We continue to summarize the results of 2021 together with top managers and experts of the gaming industry (and related ones). Next up is an interview with Anatoly Sharifulin, CEO and co-founder of AppFollow.How did 2021 go for the company?

Last year I wrote in the results:

“We will spend the whole of 2021 on moving forward. We are waiting for the improvement of processes for the most efficient remote work. This will primarily affect onboarding, retention and socialization — very important areas for any modern company (especially in the era of the pandemic). In addition, we plan to strengthen the team and enter new markets.” A year has passed, and it is very pleasant to realize that we have managed to fulfill these tasks. In 2021, we were able to strengthen the team and enter new markets. Now AppFollow consists of 110 people from 16 countries, including the USA. The creation of an American team and active work in this market is one of our main achievements.

In matters of onboarding, retention and socialization, we were also able to do a lot and change. The social package in AppFollow has grown over the past year. We managed to organize general health insurance for employees from different countries, launch a welcome bonus program and expand support for educational programs. One of the main achievements of the past year was the offline hackathon, which was attended by AppFollow employees not only from Russia, but also from Europe (60 people in total).

The platform’s capabilities have also expanded this year. We have launched a completely new product vertical, Competitor Analytics, which allows AppFollow to close all stages of the application lifecycle and helps business owners determine their market position and development paths using industry benchmarks and competitive analysis.

The first in this product line is Compare Discovery, which is extremely useful for marketing managers and ASO team leaders. It provides a complete analysis of app visibility in the App Store and Google Play, helps identify global industry leaders and determine market shares in organic traffic.

Compare Feedback is an analysis of the competitive environment based on customer feedback and user experience. The solution is intended for product managers, heads of support departments and market research experts. Compare Feedback helps you find regions and countries where users feel the best or worst about the app. In addition, the section shows the topics that your users and competitors’ users talk about the most. Analyzing them, you can find ways to develop your application.

This year we also updated the Organic Traffic Dashboard, created specifically for the heads of ASO and UA departments. It allows you to always be aware of the effectiveness of the organic promotion of the application in the store. Now all the main metrics that need to be monitored daily are available on one page.

In 2021, we paid great attention to semantic analysis and phrase analysis. Semantic analysis allows you to automatically break down reviews by topic and analyze what users complain about, in which cases they experience problems with the interface, as well as identify reviews that can be complained about. Phrase analysis gives an idea of the most popular words and expressions used by app customers in reviews. This allows you to monitor current topics, moods and problems as they arise and respond in a timely manner both with the help of support teams and through product changes. You can monitor changes in the product using the updated Smart Alerts. Thanks to them, you can be the first to learn about sharp jumps in reviews, ratings or other metrics without leaving Slack, Telegram or the mail client.

A special source of pride is the constant work of the AppFollow team on the development of the industry. As I said last year, we hold a lot of webinars on our site, and also participate in such events as invited experts. In 2021, AppFollow speakers spoke at offline conferences in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Berlin, as well as at online events – for example, Pocket Gamer Connects, DevGAMM and Product Marketing Festival.

Over the past year, we have conducted several ASO audits in live mode. Also, together with partners from Hepsiburada and Gumtree, we discussed tools for retaining new customers. Just a few days ago, I was talking about the trends in the development of applications in 2022. Our lectures and webinars are now based not only on our knowledge and experience, but also on the research that we conduct. In October, we published the report “Reputation Management for Mobile Applications | Rating and Reviews in 2021”. 

A separate pride is the AppFollow Academy (Reviews and ASO). The teams have created lecture cycles in Russian and English on the most relevant topics: how to start working on ASO; how to find and analyze keys; how to work with reviews and automate responses to them, etc. All materials are absolutely free of charge available to everyone on our website.

What event or trend of 2021 do you consider central within your niche?If we talk about the industry, then most of all, of course, we were waiting for changes related to IDFA.

Most of all, this affected the monetization of applications through advertising, and organic channels were little affected.

The App Store and Google Play have released a large number of updates this year: improved search, new elements in the search results, the division of the app rating by country. All this is supported in AppFollow as well. This way, customers can be sure that the data in AppFollow always 100% corresponds to what the user sees on the device.

What will be the stake in the development of the company in 2022?We continue to develop in Europe and the USA, we are immersed in the peculiarities of these markets.

In 2022, we will increase our presence in these regions and strengthen our work there. Of course, we do not stop working with the CIS and are always preparing new features, evaluating requests from these countries as well.

One of the key areas for us is gaming. We will develop opportunities for this market. In the near future, we will launch support for games from Apple Arcade and intend to increase the number of stores in which it will be possible to work with reviews using AppFollow. In 2022, we also plan to develop process automation and increase opportunities for C-level and management by creating new KPIs, metrics and data reports.  

We will continue to develop the industry and will conduct webinars, including in partnership with leaders in different markets and directions. New research and reports are in the works, which we will definitely tell you about at upcoming events and conferences. Next year we plan to take part in events in Russia, Europe and the USA. Some of the events will be organized by the WN Conference team. We will try to prepare new and very useful content for these events.