I'd like to share with you a hard-earned lesson in app release strategy.
I've been working on tappr.tv for over 3 years now, and I've collected a ton of data along the way. One of the fundamental metrics, of course, is downloads, which is the top of any revenue-generating funnel. Over the years, I've noticed some interesting dynamics around the holidays, and I've been able to increase my download rate 4x year over year.
But with the recent v8 update, something went wrong… very wrong.
Here's a graph showing tappr.tv downloads over the last 2 years.
- My data actually goes back 3 years, and other than a few anomalies, I can see an overall 4x increase in downloads year over year.
- Downloads are inversely proportional to the lengths of the day. Summer months are the slowest. With the end of summer (and start of school?), download rates accelerate, and crescendo in the middle of winter.
- Every year, there's a holiday bump.
- As you can see, there is a distinct drop with the release of v8.
Well, the v8 release of tappr.tv was a big one, and the culprit is likely one of these:
- A complete redesign of the app for iOS 7?
- A reconfiguration of the first launch experience?
- I didn't issue a press release for this version?
- No localized app store descriptions?
After some analysis, I can conclude that the culprit is the last, localization. I had added localized app store descriptions a few years ago on a whim, and hadn't properly acknowledged their effect on my download rates.In hindsight, I understand now that it helped my download rates considerably.
With the v8 release, I ran out of time, and deleted them. Unfortunately, because I released this version right before Thanksgiving, I didn't properly understand the impact until late December, too late to submit a new build (with localized app store descriptions) in time for Christmas and New Years.
After the iTC winter break, I was able to submit a new build, with localized app store descriptions, and immediately download rates doubled, which tends to give credence to my assessment. Unfortunately, tappr.tv has likely missed the holiday bump for 2014.
So now I have two new key learnings to work with:
- Don't under-estimate the power of localization.
- Don't try to rush thru a big release, with lots of changing variables, right before Thanksgiving.