French developer Rudy Huyn is a passionate Microsoft MVP whose apps have been downloaded over 15 million times. He has successfully monetized his apps by engaging and communicating directly with his users. A big fan of Windows Phone, Huyn suggests that his recipe for success is that he cares more about responding to users and perfecting the user experience than he does about money. I recently caught up with him to learn more.
What excites you the most about Windows 8.1?
I love the universal apps, which are a big part of 8.1. I can easily launch an app on Windows Phone and Windows without having to create two apps for the two platforms. That saves me a lot of time. It also means development is more efficient, and users experience a synchronized experience, no matter which device they use. I can use my application on Windows Phone and continue right where I left off on my tablet or PC. Code sharing saves me time, too; I recently launched a new universal app for a company with 82 percent shared code. We saved almost three weeks of work thanks to universal apps!
A developer is an artist; like an artist, a developer starts with a blank canvas and tools, creates a new experience for users, and responds emotionally to what he or she creates. Windows 8.1 is the artists’ toolbox; it gives developers the tools to create immersive works of art.
I’m looking forward to Windows 10, which will expand the universal app code base to the Xbox platform. I’m already planning scenarios to take advantage of publishing to Xbox, and I’m so excited.
Your apps have been downloaded over 15 million times. Two of your apps, 6tin and 6tag, have 85,000 reviews that average more than 4.5 on a 5-point rating scale. What monetization strategies have you used, and what has worked well for you?
Some apps, like my social apps, I build for consumers, while I build other apps for businesses. Wikipedia and Counter are available free to consumers without ads. I made them for fun. In my other apps, I use in-app advertising because I don’t want to ask my users for money. We know users mainly search for free apps in the store, so it’s important to be there, and that leaves you with two monetization options: ads or in-app purchase.
To choose, you need to know how users use your app. On my social apps (6tin, 6tag, 6sec, 6snap), users launch the app many times every day and stay for a few minutes each time, so that’s the perfect scenario for using ads. To earn money with ads, you need to get a lot of impressions. My average worldwide Cost Per Impression (CPM) is around $0.12. It’s low, but I generate millions of impressions each day.
Users spend just 20 seconds per day or less on some of my other apps, like TVShow, so it’s almost impossible for me to earn money with ads. In cases like this, I offer two modes: lite and full. Users can access and use the lite version normally with all the key features and ads; with the full version, they can access some additional features. Only some users will buy the full version; but even if I’m not making money with ads on the lite version, I include them to motivate users to buy the full version.
You can also use free apps to cross-promote others. It’s a smart way to promote your apps. I do that with my Wikipedia app, and in others, I provide cross-application features; for example, on 6snap, users can access their Dropbox files using another of my other apps: CloudSix. Cross-application features work very well; CloudSix downloads increased 3x after I integrated 6snap. Some apps are hard to monetize, but if they provide value for users, give them away for free and use them for promotions in the future.
How much money have you made through your apps?
I’ve made more than I expected and enough to leave my day job and build apps full time. I’ve been on my own for a year, and I don’t regret it. Windows is a very cool platform for developers. The users are very motivated, the community is supportive, and it’s easier to be successful on Windows than it is on iOS or Android.
What is the secret of your success?
I am often surprised by my own success. I don’t develop with financial success in mind; these things are just numbers. I am a Windows Phone fan. I love the platform, and I want to improve the users’ experience.
I always try my best to satisfy users. When I develop an application, I share information with my followers on Twitter: screenshots, ideas, videos, and beta apps. Since I’m creating my applications for others, I need to know what they think. During the beta of 6tag, four days before the release, I posted a tweet asking for some help to localize the app. More than 100 users helped me to localize it, and on day one, I released the application in 30 languages. Most large organizations would not have been able to pull that off.
What makes you so loved by the community?
I am so grateful for all the support the community gives me. I do my best to be there for them. Staying connected with my users keeps me motivated and full of creative ideas. Involving my users when I’m thinking of new app ideas keeps it real and exciting for me.
Do you have any parting tips or advice for developers?
I have used various kinds of in-house advertising for my apps:I list all my apps on the ‘about’ page of any one of my apps, and when my advertising providers don’t send content, I display custom ads for apps I’ve developed. I also have a developer’s corner on Wikipedia, on the home screen. It’s an easy way for me to communicate with my users.
Unlike other stores, the Windows Phone store promotes not only top apps but also apps from independent developers. Store promotion will cause your number of downloads to spike on the day of the promotion and for several days after. So I encourage developers to reach out to their local Microsoft teams to get help in this regard.
Also, Microsoft has just launched Ad Mediation (read article). This is a great tool that will help developers prioritize which provider’s ads should be served first in which country. Now, developers can serve the most relevant ads based on a user’s geography.
Connect with your users. Publish your Twitter or Facebook handle, and create a forum for them to communicate with you. I spend a few hours each day responding to my users, so I’ve built relationships with them, and I’ve created a lot of apps based on requests I received from users through social media.
As developers, you might separate development from publishing and marketing in your mind, but you can’t. You have to think about your users and how to reach them from the start, focusing on things like your logo and its appearance and your app’s description in the store. What will make users click on your app? Combine that logic with passion for the Windows platform and your users, and then enjoy yourself, and be proud to be a developer.
For Rudy Huyn’s apps, click here.
Follow Rudy on Twitter: @RudyHuyn
Rudy Huyn’s blog: http://www.rudyhuyn.com/blog/