If you’re discounting your app, you need to say so!

Price demand curve 2You’ve discounted your app but only saw a tiny increase in your sales volume. Even worse when that small volume improvement didn’t make up for the discounted price causing you to earn less for that promotion period. You’re wondering: what went wrong? According to Economics 101, demand should increase as a price decreases – why this isn’t happening?

The answer lies within human psychology. Ask yourself these questions and see for yourself what went wrong in your marketing effort.

  • Have you pre-announce the discount?
    You should let potential customers know that a promotion is coming as this will create anticipation (the Zeigarnik Effect) and helps virality. Remember to frame the news in such a way that your audience feels like they are the first to know and it will help their friends and colleagues if they spread this information.
  • Have you mention what the regular price is?
    This is called price anchoring and without it your discounted price will be moot. What’s worse is that passersby will get the impression that this (lower) price is your regular price and your product just got devalued in their minds.
  • Have you state a deadline?
    You need to make it clear that this promotional price won’t last. Without it there will be no sense of urgency in the minds of your potential customers and thus they won’t take action to buy your app.
  • Did you had multiple discount periods that are near to one another?
    A blanket discount is among the priciest options in promoting your app. For one you couldn’t trace sales back to which communication channel that triggers the purchase. Moreover frequent discounts will reduce the perceived value of your app, creating expectations of even lower price down the road.

Acqualia did many of these blunders with Soulver for Mac and you could learn from their experience.  In my mind Soulver is a great app and it saddens me that Acqualia mismanaged its marketing efforts. 

Soulver Price HistorySoulver is a calculator app that intersperses simple arithmetic with natural language texts that describes it.  The iPad doesn’t have a built-in calculator app, and frankly apps that simulates a four-function calculator on the iPad doesn’t make good use of the device’s potential. So I bought Soulver for iPad.

Those were the times I experimented with the iPad and was trying to see see whether it can replace a traditional laptop. However it turned out that it couldn’t: despite it’s unique features, I found that even blogging on the iPad is a chore. The combination of an iPhone and a MacBook Air is still where I do most of my serious work. That makes me wonder: should I get Soulver for Mac?

But on the Mac casual calculations are easily accessible on Spotlight. Whereas for more serious number crunching, Excel is still the go-to app for me and still beats Numbers by a mile. Then again Soulver is quicker when all you need is to write out shopping lists or bills of materials. Yet even on the iPad I seldom use Soulver and on OS X  the price tag is significantly more than what I paid for the iPad version.

Since Soulver on the Mac is more a nice-to-have utility app for me then I decided to wait for it to be discounted until it is somewhat near what they charge for the iPad version.

About a week to Black Friday 2012, I checked in on Soulver and it looks like they have dropped the price. However I didn’t realize that this was a temporary price drop since they didn’t mention it anywhere in their company blog or even in Soulver’s app store listing. The list price price was still quite more than what I’d consider an impulse buy, so I didn’t click the buy button. I thought it was a relatively permanent price cut and not a promotional price, and my thinking was I’d buy it the next time I really need it. I didn’t felt any urgency to buy it at that time.

Then at November 30, 2012 Soulver joined the AppyFridays promotion. Strangely in the newsletter that I received, Soulver’s original price was $19.99, which was not true as I checked the day before and it was around $11.99.

Soulver AppyFriday Discount 1 1

Then about a week later I checked again on it and was rather unsettlingly surprised that the list price had almost doubled. Still no trace whatsoever on their blog about the price increase.

To be clear, I’m not complaining the fact that I missed buying Soulver while it was discounted — $20 is a fair price and I would have bought it at that price if I’m going to use it on a daily basis. But I imagine there are others like me and Acqualia could have sold more apps if they only be more tactful in their promotional efforts. You too can learn from their shortcomings and be better in marketing your own apps.

Till next time. Take care.


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