After a few app launches of our own, observing many more, talking with several app developers and testing cool services, we have a pretty really good idea of what can be done to make an app a success.
We’ve been sharing some of it right here on our blog and great content from others on Twitter.
…and now it’s time for more. We want to answer questions that we have received from readers, like:
- How would I go about launching a new iOS app?
- What can I do to make sure that people download my app?
This post is meant to teach you everything we know about launching and marketing an iPad or iPhone app.
It’s not a “secret recipe,” and probably not exhaustive (but we are doing our best to make it so). Each app is different, and so should the marketing strategy. But it’s a good starting point and gives you options that you can experiment with, from app store optimization tips to leveraging video for user acquisition.
It’s not a step-by-step process either, some of these things have to be done simultaneously. Here is what’s covered:
- Build Your Personal Online Presence
- Validate Your Idea
- Review Mining
- Choose Your Revenue Model
- Choose The Right Name
- Start Marketing Within Your App
- Build Your App’s Online Presence
- Get Feedback
- Do App Store Optimization
- Get Your App Reviewed
- Market Your App With Video
- Paid Ads
- Deep Linking
- Leverage New iOS Features
- Lifetime Value of a Customer
- The Viral Loop
- Do “Real-life” Marketing
- Leverage Product Hunt
- Cross-Promote Your App
- Kill It On Launch Day
- Improve Engagement With Push Notifications
- Choose The Right Promotion Campaigns
- Measure, Improve & Keep On Marketing
- Final Words
Build Your Personal Online Presence
It is essential to establish your personal online presence, independent of your app. Let’s face it, the majority of your app marketing will be done online or on mobile, so you need to engage your potential customers and collaborators on those mediums.
In this section, we will show you why having a strong online/mobile presence is essential and how to start building it right now.
Building your personal online presence is also important because it helps you establish a following, independent of your app, employment or even companies that you start. For example, let’s say that you build a healthy following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Maybe you have a total of 30,000 followers, combined.
When you launch your app, you now have 30,000 followers that you can show your new app to. This may or may not lead to a lot of downloads, but it is undoubtedly better than starting from zero.
Now…let’s say that your app doesn’t do very well. Maybe you want to go out and find a job, build another app or start a company in a totally different industry.
You can leverage your personal following in any future endeavor.
People like Gary Vaynerchuk have built a huge personal brand that helps him with any project he does. Figure out how you can do the same.
So regardless of what you think of Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform, you should get started with it right now.
Places to Start Building a Following
First, consider setting up your own website. It doesn’t have to be fancy, maybe a short paragraph about you and a contact form. It helps your credibility when you took some time to setup even a simple site.
Next, look for places to interact with people you want to meet.
On Facebook, you can join groups like App Entrepreneurs and Marketers, Mobile Marketing Experts, App Business Entrepreneurs or BluecloudSelect where you’ll meet other indie devs and companies and share learned lessons. There are new groups popping up all the time, so take some time to find out what is out there.
Also consider setting your own Facebook page. Yes, that may seem a little narcissistic, but you can always reserve the page and keep it private, for now. Use it as a public place to share your ideas, especially if you keep your personal Facebook account private.
After that, Twitter is probably the next best place to go. If you aren’t already on Twitter, there is probably a perfectly good reason for that…most people either love it or hate it.
But it really is one of the best places to interact with people. Some people who won’t respond to emails will respond to tweets. So put your opinions of Twitter to the side for a moment and give it a honest try.
Then, look at other online communities that you can start talking to people on and building a reputation. Provide real value to others and they will be more likely to follow you.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
This is a little outside the scope of what most websites tell you about app marketing, but establishing a personal brand can pay huge dividends, in the long run.
Validate Your Idea
You think your iPhone/iPad app idea is great. But it couldn’t hurt to make sure…right?
You’re going to invest a lot of time, effort and money into building your app. So you want to be reasonably sure that people are looking for an app like yours.
So the first thing that you want to do is gauge demand. You want to know what kind of download volumes and revenue you can expect from that app.
First, find all the apps on the App Store that are similar to the app you want to create. Contrary to what many people think, having successful competitors is usually a good thing.
You just don’t want to have TOO many of them.
It shows that there is a market for your app. It is up to you to decide if you can make a better app than them, make it slightly different or market your app better.
If there are zero apps like yours (or the existing ones aren’t doing well), then you should reconsider your idea. There might not be a market for it.
An easy way to find competitors is to use an ASO platform like Mobile Action. They will give you a list of competitors for your app, or any other app that you want to research. To get a complete list of ASO platforms, be sure to reference our Marketing Toolbox.
Now that you have a list of apps, it is time to figure out about how many downloads they are getting and how much revenue they are making. You can use a platform like Apptopia to get estimates. Again, this is just one example, reference our toolbox to find other app intelligence platforms.
Remember that any download or revenue numbers that you get from these platforms will be estimates, based on their algorithms. So it can be helpful to compare a couple of platforms.
But that is just a preliminary check. If you want to get a more in-depth look at how to do market research, read this detailed post on validating app ideas.
Your market research can also be done by directly communicating about your app idea and creating a landing page to test your idea. Check out the Kissmetrics example in the “Online presence” part of this article.
It doesn’t matter if you’re building a seasonal app, surfing a trend or targeting a niche market. Analyze what your competition is doing (yes, you have competitors) and read their users reviews on the App Store.
If you already have an app published, you should also read the reviews of your app carefully. There are basically three benefits to examining reviews (otherwise known as Review Mining)…
Uncover Features Your App Must Have
First, take a look at what people are saying about your competitors…both good and bad.
The best way to get started is to read the one and five-star reviews. This is a gold mine of information because it tells you exactly what people love and hate about other apps.
In some cases, the two and four-star reviews may be even better because these people are actually providing quality feedback, instead of venting their anger or simply expressing their existing love for the app.
If there is something that your app does better, then you can highlight that in your marketing. If you haven’t launched an app yet, then this is something that you should improve on in your app.
Also take a look at what people are raving about in other apps. That is going to be features that you have to include in your app (assuming it isn’t proprietary).
Platforms like Sensor Tower make this process much easier than manually reading through all of the reviews yourself. Their tool allows you to sort through reviews, search by keyword and view reviews by category tag.
As you can see, just by examining the reviews of your competitors, you can already get a ton of information about what your marketplace wants.
But that’s not all…
Learn How to Improve Your App
Next, if your existing app has some issues, now is the time to uncover them. Read through all of your reviews and see what people are complaining about.
If you already do this, then good job! If not, then we totally get it…you are busy.
Make it a habit because it can be one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with your users.
Get Ideas For New Killer Features
Finally, reading your reviews can help you uncover new features that nobody has yet. Think about that…
People may be asking for a feature, but if app developers aren’t monitoring reviews in their niche, they are missing out on a golden opportunity. The next killer feature in your niche could be right under your nose!
So take some time to read through reviews every month. Who knows what you will discover.
How to Read Through App Store Reviews on iTunes Quickly
To get started with Review Mining, here are some tips for getting through the iTunes reviews faster. Using the Review Mining tools that are out there will speed up the process, but they usually cost money.
This is how you can do it for free, but the process is more manual. It will take longer, but that might be fine if you don’t have too many reviews to read through.
There are four categories of reviews on iTunes:
- Most Helpful
- Most Critical
- Most Recent
- Most Favorable
You can change the category you are looking at by selecting it from the drop down menu on the right side of the screen, in the reviews section. Be sure that Current Version is selected at the top, so you see the most recent reviews.
After you are done looking through the recent comments, you can look a the comments from All Versions if you need more information.
Choose the category you want to examine and start scrolling. Remember to take some notes on what you find.
Your app has to have something that people want. Review Mining helps you figure this out.
To get an in-depth look at Review Mining, read this post.
Choose Your Revenue Model
Choosing the right revenue model is a decision that keeps many app developers up at night.
Before we dive into the revenue models, not all apps aren’t out to make money. I see two situations where you don’t necessarily need a revenue model:
- You’re building an iPhone or iPad app just as a hobby
- You simply want to acquire users to cross promote with other apps
So when you are researching other apps, keep this in mind. A successful app may not be monetizing as well as it could be, for those reasons. So be wary of emulating an app that has different goals.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at the different revenue models you could implement. There are different variations and combinations of these strategies, but essentially, there are seven basic ways to make money.
- One time, up-front fee – The most straightforward, but not the most desirable. The reason is that you are supporting an increasing number of users and you have to get even more users to fund your future development costs.
- Up-front fee + in-app purchases – This is probably the hardest sell because you are asking people to pay twice. It only works in certain niches.
- Free + in-app purchases – Most of the ridiculously profitable games in the world use this model. It should one of the first revenue models you should explore.
- Free (“lite version”) + paid version – This can be a great model if you have a strong value proposition that can be showcased in a free version of your app.
- Free + advertising – Advertising is generally a four letter word, but it can be a good revenue model, if you have no other options. Consider offering an in-app purchase that removes the ads.
- Subscription – A model that is becoming increasingly popular because it provides recurring income to cover future development costs.
- Cross Promotion – As I mentioned above, you may want to create a totally free app to get a ton of users. You can then cross promote your paid app within the free app.
Which revenue model is best for your app? That really depends on the type of app you have.
This is where market research comes into play. Take a look at what other successful apps in your category are doing and that will give you the best place to start.
Choose Your App Price
If you have a paid app, you’ll be able to experiment with your pricing, but be careful of the image you give to your potential users. It’s easier to start at a higher price and do “price drops” than to suddenly charge twice the price.
The price you can charge people depends on your target audience and your app. Some people will happily drop $9.99 for an app. But people won’t even pay $0.99 for other apps.
Market Research to the Rescue
Just like with most other things in app marketing, market research is going to be your best advisor. Take a look at how successful publishers in your category are pricing their apps and that will give you vital clues as to what is working.
Here is an example of a study that Sensor Tower did of the pricing strategies of the top 50 paid iOS apps. As you can see, what is considered acceptable in each category, varies greatly.
Some apps charge $200 or more!
So before you jump to any hasty pricing decisions, do some homework. It can make a huge difference.
Does Your Pricing Pay the Bills?
When pricing your app, it is also important to consider your development and marketing costs. Will your pricing cover your costs?
If you don’t have an app published yet, or you are still in the optimization process and expect better numbers in the near future, then you can use the download and revenue estimates from the Validate Your Idea section above.
Remember to stay conservative in your projections. We know that you love your app, but your success depends on using reasonable estimates.
Choose the Right Name
Choosing the right name for a product is never easy, and apps are no different.
Apple allows you to have 255 characters in your app name, but that doesn’t mean that you should use them all. Sure, some apps have managed to do that…
But for the most part, the longer your name, the more likely your app will be rejected during the review process. In fact, most of the apps that currently have long names usually have not done an update in awhile.
They still have their name from when Apple allowed such long names. Nowadays, it’s better to do the following…
My suggestion would be to find a name that not only sounds good, but is also very descriptive and contains a major keyword. If you have a camera app, you need a name that suggests photography and cameras.
When submitting your iOS app, you’ll also need an “extended name.” Your app name and a few keywords (like a condensed tagline) to make it clear what your app is about.
This is important so users check out your app page, but also so they can find it. Our article on App Store Optimization (ASO) and choosing the right app name should be helpful.
In a study that Stewart Hall did on app names of top apps he presented some interesting results. He found that most successful apps have a name that is between 2-6 words long and use less than 30 characters. The vast majority of them have a hyphen between the app name and the description.
Of course, those are just guidelines, individual circumstance will vary. But as a general guideline, you should include your app name, followed by a hyphen, then 1 to 3 very descriptive keywords.
Other App Naming Considerations
Beyond that, you should think about the future marketing potential of your app name. This will not apply to all apps, it just depends on what your goals are.
If you are making a game for fun, or just to get a feel for the app building process, then you probably don’t need to do this. But if you are building a serious app for your business, then you certainly need to consider these things.
Even if you don’t plan on using these assets, you should reserve them so nobody else can use them:
- Is the .com domain name available? If not, is there anything on that domain? If there isn’t an already established site there, you can think about using .co or .io.
- Are the social media handles available for your app name? It is obviously getting harder to get simple account names, but for example…if we couldn’t get @apptamin, then we might try @apptaminvideos or something like that. Use a site like Knowem to search multiple sites at once.
- Finally, are there any other apps with a similar name? You don’t want to confuse people or get in trouble for copyright violations.
If you are out of ideas, browse the App Store and see what other apps are doing.
Start Marketing Within Your App
App marketing shouldn’t be an afterthought.
It’s useless to market a weak app, and there are certain aspects that have to be considered from the very beginning. Here are the things to consider…
User Experience (UX)
The user experience of your app is critical to its success. Your app should be easy to use from the very first seconds (you won’t get much more attention than that).
Some argue that if your app needs a walkthrough, you blew it. It’s probably not totally true, but you get the point. People might not use your app like you’re anticipating, but you still have to do your best to make it easy for them to use the core features.
Create mock-ups, try different things and ask the right people for feedback. For your mock-ups, you can use tools like Balsamiq, Evolus’ Pencil or the really handy POP iPhone app (with some dotted paper).
Get a complete list of prototyping tools in our app marketing toolbox.
Once you have the first draft, spend a few dollars and ask UX/UI experts for their advice. If you don’t know any, try reaching out to some through Clarity.fm.
Don’t expect them to do all the work for you (unless you have the money), but you’ll be surprised at how much insight a 30 minute call can give you. Sometimes all you need is the right connection.
You need a stunning design. If you’re not a designer, hire a good one. In my opinion, this is one of the best investments you can make.
To find a great designer, you can use a website like Crew. It is a community of invite-only, freelance developers and designers.
Your design needs to be coherent. This means that the different parts of your app should have the same feel, and also that any visual asset you’re creating (including your app icon) should be consistent with your app design.
Details matter. Small things like sounds and how things move give a general good feeling to users and can make a difference.
Here’s an interesting article on the SPUN app design that talks about a few important points. Learn how they got some great ideas from Apple on how to take their interface to the next level.
Also consider how your app will look on both Android and iOS. While your app should look very similar, there are subtle differences that you have to think about and guidelines from both Apple and Google (Material design).
So keep an eye out for Apple’s announcements.
This is the hardest part to get right.
If your iPad or iPhone app is great and you market it right, you should get some attention. You should be able to get it reviewed, get some downloads and put it in people’s hands.
App reviews and high download volumes are nice. Congratulations, you got people interested enough to download your app.
Do they use it 30 seconds and leave? Do they go back to it twice and then never open it again? Or worse, do they just uninstall it?
Push notifications are one way to keep people using your app. But you can’t rely on push notifications alone. The concept of your app and the user experience have to be such that people keep coming back to your app.
If people are not using your app as much as you think they should, it is time to figure out why. The first step is examine your analytics and find out where in your app your users are dropping out, and what could be causing it.
Also read through your reviews to see if you can find any reason that people stop using your app. It is also helpful to survey some of your users to find out what they think of your app.
Finally, your retention metrics might just be normal for your category. Want to know how your app is doing compared to others in the same category? Check out this post.
For more information about LTV, read this article from our blog.
Share Mechanisms / Virality Aspect
This is another tough one (yes, there are several of them).
The problem is that all download spikes eventually wear off.
Getting in the top charts is hard, but doable.
It’s much harder to stay there.
In all cases, you’ll have to keep on marketing your app and giving it the attention it deserves. But that cannot be the only way it spreads…
- You need users to become your marketers.
- You need users to talk to their friends about it.
- You need users to share content by themselves.
That means you have to figure what can be “viral” about your app, allow people to share content, make good use of social media via Facebook Open Graph, etc. Those “shareable” aspects will depend on your app, and are key to its success.
Once you figure out what you want people to share, you need to give them the ability to do so. Luckily Apple makes it easy to do.
Read this part of the Apple Developer Library to get the best practices for implementing social sharing. They recommend not asking users to sign into a social media account to share. You can get authentication from Accounts framework, which supports single sign-on.
Feedback and Customer Engagement
Having happy users is critical to your app’s success.
Having great app ratings (4.0+) and user reviews increases the conversion on your app page. The more people see that others like your app and are satisfied with it, the more chances you have that they will try it.
To improve your ratings, you will need two things:
- A great app
- A way to route good ratings to the App Store and bad ratings to your support
To identify any problems people encounter with your app you need to be easily reachable. DO NOT wait until negative app reviews appear to learn about a bug, a needed feature or app crashes.
Allow users to contact you.
- Let them contact you from within the app.
- Let them contact you from the App Store page (the support URL).
- Let them contact from your website or through social media.
Once they contact you, you need to listen to them. Answer them. Act on what they’re suggesting (or consider it).
Do your best to turn an unhappy or unsatisfied users into someone that understands there is a person behind the app that can be reached and cares about its users.
Once you have successfully dealt with a request or problem, those users will usually be happy to leave you a great review.
Allow people to contact you within the app, via email or a tweet. You can also use an in-app feedback SDK like Apptentive.
Like we detailed in our post on app ratings, tools like Apptentive let you do more than just receive feedback. They usually invite happy users to rate your app, while providing a way for unhappy users to contact you from within the app.
This is huge because there are basically two types of customers: vocal and non-vocal. If a customer is non-vocal, you will never know what went wrong. They will be gone forever.
Customer feedback tools help you to prevent that from happening.
Some tools let you identify user segments and reach out to these users through push notifications or other methods. It’s a good way to have people know about your major app news (content, features, etc.) and have them come back to your app.
Don’t abuse it though, keep your notifications relevant.
Measuring User Retention and Learning How People Use Your App
Downloads are important, and a key metric of your app success. But like we said, it’s not only about downloads.
You also need people to keep using your app. This is certainly not an easy task.
According to a Nielsen study, the number of apps that people use on their smartphones has stayed relatively the same. So if you are not in this “top 26” your revenue and keyword rankings will suffer.
Luckily, you can get a summary of your user retention stats right inside your iTunes Connect dashboard. Here is an example of what you will see.
So you think you have done everything right, but your retention numbers don’t show it. What should you do next?
People might not be using your iOS app like you expected. Wouldn’t it be nice to know how much time they use it, how many times they come back, if they share it, what features they use (and which ones you could remove)?
The good news is, there are many great tools/SDK (some of them free) that let you do just that. Check out our app analytics tools roundup to learn more about them and choose the one that’s best for your app.
Once you get your analytics solution installed, you will also want to do a cohort analysis on your users. A cohort is simply a group of users that share a specific characteristic.
For example, you could have cohorts of users who sign up on the same day. By observing these groups, you notice that if people make it past day 3, they usually end up being good long-term customers.
Therefore, you can setup specific strategies to make sure that people use your app through day 3, so they have a better chance of sticking around.
Measuring Your App Marketing Channels’ Effectiveness
To market your app, you’re going to try all kinds of things.
You’re going to get people to know about it through many channels. Wouldn’t it be nice to know which ones are the most effective?
By knowing that, you could decide what’s worth it and what’s not. You could focus on what brings the most downloads, or even better on what brings the highest revenue.
But just like with web attribution, it is not always easy to track where a download comes from.
Companies like Tune, AppsFlyer, Apsalar, Google Analytics and Optimizely all have solutions that will help you understand where which promotion channels are the best. Tune has an especially good explanation of how they handle attribution.
If you’re an indie developer or a startup, chances are you have a limited budget. Whenever that is the case, paid ads is usually the last thing you will spend money on.
Luckily, there are still some options out there for you. Here are a couple of options that you should explore.
A service like TapForTap will let you do free tap exchange: you simply trade clicks with other app developers. You show ads for other apps, earn credits and spend those credits for your own app.
If you don’t mind the ad banner (you could have an in-app purchase that includes its removal) then it can be a good way to spread the word about your app. You can also earn money for showing paid ads in your app.
A similar platform is Tapdaq. It allows you to start trading installs in 3 steps.
The platform makes sure that you are getting the same number of installs that you are helping other apps get. It’s great for promoting your app on other apps, or your own app within your own app portfolio.
Build Your App’s Online Presence
You can’t rely only on the App Store page. You need people to find out about your iPad or iPhone app on the web. You need a place to refer people to (bloggers, journalists, strangers) and you need to build a community around your app.
That means having at least a website (and probably a blog) and using the main social media platforms. This section will show you what to work on first.
As you can see, there is a lot of possibilities and it can be easy to get lost…
Website and Blog
When should you launch your website?
Not only do you need a website (or at least a page) for your app, but you need to create it as soon as possible.
You’ll need one eventually for support and branding, so you might as well create one before you launch. It doesn’t take much time to setup a basic page and it doesn’t have to be fancy.
You can get a simple site up in a weekend. Even better, you can hire someone to get it up in a weekend. 🙂
Your app website will evolve, so don’t worry about making it perfect the first time around. You can start with a landing page and a mailing list subscription form, then add a blog, then add download links and eventually add testimonials and great user reviews.
So as soon as you have your app name, its concept and a few screenshots designs you should go ahead and create your app website. Here’s what you should consider…
Key Elements of Your App Website
Your app website is the place where you can show your app in its best light and pitch it to visitors, and where you can really explain the problem(s) you’re solving.
You want it to be sexy, easy to scan and read.
There are several elements you need to include (or at least consider):
- App name and app icon
- Devices on which the app is available (with app screenshots inside or a video capture of the app)
- App pitch: a short sentence explaining what your app is and why it’s a must have
- Badges of the mobile app stores where the app can be downloaded (the latest ones)
- Call-to-action: mailing-list subscription form before app launch; download button(s) after
- App promotional video: the quickest way for someone to initially assess your app
- Social proof elements (once app is released): testimonials, user reviews, awards won, Apple features, etc.
- Key benefits and screenshots: should explain in more details what value your app brings and show its main screenshots
- Contact/Support info: make yourself easily reachable to both bloggers and users
- Social Media info: links to your social media accounts, Facebook Like button (to your page or your app), Tweet button. SumoMe has a great free WordPress plugin that you can use for share buttons.
- Press Kit: you might think it’s outdated, but you still need one
- Links to your other apps (if you have others, and if relevant to your app audience)
Here are a few more blog posts that you can read on creating effective landing pages:
- 9 Landing Pages That Pissed Me Off and What I’d Do to Fix Them
- How to Make Great Landing Pages (With Crazy High Conversions)
- 15 of the Best Landing Page Design Examples You Need to See
- How to Make a Landing Page That C.O.N.V.E.R.T.S.
To Blog or Not to Blog?
Some people believe that a blog is not useful for an app…or any business, for that matter.
We couldn’t disagree more. We built our business around content marketing and sharing things on our blog (and app videos created with performance in mind).
If you don’t believe that blogging can be effective, here is a snapshot of our current website traffic. Each point on the graph is one day of traffic. It’s not as much as other sites, but it’s been working for us. We are always expanding our traffic, so our current numbers may be a lot more than what you see below.
But this steady stream of website visitors provides us with valuable leads for our video production services. Think about how that could improve your app downloads.
But we get it. Blogging does take time and resources away from other things that you could be doing, with no guarantee of a return.
But think about it this way…
What if you had an asset that:
- Is your 24/7/365 publicist, with almost zero maintenance (or cost)
- Reduces the need for support by answering common questions about your app
- Acts as an almost-free sales person, selling your app and getting downloads
- Creates goodwill in your niche by providing valuable information that people want
- Helps people create an emotional connection to your apps
That is what every single blog post can give you. Not every blog post will do well obviously, but if you focus on creating useful and interesting blog posts, some posts will do very well.
It’s the good ol’ 80/20 rule. But the top 20% of your posts can make it all worthwhile.
For your app, a blog is also a great way to:
- Engage (future) users by sharing your app’s building process, designs.
- Keep them in the loop about what’s happening: launch, app updates and new features.
- Share great content about the niche your app is in, your mission, or teach people something: a productivity app could have a blog with tips on being more productive (like Buffer does incredibly well) and a football app about major football news, players, etc.
The more content you share, the more visibility your app can get.
If you’re just getting started, here is a resource with several guides that can help you out.
It’s a good thing to have a website and a blog for your app.
But if your copy sucks, then it won’t help much.
If your app pitch is 10 sentences long, people won’t bother reading it. If your blog posts are full of typos and boring, you won’t engage people, and you probably won’t turn visitors into customers.
In the same fashion, if the copy of the description on your app store page turn people away then you won’t make your app a success.
You need to make people want your app.
You might be awesome at coding and designing an app. You also have to get better at marketing and copywriting.
From what we have seen from most startup founders we have met, most people are really good at one or the other. Rarely are people really good at both.
So if you don’t have the skills yet, don’t worry. You can totally learn them.
Luckily there are several great websites to help you get better at it, like Copyblogger. When it comes to conversion optimization, I really enjoy reading The Crazy Egg Blog.
A common mistake is try to get to technical or detailed in your copy. This rarely works in copywriting.
Keep things concise and informative. You will probably have to break some traditional grammatical rules too.
Inbound Marketing / Content Marketing
Yes, you need to do some App Store Optimization.
But you also need people to find you on the web. You can’t depend only on the App Store as your sole marketing channel.
And forget about web directories and paying people for links. You need to start building and sharing interesting content so people get to know and find you.
I know, it’s easier said than done. And sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s working (it does take time) or what’s working. Remember what I said earlier about measuring your marketing’s effectiveness?
That’s what it’s for.
Give it some time, it won’t happen overnight.
If you plan on building several apps for the same niche, content marketing is a great way to go. All the content you create can potentially benefit any of those apps! And when Apple changes its App Store again, you won’t suffer as much even if things don’t go your way.
By creating and sharing great content you’re also showing there’s a person/team behind the app, as well as building trust.
To get started, here are a few avenues that you can pursue:
- Social media marketing
- Guest blogging
- Podcasting (or being a guest on existing podcasts)
- YouTube videos
Leveraging Apple Pre-Order feature
Apple now allows you to make your app available for pre-order: once your app is approved, you can choose a release date that’s 2 to 90 days away. Your app’s product page then becomes visible on the App Store.
People interested in your app can then tap the “Pre-Order” button. On the date of the release they will receive a notification letting them know the app they pre-ordered is available, and your app is automatically downloaded to their device!
This is great because it allows you to capitalize on all the pre-launch marketing for your app that we’re talking about in this post. You should still build an email list (see below), but this Pre-order option can get you a lot of downloads on launch day.
Plus, because your listing is “live” it means that your app is already starting to rank for some keywords. Perfect for App Store optimization!
This is still a pretty overlooked feature and it can allow you to get on Apple’s radar for a feature. Immediately after putting your app in Pre-Order, go pitch your app to Apple at the appstore.com/promote link.
The Right Call to Action
Once your app is released, you want your app website’s visitors to download it.
So don’t make them hunt for those download buttons!
Display a visible call to action.
Here are links to the download buttons:
- Apple App Store
- Google Play Store
- Amazon Appstore
Insert the app store badges and consider adding another one. If it makes sense, why not using new services available like app distribution via SMS or sending download links directly to people’s phone?
If your app is not ready yet, then your call to action is the subscription button to your app email list.
The Money is in the List
App developers still don’t use email lists enough.
Someone signing up for your email newsletter is someone you’re going to be able to reach easily, and engage. As long as they remain subscribed, they give you the right to reach them directly in their inbox.
Tweets, Facebook statuses, or any other social media platforms can be useful. But there is so much more noise out there.
With email, you have a lot less competition. The best way to make sure someone receives an information is still using an email. It’s your job to choose the right subject lines and tell the right thing so they keep opening them.
Although your email list is still useful post-launch (put a form on your website and blog), it will be even more useful before you launch.
During your pre-launch period, put a subscription form on your app website and make it the most obvious thing on the page (see call to action above).
Here are a few ways that you can use your email newsletter:
- Gauge the interest people have in your app (no sign ups at all? Maybe something is wrong)
- Keep people informed about when your app is launching. Don’t forget to mention again what your app does, so they remember you.
- Ask people for feedback
- Let people know about a crowdfunding campaign
- Ask people to vote for your app for an award or a contest
- Let people know about great news and milestones
Once you got your email newsletter going, keep sending email regularly (but not too often) so people don’t forget about you. Use services like Mailchimp and Aweber to reliably send your emails. Remember, BCC is for amateurs and very likely to get your domain blacklisted.
Maximize Your App Store Return on Your Site
You know it, Apple (and Google) takes its share (30%) on each app you sell or in-app purchase you generate.
It kinda sucks, but you can’t do anything about it. And they also let you distribute your product on their store.
No matter how you feel about this, I’m sure you don’t want to pass on the opportunity to get an additional 5%. And not only when someone buys your app, but also when they buy anything during the following 72 hours on the iTunes store (as long as they don’t click on another affiliate link).
Now the thing is, you don’t contract directly with Apple but with affiliates, the major ones being LinkShare (US, Canada and Mexico), Tradedoubler (Europe & Brazil) and APD (Australia & New-Zealand).
That means you have to contract with all of these affiliate companies if you don’t want to miss out on your 5%. Fortunately, Geniuslink has a solution for you (in exchange for 15% of your 5%).
Once you’re affiliated with all 3 companies, you create an account on Geniuslink. They give you a Geniuslink link for each app, which automatically redirect users to the right App Store country so you can get your money. That way, you don’t have to ask yourself which link you should be using.
Want to learn more? Check out this blog post and the Geniuslink website. The only thing you want to consider is if you’re going to be able to combine this with the way you track the sources of your downloads.
Bonus: Geniuslink also works for international affiliate programs like Amazon too. Score!
I mentioned Twitter earlier when talking about building your personal online presence.
A Twitter account for your app can also make a lot of sense. A lot of early adopters use Twitter, and it’s a great platform to interact with them.
You can use Twitter to share great content on your niche (whether yours or others’), your app news, or even for support.
You can also use Twitter to reach out to journalists and bloggers. It won’t always work (especially if they don’t know you) and sometimes it’s better to do it with your personal account, but a tweet with a promo video can be pretty powerful.
A Twitter group like IDRTG (Indie Developers Re-Tweet Group) can help you reach even more people when you have content other developers should be interested in and major news to announce.
To optimize the time you spend sharing content on Twitter (or Facebook), use Buffer to queue up your outgoing tweets and automatically post them at optimized times. It even gives you useful analytics.
You can also use a tool like HootSuite to create lists corresponding to search queries: that way you can find discussions you can jump into by knowing when others are talking about your app or mentioning important keywords.
Don’t have a lot of time? I hear ya. You can use Edgar to automatically recycle your best content…like your blog posts.
Bring value, interact, thank people for their comments/shares, and you can build a solid following quickly.
Looking for cool people and companies to follow? Check out our lists to see who we follow on Twitter.
Having a Facebook Page for your app is a must. Even if you are still on the fence about using Facebook for marketing, you should reserve the name, so your competition doesn’t steal it.
A Facebook page can be a great way to engage your users and potential users. You can ask them what they think of your designs, questions about what they’d like to see in your app, you can share the good news, etc. If you are really against setting up a website for your app, you can also use your Facebook page for support.
Don’t make your posts only about your app, though. That gets boring.
It’s like talking to someone at a party who only talks about themselves.
Dig into all aspects of what your users would be interested in and test out a few ideas. For example, if you have a car racing app, blog posts on car tuning might be interesting. Or maybe car racing videos from YouTube. Make it fun and people will want to see more.
Also keep in mind that Facebook is a great paid acquisition source. The level of demographic targeting you can get with Facebook ads is staggering.
I’ll talk about that more later in this guide, but keep that in mind for now…
Ok, I sense some eye rolling…
But seriously, if content marketing is part of your strategy to acquire users then you should link your blog to your Google+ account. It’s worth it, even if it’s just for that great picture of you it displays in search results.
Sometimes you can appear in search results for competitive keywords, if you are seen as an expert in your niche. Sharing your website links only takes a few seconds, so why not just get it done?
You have a great idea, you’ve done your market research and you know you’re building the app your target audience wants and need.
But wouldn’t your app be even better if you also asked your potential users for feedback? Don’t you think that you’ll create a better app if you ask your developer peers for their opinion about what you’re building?
Ideas are not worth much. It’s the execution that counts.
Stop thinking that everyone is going to steal your idea.
Most people don’t really care, and if they do like your idea (or had it before) chances are, that since you’re building it, they won’t. Anyone will be able to steal your idea anyway once your app is released (and they’ll even know what people like or don’t like about your execution).
So here is my advice: Talk about your idea.
To everyone willing to listen to you. Hear what they have to say, and keep an open mind when it comes to their ideas (I know, it’s hard). Here are a few ways that you can get feedback on your idea.
Feedback Through Your Blog, Email, Surveys and Social Media
As I mentioned in the previous section, you can use your blog and social media accounts to engage people and start conversations.
If you have a “personal” online presence, ask your followers on Twitter what they think about your app idea. You might discover competitors you had no idea existed, and get interesting ideas for marketing or new features.
Also, don’t be shy on Twitter…feel free to contact mobile experts cold or jump into an existing conversation that might be going on. Of course, no matter how polite you are, some people will ignore you. Just keep trying and you might surprised and the type of feedback you get.
Early on (once you’re committed to building the app), you should ask your blogs visitors, fans and followers what they think about your app designs: your icon, your home screen, etc. You have 4 different concepts for your icon? Share them with people and let them help you with that choice. / Since you read our blog post on building an email list, you also probably have an email list. You can send your list a survey with Google Docs or Survey Monkey.
Remember to keep your surveys short, especially if you are asking people to fill it out, without any reward. To get some great tips on how to create a survey that will uncover people’s deepest desires, read this blog post.
Feedback Through a Crowdfunding Campaign
A crowdfunding campaign can help you with several things.
Of course, it’s a way to get some money for your development or app marketing. But it’s also a way to get early feedback and generate interest around your app.
Absolutely no one cares about your project? Well, something is probably wrong. Maybe your pitch is weak, or you are not taking the right angle.
If you’re able to get people to follow you, they are excited about your app and suggest ideas, then you’re on the right track. Your funders are most likely future users that will share your app with others when it’s ready.
Don’t get me wrong, a crowdfunding campaign is hard. Especially for an app, since there are so many of them. You need a good online network and a great pitch (and video).
…and a good dose of hustle, as well.
Pre-Launch Feedback on Third-Party Sites
With the growing difficulty for developers to get their apps in users’ hands, some “pre-launch” platforms have been created.
The goal of these websites is to generate some interest/following in apps that will be published soon, and let app developers get feedback on their ideas and designs from the people who will be their users. This has obvious advantages for developers.
But what about for users?
Some people want to be the first to find out about new apps, even before they are available to the public. Much like how some people want to be first to have the latest phone or game console. Some of these people can also be investors.
So these sites bring these two groups of people together to fulfill their needs.
Take a look at sites like LaunchSky and Preapps. These sites have come a long way over the years, in terms of design and functionality, and have the potential to help you build a following even before you launch.
If you need people to test your app before it’s released, use a service like TestFlight or HockeyApp to get people a preview version of your app.
You can also give out promo codes for people to try your app, after it’s published. On iOS, you can give people a promo code to preview an app as long as it’s in Ready for Sale or Pending Developer Release status.
Feedback From Other Developers and People in the Mobile Industry
You obviously want feedback from your target audience.
But getting other developers’ opinions about your app is important too.
They’re building or have been building several apps, they try a lot of applications and know what they like and don’t like. They can share what worked for them and what didn’t, and what they think could work for you. They can point out flaws in your design, your pitch or your marketing strategy. They can help you discover a great blog that can help you get started or improve (like ours).
Share your project with them, offline or online:
- Offline: go to conferences, developer and tech meetups
- Online: interact on Twitter, share what you’re working on (and help others!) on the iPhoneDevSDK forum or the TouchArcade Forums, discuss on Facebook groups for devs, get advices from experts on Clarity.fm, etc. The App Entrepreneurs and Marketers Group on Facebook has #FeedbackFriday, where you can post your icon, screenshot or anything else app related and get feedback from the group.
Obviously, don’t spend ALL your time doing that because it can be a huge time suck. But do it once in awhile to get valuable feedback from your fellow developers.
…and remember, you should always strive to give before you receive, so don’t hesitate to help others and try to bring value to any community you are a part of. Be gracious and thank people who help you too.
Feedback From Your Target Audience and Influencers in Your Niche
If you’ve identified a specific niche for your app, you need to reach out to people that are likely to be interested in it.
If you’re building an app around something you’re passionate about, then you probably know the forums and other online places where people discuss about your hobby. If you’re new to that niche, start looking and interacting where your target audience is.
Don’t spam people with your app idea. Start building a relationship with them early on.
The best way to do this is usually see if you can help them first. Don’t ask for anything in return.
It could be something as small as rewteeting one of their tweets or sharing one of their blog posts.
If you build real rapport, then the topic of your app will inevitably come up. At this point, you will be able to ask about your app. You will probably get a more honest opinion too, because the person will genuinely want to help you out.
Identify influencers. Know who is really knowledgeable in your app niche, who wrote a book or who has a strong following on your topic. Then reach out to them.
Same here, don’t make it spammy. Keep your email to 5 sentences. They don’t need your life story.
Remember, they are busy and they probably get a lot of requests a week. Most people are more willing to help people who doesn’t waste their time.
Be that person.
Feedback (and Publicity) From Contests and Awards
You may not have thought about this before, but contests can be a great way to get the word out about your app.
So if you are looking for a low-cost way to publicize your app, submit your it to every contest or award you can apply to.
Not only are these great opportunities to get more exposure (and downloads), it’s also a good way to get expert feedback on your app. Many times the judges for these contests are marketing, design or development professionals and can give you suggestions, based on their extensive experience.
If it’s a “real-life” contest where you have to present your app in person, it’s a great opportunity for you to meet with other contestants and people in the industry and get their opinion. Make the most of these events, even if you don’t have an app to present.
Very early state startup contests like Startup Weekend can also be a great place to hang out. There are usually some experienced startup founder and angel investors in attendance.
If English is not your native language, localization is pretty much a no-brainer.
You can start with releasing an app in a language almost no one in the world speaks (like…French), but eventually if you want your app to be a success you have to consider localizing it.
If your app is built in English first, then localization can make sense too.
If your app starts to get some traction in its native language markets, keep an eye on how it’s doing in other countries that speak a different language. Especially the ones with high growth (like China, Argentina, Russia, Israel, etc.).
Translating your app name and app store page in another language can bring you some more downloads in the targeted market. This might bring you some unhappy users too, that thought they’d be able to use your app in their language.
So that doesn’t happen, you need to translate the app itself as well (and the screenshots on your app store page).
Localization is more than translation, though.
You might need to go even further and truly localize your app so it fits the targeted market’s culture and be well understood by these users.
Mark Johnson, maker of Hit Tennis 3, listed a couple potential benefits you can get from localizing on his blog:
Tempting, right? So how do you go about it?
First option is doing it yourself and creating a strings file per language.
Second option, as often…Is paying someone to do it. Companies like iCanLocalize, Applingua, OneSky and others can do that for you, from $0.09/word to more.
Apple recommends a few things in terms of internationalization, you can check it out here.
Do App Store Optimization
Ok, so you can’t count on just your app store page and Apple to bring you downloads.
But does that mean that you shouldn’t do everything you can to give your app as much visibility as possible on the App Store itself? And make all you can to convert visitors into users?
App Store Optimization (ASO) is maybe a bit overrated, but there are things you need to do and choices you need to make to get the most downloads possible. Some of them are common sense, but it never hurts to check.
- Choose the right app name and keywords
- Create a beautiful icon, coherent with your app design
- Select your best, most explicit screenshots, and consider adding text captions to explain them
- Write a great app description (remember the copywriting advices?), that makes people (who read it) want to give your app a try
- Improve your app ratings (we talked about that toward the beginning)
- Produce an optimized iOS App Preview video (or several), that displays in both the search results and your app store listing
You want to make sure you’re not forgetting any aspect of App Store Optimization? Check out our handy list of Essential ASO resources.
Track Your Competitors
Before we leave this topic, be sure that you are tracking all of your competitors. Here are a couple of ways you can do this.
Get Your App Reviewed
If you don’t have tons of money to invest in advertising, then your app success will depend a lot on the coverage you manage to get.
You need people to learn about your app. And a great way for that to happen is a blog post or an article on a well-known website.
It’s not easy though, as bloggers and journalists are highly solicited everyday, and don’t have time to try every single app. That means you need to pitch it right, and to the right persons.
A Word on Paid Reviews
Some blogs will ask you for money in exchange for a blog post or to move you up the review queue.
If you decide to pay, makes sure its worth it and that it will actually bring you (loyal) users. Make sure that your targeted audience reads that blog. Because maybe your money would be better spent elsewhere.
Identify Your Press and Blog Contacts
Don’t loose your time and other people’s time: pitch your app to people that have a chance to be interested in it.
As much as possible, contact individuals and avoid mass emails. It takes more time, but increases your chances.
Identify who writes about your kind of apps and who are the best blogs to be covered on.
But don’t hesitate to target smaller blogs at the beginning, as well as non-US blogs. Guess what? There are tons of people with iPhones and iPads outside of the US. And it keeps on growing.
Try to find out about newspapers that could cover your app, too. Check out the most famous ones and find the journalists that write about mobile apps (tip: use the search field). When you contact “traditional” journalists, a press release is a good thing to have. Take a look at Muck Rack to know which journalist is talking about what and find some (US) contacts.
Check out who talked and talks (set up Google Alerts) about the type of app you’re launching. Contact them and ask them for feedback.
Find out if there are any specialized magazines in your app niche that could care about your app and that you could contact.
Knowing who to contact is the first step.
Now you have to make these people interested enough to read your email, try your app and write about it (some write before trying).
Bloggers and journalists receive tons of emails, but they can’t review everything. However, they are always looking for cool new apps and stories to talk about (it’s their job).
To do that, you need the right pitch.
Not only do you need the perfect sentence to explain what your app is all about and why their audience should care, you also need to make sure to include some key elements in your email:
- Your app name as it is on the App Store
- Who your audience is, what your app does and why its approach is unique
- Your app price
- A link to your product page (website) and to the App Store product page
- One or two of your best screenshots
- A short promo or demo video
- Contact info and Skype/Twitter IDs
Also, it doesn’t hurt to greet the person by her name, and to show that you do know what they’ve been writing about (or other things they’re doing).
When (if) they do answer you and are interested in trying your app, then send them some promo codes.
Check out our blog post on how to pitch your app and get it reviewed for some more information and an email template. And read the excellent book Pitch Perfect from Erica Sadun and Steven Sande. They are bloggers at TUAW, so you should probably read what they’re saying.
Sell the Story
Some apps have some pretty cool stories behind them.
Take the example of the 1 Second Every Day app and its Kickstarter Campaign. It’s an app with a cool concept, but Cesar did more than just say “I’m building this”. He actually recorded 1 second every day for a year, and that’s the story he’s been selling (and why he got so much coverage).
If you have an interesting story behind your app, don’t hesitate to tell it. Write it down, and use it when you’re contacting bloggers and journalists.
More than just your app concept, an interesting blog post about your app story and your experience can give you some good visibility in the tech community when you submit it to Hacker News.
A website like HARO (Help A Reporter Out) sends directly to your inbox topics on which journalists and bloggers want to write. Check out if your story and experience are a good fit, and reach out to them!
Don’t Turn Down Opportunities
If your app has some kind of success and people like it, there are chances you’ll be contacted by others.
As much as you can, send them the promo codes they are requesting, and accept to answer their questions and do interviews. You never know who will read or listen to it.
Market Your App With Video
Video is one of the most powerful ways to get your message across about your app. You might think we’re biased, but we’re definitely not the only ones saying it.
Done right, a promo video for your app can bring you several marketing benefits.
It can help you boost your app visibility, increase user engagement and retention, and get more (qualified) downloads. And that’s without mentioning branding and SEO benefits.
People are highly solicited nowadays, and they don’t have time to download each app they hear or read about. This is true for smartphone users and bloggers/journalists alike.
A promo video allows you to show in a very short time what your app is all about. It sounds cliché but it’s true: if a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine what a video can achieve. Here are a few tips to produce an efficient demo video:
- Consider your audience. Keep your app target audience in mind at all times when creating your script and video.
- Write a script. This will save you tons of time and will allow you to make sure the message you convey is the right one. Just like for your website, don’t hesitate to get feedback on your script (before getting started on your video). If you can, try to bring him some emotion and story telling.
- Make it short (between 20 seconds and 1 minute). You might be tempted to show every feature of your app, but the truth is people won’t take the time to watch your 3mn video.
- Focus on the benefits and and added value of your app. Focus on what makes your app unique and worth downloading. Avoid boring and keep things dynamic.
- Make it efficient. Your goal is to show what your app is all about, but you also want people to remember it and be able to download it. Make sure you display your app name, icon and a call to action inviting viewers to download the app on the mobile app stores. Displaying your website address helps, too.
- Keep it simple. If you’re not a video expert, it’s safer to keep it simple so don’t use crazy cheap-looking effects or complicated scenario. A simple structure like intro -> core feature(s) -> outro is most likely enough.
You made (or hired someone to make) a cool and efficient video, now use it everywhere you can to promote your app.
Some mobile app stores (Google Play, Amazon) have been allowing you to add a video to your app page for a while. And now it’s coming to the App Store as well with iOS 8!
You can (and should) also use your video on your app website, in your public relations efforts, when marketing on social media or even at events and tradeshows.
After actually trying your app, people watching your app video is the next best thing that can happen. Make the most out of it.
Paid advertising is becoming an increasingly vital part of online and app marketing. The good thing is that platforms like Facebook are still affordable to most app marketers.
Even if you cannot afford to do a full-time ad campaign, you can still spend a small amount of money to get some very valuable data.
For example, let’s say that you have a messaging app. In your ads, you can test messages that promote different features in your app.
You can run ads highlighting:
- Free phone calls
- Free messaging
- The best stickers
…and see which ones perform best. Once you understand what appeals to your target audience, it makes promoting your app just a little bit easier.
To get started, read Facebook’s guide or read Facebook marketing blogs.
As time goes on, Deep Linking will become more and more important to app publishers. This is especially true for apps that have a lot of content.
Deep Linking bridges the gap between mobile apps and the web. When someone is on a mobile device, a Deep Link can send the user directly from a web search to the corresponding content in the app.
If the user does not have the app on their device yet, they can be prompted to install it. As you can see, this allows app publishers to leverage the web to get downloads, instead of relying on mechanisms within the App Stores.
To get a list of Deep Linking tools and resources, read this post.
Leverage New iOS Features
Every time a new version of iOS comes out, Apple includes new features that make iOS devices more convenient, secure and fun.
For example, in iOS 8, Apple introduced App Bundles. For app publishers who could take advantage of them, the keyword boost and increased value to customers provided a great boost in downloads.
More recently, the newest version of Apple TV provides opportunities for app publishers to bring their iOS app to a whole new ecosystem.
So keep an eye out for new opportunities because being the first to market is usually a big advantage.
Lifetime Value of a Customer
If you don’t know the Lifetime Value of your customers, you won’t know how much to spend on acquiring new ones. But this can be a tricky thing to measure because the value of a user is not always straightforward.
Our post on measuring the LTV of a customer will give you more in depth information on this topic.
The Viral Loop
A Viral Loop is when you give your users a desire to share your app with their friends. A common example is when an app gives users the opportunity to tweet their high score, to show off their friends.
Remember, Viral Loops usually don’t work on the first try. It takes several iterations to get it right, so keep at it and refine each part of the process.
To see more examples, read this post.
Do “Real-life” Marketing
To be honest, I haven’t had much experience with this.
I did try flyers and things of this kind, but with not much success. It doesn’t mean it won’t work for yours: some out of the box thinking might do wonders.
If you do try it, make sure you measure it (check out what we said above about marketing channels) so you know if it works or not.
You should go and meet other people at conferences, exhibitions and meetups. But at these events, getting feedback is more important than selling people on your app.
Exhibition booths can be worth it, if you know your target audience will be there.
Leverage Product Hunt
When launching a new app, Product Hunt can be a fantastic platform to get the word out.
How does it work?
People submit tech products that they like, and people in the community votes it up or down, based on how much they like it.
The site has grown over the years and is now one of the best places to tell the world about your new creation. But it’s not as easy as just posting your shiny new app on the site.
You need to be invited by a trusted member of the community. Another way to get your product posted quickly is to get listed as a Maker.
Someone in the community has to list your app and tag you as the Maker. Be sure that you use your personal account because company accounts cannot be listed as the maker.
Like any other marketing strategy, it might not get you a ton of downloads. But difficulty in listing products on the site can be leveraged for other PR efforts.
Cross-Promote Your App
This is huge.
If you’re serious about building an app business, then you should create more than one app. If your target audience is similar in all these different apps, then you have a huge opportunity for cross-promotion.
This means that even a free app, with no revenue model whatsoever (doesn’t mean it hurts to have one), can be a great first step to a second and third apps that generate revenue.
You can cross-promote on your app website (or the app page on your app dev company website), on your blog, on your email list, within your apps, by sending push notifications, on social media, etc. As long as the message you’re sending is relevant to people receiving it.
If you’re just starting and you only have one app, you can reach out to other developers with apps targeting the same niche (but not direct competitors) and offer them to do a partnership. You can start really small (tweets, in-app messages, etc.), and see where that goes.
Kill It On Launch Day!
Launch Day for your app should be the peak of your “marketing crescendo” .
All we talked about leads to this. Except if you went for a soft launch (or released your app in another country first – like Canada – to test the waters), this is the time you have to make as much noise as possible.
That’s when you should get bloggers and journalists to write about your app (if they post a link to the App Store directly, then make sure your app is actually on there – it takes time for it to become available worldwide).
You need to let everyone that showed an interest, gave you feedback and helped you that your app is ready: email list, Facebook fans and friends, Twitter followers, forum buddies, readers of your blog, real-life friends and developers…Everyone!
Since iOS 6 (and even more since iOS 11), categories are kind of hidden. So unfortunately, even if you’ve done a good job and get pretty high in your category charts it won’t give you as much visibility as it used to do.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to try to generate as much “buzz” as you can and generate as many downloads as possible.
Get your app in people’s hands, get great ratings and build momentum.
Improve Engagement With Push Notifications
Push notifications can be a great tool to send important info to your users and have them come back to your app: new content available that they care about, a special offer, some cross promotion, etc.
Your users don’t necessarily check out your app often, but if they still have it on their phone it probably means that they decided it brings enough value. And you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to them.
Don’t abuse it, though, or they will soon consider you spam them and won’t want to hear about your app anymore.
You can build your own push notification service. Or you can use third party services like Urban Airship, PushWoosh, Parse or other alternatives. Some in-app analytics tools like Localytics or Mixpanel also let you do that, as does Appboy (mentioned earlier).
Take a look at their offers, and find the right fit for your app and budget.
Choose The Right Promotion Campaigns
Playing with your app price and making promotions is a good way to boost your app downloads and hopefully increase your revenue.
There are a couple things you can do by yourself so that people notice the price change of your app (and some robots pick it up), but the more effective way to boost downloads is by far using a third party who specializes in app download boosts.
This will rarely be free (although it can happen). And sometimes it will be (crazy) expensive.
But many of these app discovery apps have millions of users, and being featured (a push to their users) can give a great visibility boost to your app.
If your app has all we talked about here, then you might not only make it to the top charts (in some countries at least) but also stay in there for a while. Enough to build a solid user base you can build on.
A few services you might want to take a look at: Appgratis, Appsfire, Free App A Day, FreeMyApps, etc. More on this page.
Measure, Improve & Keep Marketing
There’s plenty of things you have to do pre-launch, but marketing doesn’t stop a few days after your app is released.
You need to measure what works and keep doing it. You need to improve your app so your users are both happy and engaged.
…and you need to keep finding ways to get people talking about your app and sharing it.
Marketing your app can’t be an afterthought. It is not a one-time effort either.
- Building the right app and building it right, with your target audience and user experience in mind,
- Finding what makes users come back to your app, and what makes them share it,
- Listening to users and other developers’ feedback, learning how people use your app so you can improve it,
- Building an online presence, presenting your app in its best light,
- Engaging people and generating interest,
- Optimizing your app store page so as many people as possible can find you there,
- Reaching out the right way to people who can be interested in your app so they talk about it,
- Doing cross promotion with your other apps or other developers’ apps,
- Choosing the right promo campaigns to give your apps a boost when it needs it,
- Keeping on measuring to know what works and what doesn’t, improving your app and marketing it.
Yes, it’s not easy.
But it can be rewarding, and you’ll learn plenty along the way.
If you got at least one good idea from this 9,000+ word guide, share it with someone who would benefit from it.
Your turn now. We’d love to hear your thoughts on what works and what doesn’t in the comments.