DVLUP.com is a rewards site for Windows Phone developers that is operated by Nokia. Basically you get rewarded for doing the things you should do anyway as a Windows Phone developer. Add features, publish updates, publish new apps, and get experience points you can redeem for rewards. These rewards include gift cards, devices, accessories, and more. You can also use your XP to buy Campaigns, a way to get your apps more exposure.
Recently I signed up for the pilot program for a new campaign that DVLUP was running. In this campaign, you take your paid app, make it free for a day, and in exchange the app is featured globally in the first spot on the Windows Phone Store for all Nokia phones. The app that I submitted for this campaign was Reading Lens, an app that lets you magnify small text and has other features like lighting the lamp on the phone and saving what’s on the screen to the saved photos album.
Reading Lens has been featured a few times before, some from campaigns and some from Microsoft just choosing to feature the app. I’m writing about this time because it was significantly different. In the past, when the app was featured, I kept it as a paid app during the time that it was featured and saw a bump in downloads, but this was short lived and within a few days things were back to where they were before. Now it may not seem to make sense that you can make more monry by making your app free when it is featured but I’m here to tell you that’s exactly what happened to me.
First of all, when featured in the past, I would see a bump of about 50 times normal downloads. You can see these bumps in this chart:
That looks pretty nice, but then if you look at the number of purchases over that same timeframe you can see that there was a temporary spike and then things back to how they were almost immediately:
In contrast, here is that same date range plus I’ve added this latest campaign. This is the downloads per day chart:
Those two little bumps correspond to the featured days in the chart above. The huge spike is the latest campaign. I received 2000 times the number of downloads while featured and making my app free. Ok so this was stupid right? In one day I gave away more copies of the app than were downloaded in the previous year combined. What’s important is what has happened since. Because of the app being free for a day and getting a huge number of downloads, once I changed it back to a paid app it was briefly the #1 paid app in the entire Windows Phone store. Even now I’m getting 10-20 times more downloads a day that what I was getting before the campaign. This has also led to more sales:
Notice how the spike once I made the app paid again is bigger than the others when I left it paid, and also that it’s more sustained. For the last week I’ve been making 10 times the previous number of purchases per day. I know this won’t last forever but it’s a very significant increase for now.
This has made me rethink app promotion in general and the next time I’m featured in country with a high concentration of Windows Phone users I’ll try this again without the campaign and do it on my own. I’ll be sure to report back and tell you how it goes.
Please ask for more information in the comments if you’re interested in discussing this further.