Retention — How to increase your returning users!

In order of importance “Acquisition — Retention — Monetization”; I am discussing Retention 1st as it includes some development phase process, I will discuss acquisition in next article.

Game Development is a field which is generating Billions of revenues annually so attracting more and more developers. App Store and Google play providing very easy to reach platforms and almost equal opportunity to developers across the globe to try their luck. A guy who knows coding with a friend who knows Photoshop, making a team and dreaming of a game which will earn them a million dollars. Yes this can happen with someone but not everybody. Game development is a field where intense hard work is required in every department to make your game a success. Starting from market research and idea of the game, UI and UX, Game Design, flow of the game play, marketing and retention strategies, all it comes under the umbrella of game development and a little bit mistake in any department can call for a failure of the game.

In this very article I am going to discuss the flow of game play which is an important point to consider the retention strategy for your game. Apart from all other factors they should be considered while development, Retention strategy is very important to plan. After acquisition, retention is 2nd most important factor for an app’s or game’s success.

Here are some factors while everybody should consider.

  • Smooth shift of game play difficulty.
  • Challenge users reflexes.
  • User Experience Design
  • Global and regional Leader boards and achievements.
  • Friends challenges and Weekly or monthly events.
  • Daily Rewards for returning users.
  • Appreciating User on achievements.
  • Push notifications.
  • Social Media Engagement.
  • Challenge user’s power of decision

I believe in one single formula — “If You are bore making it, Players will be bore playing it”!

For me game development is not a conventional job that you can start and get a success, May be you will but for shorter duration. Its a field of passionate developers, gamer who love to play games and are enthusiastic to develop games that are loved by them first and then they present it to the market. From starting screen to end of the game, everything should be designed like how the gamer think, want to act and behave and how to progress in the game. They should know why they are playing it on another good day.

I will discuss the above 10 points after my articles on Acquisition and Monetization. Till that work smart on your game design. Note one thing, Smart work is better than Hard Work.

For updates follow me on Instagram and twitter @HILALKHAAN

Seasonal ASO — An approach to start your downloads

ASO and choosing the right keywords for your apps are always hectic for indie developers. Indie developers have no such huge marketing budgets, nor there games such high-end games that they catch the market so ASO is their most powerful tool to compete in the market. Normally, app store optimization or ASO is a research of optimum keywords but a same keyword will not work every time and it strongly depends on the trends on app store or play store. The trend on App store or Play Store also having a strong relation with real world, and changing with the events, four seasons and festivals etc.

Let me give you some examples of such trends in the stores. In summer people love to play hunting games or games on the beach, Jet Ski driving etc. In winter people love to play games in snowy environments, snow excavators, snow blower trucks, racing games in Snow Mountains and that type of other games. In special occasions like Christmas people love to play games developed on the theme of Christmas. On Halloween zombie games are trending every year, even Subway Surfer was also updated for Halloween version.

In short, let me conclude the topic that ASO is not what you do single time for your app, but you have to update your ASO for seasonal changes and that’s why I named it seasonal ASO. Redesign your app for black Friday, Halloween or Christmas or whatever the occasion is, and also make the necessary changes in you ASO. Make sure you do it intelligently 🙂

Muhammad Hilal

You Should Give Up!

You Should Give Up!

Sounds strange? Yeah definitely. That’s great.

You must have heard of a lot of people saying the opposite, Never Give Up. Steve Jobs, Muhammad Ali, Jack Ma, Churchill and a lot of people thought that pure perseverance and the courage to never give up is the key to success. I am not that courageous to counter what they said; but having the right to have my own opinion, so taking full advantage of that.

To be a successful man you should give up on a lot of things to stick with that one thing that you should focus on. Never give up on your dreams, for achieving your goals you should give up on all secondary things that doesn’t matter that much in your life. Although you love your hobbies, watching your favorite TV shows, watching late night sports, outing with friends, partying with buddies on birthdays and festivals. But you have to give up on all these things which can even cost you your relationships with friends or special friends, but the worst thing about journey to success is that it leaves you alone on the journey and very few will accompany you and support you.

The most important thing you give up is your emotions. Happy, sad, angry, love, hate etc everything that comes in your way should be placed secondary, everything should be placed second to your dreams. In every situation of life, no matter what happens the only thing for which you will give your 100% is you passion.

To never give up on your dreams, You should give up every other thing that is stopping you from achieving your goals.

Family and relationships are very important in life, but if they stay with you in your journey, they are yours. If not, don’t waste your time with secondary things.

Fathers are not ATM Machines!

Mentors, teachers, elders, well-wishers, coaches, and every person who help is in our life to learn and grow are more important than any wealth, money or some tangible assets. We all are seeking mentorship from experts in our field, and help us grow in our life. The role of a coach or a mentor can’t be ignored in business, education, sports, and fairly in every field of life, and we should value them as they guide us as per their experience in practical life, and more often we do, BUT 1 coach, mentor, teacher, well wisher than we should value above all mentors, and seek advice and guidance from him but we don’t. He is the person who you can trust blindly, he is probably the only person in this world who want you to surpass him in success and growth, BUT we don’t know the value of that mentor, He is the FATHER.

Fathers are the most selfless beings for their kids (after mothers of-course) who always strive to raise their kids in the best possible environment, dress them in the best possible he can afford, feed them the best he can afford, give his kids everything he can, except the most precious thing that the younger generation don’t value. Now a days FATHERS become ATM machines, but they not. Fathers are a treasure of knowledge, wisdom, and selfless love, and should be taken accordingly, they want you to have more than they have and sacrifice his life for your future.

There may be fake mentors, fake well-wishers and people who can advise you that can harm you rather than guide you but the mentor, coach and well-wisher who can be trusted blindly is your father. Why this huge gap between our younger generation with their parents, there is generation gap and may be some points of contradictions and with completely opposite point of views but that should be taken positivley. This gap should be reduced to uplift the wisdom of our younger generation and get this nectar of wisdom of our older generation.

This gap has created so many problems in our society, specially the trust deficit between the two generations. “I will tell your father about this” is a threat for our boys and girls when they make a mistake which should a statement of relief and comfort but lack of discussion about problems and mistakes made us so distant from our fathers even under a one roof, that the person who should hold us during our hard times is feeling a threat when we need him the most.

To summaries it, Fathers do love their kids, they know that children do make mistakes both big and small, and they understand better than you who to rectify a mistake, TRUST THEM.

UX is not just Design, It’s Experience.

What is UX? is it something related to designing, and you need to be a graphics designer to be a UX designer? Normally UI designers write UI/UX designers in their CVs.

Well there are a few concepts I want to share with you guys based on some studies, experiences and sessions with experts.

There are 2 very important fields in UX, one is UX researcher and one is UX designer.

Being a UX researcher we normally learn it from scratch, but 2 field from academia helps in a lot to be a UX researcher, one is Data Science and other is Human factor psychology, in which the later is the base for getting quality data and former is used to analyse the factors and its impact.

Being a UX designer, you normally use the research of UX researchers and design an experience based on that data. Although it’s coming with experience but suggested field for study to be a UX designer is Experimental psychology.

UX revolves around users, human beings and the behaviour of human beings and how they respond to each and every action. Sometimes concepts of psychology and real users data is in conflict and everyone has different approach to it, to adopt which which one? Human psychology changes with time and can only be predicted by Data, so I will suggest go with the data.

Last but not the least, a single person may be a UI and UX designer, can be expert in CX and BX too, based on his expertise. But better we keep every experience separate, and not merge it with other if we work in just 1 one the mentioned fields.

Thank You

A letter to my One year old SON

My dear Son,

I may be alive or dead by the time you step into your practical life, I want to talk to you when you will be in your early 20s but nobody knows the future. I want to share some of my thoughts and opinions and you have equal right to agree or disagree but as a son you must listen to me for a few moments.

You are only 1 year old and you will not remember these days when you grow up. I am a struggling entrepreneur and often out of city for weeks and months and I am not giving you time that you need and I am sorry for that. Your mother is an exceptional and inspirational lady, always seek her advice and try to do what she advise you. I know she will support you what you do as she did (and doing) for me, but ask her before taking any step in your practical life. Always listen to your mentors and think wisely before you act.

Dear Khubaib, you will face hardships in life but don’t forget that nothing great can be achieved without hard work and perseverance. Once you find anything that fascinates you and your interests develops in it, no one should stop you from doing it. You must be rock solid in your belief, no matter you fail or get success but the only thing in your hand is to give your 200%. Challenge yourself in each step of your life and work more than you can. You will encounter naysayers and pessimistic people in your life and those should be your motivation for achieving the impossible. Failures are the most talented teachers you can ever have, but not learning from failure is wasting a big part of your life. Luck often help those who don’t rely on it, Allah help those who want to help themselves.

Have a strong character, talk less and wisely. Be fair and sincere in your relationship with friends, relatives and your life partner. Give foremost importance to your family as no one can stand behind you more than your family. My uncles love you a lot, always respect them. I am single son of my parents but I love my cousins, they are your uncles. Respect your teachers, mentors and always try to help the poor and needy in your circle. Don’t get fooled by the glamour of the society, have a simple heart and love to live with simple life style. Enjoy your life to the fullest but not on the cost of hurting others.

With love,

Hilal

Pakistan on the verge of becoming a great nation or a failed-nation

All countries that come out from a hard phase to become a developed country often went through a lot of phases and circumstances that are necessary for uplifting the nation. Better political leadership, manufacturing for local market, discovery of some natural resources, or increase of skilled youth population and most recently ranking up higher in technology world gives nation the opportunity to grow. Every country that grows economically often had the mentioned opportunities more or less but Pakistan is on the verge of becoming a developed country with maximum of these indicators are positive and growing, One thing that is missing is the direction that should be given to this nation to grow exponentially. In my very limited knowledge, we should improve in the a few basic domains to get this running on the right direction, which I am sharing with you guys.

1st thing first, We need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of our people and work on that accordingly. We need to categorize our youth, skilled and non-skilled, more-skilled and less skilled, every direction possible horizontal and vertical and should have data of every domain of work and technology and age-wise break down, and EVERYTHING about our workforce. Without data, we can not formulate a policy that will work, our policies should be based on data, not as per our gut-feelings, in order to deliver positively and get the desired results.

Pakistan to close technology gap on the modern world in order to close this huge gap with world growing economies. Pakistan needs to be have well-trained tech force to get the job done for in-house projects and also get projects and export human resource for tech-world. Speaking of IT, our academia and industry is still stuck with very basic technologies and needs an upgrade on very urgent basis. We are giving very low technology services to the world and doing well in small GIG economy which is a good sign but need to improve that more.

Without proper skills, our dream of becoming a developed economy will be a dream forever. Skills matters more than formal education and a university degree in today’s world. We need to focus on skilled based education, technical and vocational education specially for our under-privileged and under-represented communities. Basic skills for non-skilled, more skills for low-skilled and higher skilled for our skilled youth to uplift their skills and economic conditions. Providing skills that are inlined with modern world technologies are must to have a greater economy specially in the field of IT.

Growth mentality and strive to work more and more and struggle for achieving long-lasting stable and growing businesses, this mentality should be injected in our youth to get their full potential. Setting up the right mindset for businessmen and entrepreneurs so they can be ready to accept the challenges, identify the target markets and problems and build their businesses but with the right attitude to grow and let other grow it for them.

In business, everything is not money, and greed for quick cash often make us suffer a lot in the longer run. Business grows with people and with the right work ethics, communication skills and other soft skills required to deal with customers, clients and follow businessmen in the same domain. Our young entrepreneurs and businessmen should know how to do business and the leaders on ethical and moral grounds.

We as a nation are very different than what the world think we are. All credit goes to negative role of media, some past incidents and some negative people who have always brought us negativity from the outer world, and always making excuses for not having anything but the fact is they have nothing to offer to this country but only a burden on the soil, that not how a developed nation think. With the recent rise of tourism in Pakistan, and people from around the globe coming our homeland, apart from tourism which has its own financial benefits for our country, its a great platform for our perspective development, this is a better chance to show the world how we are, who are we and let the world know real us.

Pakistani youth, govt, academia and all the stack holders needs to understand the process and work in the right direction to uplift our economy from IT sector especially and that’s the way forward to see a better future of our country.

LinkedIn Link: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/pakistan-verge-becoming-great-nation-failed-nation-muhammad-hilal

Lets discuss User Acquisition!

Remind “Acquisition — Retention — Monetization”! Now lets discuss Acquisition.

Acquisition strategy is the 1st step after development of a game. One should plan acquisition strategy according to market trends and users psychology. Targeting right audience,optimize your screenshots and graphics, target markets, and publishing the game at the right time and other aspects comes under user acquisition strategy. (Para from article, ASO is Magic?)

The 1st step is how to acquire users, users going to stores, search, choose and Install. During this whole process users are making some decisions which we should notice thoroughly if we want UA (User Acquisition). Lets check it step by step how users are making decisions that ends in the install of an app.

Ranking in Search Keywords:

You must have heard a very famous quote “The best place to hide a dead body is second page of google”. Now lets discuss about user acquisition through search in app store.

First the user type a phrase or single word in app store search bar, he gets results for that search term that also includes search ads or Adwords sponsored apps. After that users scroll down and looking for apps, the next decision is based on two things, ICON and RATINGS. (We will discuss ICON and ratings in coming articles InshaAllah). After clicking on an icon, there are a lot of things that users notice before installing an app and that are screenshots, description (starting lines), top reviews, short description and feature graphic in Google Play store.

This was about organic downloads. Now lets discuss other factors briefly.

Localization:

Localization has a great impact on user acquisition, you should translate your meta data/store listings for targeted users. People love to see it in their native/own language.

Game Center:

In Apple’s app store gamers challenge each other for challenges in the game and also search for games which includes Game Center, so one should see it an opportunity where users come often, and can be a great source of acquisition.

Cross Promotion:

Promote you new app in your existing apps, thats what cross promotion means. You cn use chartboost, heyzap, admob or any other network to specify the percentage of ads you want to serve for your own apps. The quality of your ad graphic ensures a CTR percentage.

In Game Ads:

This is a free source of advertisement, no cost and also effective. You can ask users to play your next game through a graphic pop up or a banner. You can also ask him on game transition points or on exit menu.

Social Media Advertisements:

This is one of the best and long lasting source for your acquisition but a very tough one too. Making your fans known to eachother so they can discuss features of the game or app and give you a feedback. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Quora etc are some great source of user acquisition, if you develop your social media first.

Paid advertisement:

Last one that I suggest is going for paid advertisements, paying for installs. Its rates varies from country to country. You should strongly check your ROI before going for paid advertisement or you will face some very bad results.

For more follow me on twitter @HILALKHAAN

Get disciplined motivation- Realistic Optimism.

When you step in real life, depression is real. Being optimistic is a good quality but not idealistic. Optimism near to realism can make things done, otherwise it will leave you with nothing but regrets.

According to research studies done with people working in hospice, the top 5 wishes the people on deathbed make are:

I wish …

I wish, I hadn’t worked so hard.

I wish, I had stayed in touch with my friends.

I wish, I had let myself be happier

I wish, I had the courage to express my true self.

I wish, I’d lived a life true to my dreams, instead of what others expected of me.

The problem is that we get too motivated by motivational speakers, life stories of successful people that we forget that no one is here to chase a successful personality and be like him. We can take inspiration from one’s life, but we should not struggle to live his/her life. We are born with our own strengths and weaknesses and we must know it before taking any step in our life. Better learn to skip things that are not necessary for our life but only imposed on us.

I am a strong believer of hard work and perseverance but at the same time I believe in disciplined and calculated risks, decisions supported by data and expertise. A motivational speaker can motivate a person in gym for lifting 50 Kg on his first day, but a trainer will not advise the same, better we listen to the trainer. Take advice from those who do, not from those who talk.

You will find this very distracted post with discontinuity of thoughts, I would love to hear from you if you find that small touches that link these concepts, depression, optimism, wishes on deathbed, idealism and motivation.

ASO is Magic?

If you ask me this question about app store optimization, my answer will be a straight “NO”.

Quality, controls, game play interactivity, addictive factors and graphics are all the factors that developers are focusing on while developing games for mobile devices. With immensely increasing revenues from mobile games which is predicted to reach $100 billion in next few years, many leading companies in IT Market focusing on mobile apps and games. Stories of a lot of indie game developers are there to motivate young entrepreneurs and developers to step into the market, but its not only the technical skills of the developer that can guarantee the success of games or apps in the market. You can recall some hits like flappy bird as a great success but luck is there to help some but not all.

“Luck often helps those who don’t believe in it.”

Today I am going to discuss a few factors in brief, based on my experience and study in this field which supports strong ASO to become a success in game development. In this article I am going to discuss the most important triangle in apps business.“Acquisition — Retention — Monetization”

Acquisition:

Acquisition strategy is the 1st step after development of a game. One should plan acquisition strategy according to market trends and users psychology. Targeting right audience,optimize your screenshots and graphics, target markets, and publishing the game at the right time and other aspects comes under user acquisition strategy. I will soon write about user acquisition strategies for games and apps.

Retention:

After acquisition here comes retention which is the second most important thing after acquisition. In ASO we think we should care about keywords and title optimization only but to strengthen our ASO we need to focus on all factors that is necessary to get ranked on App Store. User Experience and compelling user to return to an app again and again is what matters to sustain your app in top charts. Push notifications, timely challenges, quests, and user experience are some factors that matters when you are planning for user retention strategy.

Monetization:

“Acquisition — Retention — Monetization” — The Most important triangle in the field of Games or apps development. I personally noticed a lot of developers who have acquired users and also maintained a good retention rate but they dump their apps with ads which is very irritating and compelling users to looks for an alternative. In-App Purchases in those apps are also unplanned, not displaying ads on proper transition points which results in losing active users of apps. Monetization is very important for sustaining apps business but too many ads cant help a developer to earn more. It needs proper planning to earn from apps for longer duration.

After planning the above 3 important strategies, next comes a few more factors that are market trends, Idea and its validation, User Experience, User Interface, Graphics. In short I will say app store optimization is no magic, you have to work hard on a lot of areas to get success. I will write about this in coming article. Till that be happy, keep learning and earning 🙂