How to Reach Evangelist Users by Breaking All the Rules

June 21, 2016 - 2 minutes read

This year’s Apple Design Awards are live, featuring as usual a diverse mix of iPhone app developers across a variety of markets. While the apps themselves couldn’t be more different, they all have one thing in common — a design tied directly to their core mission and a marketing strategy that effectively reaches their ideal userbase.

Particularly notable in this year’s list is the specialized professional writing app Ulysses (presumably named for the famously incomprehensible novel by James Joyce). In an app marketplace that’s increasingly trending towards freemium pricing structures, Ulysses is one of the very few modern app development companies to take the opposite approach and attach a prohibitively high price tag to their product — the desktop version costs a whopping $44.99 on the iTunes app store, while the mobile version comes in at just under $25.

While we wouldn’t recommend Chicago iPhone app developers to go out and try this strategy themselves tomorrow, it’s worth taking a closer look at how this startup has found success using the opposite pricing strategy favored by the market. What’s different about their product and market positioning that makes a steep download cost work for them?

Put simply, Ulysses is leveraging their status as a professional-grade product to justify up-front pricing. The target audience is people who write for a living, or at least on a daily basis — as evidenced by the markdown formatting standard, which is ideal for regular writers and bloggers but intimidating to casual scribblers.

Since their target audience is fairly specific and investing in the application for advancing their work efficiency, a high price tag ensures that only serious users download the app. The small group of users who convert and buy the app are much more likely to become evangelist users and stay loyal to the brand.

Up-front prices have a high risk, even for apps seeking to reach a highly specific audience (we almost always advise our clients to build on a freemium structure). However, for brands with a high design standard and loyal evangelist base, the rewards for developers can be just as high.

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