TL; DR: AppFollow helps software firms monitor mobile apps, optimize their app store presence, and deliver robust customer support to their app users. The platform allows businesses to collate and manage the sales data for their apps and games, boost conversion rates, and take steps to improve their rankings and reviews. AppFollow’s hosted service also enables firms to analyze competitors and stay up to date on trends with educational resources, including webinars and instructional blog posts.
An essential early-stage process for any startup is requirement discovery, through which it tests its product or app idea against likely needs to ensure that it will have market buy-in.
In the case of AppFollow, that exercise resulted in a reorientation of the company’s focus. The discovery stage caused AppFollow’s Co-Founders Anatoly Sharifulin (CEO), Eugene Kruglov (COO), and Pavel Vlasov (CTO) to serve an entirely different need.
“Initially, our idea was to launch a hosted platform that would help clients track their competitors,” said Anatoly. “But as our expertise and market knowledge grew, we learned about new needs our customers had — specifically in regard to app review management. That included how to drive value from feedback and reviews an app receives on app stores and elsewhere.”
So Anatoly and Eugene decided to pivot their product strategy toward that requirement and build a full-fledged app review management platform.
AppFollow leverages the emerging strategy of App Store Optimization (ASO), which helps optimize app visibility within digital distributors.
The mobile app market continues to trend steeply upward. It was valued at more than $154 billion in 2019 and is projected to push past $407 billion by 2026, a compound annual growth rate of 18.4%. Such growth denotes an incredibly competitive market.
That means apps must be more visible upon launch. App buyers often start their search from within app stores, a behavior behind the rise of ASO.
AppFollow helps firms leverage ASO and delivers a host of other features for thousands of customers around the world. It has also established partnerships with leading brands in the mobile apps sector.
“It’s taken five years and various product iterations,” said Anatoly. “We now have a set of tools for a wide range of users who all share common goals.”
Optimizing App Store Ratings and Reviews to Boost Downloads
ASO is often compared to web SEO, but the two processes differ in many significant ways. AppFollow describes the main principle of ASO as “finding a balance between relevance and actuality.”
“As ASO experts, we have seen that ratings also affect conversion to install rates,” Anatoly explained. “To keep an app at the top of the charts, it’s not enough to perform common types of ASO, like simple text and image optimization. You also need to pay attention to factors such as the quality of the app and user feedback.”
But ASO alone won’t necessarily win sales conversions, nor does it serve the needs of other team roles involved in app promotion. That’s why AppFollow offers a suite of hosted services designed to meet the needs of ASO, product, and support roles. It combines aspects of ASO so that an app maker’s in-house team can collaborate to upgrade app store performance using a single hosted set of tools and data.
AppFollow’s ASO tools allow users to perform keyword research to improve text and graphics to grow app rankings and increase organic downloads. It can also monitor competitor ASO strategy to discover what app firms can learn from their rivals.
“I’d say that the underlying tenet that connects all of our solutions is the ambition to solve our clients’ pain points,” Eugene said. And to be effective, ASO should not work in a vacuum.
Automated Integration and a Hosted Help Desk Save Time
AppFollow easily integrates with preferred hosted help desks or team collaboration solutions, which is a popular attribute that contributes to its high adoption rates, according to Anatoly and Eugene. The platform supports Zendesk, Helpshift, Help Scout, Freshdesk, Intercom, Usedesk, and Front, among other hosted services.
AppFollow’s chat integration functionality delivers app reviews, ranking data, keywords, and any other updates into business communication and messaging platforms.
“From the start, at each new product development stage, we understood user needs and challenges and introduced new features,” Eugene added. “Perhaps the biggest conscious decision we made was to create an all-in-one platform where clients can work with a single source of data in one domain.”
Along with functional continuity, it was also crucial for AppFollow to support different roles likely to be involved with app creation and promotion. Those include product developers, product managers, marketing experts, and ASO specialists, among others.
“Our overarching goal is to help our clients work quicker and work more effectively through the automation and optimization of daily tasks and routines,” said Eugene. “One of our slogans is: ‘Hours saved is king.’ For us, everything else is a by-product of that ideal.”
Anatoly added: “It’s also why we’ve built capabilities to aggregate data, send necessary reports in, and automate processes. Our platform can outline the results and form conclusions that then speed up the user decision-making process, which in turn speeds up iterations that can improve the product.”
Feedback-Driven Service Platform Aims to Fix User Pain Points
Since the beginning, AppFollow’s development course has been user-driven, according to Anatoly. He even said that he and Eugene were the first users to provide that feedback.
“AppFollow started with a small hackathon in 2014. We needed to track dozens of apps at once, so we built a simple tool to grab reviews from the App Store. From the outset, our platform’s development has been shaped with user needs foremost,” Anatoly said.
“In AppFollow’s early days, we added many different features to get feedback from users,” Eugene added. “This helped us understand when a requirement was a pain point for most people, or there was a lack of functionality somewhere that would solve their problems.”
The company takes customer education seriously and created the AppFollow Academy to keep users informed. Regularly updated blogs and a hosted webinar series provide insight and instruction on key aspects of product development, marketing, customer experience, and retention management — all free of charge.
As a starting point, AppFollow offers a 10-day, full-featured free trial. Then, users can choose which options they need for app promotion.
“We continue to research and talk to our customers and partners about their needs, and we are still highly receptive to feedback and what is shared with us,” said Anatoly.
AppFollow: Leveraging Reviews and ASO to Support Growth
Gaining commercial traction in today’s app market is a daunting challenge, even for the large and established software players. Whatever views companies have about Google Play and Apple’s App Store, their dominance is the market reality.
AppFollow has been tracking industry dynamics since its inception, so its founders understand its value, both in terms of feature development and platform design. They have learned that it’s not just about what technology can deliver but also what people can accomplish with the right tools.
Bringing an app to market is now a team effort, and AppFollow’s multidisciplinary build caters to this collaborative spirit. It’s something that has proved critical, as many in the app industry have had to adapt to working remotely with colleague-collaborators over the last 16 months.
“We’re driven by the idea of building a truly meaningful product, so you could say that we’re still searching for a business model capable of scaling to millions of users,” Anatoly explained. “We will keep on pivoting and further developing our product in the future. Yes, it may get harder and take longer to do that, but for the AppFollow team, that’s part of the fun.”