I originally wrote this on the App Rewards Club Blog Site. Please visit the site for more information on contacting Ken or I about how we can feature your apps.

Version 2.0 - Refining our business model

Today Ken and I are proud to announce the launch of App Rewards Club Version 2.0. We decided to make several changes to improve the offering to developers and users alike.

  • Our service is now 100% free for everyone. Any free app of any kind can be featured at absolutely no cost. No sales data required, nothing.
  • Featuring an app with us is as simple as contacting us with an iTunes ID and a day/date range of when your app will be free. We are also rolling out a way to distribute gift codes for paid apps (read on)
  • We are introducing a new daily raffle system for users to make sure that we consistently deliver more rewards on a daily basis than ever before. We also aim to improve visitation regularity this way.
  • The aforementioned daily raffle system now also affords us the opportunity to showcase products and distribute gift codes for paid apps and other online products/services. We wanted to find a way to get paid apps/games more involved in our system and this will be our first way. Any users who click on the prize icons in our winner announcements can be redirected to any product webpage or the iTunes app store.
  • We are now focussed on the US App Store market exclusively. Our app was removed from global sale in January and we are dedicated to focussing on the US market exclusively.

With these changes we can proudly say that we are the first and only free app marketing service that spends money out of pocket every day to feature free apps while charging developers absolutely nothing. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying our service.

A year in review

It's been exactly 1 year since we last wrote a blog entry on this website, which is unfortunate for a service that touts transparency in their mission statement. It was our original goal to deliver several updates per year as we accumulated more sales data and attempted to create norms, however this vision did not come to fruition. So what the heck has been going on? Well let us briefly get you up to speed.

Post launch problems

After our worldwide launch in mid-September 2012 and our 2 week long campaign, which we reported on in November, momentum wasn't exactly where we wanted it to be for a few reasons:

  1. One of our first rewards partners, who will remain nameless, was not pulling their weight and we were having lots of issues with prizing and gift card availability. Our partner's loyalty rewards business simply wasn't ready to provide what we needed. There was a lot of over-promising and under-delivering on their part which really made us question what was happening behind the scenes. In retrospect, it has been a lesson to us in not depending on other early startups as a core of one's own business model.
  1. Our pricing model wasn't resonating with developers. Despite being free when sharing sales numbers via AppFigures, some developers still questioned why they had to share such information. Ultimately it became apparent that the perceived cost of sharing sales data is highly subjective. The service wasn't giving the impression that it was free/worthwhile enough to use.

Switching rewards providers

The first of these two problems, our rewards provider, was by far our greatest struggle. Without a solid system in place our app was not building an audience nor were any shining positive reviews coming through. So we looked to find a new rewards provider that we felt could provide a better and more reliable experience for our user base. We found exactly that in the service SessionM. However, prior to using SessionM we had to make one very important decision - To stay global or focus only on the US App Store market. Currently SessionM is only available in the United States and our app was, at the time, distributed in every app store worldwide. It was already clear to see, however, that most of our advertising revenue was coming from the US and it is by far the most important App Store market to succeed in so we opted to remove the app from all other stores upon the release of Version 1.5 in mid-January.

Finding stable ground

While we'd love to tell you everything was smooth from Version 1.5 onward, it was not. We initially ran into some issues with SessionM's system not being quite prepared for our kind of loyalty platform and, over the course of a few weeks, we worked with them to tweak things to a satisfactory level that kept our users enthusiastic about the program. We endured a few pretty nasty emails and some less than sound nights of sleep while transitioning between rewards providers and while the points system was a bit unstable but things did normalize by the end of January.

With the app finally in a stable and reliable state, there was one last key issue to attack - we weren't yet a profitable business. Over the course of 2012 Ken and I invested several thousands of dollars into design and prizing. We were still heavily in the red. Version 1.5 gave us hope that we were much closer to a stable and profitable business but we had yet to see a reliable revenue stream that would allow us to justify further investment in marketing, user acquisition and retention. By about April/May we were finally breaking even and looking forward to improvements and expenditures in the near future. Version 2 discussions began not long afterward. Since this is a side-project for Ken and I, given other work commitments and the forthcoming fall release of iOS7, we decided to wait a little while, accumulate some more expendable income and then release.

In Summary - Our Mission Statement

Now that you're caught up and aware of our Version 2.0 release we hope you are excited to work with us to help market your apps. We encourage you to reach out to us by email, twitter or in the comments of our blog.

To repeat our mission statement:

Our mission is to be the most transparent, informative and accessible app marketing service available to developers. It is our intention to determine the best strategy and true cost of effective free app marketing and share those findings with the community at large. In addition, we will strive to be creative in our means of app promotion and continuously evolve as necessary in the best interest of our clients.

That statement remains unchanged since we wrote it before the release of Version 1.0.