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As many PC users may have noticed, the Google Play Store has undergone a massive update to its layout and design. The old version of the Play Store did have its issues. Poor navigation, limited access to subcategories, difficulty in discovering free apps and over-reliance on editor’s choices (problems not dissimilar to other app stores, by the way) made it difficult to discover new and useful applications.

The old Google Play Store

The old Google Play Store

The new version however has been, well, less than well-received:

Here’s a glimpse of the new Google Play Store homepage layout:


The homepage itself actually seems to include a number of solutions to the problems that plagued the old Play Store.

A recommended section is forefront, rather than hidden away, helping users discover apps that are more relevant to their personal preferences and use cases. There are also a greater number of categories on the home page, rather than just editors picks and top downloads. Now, new groupings of apps, including Movie Apps, Communication, Personalisation and Apps to Watch. A greater number of apps now appear on the homepage increasing exposure for developers. There are fewer display characters for app titles, a change which may impact how some developers have named their apps, but overall the homepage looks like a step in the right direction.

Yet for all of the improvements in navigation and discover-ability, there is a hugely critical flaw with the new Play Store design – and that is the updated individual app page.

23snaps   Family Photo Book   Android Apps on Google Play

From my point of view as an app creator, here are a few of the problems:

– G+ recommendations no longer show at the top of the page. A few hundred ticks of social proof seem to have disappeared with the new G+ button at the top.

– New layout for screenshots is ungainly and unattractive, and developers with less than 6-7 screenshots will need to rethink that real estate.

– Additional information, which previously sat alongside the description and made it easy for users to see number of installs (social proof), device compatibility, rating and file size are now almost hidden at the very bottom of the page.

– Reviews are displayed in an ad-hoc, almost Pinterest-style next to the star rating. This alone isn’t a huge problem but one of the Play Store’s greatest features was that it allowed developers to respond to reviews on their app page, indicating both a solution for previous issues and an involved support team. These responses have now vanished unless you click on the reviews themselves. Likewise, the ability to rate reviews for their usefulness is hidden too.

Overall the new layout seems to provide less information in a larger amount of space while diminishing the importance of developer involvement.

Besides the new design changes, the rollout of these Google Play Store updates seems to have introduced quite a few bugs. While we can expect these will be dealt with swiftly, expect some issues if you decide to take a look at the new Play Store.

What are the takeaways for app creators?

There are a few important steps app creators should take right away.

1) Do a search for your app. In search results, has your app’s name been truncated by the new title length restrictions? You may need to update your app title.

2) Check your app screenshots. Do you have enough to make the page look nice? You may need to add some new screenshots to the page.

3) Check your app description. The new Play Store is currently experiencing a number bugs that are affecting font and style, particularly if you previously had any special characters in your app description. You may need to remove those characters (like stars or bullet points) to get the description to display correctly.

4) Get familiar with the new Play Store layout. This may be your app’s new home for quite a while, regardless of how you feel about the layout, so it’s worth taking a look!

Every Monday, I write about something new you can try this week to drive more downloads for your mobile app and increase engagement with your existing app users, based on what has worked (and what hasn’t) for 23snaps.


I am wary of push notifications, the popups that appear on your phone alerting you or reminding you about a particular app you’ve downloaded. When used ineffectively or to often, they are possibly the most annoying thing on my phone and a surefire way to get me to delete an app.

However when used well, they can engage uses, increase retention rate and introduce new features much more effectively than email marketing. Even better, when used correctly, people actually like them. We recently spoke to a large group of our most active users to learn what they like about 23snaps, what they don’t like and what they would add. On a number of these calls, I was surprised to hear our users specifically (and without prompting) say that they really liked receiving a notification reminding them to add a photo or update of their child, if they hadn’t for three days. Apparently this has been one of the key ways they remember to keep using an app they already love.

Another application that has recently started using push notifications in a new way is Temple Run 2. This insanely popular game has topped app store charts for months, so why are they changing what works? Well to get users like me, who have the app on their phone, enjoy it, but rarely remember to play, it to take another look. Their new notifications alert users to daily challenges and, more significantly, remind users who have been completing daily challenges regularly to log back in and complete that day’s task (as rewards for completing challenges accumulate if completed consecutively).

Notifications should be more than a simple reminder of the app’s existence. They should reference the core reason why users love your application. With 23snaps, we ask what a user’s kids have been up to lately, reminding them of the value they originally saw in building a living timeline for their kids. For Temple Run 2, their notifications say “You still have two hours left to complete today’s challenge,” combining a sense of time pressure and invoking the desire to get a high score that drives the active gamers.

If you aren’t able to build notifications into your app immediately, there are a number of third party tools that help you send push notifications, without coding it into the app itself (although they do require you to add an SDK). One of the best is Mixpanel. They also collects additional user data which can be used to segment, target and customize the push notifications you send.

My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: determine a key value of your app and the best time to remind someone about that value (is it after a few days of inactivity? When something changes in the app? When a new feature is available?) and set up ONE automatic push notifications to reengage your users.

Yesterday I spoke at the App Promotion Summit, the first event of its kind to bring together app developers, marketers, promotion agencies and networks to discuss how to effectively drive app downloads and engagement.

I was invited to give an overview of the app store landscape, covering the obvious (such as the App Store and Play Store) but also the less well-known (such as Opera Apps and Amazon App Store). I also provided some insight into how 23snaps got featured in the App, Play and Windows Stores, and how other apps could position themselves for featured placement opportunities.

Here are the slides from the talk, with video available shortly.

Every Monday, I write about something new you can try this week to drive more downloads for your mobile app and increase engagement with your existing app users, based on what has worked (and what hasn’t) for 23snaps.


While the vast majority of downloads for apps come via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, there are actually a number of other directories from which users can directly download apps. These alternative directories offer users incentives, like free or cheaper versions of apps that are usually paid, or a better browsing experience, making it easier to find apps that users will love.

We’ve had some moderate success submitting 23snaps to other app store. In almost all cases, submission is free although if you have a paid app, the store may take a cut of the sales. Here are some alternative app stores and directories where users can download your app directly:

Opera App Store – Opera (yes, the browser) is trying to get into the mobile space with their own app store that carries iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows 8 and HTML 5 apps. Opera claims to be generating over 2,000,000 downloads per day, mostly in emerging markets.

Amazon App Store – Amazon has a robust app store of apps that can be installed on their Android-run Kindles. A great way to get some additional distribution for your Android app.

GetJar –GetJar doesn’t have a web directory of apps but it is probably the largest third party app store. Their mobile app and page make it easy for users to find new Andorid apps. Unfortunately you can’t submit iOS apps to GetJar.

My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: submit your app to third party app stores – it takes just a few minutes, it’s free and it’s a great way to get some additional distribution.

Every Monday, I write about something new you can try this week to drive more downloads for your mobile app and increase engagement with your existing app users, based on what has worked (and what hasn’t) for 23snaps.


The Holy Grail for mobile app marketers always seems to be a featured place in the Apple App Store. 23snaps has been lucky enough to be featured a number of times, and while we’ve seen fantastic boosts in downloads, featured apps don’t always gain long term active users from their featured placement. This is because so many people browsing the App Store for new apps will give a featured app a go, especially if it’s free, just to see what it is even if they’re not particularly interested in it.

There are, however, parts of the App Store that offer great promotional opportunities as well as a targeted audience – and those are the hugely underrated App Collections.

Apple introduced App Collections a little over a year ago to help counter the argument that the App Store was frustratingly hard to navigate. They have a number of collections that are more specific than the high level categories including Apps for Music, Apps for Heathcare Professionals, Apps for Kids and many more.

When I first started at 23snaps, I wanted more than anything to get 23snaps into the Apps for Parents Collection. This would offer us ongoing promotion in the App Store but to a targeted audience, exposing us to a group of people who would actually use and love the app.

Apple staff get hundreds of emails begging for featured placement but I took a guess that they get fewer requests for inclusion in a particular collection (you can contact an App Store representative through the Help and Support section of the iTunes Developer dashboard).

Before I reached out to Apple directly, I spent some time researching the other apps in the collection – what purpose did they serve? How many reviews and ratings did they have? What did they look like? I wanted to be able to clearly articulate why 23snaps belonged in the collection, both because it was relevant for the group and because it would complement the existing apps in the collection.

Since our inclusion in the Apps for Parents collection, we haven’t necessarily seen the same boost we experienced while featured on the homepage of the App Store, but we have seen a steady stream of downloads of, most importantly, engaged users.


My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: explore the App Store Collections and see if any are a good fit for your app. Research the other apps in that collection and make a compelling case for why your app should be included. Contact an App Store representative through the iTunes Developer dashboard and you never know – you might see your app featured in an App Store Collection.