3 Reasons Your App Isn’t Selling (And What You Should Do About It)

Is there any worse feeling in the world than seeing your app get completely ignored? It’s even worse after you’ve poured all your sweat and money into it.

In theory, this should NEVER happen. But let’s be honest, when you’re starting out in the app world, you’ll make mistakes. Everybody does.

So if you find yourself with an app that just ain’t selling, don’t panic. Diagnosing the problem isn’t hard. In 99% of cases, your app isn’t selling for one of 3 reasons:

Reason #1:
You Picked the Wrong Idea

You messed up way back at the planning stage. Maybe you got overly attached to your idea and didn’t want to consider anything else. Or you messed up your market research.

Either way, you picked a losing horse.

Developers make this mistake all the time. They put all their effort into an original idea, never stopping to ask if that idea is something the market wants.

But the market doesn’t reward originality. It rewards you when you feed their hunger. Give them what they want!

Creating desire out of thin air is like rolling a boulder uphill. But finding out where the desire ALREADY exists and channeling it in your direction? That’s much easier.

It’s simple to change your aim when you’re driving a car … versus having to build the car from scratch.

(By the way, this is a lesson taken directly from a classic business book called “Breakthrough Advertising” by Eugene Schwartz. All the top entrepreneurs I know have read it. If you can find a copy, you should read it.)

How can you tell if you built a bad idea? Look at the market it serves.

Check the App Store right this minute and look at what apps are hot right now. Are there other apps in this space? How are they doing?

If you can’t find any competitors, you just got an important lesson about market research and product development. Now you know for next time.

But maybe there ARE successful apps in your niche! What then?

That means you messed up elsewhere. Which brings me to …

Reason #2:
You’re not marketing your app properly (and you’re failing to convert traffic)

Going just by the email I get from developers, marketing gives people hives.

Can you really expect someone with NO marketing experience to sell like a pro?

Absolutely, as long as you provide value and help people find your app. I’ve seen appreneurs of all experience levels do awesome at this, even without any professional marketing background.

When I first moved to San Francisco, I had a brutal conversation with a more seasoned appreneur. He kept asking me all these questions I had no answer to.

How many downloads was I getting every day?

How many active users did I have?

How many banner clicks?

I had no idea! I just wanted more buyers! Wasn’t that enough?

Unfortunately, the answer was a big fat NOPE.

You need the answers to these questions. And you need this data the most when you’re not making any sales. Data helps you target the holes in your system.

Not all stats are created equal though. You want to focus on traffic, rankings, user activity, and revenue. These stats will help you quickly adjust your marketing with laser precision, which means less time wasted on silly mistakes costing you money.

There are a lot of great tools out there, and available for cheap, that’ll help you track all of this stuff. I like AppFigures and Flurry. Find whatever works for you and stick with them.

Stats aren’t the only important measure of your marketing. You can also look at the human element … what do people think about your app? And the best way to get that info is from your reviews.

Some reviewers will sing your praises, others will tell you off. Take it for the constructive criticism it is and use this feedback to improve your app. You’ll see your reviews (and your sales) jump when you do.

Reason #3:
You’re not getting ANY traffic!

That means something went really wrong close to home. Either you’re not marketing at all, or your app needs a facelift.

If this happens, ask yourself …

Does your app look nice? You could have the greatest app on the planet, but no one will buy if it’s ugly. Many app purchases are impulse buys, and first impressions matter … from your icons to your screenshots. If that stuff doesn’t look good, it’s time to clean up.

Are your keywords solid? This is how people are going to be finding you, so make sure you’re using keywords that align with your audience. Don’t use irrelevant keywords. You’ll drive yourself and everyone else crazy.

Are you using free apps? Free apps means easy traffic, which you can then turn into revenue later (via ads or paid apps).

Happily, marketing mistakes are easy to fix. Your basic idea is solid, you just have to course correct for better results. Tweak like a freak, remember?

Whenever I see appreneurs panicking over poor sales, the problem is almost always because they’re not tweaking like a freak or updating their app.

Perfectionism is the #1 problem among appreneurs. Which is crazy, because this business is one of the most forgiving when it comes to perfection.

In fact, it’s GREAT if you’re constantly changing things with your apps. We’re not in high school anymore where you only had one shot at acing a test … and if you didn’t, you got saddled with a bad grade.

With apps, you’re allowed to experiment and make edits. Personally, I’m tweaking my apps every 7 days.

If that sounds excessive, I’m here to tell you it’s not only NOT excessive, but it should be the norm among appreneurs.

You succeed in this business by moving the needle a little bit every day. It’s rare to see success happen in huge leaps.

This is good news for you because it means less pressure. With more wiggle room for error, you can quickly fix problems before they become too big to handle. The app business is pretty forgiving that way.

Stay tuned, we’re going deep on app marketing next week.


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