Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Increasing App sales with Analytics: Free apps versus trials

In my previous entry I introduced my app, A Pose for That, explained how I had instrumented my app with Runtime Intelligence to better track user experience and behavior. As a case in point, I illustrated how strategically placing upgrade opportunities in various locations inside my trial version, I was able to increase my conversion rates – perhaps by as much as 50%!

HOWEVER, when I was at MIX11, a very experienced developer (let’s call him David because that’s actually his name) told me that he had already established the optimal app blend to maximize revenue – it was to have a free app (not a trial version) that also offered ways to upgrade to the premium app. He pointed out that trial apps do not show up as free in the marketplace and are therefore almost always overlooked by most casual marketplace browsers. A free app gets the eyeballs that a trial misses.

For those who know me, they know one of my core principles is that my ideas never have to be original, they only have to be good – so is David’s idea really a good one?

To test it out, I created Yoga-pedia, a free app that included the browsing capabilities of A Pose for That with good imagery and instruction, but did not include the pairing of poses to real-world situations (a feature I believe is valuable) or flows (the stringing together of multiple poses). On the welcome page (and one or two other places) I give users a chance to learn more about our software and upgrade; Here is the welcome page and the “tell me more about why I should upgrade page.”

I instrumented the various points where users can upgrade in both the trial and the free app so that I can compare BOTH the usage levels of the two apps AND the upgrade requests that stem from that usage. So… let’s go to the video tape – or better yet, Runtime Intelligence. (Note – these specific graphs are built by extracting the data from the runtime intelligence repository into a spreadsheet and then generating a simply pivot table).

By looking at application starts (not downloads in the marketplace sense of the word), the graph showing App Runs seems to support David’s logic; my free version, Yoga-Pedia, takes off like a rocket and within 24 hours eclipses trial activity in dramatic fashion. …but, it also seems to be cannibalizing trial activity too – Should I care? (NOTE – I am combining usage of multiple applications – not always easy to do with canned dashboards)

I probably should care IF users are more likely to upgrade from A Pose for That trials versus from Yoga-pedia. In other words, are my sales going up because of the free app even though it is depressing my trial volume? Let’s go to Runtime Intelligence one more time…

What the graph above shows is that upgrades from my trials also decreased dramatically with the launch of Yoga-pedia, BUT the volume of upgrade requests from within Yoga-pedia more than made up for that shortfall. (NOTE – I am combining feature usage across multiple applications – not always easy to do with canned dashboards)

In the one week where both the free and the trial versions lived side-by-side, the free version generated 86% of the upgrades.

More important is the bottom line: I saw an 85% increase in the total number of upgrades when I had the combination of both a free and trial version of my app available.

Coming up next (I promise this time) will be a discussion of the last leg of David’s magic formula for success – making your free version ad-driven. What will Runtime Intelligence be able to tell us about that?


Abhinaba Basu said...

Your link for Runtime Intelligence is incorrect

should be windows and not wondows

AppsRpeople2 said...

corrected - thanks

dropqube said...

Please stop using Comic Sans as a Font in your program. It's almost offensive to the eye. You should try following the METRO UI design guidelines from Microsoft and start using more Segoe WP as a font

AppsRpeople2 said...

Thanks dropqube - i will take that under consideration. I was actually using a different font and it got corrupted somehow. I spent a few hours trying to re-extract it but the problem kept returning (where the text would either be missing or otherwise unworkable). So this was a "plan B" - having said that - i dont find it painful as you do - nevertheless, i am always interested in improving the app. thanks again.

Catto said...

Hey Now Sebastian Holst;

Great Post the Analytics look good!

Thx 4 the info;

AppsRpeople2 said...

Dropqube - update - V1.1 of these apps have been checked into the marketplace. You will be happy to hear (I hope) that i have indeed replaced Comic with Segoe...

But, i hope what users will really notice is the inclusion of full, narrated, video instruction. Thanks again for the feetback - i really was listening. (I will get around to updating the blog screenshots here too with updated ones too)