An interview with NFN Labs on how they took Screeny to the top slots on the app store.

Screeny App Screenshot


Sonaal Bangera, one of the brains behind the Screeny App, and the Creative Head of NFN Labs talks about the history (yes it is making some of it) behind the creation of Screeny. An app that lets you delete screens on the iPhone, Screeny has been the cynosure of many eyes.

Download Screeny here.

Excerpts of the interview with Sonaal follow.

ContractIQ: Sonaal, on the face of it, it looks like a very simple app & yet people love it. Why?

Sonaal: Being a designer, you tend to take a lot of screenshots (either for testing purposes, or to send feedback or to convey an idea or something inspirational). Over time, these screenshots accumulate in the camera roll and consume space. I wanted to find a simple way to get rid of these screenshots. I started off by solving my own problem first. Chances are, that you are not the unicorn with the idea and worst case you have at least solved your own itch! What I did right, first, was to start small, and then to go forth to build and ship. Of course, there are a lot of other things I could have done with the screenshots – deleting them, moving to albums, sharing them, anything! But we took only one part of it: to delete.

ContractIQ: So the trick seems to be solving a real pain, no matter how complex or simple the solution is. So where does Screeny go from here?

Sonaal: Now that we have feedback to the effect that this is a genuine problem that people are facing, we will build on top of it with the remaining features that people request for.

ContractIQ: It’s one thing to build a utility product and it’s another to price it. How did you decide the price?

Sonaal: We spent some time trying to decide between going with a freemium model and a paid model. We settled for building a great user experience and doing one thing, and doing it really well, and then decided to charge for it ($0.99). Money is a great validation factor, and lets you know that people actually love your product.

ContractIQ: Ok. Give our readers a trick or two that they can go and apply right away!

The thing that worked for us was that sharing was visual. Whenever people used the app and shared it on their social networks, people could see a great visual and a summary of what Screeny is all about.

ContractIQ: It seems like everything is going right for Screeny. But let’s also learn from what you did wrong..

Sonaal: From a marketing perspective, especially for AppStore optimization, I feel that we could have done better. For instance, we launched the app with just the name ‘Screeny’ in the AppStore. In the search results when the listings come in, people have to actually tap on the app to see what exactly it does. With the recent version update, we changed the name to ‘Screeny – Delete screenshots easily’, which offers context, and in turn, led to better conversion. We also realized that testing is a very important part of a product.

Though we tested over 500-1000 screenshots from our end, we found that some of our users had over 2000 screenshots and the app was breaking at some instances where they reported back. We should have anticipated such numbers beforehand and could have avoided a couple of single stars!

ContractIQ: Once you nailed the idea, design and the price, how do you take the app to the market (I know you spent almost nothing on promoting it)?

Sonaal: That’s an interesting question. You don’t really have to spend a lot on marketing to get your first 1000 users. As a first step, we made a list of power users for the app. The list comprised bloggers, influential designers and product managers. One advantage we had over here was that I knew that these bloggers/blogs actually have a need for such an app, and that they can use the app themselves and even write about it if they liked what they saw!

ContractIQ: Ok. What you are saying is very important – Can you break it down to our readers, like how do you email the bloggers?

Sonaal: For starters, we worked with simple emails that focused on how they will benefit from using the app. A snippet of the email we used follows:

“We have launched a new app called Screeny which allows you to find those space consuming screenshots on your device and delete them easily. I’m sure it will help you delete those gazillions of screenshots which you take during your app reviews :)”

For the more influential designers, we used the above email with the following tweak:

I’m sure it will help you delete those gazillions of screenshots which you take while reviewing your designs and giving feedback to your team

ContractIQ: And you also did something to remove the friction of the app download, right?

Sonaal: Yes, we went in for Promocodes. All emails had a promocode that helped the recipient use the app quickly. We used an app called Tokens (which is just awesome, by the way). Tokens lets you know if a promocode has been redeemed. After that stage, we asked them if they liked using the app. If they responded in the affirmative, we asked if it was worthy of being featured on their blog, or if it was worthy of being shared with their followers on the social network.

At all points of time, we were sure to retain conciseness and consistency in our messaging. We wrote how the app could solve a problem they might encounter, we made sure to be nice but not cheesy, and also worked to have a conversation rather than pushing them to promote the app. The point was to remain engaged. If they like what they see, there are very high chances that they will promote it anyway.

ContractIQ: Once you got coverage, how consciously did you manage social media attention?

Sonaal: There are actually two parts to getting good coverage.

On the one hand, you have attention on social media. On the other hand, it is about getting a lot of feedback.

Starting with feedback, we made sure that it was easy for people to give us feedback of any kind. We also tied all of the feedback to a helpdesk, (in our case, it was FreshDesk), in order to segregate the responses into incidents needing attention, problems and feature requests.

Those who raise problems or issues need immediate action. Most of them we have had flagging problems were glad that we had such fast response times. They even shared the update on their social networks the moment we solved their problems.

Those who came up with ideas and feature requests were given a short summary in response from our side after the version updates, to the effect that their requests had now become reality. They were quick to share the update on the social network, too!

On the social media side, all our primary activity was on twitter (in comparison with Facebook). We used the company handle on Twitter (@nfnlabs) which was added to all share links from within the app. We had a giant screen on tweetdeck with a search criteria that would help in finding either ‘nfnlabs’ or ‘Screeny’. This allowed us to have a conversation with users who shared things about Screeny by asking them simple questions like “How much space did Screeny save you? 🙂” or even re-tweet the funny and good tweets and responses.

Using all the coverage that we got, we also wrote to more influential people saying “Hey we have got featured on the likes of The Verge, CNet, MacStories, Beautiful Pixels, Product Hunt. We would love it if you give it a try as well!” On Facebook, we mostly share updates and reviews that people write about the app. We make it a point to include 5, 4 and 3 star reviews – it makes us look more human!

ContractIQ: It’s nice to see that you can build an app, launch it and top the charts within shoestring budgets and careful planning. For the startups & big companies out there, building apps, here’s an offer:

We’ll set you up on a meeting with the NFN Labs guys, to build the next big app of yours. Are you keen? Scroll down!

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