Coffee Cellar – The numbers

My App Development series is nearly wrapped up. I want to spend the next two posts sharing some data with you and dissecting the project. For this post, we’ll focus on the results of my marketing efforts and I’ll share my sales data with you – warts and all!.

Launch day

Coffee Cellar has been available on the App store for 3 weeks now. This means I don’t have a huge amount of data to share, but still enough to give you a taste of the results I’m seeing.

My original plan was to go live with Coffee Cellar on Wednesday 17th August. As I approached that date, and with some promised coverage on launch day, I felt it was too risky to leave the launch until the morning. What I instead ended up doing was to soft launch Coffee Cellar on the Tuesday evening (16th August).

A soft launch is essentially putting the App live without announcing it. This meant that I could be sure that the App would be available first thing on Wednesday ready for its official launch day. If you have launch day coverage lined up then you should certainly consider doing the same – I can’t immediately think of any downsides.

Launch day coverage

Leading up to launch I had approached a multitude of different publications (both online and offline, covering diverse subjects). Despite some promising communication, I only in fact managed to garner two mentions on launch day.

The Guardian (A prominent UK newspaper) were nice enough to include me in their App Rush feature (online) – a roundup of notable App launches that day. Check it out here (Coffee Cellar is about half way down the page). This was as a direct result of my pre-launch marketing and I was really pleased that it paid off.

I also had a mention in a second App round-up post on AppleTell.

In addition to this, I had also opted for some blanket coverage through a press release. I chose prMac who offer a few tiers of services at varying prices (I went for the extended release). You can read the press release here. According to prMac, they syndicated my press release to 634 media outlets, my release had nearly 11,000 views and the purchase link (through the press release) was clicked just over 300 times.

It fairly easy to see where the press release ended up by searching google. However, it’s difficult to gauge the real benefits of this kind of press. Regardless, its good to know that there are at least some additional links to Coffee Cellar out there.

Post-launch coverage

Since launch, I’ve continued to try and get reviews/features for Coffee Cellar. One of the first things I did was to email my original contacts again to let them know that the App was now out and to give them the link. This resulted in some communication and promises of features but these have yet to materialise.

I think this is a fairly crucial point to raise. You can’t bank on a feature/review until its physically been published. I’m sure everyone has the best intentions when they promise coverage but all sorts of things can pop up (busy periods, a change of heart, a disapproving editor, etc). The trick is to remain polite and keep the communication going – its usually obvious when you’ve reached a dead end.

Coffee Cellar has had some more coverage though, through its own traction. It was featured on Notcot’s Tasteologie site. In addition I had some tweets from foodies and coffee related peeps/websites – from @theurbangrocer, and @jonathanbonchak (of Joe Van Gogh) who totally understood the App concept and was also kind enough to link to it on his blog. And of course, all of my twitter followers who have been great in helping to spread the word.

Sales Revenue

So what about sales? This is really why you’re here right? Its difficult to determine success from a revenue point of view at this early stage. I feel I should put my expectations into context a little (so that you don’t think I have starving kids or anything). My target for Coffee Cellar is to make enough money to purchase a new Espresso machine (approximately £300). It’s not a lofty ambition nor a particularly noble one. The point is, this isn’t how I make my living – its a hobby, although one that I’d love to do full time, and as such this isn’t a disaster.

So how did Coffee Cellar fair? Well, I’m not even close to that new espresso machine and, at the current rate, may not even make it to that figure within the financial year. Despite this, and although sales have been fairly low, Coffee Cellar has still sold better than any of my previous Apps (All 3 of which were games). Its difficult to know what to read into that. Its great that I’m improving but the margins are so small that at the rate I’m going we’ll be on the iPhone 3000, iOS 2999.1 and will be producing 500 different sizes of assets to support the various screen resolutions, before I’m what you’d call “successful”.

With all that out of the way, and off my chest ;), here are my sales figures for Coffee Cellar.

Total revenue from Coffee Cellar sales to date: £19 (thats after Apple’s 30% cut).

Here’s how that translates to download numbers.

Total number of Coffee Cellar downloads to date: 15.

…and finally the country distribution of sales.

Reviews

Due to the low number of sales, I’m struggling with getting reviews – both App store and through websites. I could certainly do with a few more reviews/ratings so if you own the App, a review would really help.

What I’ve learned

My efforts in promoting Coffee Cellar have taught me a few things.

  1. Build your press contacts early.
  2. Don’t be afraid to contact mainstream press.
  3. Focus on the launch day and post-release coverage. Pre-release coverage is only really viable for games.

What’s next

Coffee Cellar is an interesting project because its an App that I’m passionate about and one that I have a desire to use on a daily basis. As a result I’ll be improving it steadily with new features. I have a lot of interesting features planned (not all of which will come to fruition) so I’ll be picking away at them and releasing updates over the coming months.

I’m not doing it purely for myself though and I would like to attempt to hit my Espresso machine target. I’ll be continuing to look for opportunities for features and reviews. To get things started I decided to produce a trailer (to help with promotion). Here it is in all of its glory…

Conclusion

It may look like a lost cause, and even sound like a sob story, but the marketing I’ve done for Coffee Cellar has honestly been my best effort to date. Each time you launch a product, you learn something new and crucially I’m not ready to give up creating!

The real effort needs to come from spending time trying to promote the App. Its easy to spend nights working on updates but I think what’s really needed is to set aside some of this time for pure promotional efforts. Thats what I plan to do. Time spent promoting is equally, if not more, valuable than time spent adding new features.

The final post in my App development series will be a postmortem – it will be part of a wrap-up post containing all of the links so far and a review of the whole process (a two-for one kind of deal) – so look out for that.

If you’d like to support me, you can purchase a copy of Coffee Cellar here. Alternatively, I now have a Facebook page for Coffee Cellar which you could “like” and/or post to your wall. Helping me spread the word by telling your coffee loving friends is also welcome.

(Money tunnel image courtesy of RambergMediaImages)

Part 1 – Doing it properly
Part 2 – The Design Document
Part 3 – The Wireframes
Part 4 – The Artwork
Part 5a -The Code (Xcode, GIT, and Core Data)
Part 5b – The Code (Coffee sharing and Camera functionality)
Part 5c – The Code (A change in workflow)
Part 6 – The testing
Part 7 – The Final Artwork
Part 8 – The Marketing
Part 9 – The Launch
Part 10 – The Numbers (You are here)
Part 11 – The Postmortem
(Bonus) Part 12 – A review of the process

8 Comments

  1. Brian Hobbs says:

    I hope it gains some more success as time moves forward, as it’s a very well-done app. I imagine it can be more difficult to see high download numbers for a niche app like this. How are the numbers now, over a month after launch?

  2. Chris says:

    @Brian

    Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. My low downloads are absolutely a result of poor visibility added to a niche product.

    Sales had picked up slightly but at the time of writing this I’ve had 0 sales for the past 5 days!

    Having said that my total sales are now up to 23 which equates to £30 in revenue.

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