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Expert App Store Marketing manual - the comprehensive guide to help iOS developer to build an effective app launching strategy. What steps should be taken to give an app an effective launch and secure high number of downloads and sales.
Expert App StoreMarketing Manual. How it works.
IntroductionWhat is the “New App Bonus”? The main point of the strategy is that Apple gives every application a chance to get to thetop and we have to take advantage of that chance as much as possible. As apps are released they areplaced at the top of the New and Noteworthy. During this period, apps receive a sizable amount of user traffic. The objective of thestrategy is to gather as many sales as possible staying in TOP NEW category and subsequently torise up to TOP Sales category. The quantity of sales (downloads) in the previous 2-3 days Fig 1. App Store New and Noteworthy categorydetermines what position an app occupies in the TOP of the category. So, our objective is tosqueeze out the maximum from the traffic that Apple provides. The main thing is to remember onerule of the App Store – “money makes money” – the higher the sales, the higher an app rises in theTOP category. The higher an app is ranked in the Top Category, the more sales it will generate. Thatcommon rule applies to any category across the App Store. But take into account that thisdependence is not linear. The higher you are in the TOP, the more an app should sell for climbingone step higher in the rankings. Moreover, each category has its own dependencies. We havecarefully gathered data for a long time and are constantly analyzing the data while promotingapplications of our clients. Unfortunately, only by remaining in the TOP 10 category it is possibleto learn how many sales such position generates. Reaching important milestones like getting into:• TOP 100• TOP 75• TOP 50 2
• TOP 25• And TOP 10 gives a sales lift. But staying on TOP is influenced by factors otherthan sales. The value (app price), the number of positivereviews and media coverage also play a significant role.Preparing the application So, you have an application. It has been tested. Wereceived an ad hoc version from the developer and startplanning marketing campaign and … and we’ve already Fig 2. iOS Appmade the most widespread mistake. We started to thinkabout how to sell the product after we had developed it.Namely marketers have to put the last signature under thetechnical task, which programmer receives before thebeginning of work. But not vice versa. It will be cheaper for developers, if the marketer tellswhat features successful applications should have inadvance. Usually you have to waste valuable resources to overcome Fig 3. iOS Appproblems that were not addressed in the planning stage. Remember your Store app searchmain objective is not to develop a "perfect" product, it is to create a resultsproduct that will be profitable. Who knows how to earn money?Programmers? Designers? Or maybe though marketing? At least listen toyour marketer before starting product development. It is a good policy to have the participation ofmarketers in the product brain-storming process.Application Name selection Can an apps name influence sales? A well-chosen app name can become a source ofadditional traffic. This also applies to the name of development company. The reason is in the AppStores search mechanism. Let us dissect it and see how it works. We’ll consider only the iTunes search bot installed on device. The robot can issue 2 types ofresults. One result is “fast”, as is reflected by the suggestions shown while typing the query. Thesecond result is shown after clicking on the search button. Results in both cases are different,because in fact these are 2 different search robots. The fast robot searches by application name andcompany name. It tries to guess what you want to search for. The bot tries to sort those names (ofcompanies and applications) that begin with the letters being typed. For instance, you believe thatpeople often search for the word “book”. Look what the fast search bot offers. Do applications from that list of prompts receive traffic irrespectively from TOP and presentapplication categories? If you are planning to issue 500 books, you will be rewarded for registeringa new company with word “Book” in company name. Look at the results from searching “book”.We are not the first who invented that and it works. We want to note that commas, dashes and othersymbols in the app name are equated with gaps. 3
And what does the bot that shows the results after clicking the search button do? Almost thesame thing, but it searches by application and company names and it alsosearches in keywords (we’ll talk about them later) and lists the resultsdifferently. The main difference is that the fast bot shows the names ofapplications and company names in separate lines, and the common one“is able” to show only applications. That is why if the robot needs todisplay a company as the result of searching, it displays that companysapplication. So, if you want to get additional traffic from App Storesearches, give the application a name, so that people who you consider tobe your potential clients could see your application in search results evenif they werent searching for your app. Another important aspect: some words are used too often in app Fig 4. iOS App iconnames. If you’ll take as basis such word for name composition, you can’t get sampleto the list. In order to make more convenient the searching of words only inapplication names, you can use one of our services “Search competitors” thatwe offer for free on our main website http://marketing.comboapp.com/freetools.html. To searchonly by application name, while ignoring company names, use a search operator. Don’t forget that you need 2 names, a short name for the application icon and a long namefor the App Store. If the application is free, we do not recommend using the word “free” in the appname. Users are so tired of useless demo versions that they refuse to install applications with theword “free” in the title. They suspect that if it is shown separately, there is also a paid applicationand that the free version is a useless demo that won’t bring anything except disappointment. So,choosing an app name wisely is an extremely important step in the development process.Application icon Let us look at any TOP category list. What do we see? A whole array of applications withvarying icons and text. In order to see the description, reviews and screenshots, the App Store usermust click on the icon to view that information. What causes users to click on a particular appsicon? In most cases, it is the icon that is most visually pleasing. In fact, an attractive icon is the firststep toward increased sales. Its impossible to explain in print what makes an icon attractive, but an unappealing icon canactually deter sales, but it is possible to lay out several general recommendations (of course, notingthat every rule has its exceptions). For instance, weve noticed that 3D icons generally improvesales. Don’t forget that programmers can help the designer. App Store changes the icon by default.It rounds off corners and puts its “branded” border around the developer’s icon. But during thedesign of the application the programmer can turn off these features which can sometimes distortthe design. If your programmer doesn’t know how to do that, ask Google how it is made. Another factor is when the designer shows the prototype of an icon. Often icons look greatwhen displayed in 512x512 pixels, but do not translate when being resized to 57x57 pixels. Thereshould be 2 unique icons! Not simply a large one that is resized. Each should look gorgeous in itsown size. Also don’t forget about the background where the icon appears. Check the icon in everyplace where it will be displayed. The designer should show the icon as it will appear to potentialcustomers. It is not difficult to take iTunes screenshots and insert your own icon there, so you cansee how it will look prior to launch. 4
Analytics Successful marketing can’t exist without analysis of cumulative work results. Without that itis not possible to outline successful steps and to stop unnecessary actions. Previous mobileapplication experience is extremely helpful, but no experience can help prepare for the App Storemarket where rules can and are changed regularly with little developer input. But fortunately thereare good free services that will collect some statistics for you. We recommend flurry.com, but thereare numerous other services available. New services are constantly being developed, so that you canchoose the best one for your needs. What data is collected for further analysis (usually they aremore numerous, but that is required at a minimum): quantity of unique launches; quantity of initial launches (actually the quantity of sales); term of work of application; location of users; changeover to site of program; changeover to paid version from free by advertising; removal of application; quantity of users that installed update. When you have that data, sales data, analyzing that data you can help you answer these mainquestions: Is what Im doing increased sales? Is what Im doing having any influence at all? Is what Im doing negatively affected sales? How do changes in App Store position reflect on sales? How do I predict future profits for forthcoming applications? I hope we’ve pointed to enough “delicious” reasons and your programmers have alreadybeen instructed to learn and integrate SDK systems analytics that you’d chosen before the appsrelease, because after launch you will quickly lose the “New App Bonus”. 5
Free, Paid or In-App Purchase How you monetize your app is a vital component of your marketing strategy. Free appsgenerally generate twice the traffic of paid apps, but obviously do not generate the revenuesassociated with paid apps. If the apps functionality allows, launching a free app with an in-app purchase feature can bea good way to generate traffic and revenue. Using this model, the app is listed in the Free appscategory, where its visibility is higher. Once downloaded, users then make in-app purchases tounlock additional functionality or features. Using the in-app purchase strategy requires moreanalytics about user behavior. When launching a paid app, setting the initial price can be thedifference between success and failure. Market research of competitive apps is key, so your app isnot under-priced or over-priced for the market.Preparing to launchDescription The first 2 lines of the app description are the most important. App Store is formatted so thatapp descriptions are truncated, requiring users to expand the selection to read the entire appdescription. A strong opening is essential. For paid apps, the description is even more important. How do you develop a skillful description? Using an experienced writer can ensure thedescription has a professional look, while spurring prospects to become customers. If resourcesallow, writing and testing 2-3 descriptions can be a good strategy. Using analytics, you candetermine if one pitch is more effective than the other. For apps that have few customer reviews orlower customer ratings, the app description can play an even bigger role in app sales. Fig 5. iOS App description on the iTunes App Store So, the app description is an art… By us it is made by separate department whereprofessional journalists work, that is really art and experience. The only thing we can recommend isto write 2-3 descriptions and change them from time to time and your system of analytics willinform exactly what description is the most successful. By the way, the lower application is inrating, the less review it has, the more quality of description affects the sales. From the other sidethe higher application in TOP is, the more fearless it will be purchased. Everything depends onvalue and category. For instance, description of application for $49.99 we were sharpening duringseveral weeks, until we achieved the good result. Don’t try to write at once perfect one, write 10 6
good ones and test them one by one. That is usual work of content-manager in marketingdepartment. But if you don’t have analytics system, that is surely difficult to perform.Screenshots Focus on how the average user behaves when looking at an app description. If the app isfree, the typical user looks at the number of stars an app has and if the first screenshot is attractive,they will view the rest and often download the app with only a brief review of the app description.For paid apps, users generally look at the screenshots first. If they are impressed, they will thenoften read the description and the most recent reviews and then make a purchase decision. If the screenshots are low quality or uninformative, even a great description can’t save thesale. That is why you need to plan the screenshots well in advance of submission to Apple. Thescreenshots should be chosen in coordination between the marketing department and theprogrammers. Don’t be afraid to show screenshots that are difficult or even impossible to achieve inthe program. Of course, you cannot cheat, but it is necessary to embellish! Advice: if the application supports 2 screen modes (portrait and landscape), do allscreenshots in one mode otherwise they will not correctly display on the iPhone. Though, maybeApple will eliminate this problem some day. Some additional advice: If your company is notGoogle, you don’t have to show your company logo on first screenshot at the whole screen.Undoubtedly that is visually pleasant, but are you sure that it will help generate sales?Keywords We mentioned keywords previously when talking about the iTunes search. Keywords arenecessary only for use in searches. Our SEO department assists us in selection of keywords, usingthe same tools they use for website SEO. If you are not an SEO expert, look for help from someonewho knows. Don’t forget to test entering every keyword in iTunes search in both in the mobile anddesktop versions. Look at the search results. Remember that if by keyword searches return appswith those words in the company name or app name first. And don’t forget if you launched theapplication with keywords, you can only change them only by scheduling an app update. Take thisprocess very seriously.Category selection Apple gave us a present. You can change the category for an application at any time. We usethat tool very actively to promote applications. But in order to receive the new app bonus, it is veryimportant when selecting an initial category. Every app category has its own churn rate. The moreapps that are released in a given category, the shorter your app will remain in the top of the newrelease list. In order to find out how many new applications per day appear in every category, weprovide free access to a corresponding graph. From the other side we cant forget that traffic volume is different in every category. Forinstance the games category is view about 50 times more frequently than the productivity category.Unfortunately, Apple doesnt provide this specific data or any real data at all. So we generate thatdata only through our own experience. 7
Fig 6. It presents the average number of new apps released in a specific category for the last 30 days. We track the amount of app purchases of our clients in different categories and only then wecan estimate the volume of traffic in every category. We can’t give you this confidential data, butwe can say that correlation is linear. Exceptions exist in the Books and Education categories.Competition there is significant but user traffic is relatively small. 8
Price Application price you can also be changed at any point. We do not recommend launching anapp for free and the "try to gain weight" by adding positive reviews only to then start charging forthe app. Youll actually lose attention by switching from a free to a paid model. Many articles havebeen written about that so we won’t consider that here. We recommend that developers learn theaverage price of similar applications of competitors, to define previously the “corridor” where youwill be changing price in the future. Our report about the average value of paid applications in eachcategory will help you, that’s how it currently looks:Applications that are using the In-App Purchase model are not included in the chart. Werecommend you to leave yourself the possibility to reduce the price after launch, staying in intendedpricing window. Consider changes prices while the app still receives the new app bonus. The resultwill help you to determine the influence of value on the activity of customers for your application.Strangely enough price is not the main factor in purchasing decisions, if it does not differ muchfrom other apps. But usually a price drop will bring additional traffic. Fig 7. The average list price of applications for each category. Note that after launch an apps price can be changed.Promo-site A promo-site is necessary if you believe the app description is inadequate to detail the fullextent of your app. Generally a promo-site is an instrument for generating traffic and holding usersinterest, forming a loyal community for further purchases and so on. For every application there areits own requirements for creating a promo-site. Usually several pages are enough. It is important to 9
Fig 8. It shows the competition between iPhone apps released on the App Store within the last 30 days, divided by weekdays and by free and paid categories.understand that a promo-site is needed only when the iTunes description is insufficient. Otherwise,this can be a waste of resources. For instance, in games it is important to show the apps dynamics.Screenshots don’t capture this, so a promo video is made and is placed on site. Here is a classicexample from one of our client’s game app: http://notesplusapp.comApplication launch The last decision is when to set a launch date. That is also of great importance. On one sidedifferent number of people enters the App Store on every week day, so that in general traffic isdifferent. On other side, on different week days different numbers of applications appear anddifferent competition is created. It is desirable for you to launch on the day when traffic ismaximum and competition is minimum. In our graph for competition by weekdays we give you freeaccess to this information. The book category particularly spoils the overall picture. There we oftensee one developer launching 50 applications at once.Conclusion We want to add one parting word. Remember that there is no “big secret” in marketing,which can cause your app to leap over everyone elses and break into the top. The main secret to theApp Store is that there is no secret. Success is achieved by the careful integration of all marketingtools. Your app will not receive the “new app bonus" unless you use ALL opportunities forimproving sales. I will explain the mistakes often made by new developers. Initially they try to “play with theprice”, but it has no big impact. Then they try to change categories. There is a result, but it is onlytemporary. Then they try to purchase advertising. There is a surge in traffic, but no success. They 10
will go through several social networking sites, leave comments in popular blogs, then publish onepress release and exclaim: “I’ve done everything, but nothing works!” The fact is that a complex,multifaceted approach is needed. And lastly, a very frequent mistake is that in trying to reach theTOP, many developers waste incredible resources that erode any profit that was generated. Don’tlet your app end up that this way. Let’s take an outside look at the situation. We have 1000 people that in principle are readyto purchase your application. But they don’t know about it. They previously searched the App Storebefore your app was launched. Marketing tools help to inform those 1000 people that application isthere! And the key is to keep you app in the TOP so the next 1000 people can find it. The most active App Store users are always looking for something new. As a rule this groupof "super-users" remains fairly constant. New users come, old ones stop taking an interest. Is thereany sense to waste money and effort on keeping your goods constantly on main page of the store,when the main majority of customers are everyday users? They’ve already looked at your apps.Those who wanted it have already made a purchase. Still, the answer is yes. Now we should makeefforts, so that casual App Store users can find your app. That is why the general marketing strategyis to achieve a TOP category rating and remain on the categorys main page. Additionally, achieving a higher ranking will lead to additional profits without additionalefforts on your part. Both stages are planned individually and strategically. 11