1. https://appdevelopermagazine.com/marketing-&-promotion
  2. https://appdevelopermagazine.com/app-marketing-101-crush-the-competition-and-rule-the-app-store/
10/2/2013 9:07:22 PM
App Marketing 101 Crush the Competition and Rule the App Store
App Marketing 101, Traffic, Discoverability
App Developer Magazine
App Marketing 101 Crush the Competition and Rule the App Store

Marketing & Promotion

App Marketing 101 Crush the Competition and Rule the App Store

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Matt Palmer Matt Palmer

When you’re wrapped up withwriting code or testing your appone last time, thinking about marketingit might be the last thing inyour mind. After all, building anapp is a big accomplishment.But it is just step one on yourpath to achieving your goals.Whether you’re building an appbusiness or just want more peopleto buy your game, there are manypowerful marketing tactics you canuse - many without large budgetsor special skills.

In this article, you’ll get a crashcourse in marketing tactics youcan start using today to help youachieve the download numbersyou desire. Even if your app is notyet live, starting early to spread theword will make your job latermuch easier. My goal is to fill yourmarketing toolbox with a variety ofnew options you can rely on to getmore attention, customers, andsales for your app.


Despite its importance, marketingis often overlooked by developers.A recent study by App Promoshowed that the developers whospend little time or money promotingtheir app typically made little orno profit on it. 52% had set asideno money for marketing their appand spent less than 5% of theirtime promoting it. As a result, 68%percent said they made less than$5000 from their app. Top appdevelopers invested more effortand budget and reaped much biggerrewards.

With nearly a million choices inthe iTunes App Store alone, it’s notsurprising that customers will havea hard time finding you withoutsome help. The good news is thatby ramping up your efforts tospread the word using the tipswe’ll talk about in this article, you’llbe ahead of your competition, whois mostly sitting back and waitingfor customers to come to them.


Besides lack of marketing,there are other challenges on theway to making your app successful.By being aware of these roadblocks,you can design your outreachto overcome them. Topobstacles you might find areinclude the following.

Hyper competitive app stores -More than 700 apps are submittedto Apple each and every day.That’s a fresh crop of competitorsto steal your customers’ attention.Competition for every type of appis fierce, and that goes double forgames, which is the #1 most popularand crowded category.

Customers have little time orattention - Think about the averageperson on their smartphone.They’re probably not sitting downgiving your app their full attention.They’re more likely to be surfing theAppStore whiledoing 7 other things - riding thebus, eating, walking, talking.Big companies have big adbudgets - Your app is not in a vacuum- you’re up against some ofthe biggest names in the business.Disney, Zynga, Electronic Arts, andthat’s just for games. They havebig budgets and a staff of peoplewho are not afraid to use them.

Low prices mean you needLOTS of customers - Lots of appsare selling for $0.99. Apple takes30% of each sale so you’re leftwith $0.69 each. You’re going toneed to sell a lot of apps to makeany significant money. And, thereare many apps out there that arefree, relying on advertising or inapppurchases. You’ll need evenmore users to really profit then.

As you can see, the idea thatyou can just throw an app in theApp Store and have crowds ofpeople find it no longer holds true.But don’t be discouraged. Nowthat you’re aware of these stumblingblocks, I’ll show you marketingtacticsthathave beenshown to getapps like yoursmore customersand downloads.When it comes tomarketing your app, wheredo you begin? There are so manyoptions, it can be hard to knowwhere to start.

To know that your work willpay off in terms of more customersand sales, focus on the 3 key successfactors that will make themost impact: discoverability, exposure,and traffic. Let’s take a lookat each one and the specific marketingtactics that will help youconquer it.


Successful app marketingstarts inside the app storesbecause that is where much ofyour audience is. Over 250 millioniPhones have been sold and over100 million iPads, giving userseasy access to the App Store (andyour app!). According to AdMob,the average user downloads 9apps for their device each month,meaning many customers are constantlyon the look out for the latestand greatest apps.

Yet, it can be difficult to putyour app in front of customer’seyes. Many customers rely on the Top Charts for ideas on what appsto buy - so developers naturallywant to appear there. But a recentstudy by AppsFire shows just howhard that is: 99.95% of both freeand paid apps don’t reach the Top50 Charts in the App Store.

Since you cannot rely on theTop Charts, you should do all youcan to maximize your app’s listingin the App Store or Google Play. Itis your chance to make your appstand out and grab the attention ofshoppers by making the most ofeach part of your profile page. Youshould pay special attention toyour app description, screenshotsand icon.

1. APP DESCRIPTION: Yourapp’s description - the brief writeupshown on its app profile page -can make or break the sale. Apowerful description does manyjobs: it grabs the attention of thereader, describes what the appdoes, and persuades people to buyit. Yet many descriptions are tooshort or generic to accomplish allthis.

A successful app description atminimum needs several key components.This includes a well writtenopening sentence. The firstthings customers will want toknow about your app are “what isit?” and “what does it do?”. Justlike a newspaper article, your firstsentence should sum up the mostimportant benefits of your app andspark someone’s interest so theywill read more. Remember, in theApp Store, the rest of your descriptionwill be hidden unless theyclick “More...” so make your first2-3 lines count.

Include quotes, awards, andtestimonials. Your audience wantsto know if your app is worth buying,and testimonials and quotesare the best way to prove it tothem. For example, if a popularwebsite reviewed your app andloved it, include a short quote andsay where it is from. Also use aquote you received from a real customer– maybe in an email youreceived or in the reviews.

Emphasize the benefits. WhenApple says “There’s an app forthat,” your job is say what the“that” is. Is it getting organized?Saving time? Meeting new people?Make it absolutely clear how yourapp will help your customer by listingthe most powerful benefits.Spell out the benefits in a bulletedlist rather than long paragraphs sothat customers can quickly scanyour description to get the informationthey need.

Include a call to action. Endyour description by asking yourcustomers to take the next stepand download or buy your app. Ifthey wait to buy your app, they willlikely forget about it.

2. SCREENSHOTS: With therecently updated App Store,screenshots are most importantthan ever. They’re right at the topof your profile, even before thedescription.

To make the most of them,capture screenshots that will makeyour app come alive for your customers.It is a perfect opportunityto showcase the features, graphics,and usability of your app.Follow these guidelines to makeyour screenshots help sell yourapp:

● Choose screenshots thatshow off the best features ofyour app.

● Make it clear how easy yourinterface is in the imagesyou use.

● Check to see that the text isreadable and the images arerotated correctly.

● Upload all possiblescreenshots: 5 for the AppStore, 8 for Google Play.

3. ICON: When browsingaround the App Store or GooglePlay, users will have to make asnap judgment of whether or notto click on your app based on littlemore than its icon and name.

So, that little square image ismore than a pretty picture. It couldbe an easy way to boost your appsales. You want to catch people’seyes and spark their interest with aglossy, professional-looking iconfor your app. Avoid using text inyour icon (it is often hard to read atsmall sizes) and focus on a visualmetaphor that shows what yourapp does in a bold and attentiongrabbingway.

EXPOSUREWith any app, your top marketingchallenge is finding new customers.But where can you findlarge numbers of people who areinterested in apps?

For many developers, theanswer is app review websites andthe press. Sites like MacWorld,iPhone App Reviews, 148Apps,AppCraver, AppAdvice, and moreare constantly writing about thelatest and greatest apps - and, bestof all, attracting huge audiences ofreaders.

For this reason, getting yourapp featured on big-name reviewsites is a top goal for many appcreators. It’s like free advertising toa large crowd of people who aren’tjust interested in apps - they’reactively seeking out information onwhat they should buy. Plus, customersare more likely to trust theopinion of these independentexperts than reading an ad.

However, getting your appreviewed or written about can be achallenge. There is stiff competitionand all apps would love to befront page news. Writers andreviewers get a flood of requestsevery day from developers. Withlimited space and tight deadlines,they can only write about a smallnumber of apps.

With these challenges, howcan you make your app rise above?First, know that a press releasealone is often not enough to get reviews. Sending a press release isstill an important part of your marketingtoolbox, but you can’t sitback and wait for reviewers tocome to you. Instead, seek themout and make your case. Followthese tips to avoid common pitfallsand grab the attention of evenbusy and skeptical reviewers.

1. Plan your outreach strategy:Before you start sending emails toask for coverage, know your audience.Research the websites youwill target and make your mediaplan in a spreadsheet. Ask yourself,“which websites would be mostinterested in my app?” not just“which websites have the mostreaders?”

These include more generaltech websites as well as sites thatfocus specifically on iOS, Android,and app topics. But don’t stopthere - consider the type of appyou’ve made. There are websitesthat review only games, childrens’apps, medical apps, and more.Some developers only target thebigger name sites, but they areusually the hardest to reach.Diversify your outreach plan byincluding niche sites with lesscompetition.

2. Get promo codes: Promocodes are most useful when reachingout to reviewers. Just like acoupon, they let a reviewer downloada free copy of your paid iOSapp (and only your app) to try itout. When your app is approved byApple, you can get up to 50 promocodes. Just log into your iTunesConnect account to download(codes are valid for 30 days).

3. Contact reviewers: Visit eachwebsite in your spreadsheet andcontact them - many have a preferredway to receive requests,either by a special web form oremail address.

If you are emailing, write ashort and interesting subject line tocatch their interest. Inside, explainwhy your app is unique, exciting,and useful. Reviewers want towritestoriesthatattract readersand it’syour job to convincethem thatyour app makes for ajuicy topic.

Reviewers get somany requests that it's easyfor them to skip over emailsthat are missing somethingimportant. So, make sure toinclude all the details they need:●A clear (and brief) explanationof why your app is unique andnewsworthy

●Screenshot attached to theemail

●Links to app in App Store andapp website

●Link to a video showing yourapp in action

●Your contact information

●Promo code, if they ask for oneand your app is paid

For best results, personalizeyour emails with any details youhave about their website (how youreducational app is perfect for theiraudience of parents) or them personally(how you enjoyed a recentarticle they wrote).

4. Don’t drop the ball: This isjust as important as the first email!Because reviewers are swampedby requests, don’t give up if yoursgoes unnoticed. Mark in yourspreadsheet when you firstemailed them so you can follow upin a week.

If a writer does review yourapp, follow up with a thank youemail for their time and opinion.You might release an updated ornew app in the future, so buildingrelationships with the press now iskey.


What's the one thing every appneeds to be successful? The developersof the apps on the top of thecharts know it. It’s traffic - that is,qualifiedand motivatedeyeballsseeingyour app. Trafficis crucial to yourapp getting noticedand ultimately downloaded.There is a directpath from traffic to customersto sales.

The simple truth is, you needlarge qualified crowds of people tosee your app so more of them canbuy it. Regardless of how you’remaking money - selling a paid app,showing ads, or offering in-apppurchases - you’ll need new userscoming in the door to keep revenueflowing.

However, many apps in theApp Store today are nearlyinvisible. They can’t be found easilywith common searches, theyaren’t featured on the charts, andmost people don’t know they evenexist.A question to ask yourself:"If people aren’t able to find myapp, how can they buy it?" (Theycan’t.)

To boost your traffic, take afresh look at the keywords youuse. The right keywords will helpusers find your app when theysearch in an app store, while thewrong keywords can make it tough for shoppers to discover your appand hurt your sales. Also, usingimproper keywords is one of thetop reasons that Apple rejects submissionsto the App Store.

Here are some tips for choosingkeywords that will help yourapp succeed:

●Don’t include your appname or company in yourkeywords. These will alreadybe searchable in the AppStore.

●Choose keywords that arespecific to features in your appor describe what is uniqueabout it. Think about howpeople will search for your appor the problem it solves.

●Avoid generic, common keywords such as iPhone,app, or fun.

●Use all 100 characters forkeywords if possible.


If you’re like most mobileapp developers, you can’t affordto waste time or money on marketingtactics that just don’t work.For people on a tight budget orwho need to show a return ontheir investment (and whodoesn't?), your marketing choicesmatter.

This is especially true thetighter a budget you have, and ifthe app you're launching is yourfirst. There is less room for errorand uncertainty in how you attractusers and revenue.

Unfortunately, though, manyiPhone, iPad, or Android developersare betting their apps' futureson promotion tactics that areineffective or overpriced. This isnot to say that these techniqueswill never work, but for mostapps, there are better ways toreach more customers with lessmoney.

Overall, it comes down to thistip: when you create a mobile app,save your time and money byfocusing on only those efforts thatyou can show are working.

Demand accountability fromyourself, marketing partners, andadvertising channels so you cantweak your approach or changetactics to something more effective.

There are 3 types of marketingthat generally fall flat and shouldbe avoided.

1. Unfocused and untargeted:To make the most out of every dollaror hour spent selling your app,focus like a laser. Target as muchas you can on only those peoplewho are most likely to buy yourapp. People with an iPhone? Check. Users who play games likeyours? Even better.

The need to zero in on yourbest customers is even greater ifyou have a smaller budget. Then,you should avoid advertising thatreaches everyone (think TV ads orads on generic websites) andfocus on places where your particularaudience is (think iPhonegame websites or sending pressreleases to people in your industry).

2. Not actionable: When someonereads or hears about your appanywhere - online or offline - thebest result would be for them toimmediately go and download it.If they wait until later, they willlikely forget to look for it or notremember how to find it.Customers have lots of demandson their time and, although manylove to find new apps, it’s easilypushed aside for other priorities intheir busy lives.

To get your customers to takeaction and make the most of yourmarketing, give them the opportunityto act now. Whenever possible,make sure to put a call toaction in your announcement suchas “Download our app now” or“Try it today.” This works wellwhen writing your app description,too.

And, give them something todo: put a link right to your app inthe App Store or your website inyour YouTube video description,Facebook updates, blog posts, andmore. This even works offline: youcan write your web address or adda QR code (which users can scanwith their mobile phones to go toyour website) to your flyers,posters, and printed advertisements.

3. Can’t be measured: If you’rerelying on marketing tactics butcan’t see the results, how do youknow if they’re working? It’s oftennot possible to see exactly howeverything you do translates intosales, but the more informationyou can get about each of yourmarketing efforts, the better you’llbe see what is performing. Thatway, you can focus more onstrategies that are working andchange or stop any tactics that arejust costing you money.

If there’s no way to track yourlinks online, try this tip: Use a linkshortening service such as bitly. Byturning your long web address intoa short link, you’re also gettingaccess to valuable tracking featuresso you can see how manypeople clicked on your link. Youcan use this to see how manyusers clicked on your banner ad,text link, guest blog post, pressrelease, or more.


Your marketing needs toaccomplish many things - getmore attention for your app,interest people to learn more,and persuade them to buy. Noone marketing strategy can do itall by itself. But by combining avariety of the tips and tactics wehave looked at in this article,you will build a powerful, widereachingcampaign that willkeep building on itself, gainingmomentum and achievingsuccess

This content is made possible by a guest author, or sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of App Developer Magazine's editorial staff.

Subscribe to App Developer Magazine

Become a subscriber of App Developer Magazine for just $5.99 a month and take advantage of all these perks.


  • - Exclusive content from leaders in the industry
  • - Q&A articles from industry leaders
  • - Tips and tricks from the most successful developers weekly
  • - Monthly issues, including all 90+ back-issues since 2012
  • - Event discounts and early-bird signups
  • - Gain insight from top achievers in the app store
  • - Learn what tools to use, what SDK's to use, and more

    Subscribe here