The App Store is a ferociously competitive landscape to promote an app with. With over a million apps on the store, cost per install prices increasing and superstar freemium companies snatching up all the money, getting your app noticed by users is a tricky prospect.
So how can you help get your app up to the top of the charts and into the hands of users? We’ve got five easy ways for you to improve your app promotion efforts and help turn your app into one of the greats on the store.
1) Make something that people want
This might seem like I’m stating the obvious, but if you’re not releasing something that people want to download then they aren’t going to bother to get your app from the store.
There are two distinct things that you need to do to make sure that people want your app. The first is to ensure that your idea shines in comparison to what else is on the store. As an example, there are a lot of infinite runners on the App Store and a lot are shameless rip offs of Temple Run. But the recently released Boson X, which heavily borrows infinite running mechanics, twists the genre around by turning it into a ferociously challenging level driven game which echoes Super Hexagon. A pinch of innovation can go a long way to standing out.
Second, it’s a great idea to make sure that your app evolves to take advantage of seasonal interest. At MagicSolver, we’ve built on the success of our daily app discovery service, Free App Magic, by releasing event specific calendars for Advent, Halloween, Valentine’s Day and major sporting events. Like the way big companies create special Christmas ad campaigns to sell their products, updating your app with seasonal content and keywords is a great way of latching on to consumer interest to boost yourself up the charts.
2) Harness the power of organic installs
Speaking of natural interest, one of the most important things you need to be doing before you spend a dollar on promoting your app is making sure you are fine tuned to benefit from so called organic installs. They are free downloads accrued either through app store search or from people talking about your app and they are one of the cheapest and most effective ways of getting installs.
First up, you should spend time optimizing your app store assets and keywords, as they’re essential for strong download performance on the app store. Strong icon and screenshot design is essential to appeal to people browsing through the store; a well written app store description is a great way to capture uncertain users and perfectly selected keywords can result in an additional 3,000-16,000 installs a month for a free app — an important first step to capturing floating users.
Second, you need to build strong social and rate & review mechanics into your app. By encouraging people to share your app and review it when they’ve had a positive experience, you can successfully increase consumer trust and benefit from changes to the App Store ranking algorithm that rewards positive reviews. How can you go about doing it? Well, in case you need inspiration, King’s Candy Crush Saga is an excellent example of how social mechanics can be used to great effect, while Fireproof Studios’ The Room benefitted from thousands of good reviews by presenting the review option to users at the end of every satisfying chapter.
3) Make your app free
This is arguably the most important thing you need to do to make your app a success. While games like Ridiculous Fishing, Badland and Infinity Blade have shown that paid apps can be a success for some, the case for a free to play as a tool for successful app promotion is clear. 90% of apps released this year were free to play according to Flurry and a couple of reasons make it clear why yours should be too.
First, there is the obvious reason, which is that well designed free to play games generate enormous revenues. While a paid game like Badland garnered $700,000 revenue in over three months of promotion, top grossing apps like Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga make that in a day. It’s clear that if you want to be in the money then your app needs to be in the free charts.
More importantly, the second and less obvious reason you need to make your app free is that it opens up your options for marketing your app on mobile considerably. While paid apps can rarely get away with advertising and struggle to convince people to try them out due to the price barrier, free apps have no such problems.
By releasing your app for free, you will significantly increase the number of people willing to try your app, meaning that your organic downloads will increase as well as the effectiveness of your adverts. Going free also opens up options to insert advertising SDKs into your app, allowing you to display ads for revenue or swap installs with other developers. Making an app free brings you a much greater promotional flexibility and it is something you should be considering long and hard if you have a decent advertising budget.
4) Test out ad networks
With CPIs going through the roof, you need to make sure that you’re getting the best bang for your buck when you’re using advertising networks. So make sure you test a load out before you decide which one to spend most of your money on.
Why? Because you need to know if you’re actually returning on your advertising investment before you spend. By working with a number of install providers, integrating a number of SDKs and using a third party tracking service to check whether or not players you acquire are spending enough, you can quickly and easily identify which networks are going to return your investment. This ensures that you learn where your promotional spending and efforts are best spent.
5) Optimize your ads
Lastly, once you’ve gotten your advertising efforts started, you need to work hard to make sure your advertising creatives are working as well as they can for you.
When you first set up a campaign with a network, you should make sure you have a variety of wordings and images to test to see which users react to. Once the campaign is finished, you should easily be able to identify which messages and images work best so you can use them in the future and, crucially, improve their effectiveness in the future. By continually refreshing and critiquing your creative, you can make your advertising spend work much harder for you.