App Marketing 201 – Updates Are The New Second Date

“Sell the steak, not the sizzle.” – Larry Ellison

Alpha Combat Updates

Don’t You Forget About Me

I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I would be telling everyone about my experience with updates. I had heard from multiple sources, developers and marketers alike, that updating your app is one of the best ways to put yourself on next level of downloads. Not only do you re-engage your user base, your app gets recycled in the midas touch-esque Apple feed.
I decided to give it a shot with Alpha Combat by providing a new icon (cleaned up design and retina compatible) and increased the value of my most lucrative in-app purchase. I wanted to find out a few things:

  1. How many people would update and are thus still interested in Alpha Combat?
  2. How does it translate into downloads and revenue?
  3. How does it affect rankings?

The short answer is – it was a BIG success. It’s almost as powerful as a free promotion in terms of revenue and skyrocketed the app on the charts.

How Updates Work

For anyone who doesn’t know how the update process it’s pretty simple: you create an updated version of your app in Xcode, change the .plist file to reflect your new version number (literally one line that changes to 1.1 or whatever), then head over to iTunes Connect and upload the new version with a description of what the new update features are. The new project gets put into the Review process which takes about a week, then gets approved. As a developer, you have control over the update being released automatically or if you want to release it on your own time.
When the update is released, the information is sent out to everyone who has your app and they have the option of downloading it. You know that little “1” in the red circle on your app store icon? That’s the indicator that there are app updates ready to go. Your users either update the app or not. Thus, thus great update process is complete.
You’ll start to see numbers streaming into your iTunes Connect account (see image above) that show you how many people updated.

Alpha Combat’s Update Performance


How app updates affect revenue

How app updates affect sales

Upgrade numbers for alpha combat

So, after you have a chance to digest those charts, you’ll see how updates affect app sales and revenue. The best news was the spike in revenue – it was almost comparable to the Openfeint Free App the of the Day promotion in terms of raw dollars from in-app purchases. Granted, the two of these are not mutually exclusive and the promotion probably still had some juice coming in when I lit off this update, but that’s marketing.

What’s even more interesting is that the sales spike wasn’t even close to the promotion spike, proving to me that many times your existing users are your best source of income. This is pretty much exactly how old school RFM marketing works, so I’m not surprised. On the backside, I can tell you that the sales spike put me on the charts for Italy and Japan for a few different reasons and thus increased my daily average nicely.

The number of updates continues to amaze me – even two weeks after releasing the update, I’m getting 500+ people updating their app every day. I think this will tail off nicely and follow the “one update every two months (or one month if you are digging it)” dogma I’ve heard. This has also translated into a solid increase in average daily revenue coming in from PlayHaven because people are using the game again and liking it.

Baby, I Need Your Lovin’

The takeaway from this exercise is that updates are awesome for increasing revenue, re-activating daily sales, and strengthening your overall app strategy. Your users took the time to download your app and want to feel like that’s worth something, so make it worth something. There is nothing more powerful than making a customer feel like you really care about them and updates are the ultimate way to do that.
Granted, you don’t want to update just for the sake of it and begin putting out garbage. Look at what happens when someone on Twitter tweets 25 times a day – it’s just kind of….lame. But, you can have an update that is not time intensive and get a good overall effect. Update your design a bit, tweak a few things here and there, and listen to your reviewers. Always make sure you are giving the users attention and making them part of your community – you would be nowhere without your customers and you need to remember that.

Data Driven Strategy Is The Bluecloud Rhapsody

There is nothing better than doing an experiment like the one above and, instead of stepping back and saying “wow, that’s cool,” saying, “Yes, let’s take this and get to the next level FAST.” So, I’ll be updating Alpha Combat again in about a month and include some serious features – mostly 3-4 new levels that are packed with bonuses and upgrades. This has been the top request in my reviews and think it will be a big success.
Until next time, keep rockin!


  1. david
  2. tolulope

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