Two tick-boxes for app success

This is a Guest Post by Laura Cremer, Digital Manager at Octopus Publishing Group. Laura has been shortlisted for the FutureBook ‘Digital Achiever of the Year’ Award 2015. Two of Octopus’s apps have also been shortlisted for FutureBook Awards. Here she gives us the lowdown on the reasons for their success.

There are many winning formulae for App Store success, but Octopus’s pair of FutureBook-Award-shortlisted apps tick certain boxes for the team behind them, and follow a particular strategy that’s benefited over 30 Octopus apps to-date.

Box-tick number one: the trend-spotter

Store Screenshot_Calmeleon_3Shortlisted for the Digital Book Adult Award is Calmeleon (like the colourful creature, only calmer) — a growing compendium of Octopus’s enormous range of colouring and puzzle books.

He’s a fast-moving, first-to-market, iterative sort. Like Octopus’s hugely profitable 5:2 Fasting Diet app before it, Calmeleon’s success is owed largely to its speed of development, and its being in the right place at the right time to capitalise on a global publishing phenomenon — and before anyone else. Partnering with app developer Papertrell, Octopus commissioned a bespoke colouring component to be added to a tried-and-tested platform and workflow (also used for the 5:2 app) at low cost and high speed.

Naturally, being first comes with no insignificant amount of apprehension. Would the colouring craze translate to mobile? Would people search for it there? Could colouring with your finger provide all the same rewards as putting pencil to paper? Or would we uncover a totally new mobile-only audience? These questions were answered, at least in part, when the app hit 100,000 downloads just three months in. And with social built in from the very start, share- and rate-to-unlock tools ensure we harness our existing users to welcome hundreds of new ones every day.

Box-tick number two: the dream brand

Screenshot_MenuContending for the Digital Book Reference Award is the Ella’s Kitchen: First Foods iPad app — an interactive weaning handbook and recipe collection, from the UK’s best-loved baby food brand.

Working with the fabulous team at Ella’s has been a gift — from their beautifully illustrated world, to their wonderfully loyal customer base, to their fun and imaginative marketing campaigns. The app came with certain challenges, not least the imperative to stay 100% true to brand with every detail of the UI and UX. Working again with Papertrell, we were able to keep a challenging brief on time and to budget thanks to much of the app’s framework being built on a ready-made and familiar platform.

The results were rewarded with App Store ‘Editor’s Choice’ and ‘Best New App’ accolades, and a staggering 16,000+ downloads in week one alone. And with Ella’s Kitchen making between one and two thousand new ‘Friends’ every month, the app has a ready-made audience just waiting to fall in love with it. In fact, new sign-ups to the Ella’s Kitchen mailing list each receive a complementary code to unlock exclusive in-app content. In return, the app invites those new to the brand to sign up to receive even more goodies in the post.

Both projects have been highly iterative in approach, and have long roadmaps yet ahead of them. Calmeleon, in particular, is already unrecognisable relative to its launch. On the immediate horizon are iPhone and Android versions of Ella’s Kitchen: First Foods, and a raft of new content, functionality, and marketing campaigns for Calmeleon. Through reinvesting in these two projects early on, we’re confident of building on our success so far.

Laura has previously held Editorial and Digital roles at two further Hachette UK divisions: Hodder & Stoughton and Hodder Education. When not colouring in on her iPhone, she can be found enjoying a craft beer and a curry, and/or feeding her Pinterest habit. You can follow her on @lauraebcremer.