How Many Downloads Should My App Get?

What’s a good download number?  How do you know if your app is a winner or a loser based on downloads?
As developers, we’re never satisfied with downloads.  Like little kids Christmas morning.  We rip through our presents either incredibly disappointed (Socks!), or our eyes gleam as we unleash a brand new Ferrari remote control car.  Unfortunately that remote control car only catches our attention for a short period of time, then it finds itself right next to the unsatisfying pair of socks.
My jaw has dropped more times than I can count after publishing a new app and receiving poor downloads.  How could I have put all this work in and followed every instruction only to receive horrible download numbers?

Sidenote: that’s why we created the free app business workshop for anyone who’s having a hard time getting started with apps (secure your spot here).

I’ve also been on the flip side where an app is quickly thrown together and it hit the Top Charts solely through organic traffic.  WTF? 
Sometimes it feels like Apple rewards or punishes our downloads for no apparent reason.  This article will walk you through Bluecloud’s strategies for dealing with downloads and how we decide what’s a winner or when to cut our losses.  I will also introduce Bluecloud’s Rule of 500 with specific examples and how they apply to you.
Finally, Android readers pay close attention,  I will unveil never seen before Bluecloud case studies from Android Stores.
Ready?  Let’s pump up those download numbers!

Publishing Apps & Downloads

So you’ve built your app and everything’s ready to go.  You glance over the calendar and notice there’s a 3-day weekend starting tomorrow.  Perfect!  You click “Publish” and call it a day.
The next day you open your AppAnnie Report only to see 46 downloads.  What!?!  How could this happen?  I spent $4,000 on this app, it’s a beast!  I’ve talked to dozens of top developers and read countless blogs.  I even purchased this source code from a reputable developer with a proven track record.
Ok, chill Mr. Psychotic Developer.  Lets break this down…
If you’ve released an app before, you know the first 3-4 days of your release are weighted the most.  App releases typically work like a bell curve.  It’s common to receive a really low download count this first day.  This could be because of various ASO reasons, Apple processing your app, or even the time of day it was published.  Don’t trip.
The next day or two you typically see a higher download number.  It could be X2 or maybe X50, but it’s almost always higher.  This is Apple computing all your data and testing you out.
Day 3-5 typically marks the end of your app’s push from Apple.  These are typically the realistic download numbers you can expect to receive moving forward.  If you’re back at 46 downloads, it doesnt necessarily mean your app is dead.  Hell, if it’s a paid app at $2.99, you’re profiting $138 a day.
It’s important to note that your download rate will fluctuate the first few days after publishing.  If you’re not satisfied after day 3 or 4, it’s time to act fast!  Start running some traffic campaigns, adjust your ASO, check your reviews, or maybe you need to consider taking your app completely off the Store and making some serious adjustments.
Remember the longer you wait, the harder it will be to reach your projected download number.
You need to have a solid foundation before you can expect any sort of downloads or revenue – don’t jump ahead!  Checkout the full walk-through from idea to hitting the Top Charts with our free app business workshop.

What to do with low downloads

Of course there’s a scenario for everything.  One download a day could potentially bring in a $100 return depending on it’s monetization system. But, how realistic and relevant is that to your apps?
With every app scenario, there are a few numbers you NEED to pay attention to.  If these numbers hit, you will never have to worry about downloads again.  Does analytics sound exciting now?  Hell ya!
800downloadsMy boss Carter Thomas checks analytics reports DAILY.  You know how often he checks revenue reports?

Maybe once a week, sometimes even less.  The point is, analytics lead to more money, not checking how much money you’ve already made.
Here are a couple ways you can use your analytics reports to boost revenue.

1.  ARPU:  Stands for “Average Revenue Per User.”  This is where we put our marketing hat on.  If you have a free app getting 46 downloads a day and making $20 through In App Purchases and Ad Revenue, JACKPOT!  Don’t be upset about your 46 downloads and measly $20, lets multiply that!

If this is a free app, that means every user = $0.43.  Doesn’t sound like much huh?  If we purchase 10,000 installs at a $0.10 CPI with the same conversions, that’s a gross $4,300!  The crazy part is, there’s thousands of developers out there who aren’t doing anything about this.

2.  Cost per acquisition:  How much does it cost you to get someone to install your app (CPI)?  This will help us with our traffic campaigns like the above.appannie iphone

3.  Unique Users, Active Users and Sessions:  You may not be making enough money off the users you have.  Most apps are opened, closed, and thrown away.  If you are retaining your users but seeing low revenue, start thinking about some new monetization systems.

4.  eCPM:  eCPM stands for “effective cost per thousand impressions,” and measures how well your ad networks are monetizing.  This is important because it tells us how well our audience is reacting to the ads we’re running.  Whether a high or low eCPM, contact your ad network and ask what you’re doing right or wrong.  Don’t feel stupid about reaching out to people, I do it all the time and it’s the best way to learn.  Get step-by-step instructions to calculate your eCPM here.

5.  Costs/Profits:  The easiest and most important number to calculate.  Remember not to drive your finances to the ground.  Read more below where I talk about Cutting your Losses.

I could go on-and-on revealing killer keywords and marketing strategies that dominate downloads, but you’re better off joining us for our free app business workshop which will help take your app ideas to realities.

Bluecloud’s Rule of 500

It’s impossible for me to list every app scenario and their downloads (while keeping my sanity).  Above you read how a solid ARPU can take your app from $20 a day to $4,300 by simply running traffic campaigns.  But what if you want to master your app before making an investment.  No prob!
Firstly, what’s Bluecloud’s Rule of 500?  You guessed it!  Any app receiving 500 or more downloads a day in the App Store Free market with organic traffic.
If I’m hitting 500 downloads a day a week after my app was released, I know I have something to work with.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m much more excited about getting 10-20,000 installs a day, but 500 is a good place to start.

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.
-Colin Powell

Below are some of Bluecloud’s own apps and how the Rule of 500 applies:

  • Add Music & Video:  We originally purchased this code for a small investment.  We flipped and published it, then forgot all about it for 8 months. When we checked back we discovered it had made over a 300% return!  This code has been skinned multiple times since and seen very similar results.
  • Gem Dots:  Puzzles will always be relevant.  That’s why so many developers stick to puzzles for the long run.   Figure out how to get consistent downloads for codes like Gem Dots, and you will have a killer puzzle network.
  • Tiger Stickers:  Tiger Stickers is a great example of an app that did not initially reach 500 downloads a day.  Our target demographic didn’t hit, so we made some simple changes with the metadata and now it’s a consistent winner!500

If you’ve received emails or read blogs about codes like VideoMerger, Gem Dots, and Tiger Stickers in the past, you know about these codes firsthand.  We’ve put our best developers and just came out with some solid updates.  If you want your own copy, check-in with our Source Code Page for some unreal prices.  You won’t want to miss this!
Don’t take the Rule of 500 as a make-it or break-it strategy.  I’m simply pointing out that 500 is a good number 🙂
Also remember an app is never done.  Its impossible to keep consistent download numbers without some elbow grease.  Make sure you’re frequently updating your app, listening to your customers, and making adjustments while recording outcomes.
Create your own “Golden Download Number.”

A Look inside Android

How do you know what a good download number is on the Android market?  While user behavior and devices act differently with Android, the same strategies still apply.   Compare apps published in different markets to get an idea of what downloads look like.

Google Play Downloads are increasing faster, but Apple is STILL bringing in more revenue.

In the below example, there is a download chart from the EXACT same app published in two different markets.  The top app is published on Google Play, and the app on the bottom is published on Amazon.

Kingdom Coins Amazon

You’ll notice the top app on Google Play consistently hits 500 downloads a day while the amazon app on the bottom is roughly hitting 100.  However the Amazon app is generating slightly more revenue even though it has less downloads.  Again, this has to do with the behavior of people on different platforms.
The big takeaway is, you won’t always see similar download characteristics on the App Store, as you do on other markets.
We have over 8 Kingdom Coins apps on the market and have earned over  $200,000 with this code last year alone.  Want to get your hands on this source code?  Visit Bluecloud’s Source Code Page to get your copy + bonus tools and lessons so you can dominate.

When to cut your losses

In my time as Project Manager with Bluecloud Solutions, we’ve only cut a few codes due to cost-upkeep and dissolved partnerships.  However, it is important to know when to quit pouring money into a sinking ship.  So when do you put a project on the back-burner?  Here’s a couple tips to consider:
1.  Do a thorough analytic sweep:  Make sure you know the ins-and-outs of your app before you decide to walk away.  Dig deep, there may be a hidden golden nugget waiting to be discovered.
2.  Constantly Update:  Even if you haven’t made changes to the code, upload a new binary and submit a new version anyway.  Apple likes it when developers keep their projects fresh.  There’s always something to do.  Localize, add screenshots for different devices, create a preview video.
3.  Tweak like a Geek:  Change your ASO.  This may be the most important thing you can do.  Change titles, keywords, categories, your first screenshot…  Upload, record, analyze, and try again.
4.  Experiment with Price:  Change your price around.  If after you change the price you’re bringing in less money but more users, Apple will notice the traffic boost.
5.  Rule of 50:  If after all this you’re getting less than 50 downloads and making no money, this is a wakeup call.
6.  Remove & Upload again:  Ever feel like Apple has a grudge against your app?  A strategy I use frequently is to Remove the App from Sale, erase all metadata, change the icon, and re-upload as a brand new app.  This is a last resort, but at least it will give you a fresh start when examined by Apple.recycle
6.  Reuse, Reduce, Recycle:  Sometimes the theme and target demographic we choose just doesn’t work.  When we develop a code from scratch, I don’t judge it until I have at least 3 skins of the same code.  This gives me an overall look at the code + ASO, and what works VS what doesn’t.
7.  Secure a spot in the Bluecloud App Workshop for a full look inside the App Store with step-by-step strategies to winning with apps and downloads.
8.  Never Give Up:  If you’ve gotten this far with this post, chances are you are more dedicated than 3/4 of the developers out there. You can figure this out. THINK!
In closing, downloads are the biggest piece of the puzzle we’re all trying to figure out.  How do I get on the Top Charts?  What special keywords are they using?  Study your competition, but don’t get frustrated.  Chances are the apps you’re struggling to compete with, are also struggling with others.
It is important to experiment, but it’s even more important to take a step back and study your own app.  The best data you have is your own.  Use it.
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Have a story about something YOU did that dramatically changed your downloads for the better or worse?  Drop a comment, I’d love to hear about it!


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