Increase user acquisition with Multiple AppStores

Apr 22

Increase user acquisition with Multiple AppStores

In this podcast series we ask experienced Appreneurs for one success story and one fail. In this episode of the Mobile Engagement Podcast:

Chris Jones from Codengo shares how developers are reaching the massive potential markets of asia and also using niche Appstores like Apptoid and SlideMe that allow their Apps to be discovered more easily.

Engagement Score

We score all out interview anecdotes based on 3 axes of: acquisition, UX and retention. Chris relays how acquisition can be be upticked via these stores because getting featured is easier and also more flexible pricing models.

Let us know on our Twitter account how you score it.



  • Utilities Apps are very well suited to many Appstores because they are globally in high demand.
  • These marketplaces are often easier for your App to be featured – so you increase user acquisition dramatically.
  • Cost per install campaigns are now a more efficient method available in some of these stores. Run campaigns against a feature placement.
  • Aptoide allows users to create your own specialised store if you have a quality brand and a number of properties.
  • Managing feedback is critical, be proactive about that and use the ability in Google Play to respond or shift the conversation. Tools like HelpShift or Apptentive are examples of product that can help with that.
  • Check out the Codengo blog

Transcript Detail

David: Gidday. It’s David from Street Talk here. And I’m with Chris Jones—he’s not my brother—but we’ll have a chat to him, and he’s from a company called CodeNgo. And Chris, how are you doing?

Chris: Good, I’m doing very well. Thank you.

David: Sorry, I just hang up on Chris which was instead of pressing the record button, so that’s why we’re laughing. Anyway, Chris, tell us a little bit about CodeNgo.

Chris: Sure, CodeNgo, we’re an alternative app store distributional and promotional service. So we help developers expand the reach of their apps into more app stores, and promote their apps effectively so they can obviously drive more inflows, reach more users effectively.

David: So when you say “app store,” anything that’s publishing apps. So this could be something like, say, the Android store, but there’s actually different Android stores around the world, or is Kindle store? What sort of things?

Chris: Great question. So there’s different Android stores around the world. Kindle would fall into the Amazon store, which is one of the Android stores with obviously Kindle being its particular flavor. We support over 30 different alternative stores currently, and we also support another 20 in China through some of our partners.

David: Right, does it include the Apple app store as well?

Chris: No, because Apple iTunes stores is the only legal store on the iOS side. There’s no need for an aggregated service that allows you to distribute on the iOS side of things.

David: I see. Okay, very good. So I guess the question is probably a lot of people who are in the West would just think, “Oh, they just load it up to Google and the way I go.” Tell us what’s the benefits are of actually being in multiple app stores?

Chris: Yeah, well the first thing is about 20% of the non-Chinese, non-Google Play installs happen outside of the Google Play Store. And so for quality apps, it’s somewhat low-hanging to be able to get access to those consumers who are choosing for whatever reason not to use the Google Play Store. And what we try to do is by having to be very low-cost and simple to use, accessing that additional install, eventually, it becomes very simple. Second, you’ll find less competition, so the alternative stores typically don’t have as many apps as Google Play, so the opportunity to get featured, particularly they have quality content increases significantly.

David: Okay, that’s really interesting, because obviously app store stuff, in terms of discovery and competition, are massive problems. So this gives you a bit of clean space to work in.

Chris: Yes.

David: That’s very interesting. And so what is—is there some of the names that are quite well-known in the west, like is Samsung for example covered there?

Chris: Yes, we cover Amazon, we cover Samsung, we cover the Opera Store. There’s a wide range of stores that are Asian stores, that are stores that support their reach into South America. Aptoide is one of our preferred partners and may have done a great job of building their app store over the last several years. SlideME is also an excellent store, pre-installed on a number of the non-Google Handset Alliance devices, that these are devices released by OEMs who don’t include your Google Play services on the handsets, Gmail, Maps, and the like that are required in order to be a part of the Google Play Handset Alliance.

David: Right, okay. And so that means that that’s probably a very larger amount of handsets in Indonesia, in India, I guess?

Chris: Very large in the developing world, but also growing in first-world countries as well. In fact, it’s one of the little known secrets that that flavor of Android outside of the Google Handset Alliance is the fastest-growing Android there is.

David: Really? Wow. It is a little known secret, at least to me.

Chris: There’s just a lot of OEMs out there and device manufacturers who don’t want to have to play by Google’s rules. And so they’re still able to release devices on the Android system. And they add their own overlay to it. For example, it’s actually quite similar to what Amazon is already doing, what Samsung already does. So Amazon, they use Android, but if you go in there, you use Amazon’s in-app payment solution. You’re using the Amazon Store to download your apps. So they’ve replaced the number of the Google APIs with their own APIs. And you see this in other markets as well, especially in China. You also see in Russia with Yandex. So it’s something that’s happening all over the place. And because Android is such a large platform, it continues to grow. These other device manufacturers continue to build devices and grow as well.

David: I remember, Andreessen Horowitz told me about that Chinese company that’s not only sort of replaced those slabs of code, but also changed the user experience. I can’t name–

Chris: Xiaomi.

David: Xiaomi. Right, yes.

Chris: They’re the number three handset maker in the world now, and they’ve completely built their ecosystem on top of the Android platform.

David: Right. Number three.

Chris: Yes. It’s unbelievable, the numbers that they do. But I mean, look them up, read about them. They do some ridiculous numbers in very short periods of time. There are actually few people trying to build alternative operating systems, one of them, Microsoft recently, I believe, invested in or might have even purchased—obviously you’ve got Mozilla and the Firefox folks who are trying to work things out in Africa. There are few players out there who are still trying to play in the OS game as well.

David: Cyanogen is a company. And just looking here, they received $30 million in three rounds of investment. So obviously, they’re being taken pretty seriously.

Chris: That’s exactly what I was thinking of.

David: So somebody—sorry, when somebody ships Cyanogen or when you download Cyanogen, what app store is actually being baked into that?

Chris: Now, that’s a good question. I’m not sure yet. What we believe is that the app stores will continue to be relevant as a vehicle for downloading apps. And that’s why there is new OS-es like Cyanogen, like Mozilla and Firefox, or whether it’s the Internet of things and you’re downloading stuff for your refrigerator. So the ability to be able to access those stores and to be able to manage those stores effectively across multiple platforms and across a number of stores that will exist is going to be a high-value ad for developers over time.

David: Right. That puts you guys in a pretty good position.

Chris: That’s what we’re hoping.

David: Yeah. And I’m looking at the investors and it’s crazy. For Cyanogen, it’s—you know, Andreessen Horowitz, Tencent who, you know, owned QQ and a couple of other platforms in China, so—and Microsoft’s in there as well too, Benchmark, Redpoint, so there’s some pretty serious players been involved in Cyanogen. So that’s-

Chris: Very serious players.

David: Definitely an interesting one to watch. So tell us a little bit about who would be an ideal candidate for putting things in multiple app stores. Is it your indie utility developer or is it a utility game developer or is it large organizations that are looking for as much coverage as possible?

Chris: What we find is that we have two typical folks who get the most value out of what we offer. First, it’s your indie developer who has a small portfolio of games, maybe five to ten games and apps. And they’re looking for additional distribution and they probably have one or two apps that are their leading apps. And so we leave with those, we get—we help them get feature placement with those apps, and then follow up with the additional apps. And so it gives them a nice presence in the store. So they see value because, again, as an indie developer, the time and effort would take you to actually learn how to submit to each of these stores is basically a pain in the butt.

David: Right.

Chris: So we handle that for you. The other that we get is we get—I wouldn’t call them “large corporate,” but I call them “large app companies,” where they’ve got, it’s VPN app. It has several million downloads, and they’re looking to continue to acquire more installs, particularly more organic installs. So they’ve got a brand, and so have been able to get that app into the alternative stores. That app is already being searched for. People are looking for it already. And so, they would take advantage of that brand recognition that they have in these alternative stores.

David: Right, okay. Alright, so I get that somebody who might have, say, advertising inside their application, they’re an ad-supported app. That’s kind of like a no-brainer for them. They just got increased coverage, increased downloads, increased sessions. And so everybody’s happy in that sense. But what about if you’re being used to charging for your app? So you’re selling in the western world, and you’re getting the $2-$5, whatever you may be doing, in-app purchases. Why would somebody want to kind of use these other app stores in that situation?

Chris: Yeah, there’s a couple of ways to look at the monetization in the alternative stores. First, if you had premium content, particularly premium game content, there are subscription-based opportunities through a number of stores, both the independent alternative stores as well as some carrier stores. And that’s another little secret that the subscription models help them to bring back a number of carrier stores, some in Europe, some in South America. If you got quality content, there’s ongoing revenue streams available there. In addition to some of the alternative stores do pay-per-download premium content. And you’re seeing stores, new stores, actually pop up, that are looking for specifically that kind of content. Android overall has moved away from the pay-per-download model, but there are specific stores that have come up, often times, service providers that are working with carriers, that are looking specific for that premium content that is on a pay-per-download basis. For in-app payments, most of the alternative stores will work with your Google Wallet that’s already installed in your app, so you don’t have to make changes for most of the stores.

David: Okay.

Chris: A few of them do require changes, like Amazon for example, that we spoke about earlier. And you have to decide whether or not you believe it’s worth doing or not worth doing. But for most developers, they don’t actually have to make any changes to be able to access 80+% of the alternative stores out there, of course, we’re not talking about China right now.

David: Right. But the issue would be, really, whether you’re going to get very many paid downloads because, a $1.99 in the US to perhaps somebody in India might look like $10. So how do they sort of get around that?

Chris: Yeah, great question. So you’ll find this in all other stores: iOS, Google Play. Most people don’t change their pricing in order to take advantage of or support localized markets and what the market will bear. We’ve actually developed a pricing calculator that look at the purchasing power of each market and translates pricing for developers, so they can actually price their apps accordingly on a per-market basis. But that’s a bit challenging to manage. We’re seeing some new models pop up. One, there’s a store out of India, and what they’re doing is they’re offering premium content on a rental basis. So instead of a consumer in India paying $1.99 or $5.99 or whatever it is they might pay, basically pay for time, micro payments over time. And eventually, if they spend enough, they acquire ownership of the app.

David: Right, wow.

Chris: So there are some innovative models that are popping up in that regard. And then, of course, smart developers do, particularly with in-app payments, charge differently in-app in different markets, in order to be able to take advantage of those, the iPhones and the users that they have in those markets.

David: Wow, that’s interesting. So just back to this rental-type model. So if you use it for a certain number of hours, you basically build up the usage time?

Chris: Correct, yes. And it gives people a chance to try more content than they would be able to try otherwise.

David: Right. And the infrastructure for micro payment in that situation is again using something like Google Wallet or is that store using something else that’s much more sort of localized?

Chris: This is a new store, and I believe they are using carrier billing or—no, they might not. They might be using Google Wallet. I believe they use Google Wallet. I have to look it up, and let me see if I can find the name of the store while we’re chatting.

David: So the thing, whenever I hear “carrier store,” I remember back to the bad, old days, where these guys wanted to sort of take 30%, and now that doesn’t seem so bizarre, and in fact, it sounds quite familiar.

Chris: Exactly.

David: But it seems like extortion at the time. Have they changed their spots in any way?

Chris: Carrier stores still tend to try and take a decent share, but the bigger thing about the carrier stores is that they don’t run that stores anymore. They basically offloaded them in third-party players. And if you’re not connected to and know who those third-party partners are, it’s kind of challenging to get into several of those stores.

David: Right, okay. Alright, so we talk in these podcasts about, you know, one win and one fail. And I was just wondering, obviously, as a platform user, so your different perspective to me sitting down and talking to an individual developer, but is there anything you’ve seen in your developer community that are kind of classic wins that you’ve seen work?

Chris: Classic win, I’ve seen a number of different areas work. First, if you got strong branded content, there’s opportunities out there for the subscription model, and to make a lot of money in the subscription model, particularly if you can get with the right partners and get into the carrier stores. And the reason for that is that the content tends to live for a long time in those stores, and kicks off recurring revenues over extended period of time, so-

David: Can you give me a tangible example of that?

Chris: Yeah, well, we’re working with a partner. They’re called Global Fund. Global Fund has a number of branded apps, and they have grandfathered relationships with a number of carriers, carriers that it’d be impossible to get relationships with now. And those relationships allow them to continue to push content into those channels, but also be able to charge levels of subscription model. And they are making significant revenues being able to leverage that content in those channels.

David: Right, what sort of content is that?

Chris: I’ll pull some of that up, a lot of it is game content, as you’d expect, and a lot of it is branded game content, but not all of it is entertainment brand. Some of it is stuff that they’ve developed themselves.

David: Right.

Chris: Other things that we’ve seen or areas that are challenging, monetizing kids’ games and kids’ content.

David: Because the parents have woken up to bill shock.

Chris: The bill shock is a challenge. In addition, advertising, there’s obviously questions around, you know, the morality of putting ads to kids. And in talking to some of our developers, some of the things that we—early stages of what we see working is one, obviously, pay-per-download tends to work, but also try-and-buy, enabling kids to try apps, to be able to play for a set amount of time, and then given the parents the option to purchase those apps for the kids, because if the kids like the apps and want to keep playing, the parents are more likely to feel comfortable spending your $2 or $3 or $5 to purchase the app, rather than enable that child to make in-app purchases along the way as they go.

David: Okay, alright. It’s very good. So that would be a period of time, like a couple of minutes?

Chris: I would probably recommend a bit longer than that. You want to be long enough the kid can really get into the game, i.e. “You’ve used up your “X” hours of game play, would you like to continue playing? You can purchase the game.” “Great, I’ve been playing this for an hour, I’d like to continue.”

David: Yeah, so this is quite an interesting thing for the developers of games that want to be able to monetize, but they have some sort of moral issue, or in this particular case, that’s actually a practical issue—no, it’s still a moral issue in regards to kids, for example.

Chris: It’s both.

David: Yeah, like sometimes, the morals are your own morals, and sometimes the morals are of the target audience. And so doing an app that doesn’t push advertising to kids is a really good thing. So this sounds interesting solution to that.

Chris: Yes, so that’s another one. Everyone’s hungry for utilities apps, so if you get quality utilities apps, stores as well and networks, affiliate networks, are hungry to push utilities-based apps because they just, they do well.

David: Right, okay. So if you’re a utility app developer out there and you’re using Google Play, then this is just, again, just gravy to really get you to get much broader coverage?

Chris: That’s correct.

David: But if you go out there and do that, what happens if you kind of find that you’d fall as flat, is there any way? Like it sounds to me like deploying, it’s one thing, but you get to kind of drive traffic to it as well too. You got to figure out if you’re out there and you’re doing podcasts, or you’re doing blogging or some sort of content strategy, or you’re doing ads, where do you push things to? How do you actually leverage your marketing Dollars to drive to a particular store?

Chris: Yeah, great question. So one of the things that we are working with our store partners now is to enable promotional campaigns to be run on a CPI basis. Most advertisers are comfortable, come clear. They’re comfortable running on cost-per-install campaigns. Many of the stores hadn’t been built with that in mind. They were a bit more antiquated but in the old days, where with things around, you have to know the right person to get your content featured.

David: Yes.

Chris: So what we’ve actually begun building is tools for stores to be able to more effectively monetize their feature placement, so that they can actually feature those apps and you can run campaigns against that feature placement.

David: Right.

Chris: So like $0.10 or $0.15 of a Dollar, whatever it is, and install. But you’re only paying for the install and it’s not incentivized and it’s coming in a store where people are going to look for apps.

David: Is there a way you can kind of—so, say, I produce a piece of content, say, it’s a newsletter or something like that, and I’ve got 20,000 people around the globe on my newsletter, but they’re all on different devices. Is there any way you can kind of intercept the click from the newsletter through to their right app store for that particular user, per user?

Chris: Yeah, most of the stores do have specific product URLs that you can use. What you’re saying is can you auto-detect?

David: Yeah.

Chris: Yeah, that’s a bit more challenging only because-

David: They just discovered a new product.

Chris: Yes, well, you can have multiple stores on your handset. So for example, here in Australia, if you have a Samsung, you probably have the Samsung store as well as the Google Play Store in the handset.

David: Right.

Chris: And so, there you go, it’s as new business. I can auto-detect multiple different stores and push it to the correct store. Basically, right now, it’s either Google Play or iOS has the tech being done in the links

David: Right, okay. So out of those kind of like hints or tips or experiences you’ve seen, is there anything where you’ve seen somebody get like really great increased traction or a really good inflection point, is it just—is it one that stands out?

Chris: Yeah, we work with one of the larger utilities apps, and what they found and what they learned is that, particularly if you have a good brand, one of our store partners, Aptoide, which is an excellent store, they enable users of their stores to create their own app stores as well. And so, it’s a bit of, they have a centralized store, and their users all create stores. And those users can populate the store that they create with apps that are in the Aptoide Store.

David: Oh, right.

Chris: So it’s almost like each user can micro-target their own apps.

David: It’s a great tool, yeah.

Chris: And because of that, if you’ve got a quality brand and you’ve got these users that are adding your app to their stores, they’re delivering hundreds of thousands of installs based off the fact that you’ve got all these stores that are featuring your app. So it’s all these stores within a store that are featuring your app. So that was one, and it was something that took time to build up. So it was one of those you stick it in the app store and tomorrow, you’re delivering those installs. It’s like—no, actually, it got built up over time because they had a quality app, as more users came on board, started their stores, still, their stores with apps, they would take this app, add it to the store. And so, that type of patience most folks don’t have. But if you do, there are opportunities through stores like Aptoide to be able to deliver on some significant installs.

David: Yeah. I think that these businesses ultimately have the patience to build their assets over time and stick with it. So that sounds like a good one. So, in terms of the fail department, what have you seen or what have you experienced yourself?

Chris: One of the things, one of my recent clients, they have excellent property. They’ve got a branded property, they got a—it’s a sports game that they launched, they got a ton of PR, got very good numbers in the early going, but missed some of the crucial elements around how they were going to manage customers in-app in order to be able to communicate with customers in-app, and then build that in. And what they’ve found is that there was a particular piece of the gameplay that wasn’t quite right, and so they got lots of ratings and reviews in both iOS and Android and they all, with the majority of them pointing into this particular problem they had with their gameplay.

David: Right.

Chris: And then, they were running around trying to scramble, “How do I reach these users?” In Google Play, you can reply to some reviews, in iOS, you cannot.

David: Yes.

Chris: So they’re stuck in this kind of cycle where they know it’s going to take them a little bit of time to fix the gameplay mechanism, how do you get to those users who—I mean, they did over a hundred thousand installs the first week—how do you get to those users that had this experience? And so, a little bit of pre-planning and a little bit of strategizing about how they wanted to effectively reach those customers and reach those users would have gone a long way for them.

David: Yeah, in fact, in one of the earlier podcasts, which was a game podcast, Nathan talks about how he allowed people to provide feedback inside the game, and so either using one of the tools—I don’t know, I can’t remember what he was using—whether it was UserVoice or Freshdesk, or something like that. They had good sort of mobile interfaces allowing people to actually vent in there, as opposed to actually sort of bouncing up to the app store to do what is ultimately quite large damage. So—

Chris: That is exactly what you want. Helpshift does a good job at that. Apptentive does a good job of that. There’s a number of players out there. You definitely want to be able to do that and avoid having to recover from the poor ratings that then land on the app store charts.

David: Yeah, so as you say, planning or the-best-defense-is-a-good-offense kind of thing is probably the way to think about that stuff.

Chris: Yes.

David: Alright, that’s good. Thank you. I have one other question for you just because you’re involved with app stores. But app store optimization or ASO, what’s your take on it? Is it dead? Is it alive? Is it valuable? Is it useful?

Chris: I would say it’s one of those areas where the ongoing value of it has to continue to be looked at, and the reason is because Google and Apple continue to innovate and change their algorithms. And for that to work, the consistency of those algorithms has to be there. And so, there are folks who are seeing a lot of success using ASO, but to see that success means they’re literally using it, updating it on a regular basis. It’s not a “set it and let it go” and all of a sudden you’re going to see the results. It’s very much an iterative process, and someone has to keep an eye on it and work on it regularly. So it’s not the magic bean by any means. It takes a lot of work.

David: And when you’ve got loads of different app stores out there, like we’ve been talking about today, typically, what do these other app stores use for their own algorithms? Is it just, you know, basically tech searching or category searching, or?

Chris: -find out having this discussion with one of our larger clients about the Chinese app stores. And basically, outside of Google Play and iTunes, right now, it’s not worth the effort to focus on app store optimization in the other stores, because there’s no consistency across the stores. Unless you’ve got significant volume, it’s going to be really challenging to figure it out yourself.

David: Right, okay. Very good.

Chris: I wouldn’t spend the time on it.

David: Yeah, alright. Good. Alright, well, I hear the teenagers next door have turned on their subwoofers, so it’s probably time for me to pack up and go. Is there anything you want to tell us about where you guys are going in the future? Obviously, I’ll post all the links in the blog post, at least on our site. So is there anything else you want to share?

Chris: A couple of things, first is our blog, it’s very well-read and it’s read often because our whole focus is similar to you, it’s about educating developers on what’s working, on what’s not working, so “” We interview several folks, we have some interviews there, recently, for example was the CEO of the SlideME store. He talks a bit more about the non-Google Play or Google Handset Alliance ecosystem and some of the opportunities there. We talked with one of the leading app marketers out there. Puneet runs the largest app marketers’ group on Facebook and he talks about some really unique and interesting ways of driving installs for your apps, very, very smart. Such a lot of good resources there, that’s the first thing. Second, we run cost-per-install campaigns both within the alternative store partners and outside of the alternative stores. And because we’re on a network ourselves, we help developers navigate and find the networks that are going to work for their app. For example, we work with a finance app and we push it through one of the top 15 ad networks out there and it fell flat on its face, but we found one of our app store partners who’s able to deliver those installs at a very high conversion rate. And so, being able to understand which networks are going to work for a type of apps that you have, there’s a bit of work to that.

David: Okay. Alright, that’s very cool. So was that particular app store, like a niche app store for financial things or?

Chris: No, it wasn’t, but it was one, they use native advertising, they specifically were strong in the GO’s that this advertiser was targeting, and we’re able to deliver really quality installs. I can guarantee you, most folks would never even heard of them.

David: Right, that is very cool. Alright, that’s great. Well, Chris, I really appreciate your time. That’s been very good, because that’s certainly I admire. That’s up to a much larger set of downloadable opportunities for developers.

Chris: Well, I really appreciate the opportunity and, yeah, I would love to do it again some time and would definitely going to get you on our blog as well. We’d be interviewing you very shortly, so another reason to come by.

David: Alright. I’ll study up for it. Okay, mate. Cheers. Thanks a lot.

Chris: Thank you.

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