When a 1,000,000 app downloads still = Failure
If you are in the mood to watch a video instead reading, I go over the post + add a bunch extra commentary in the video below.
In my younger years, I made a group of apps that got just over a million downloads, but still flopped. At the time, I was telling a buddy about it over a few beers…
Buddy: How’s that whole “app thing” going?!?
Me: Well, we are approaching a million downloads!
Buddy: Whoaa! So you are buying beers then.
Me: We are actually still in the red 😬


👆True story 🤭

  • 4 Months of work.
  • Thousands in development & design work
  • 6 months later = Barely $600 revenue!



  • 2 weeks of work
  • 72 hours into an app launch = $4,189
  • In the black very quickly!

Tactics you “should” use that don’t work

You may have a similar story where you put a lot into an app and it didn’t work out. Whether it was created from scratch or a template, it didn’t quite “hit” like you thought it would.

We drive ourselves into the ground with overly difficult strategies and tactics that get little to no results…


When a much easier, faster path to a win is right under our noses.


We recently asked 112 app developers to share one development or marketing path they tried that didn’t work.



  • “I tried Facebook Ads for one of my apps and ended up getting a few installs at $19.00!


  • “I tried to rank for top keywords related to my app by updating and tracking these regularly. My downloads actually went down!”
  • “I made an emoji app and by the time it was LIVE there were 5 others just like it!”
  • I’ve heard I need to be doing Apple search ads so I started doing them. The conversions for my app are horrible.”


Mastering Facebook Ads, Apple Search Ads, Ranking for Keywords…this is all stuff that’s supposed to work right?


So why do I constantly hear horror stories like the ones above from people that did exactly what the “experts” told them to do?


💥Spoiler Alert! None of those strategies are fast or easy to master. They’re really damn hard. And if you are following any of the “conventual wisdom” out there about them, you’re probably just listening to bad advice.



Bad Advice #1: Just Buy Facebook Ads.

“All you need to do is…. write a few ads, spend $100, and you’ll be raking in $1000’s every day. Look at me! I did it. You can do the same thing!”

Reality: We spent a tens of thousands of dollars with Facebook app install campaigns to learn in ins and outs and even then…it’s always changing! Sure, we had profitable campaigns, but we’ve also spend like $25 for one install too! We even took extra courses to help us. They are VERY hard to get to work consistently.


Bad Advice #2: Target all the best keywords and try to rank #1

“Just get on a keyword tool to find out what keywords are related to your app and target those…and brace yourself for floods of downloads.”

Reality: If you’re a world-class Marketer and ASO wizard, targeting the hot keywords could be a good idea! Most times, targeting top keywords without actually getting significant downloads won’t get you big magic results. Tweaking keywords week after week quickly turns into the ASO hamster wheel of hell for most people because eventually Apple will probably find something in your app they don’t like and reject your update. Then you have to go through that whole thing…


Bad Advice #3: Create everything from scratch!


“If you build everything custom, you don’t have to worry about Apple rejections for spam and you won’t have as much competition!”


Reality: If you take a well-built template that hasn’t been mass sold and make it your own, create actual value for your users, then you are ahead of 95% of what most indie  developers are trying to do (just make money). Those are the people Apple is trying to stop from spamming the store. When you just chase the money, you’ll compromise and create a lower value app. Apple can sniff these out and they tag you with spam. I’ve never had a problem using a template (even our own) from Apple because we chase value for the user before the money. Our sample size is publishing close to 200 apps over the years on (1) account. If you don’t have any competition there’s a good chance your target market doesn’t exist.

If you’ve found yourself following some of this bad advice, you’ve probably been like (younger) me who busted my ass working on a project for months and spending a ton of cash to…never make it back (even with a million downloads!).

It’s exhausting and burns most people out before they ever gain traction. I believe a lot of app developers “die” in this stage. They fail a few times and give up.

Here’s what I’ve found after spending the last few years growing our apps.

All of our biggest gains in downloads and revenue have come from a much easier, much faster, and much simpler approach.


When we picked a passionate niche of prospective users and then built an app they ACTUALLY wanted things compound pretty quickly.

Not the app we thought they should want.

The app they wanted.


Instead of trying to create a hit app that will please and reach the entire world by using Facebook ads, hot keywords and a custom project…we built niche apps people actually want.

What if next month you launched a paid app priced at $3.99 and hundreds of people jumped at the chance to download it on the first day?



BOOM! Instant downloads. Instant revenue.

Even if you don’t have the world’s hottest app

Even if your app isn’t featured.

Even if not many people hear about your app


Even if you don’t get millions of downloads

Think it can’t happen?



Case Study #1: An app we released call BernerMoji generated $4,189 within the first 72 hours just by sending (1) email to our 48 email subscribers  A few of them posted in Facebook groups, texted some family / friends and that fueled the fire.


Case Study #2: Another app called NewfyMoji generated $1547 in the first 30 days just by sharing on our small Instagram account of 300 and Direct Messaging some of them that requested to hear when it was LIVE. We built the Instagram account of 300 in a few days.


Case Study #3: We tested the idea of selling car window stickers based off popular emojis within our app to a small list of 50 and generated over $300 on the first day.


Case Study #4: We launched a free app with subscription options and generated an average revenue per user (ARPU) of $5.51 after 12 months!


Every single one of these incredible results came from the exact same strategy I’ve spent the past 12 months telling you about: Offering apps / products people actually want through your own channels BEFORE messing with ads, promotions, partnerships, influencers. If you start with a decent and simple base, all those other things can work much much easier (if you even need them).


This route is more profitable and fulfilling than banging your head against the wall trying to convince people why they should download or buy your offer using Facebook Ads, Search Ads and ASO!


It’s allowing you to instantly put brand, your app, and any other offers in front of a warm audience of buyers who are perfectly primed to buy from you.



They are primed because they already know you and eager to get your “thing” because you’ve been telling them about it / gathering feedback…  instead of putting your head down for months creating something no one will want.

Using this marketing approach works for all types of apps

1.   Emoji Apps
2.   Photo Apps
3.   Games
4.   Utility Apps
5.   Even physical products to your app users

In previous blog posts & videos, I’ve introduced you to some basic ways you can create your own network of fans to launch your new app to.


This week, I’m going to give you a deeper look into how this actually works and assuring we make an app people want and will actually download when it goes LIVE!

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Or you could keep pounding your head against the wall trying tactics that don’t work 😄





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