What I Learnt About The Sticker App Store After Spending 6 Months and Uploading 4 Apps
I was eagerly watching last year’s WWDC for any special announcement for app developers that might come along my way to act on. My app Pokedex For Pokemon Go had recently reached No 1 on the the top paid charts of over 5 countries and I was hungry for even more. The ‘special announcement’ came along my way in the form of the new Stickers App Store that Apple was going to open in September for the public. I was highly elated and thought that this was going to be as big as when the original App Store Launched way back in 2008. Oh Boy, Was I wrong.
Following this announcement, I immediately got to work. My plan was to make 4 Sticker packs with 50 animating (GIF) stickers each. This was a huge task to accomplish for an amateur like me, And I had a deadline of September to meet.
I ended up meeting the deadline and came up with 4 genuinely interesting and awesome looking sticker packs — My favourite one being Sassy Panda Stickers — I still use all of them everyday and in a way I made them because I wanted to have stickers like these on the App Store.
I checked out the competition and felt that my sticker packs were of higher quality and contained much more stickers than the average 20 something sticker packs. After posting my links on my various social media profiles, I waited for the downloads to roll in. That I was just disappointed would be an understatement.
Here is what I eventually learned over a period of 6 months :-
1) There Is No Domino Effect
One major misconception that I (and many other people) seemed to have regarding Sticker Packs was that as people buy my stickers and send them to their friends, the number of people buying my sticker packs would multiply exponentially. Not only is this a vague assumption, It creates an unrealistic mindset for the developer. This mindset costed me a lot and the result was my packs resting in the dust after being crushed under highly marketed and branded sticker packs.
Get this in your mind — Marketing Matters a LOT. No matter how good your product is.
2) The Big Players Will Crush You
Also, Even if you manage to make a general sticker pack, be surprised to see tons of free stickers being offered which are of the same theme. Big-Name Apps can afford to give the stickers for free because that is not their revenue model, which can result into a huge disadvantage for you.
3) Don’t Expect Huge Revenues
After getting a hard blow on my face due to ignoring the above mentioned points, I finally decided to do some serious marketing. I launched very unsuccessful Facebook & Twitter Ad Campaigns, Posted relentlessly with numerous hashtags on instagram and other social networks, paid blogs to post about my stickers, identified the target audience using various tools, fixed my ASO etc.
As a culmination of all this effort, ONE of my four sticker apps was able to reach No 2 on the Top Paid Sticker Charts In India. As soon as I saw this, I was on cloud nine, Thinking that thousands of dollars were going to roll in the next day.
4) Identifying A Problem Just Isn’t Enough
One major problem that I identified with iOS 10 was the new Emojis, They were poorly redesigned and people weren’t going to be too happy about it. I decided to make a sticker pack named ‘Emojitoons’ which was full of animated , nicely designed emojis — just like people wanted it.
Turns out, As iOS 10 rolled out, People did complain about the new Emojis but I didn’t get much downloads. The problem was that by the time people turned to the Sticker App Store to get rid of their pathetic new emojis, The Sticker App Store was already flooded with good-for-nothing Emojis and my app offered nothing new. Also, Other people were quick to make an Emoji Keyboard rather than Emoji Stickers. Emoji Keyboard could be used with any app and was a much better idea than Emoji Stickers.
As A result, The Emoji Keyboard apps raked in millions of downloads and my sticker app sat silently in the dirt. This taught me an important lesson that identifying the problem is not enough, efficient execution and best possible approach needs to be figured out too.
5) Stickers Just Aren’t There Yet
As much hype as Apple can try to create around stickers, The reality is that Stickers just aren’t there yet. They are not relevant to people who use any other messaging service except for iMessage (which is probably only used vigorously in the US, UK and Canada) and people still prefer Emojis over Stickers.
Furthermore, They are not fundamental to the user’s experience at all, as opposed to the Apps which make or break the entire eco system (Windows Mobile).
It will take a lot of time till Stickers reach the level of popularity that the apps have today, if not forever. Also, Apple needs to be a bit more open and let the stickers to be used with even 3rd party messengers and apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger etc. Until Then, Stickers can just be an additional accessory — sort of.
This is just my two cents on the current scenario of the Stickers App Store based on my own personal experiences. These are the lessons that I learned after spending countless hours figuring out the magical formula behind the stickers over a period of 6 months.