Internet.
While this might be a great way of reaching millions of potential users directly, it presents a whole new set of logistical challenges.
This needn’t be as hellish as it seems. A monetized installer can deliver your software to the masses quickly and easily, and increase your revenue in the process.
Best of all, installers are pretty much foolproof, making download and install mishaps that lead to low conversion rates a thing of the past. In today’s broadband age, slow or incomplete downloads are a big no-no and can turn off a user faster than you can say “Click Next to Continue”.
To avoid such unpleasantness, opt for an installer that utilizes download acceleration technology.Another huge advantage of using a monetized installer is that, unlike freeware or trialware models that rely on the user upgrading to a paid version, there’s no waiting around for the money to roll in.
Your software is simply downloaded and installed on the end user’s device, and you’ve made money before they’ve even fired up the app!What is this black magic, you ask? It’s actually perfectly innocent, not to mention highly lucrative. When users download and install your software, they are presented with a selection of third-party offers and ads. If they choose to click on one of those recommendations (and they usually do)… bam! Instant monetization for you. It’s a no-brainer, really.
Contrary to what you might think, your biggest challenge here is not monetizing your software.
That’s the easy part. The real challenge is choosing an installer that does all the things you want it to… and does them well. As with anything fashioned by mortal hands, not all installers are created equal. Some don’t have targeting capabilities that allow you to specify the types and sources of ads your users will receive.
As a rule of thumb, off-the-shelf installers that churn out generic offers and ads are not conducive to a happy user experience. Your users expect a download experience that’s as unique as they are. The last thing you want is to turn them off with random offers that aren’t in the least bit connected to their interests.Remember, if the user experience is a healthy one, so too is your bottom line.
By paying attention to these details now, you’ll enjoy higher conversion rates and better monetization down the line. Perhaps then, the only headbanging you’ll do will be at rock concerts!