Thoughts : Articles where we describe the ideas and inside knowledge around our App business.
Flickr Bubbles in-App purchase conversion
Flickr Bubbles is our first and only 'freemium' App available as an iOS universal App* with a single, optional, in-App purchase which unlocks the App's extra features. One of our continuing major challenges is how to improve conversion rates from Free App to in-App purchase. This article explains strategies for doing so along with evidence of results.
* A universal App in iOS means that the application consists of a single codebase which works accross both iPhone & iPad. The application code is intelligent enough to recognise system differences and can thus adapt to either environment.
First some figures ...
The free iOS App Flickr Bubbles was initially released in Summer 2010 and achieves average weekly downloads of between 300-500 units globally. Historically the App has achieved an in-App conversion rate of between 1-2% to the full "Flickr Bubbles Complete" version, thus on average days selling between 0-2 upgrades, weekly around 5-10 upgrades.
This is not a lot of money to get excited about, however as 'passive income' it has been, of course, more than welcome.
Heres an iTunes Connect in-App sales report for your consideration:
In-App sales, July - September 2011
However, when we update the App the new daily downloads often jump into the thousands for a few days, and furthermore the figures for App updates (people who already have the App) skyrockets. So leveraging the conversion rate at these times is critical and over the months our understanding has become that, whenever we make an update to the App, this is also the best time to try and drive people to purchase the in-App update. This is the time when large numbers of users are either getting the Flickr Bubbles App for the first time, or maybe simply taking another look at their updated version and so possibly re-considering an in-App purchase.
Flickr Bubbles in-App Design history
Flickr Bubbles is currently on version 3.1, and has always had the in-App element available, so lets go through a short history of the various versions and describe the way in-App purchasing was presented to the user via the visual and interactive design.
Flickr Bubbles v.3.0 - The new in-App purchase designed to deliver
The latest in-App purchase user experience introduces animation sequences and new preview content.
And our sales figures since the update have notably improved.
The newest figures - proof that good design matters
Below is a recent graph which shows the in-App purchase figures from the time of the latest 3.0 update - the week beginning 20th September 2011. If you compare it to the typical week's sales prior to this time it shows that, for the first time ever, we are now consistently averaging above 10 in-Apps per week. Yes, this is not
big money. But, the research into driving in-App sales via considered UI design alone has been priceless.
In-App sales, September - December 2011
Conclusion - entertain and inform
Through iterative design improvements in the areas of interaction logic, graphic design, animation and new content we conclude that the overall "call to action" to purchase Flickr Bubbles Complete
has essentially doubled its capacity. This suggests that the techniques of allowing the user to preview unlocked content (via a video link) along with the small enjoyment of being encouraged to purchase via informal animation prompts improves the chances of an upgrade.
If done well, these small scripted sequences in your App can improve the joy of use and overall user experience for purchasing. To put it simply, if the user is entertained by animation and informed by extras such as video content they will be in a better place to go ahead an purchase your stuff.
We could go further. The next stage will involve looking at what to show when the price for the in-App purchase is being retrieved from iTunes. The standard activity indicator which we use is okay, but the user typically has to wait for around 3-4 seconds for the price to be retrieved. Perhaps something more bespoke, more fun, with more quality, that would encourage the user to wait for the pricing (and thus animation sequence, and the improved user experience) to arrive? Watch this space...