Frequent appScatter collaborator and mobile marketing guru Peggy Anne Salz interviews Paul Jarrett, managing director of Sonin – a company that has been developing mobile apps and digital solutions to support businesses for over a decade.

Introduction

Size matters, but it’s not the only reason you need to widen your mobile app distribution strategy to include platforms (such as Amazon’s Alexa) and target opportunities beyond Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Publishing to more app stores puts your app in front of a larger pool of users, users you can acquire and retain provided your apps offer quality and value.

How can you offer features your users will appreciate? Where will app marketing deliver the biggest boost? How can companies prepare to grasp the real opportunity in 2018? In this series, we will discuss the range of growth opportunities and obstacles ahead.

Peggy: So Paul, at one level, we have a massive number of app stores where app companies can build a presence to address new markets and audiences. At the other end of the spectrum, research reveals voice and virtual assistants are gaining serious traction, with 35.6 million Americans using voice-activated devices at least once a month. That’s a jump of 128.9% over last year. Is it “the” opportunity to watch?

Paul:

There are opportunities at several levels. Obviously, there is growth potential in the two app stores, but there is an additional set of stores and platforms poised to have an impact. Amazon’s Alexa is a great example. Since it’s a more natural way to communicate, the technology will grow in importance over the next few years. Overall, the stores and platforms you mentioned offer cool opportunities because they show a way around app store discovery, which is very tricky.

There’s so much noise – this is why Apple reworked the entire App Store to address the problem. However, there are many cases where publishing in app stores can provide much better visibility for your app. From a product point of view, if you’re looking to do an app soft launch or want to garner more information about your app appeal and performance in other markets, then these app stores provide fantastic facilities to do that as well.

There are good opportunities, but also challenges; quality becomes more important than ever, with more app stores = more choice. However, this also means continual development and updates to apps. When we start working with clients we spend lots of time scoping out the app features, pinpointing where an app can provide the most value and make it the most appealing to download.

Peggy: There are clearly more app stores to watch and consider for distribution. What is the impact on app marketing and user acquisition?

Paul:

Now the measure of real success is retention. You can acquire thousands of customers a day or per hour. But if you’re losing them at the same rate, it doesn’t matter. If you’re looking at trying to cater for lots of different app stores and distribute your app more widely, you have to look at optimizing your marketing efforts—on-store and off.

This means focusing on app marketing through digital and social platforms to make sure you’re helping people discover your app and getting the benefit of the off-store momentum as well. A personal referral is invaluable, but your app must provide real value to guarantee this.

In marketing, it’s about understanding and delivering what the user needs—and that brings us back to quality because you’re not going to acquire and retain users if the app you’re producing isn’t a match with what they need. Put simply, you need to focus on developing an app that answers the user’s need or helps them to achieve something faster and easier than ever before.

In the next part of this series, we will learn more about creating new opportunities for your app to increase its reach and further its potential.

This article first appeared on AppScatter.