How to create the perfect app

Using Social Media for Customer Service

social media support for android appsA few months ago, I downloaded a screenshot utility from the Android Market to my Android phone. I had to pay for it, but I needed it for work, so I was fine with shelling out the dollar or so that it cost. (It was actually 100 Japanese Yen.) It worked great and I loved it. I used it for the screenshots in my app and in many of my blog posts here. About two weeks ago, my phone started acting weird. The home screen didn’t come up right, so I asked my husband, who in addition to being a juggler, is also an engineer, and he said “reset it.”

I reset the phone, and it worked perfectly. My contacts are stored my SIM so I didn’t lose any. I went to Android Market to download the app again, and something had changed. The app wouldn’t download to my phone. It registered that I owned the app, but the app was no longer compatible with my phone. I looked at the developer’s information, got their twitter handle, and tweeted them a message. Within minutes, they asked me to email them, and within the hour, they’d changed whatever they needed to change in Android Market to allow me to download the app again.

This is an example of what you should be using your social media for – getting problems solved. There are a few things to take away from this example.

  1. Try to be on top of things. Speed is important. You obviously can’t be on 24/7, but try to be on at least once every 24 hours. The faster you get to a complaint, the less time a person has to spread the complaint to all their friends.
  2. Take complaints out of the public forum. Get them to email you immediately. Once they’ve emailed you, everyone sees you’re working on a solution, and no one has to see if the solution fails.
  3. Try to give your customer a good solution. Even if your product is inexpensive or free, you still want your customer to take away a good experience so that they’ll recommend you to others.
  4. If you can’t give the customer a solution, apologize, but not too much. Let them know that you hope they’ll find a good solution and that you’d love to have them use your products another time.
  5. If a customer paid for a product and can’t use it because of a flaw in the app or a change in the app and you can’t find a solution, refund their money. This might hurt, but it’s good business. It also means you won’t get a negative review from them. Remember that negative reviews also hurt your ranking in the Android Market.

Naming a Million-Dollar App

Let’s say you’ve developed the most fantastic app in the world. It’s exactly what everyone needs.  It does something fantastic that people have been waiting for their Androids to do for months or even years! It’s beautiful to look at. It’s easy to use. The next thing to do is give it the right name. The name has to do one important thing:

It has to tell people what the app is or does.

Everything else is secondary. It can be pretty or flowery or gimmicky, but if it doesn’t tell people what the app does, it’s not a good name.

If the app is a faster way to log in to Facebook, then it should be called Facebook-Fast Login or Facebook Speed Login or Speedy Facebook Login. Whatever name it has, it needs to say exactly what the app is and does.

If the app is a way to read mail from Gmail and Hotmail at the same time, it should be called Gmail and Hotmail Reader. Call it something gimmicky like GHotmail-Reader and people won’t find it or know what it is when they do. If there is one thing you take away from this post, let it be this – it’s more important for the name to tell people what your app does than for it to be a catchy name.

If the app is a game, the name should describe what happens in the game, so that people don’t describe the game as “that game with the yellow balls that fly up and you have to catch them.” If people don’t remember the name of the game, their friends won’t download it. Everyone remembers Pong. Everyone remembers Pac-Man. Think of short names that sound like what’s happening in the game.

Here are some important things to keep in mind:

  1. Try to keep the name short. Two or three word names are best, but some apps might really need four or five words to explain what they do.
  2. Follow grammatical rules. People remember things better when they’re grammatical.
  3. Spell keywords correctly. If you misspell words, they won’t show up in search. ‘Howse Bilder’ may look cute, but ‘House Builder’ is a search term.

Remember that it’s very important to take your time choosing an app’s name. Once an app is in the Android Market, it is possible to change the description. Changing the app itself is called upgrading, and it’s an easy process.  Changing the app’s name, on the other hand, isn’t allowed. The only way to do it is to create an entirely new app with a new name, description, and screenshots.

Getting Your App to the Top of the Android Market

In the Android Market, no one factor determines what apps reach the top positions. The top position is not reserved for the best-selling apps or the best ranked. Instead, Google has one of its famous “black box” algorithms working to determine which apps reach the top.

Some things are clear, though:

  1. Apps that are downloaded more are higher up.
  2. Apps that have a high review rate with positive reviews are higher up.
  3. Apps with a high retention rate – that is apps that people don’t delete after downloading- are higher up.

How do you make your app achieve these things? First, you make apps that people can find easily, by using relevant keywords in your super-charged description.

Second, make an app that people want to review. Make sure the app is so spectacular that people are just dying to give it five stars. Then, remind them to review the app. In the app’s welcome screen, put a reminder like “Have you reviewed this app yet on Android Market?”

Third, and most important, make sure the app is an app that people want to keep. Make sure the app is one that does what it says it does, and make sure that when competing apps come out that do it better, your app improves and releases a new version to keep pace with what’s out there. That way, there’s no need for customers to download something else and delete your winning app. This increases retention and keeps you on the road to the top of Android Market.