A programmer’s attempt at marketing

I’ve always believed that if you create an amazing app people will find you. While I still think that’s true, what if you simply don’t have the time, resources or ground breaking idea to create an amazing app. If you’re just experimenting with a new framework you might be limited to creating just ok apps. Apps which may offer a novel experience but don’t have the same level of polish as apps by big name publishers.

This is where I found myself a few months ago. I’d like to share with you my successes and failures thus far. If you have suggestions for things to try in the future please post your suggestions in the comments below.

First a brief explanation of the app. It’s called Music Maker Pro and is available for 99 cents in the Apple App Store. It enables you to easily create music by tapping a few boxes. In an effort to increase awareness of the app I created a free browser-based version which you can try at http://mscmkr.com.

On to the traffic… the graph shows the number of new users per day over the past three months to both the free and paid versions. It can be roughly divided into four sections.


  • Paid advertising (blue) To get started I used a combination of AdMob and Facebook ads. While paying money definitely got me traffic the conversion rates were way too low for this approach to be profitable.
  • One big tweet (red) My next tactic was to try to get well-known people to spread the word. Scott Hanselman was kind enough (thanks again Scott!) to share the link on Twitter and Google+, the results speak for themselves.

  • Letting time do it’s thing (yellow) Here again the results speak for themselves. Doing nothing achieves nothing. I may have posted to the app’s Facebook group or sent some random emails but I clearly didn’t do anything to move the dial much.
  • The Chrome Web Store (green) I wasn’t expecting much but this has turned out be my best move to date. The app is now available here and so far has generated decent growth in traffic.

As I opened with, I think a key determinant of the stats is the app itself. While mine isn’t total crap it probably won’t win any design awards either. The competition in the app market is pretty intense. With the advent of in-app purchases, publishers can spend millions of dollars developing apps which they release for free.

Any time I read a random article on a developer’s download stats I’m always hoping to get a dollar amount. On average I sell about one or two apps a day. While it’s not a lot it pays for the server costs and definitely beats my last two mobile apps for which I’m still in the red:/

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