No matter how useful app you develop, if your voice couldn’t reach the users, nobody will bother to see what’s inside. Even if you make your app free with the thought that it’ll attract more users, you’re absolutely wrong! Making it free might attract a little extra users than it would have got as a premium app, but you’re still missing a lot of potential and loyal users. You really think from a pool of 500,000 apps in the Apple App Store, people will get a good look at your application? – provided you’re not a popular developer, of course.
Marketing is what makes a product viral, or dead. Suppose you created a great photo editing application, but gave no time promote it. People will still prefer to install another photo editing app, which is not as good as yours… Why? Because they never heard about your application, anywhere! So, the first thing you need to do is, create a brilliant and useful app for users. If you’re creating a game, make sure it’s good enough to make a person insanely addicted to it. If you’re done with the development process, take a break. Now you’re ready to promote iPhone app, and make it viral!
Oh, one last thing before we start. There are too many ways listed doesn’t mean you can follow any one of them. You’ll have to Implement as many suggestions as you can, but effectively. Let’s start.
What’s in the name? Well, everything. The name of your app or game is not only important from users point of view, but it’s also important for search engine visibility purpose too. By search engine visibility I mean, it should be on the first page (preferably on the top) when someone put the name in the search box to find it. If you’re unaware of Search Engines Optimization, let me tell you something – It’s not an easy task.
Suppose, you choose the name “Kristonoza” (I know it sounds ridiculous). You’ll probably get the first result on Google Search, but it’s not a user-friendly name, as you can see. Hardly a bunch of nerds will remember it. So, does it mean you should think of something easy-to-remember? Not exactly. Let’s take “Birdy” (again…) as an example, try searching for it on Google Search. Do you really think you can make it to even the first page? The chances are very less, if not impossible. Another problem is, the name should describe what the application does. Start the first brainstorming session, and decide a good name for your dear app.
2. Pre-launch Promotion
Pre-launch promotion can be done by many ways, and it’s very effective if done properly. Basically, you have to flaunt the features and usability to the targeted users. How can you get these so-called ‘targeted users’? There is no set rules, but I can suggest you some. First, create a landing page of application (we’ll talk about it in detail after a while). Place a big countdown timer above the fold, and show-off features on the remaining page. Add some screenshots, videos, whatever you think will attract more users. This is the place where you have to drive as much people as you can. Apart from that, you can contact some organizations or blogs to feature your app. Tell them the advantages, what they will get and why they should promote it. Most importantly – make them do it, that’s called marketing! Make people check the app page, everyday and ‘desperately’ wait for the release.
3. Word of Mouth
If you have enough contacts, friends, colleagues, etc. to make the app popular, it’s an effective way. Although, no matter how big your circle is, you’ll never get anything big from this – provided that you’re not Mark Zuckerberg. The thing with mouth-to-mouth publicity is, you cannot get big audience but the number of people you’ll get will be loyal – and will pay off very well in future. Start telling your friends, relatives, co-workers, and everyone you know about the awesome application you developed!
4. Exclusive Website
Create a website or landing page for the application. If you don’t intend to create more apps or want to keep this one different from others, create a website with application name as domain name. On the other hand, if you want to have a website with your or company’s name, a different dedicated page for each app would be appropriate. Make this place so appealing that one who comes, can’t go away without checking the app. “Appealing” depends on the type of app you’re promoting, and the class of users you want to target.
5. Discussion Section
Create a place where users can interact, chit-chat, discuss, provide feedback and suggestions about the application. A forum is the traditional way, but you’re always free to think different. Social networking sites can also be used for this purpose, you just have to decide – which way you want to go?
6. Use What you Already Have
If you’ve ‘earned’ anything till now, use it to multiply the promotion effect. For example, if you have a website with thousands of views per month (or more), feature the app there. If you have an iPhone section on the site, that’s the best place to put the link to app page. If you have a blog, even a personal blog, you can use it too. Even a forum where you have enough popularity is good. It’s just a simple example, you might be having something more useful and more effective.
7. Submit to Directories
There are many online directories where you can register. DMOZ is one of the most popular amongst them. There are many website directories too, where you can submit the app’s website in the appropriate category. Many people think it’s not useful and it does not benefit directly. First, it does not harm anything and second, it does have some indirect advantages.
8. Social Networking Sites
If you aren’t on Social Networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. You’re missing a big piece of cake. Merely creating an account or fan page isn’t enough. You have to work properly to promote the respective pages, engage more users and use it to drive attention. These days social networking sites play a vital role in creating a brand name and it’s reputation. You might not be an expert in that, don’t worry. Keep reading, there’s an alternative.
9. Social Media Buttons
Almost all popular social networking sites have their sharing buttons. For example, Facebook has “Like”, Twitter has “Tweet”, Pinterest has “Pin it”, and so on. Add these buttons to your application’s website or landing page. It’s helpful as it reminds the users to share it with friends, if they like to. And one such ‘share’, will spread it to a hundred more. Funny, how a small button can do wonders.
10. Social Media Marketing
Like I said above, merely creating a fan page isn’t enough. You have to promote it in order to attract more users. Some basic things you can do is, add a link to Facebook page, Twitter account etc. from the landing page. Organize a small contest, or share some really interesting (and original) stuff. You might not be good at promoting something via social networking sites, or don’t have enough time. In that scenario, it’s better to hire some social media expert to do the job for you.
11. Solve Other iPhone Users’ Queries
Do something good for people in trouble. Find people who wants some help related to iPhone, especially people having problem which can be solved by your useful application. You just need to suggest them a solution, and place a link or simply the name of your app at the end. Place it in such a way, that the reader cannot miss checking it at least once. Yahoo Answers is the best place to start with. If you want, you can search for more easily.
12. Video Promotion
Videos are very effective, if it’s good enough to leave an impression. Create an introductory video and promote it to the targeted users. YouTube is the most popular place to upload the videos, and you can monetize them too. But be careful, viewers don’t like annoying ads. Vimeo is also a pretty popular service, and there are many more on the web.
13. Design and Appearance
To build a perfect application, great features is not the only thing required. It should be easy-to-use, good in appearance, and useful enough. Make sure the logo is nice, and you add screenshots on the application website/webpage. Oh, and don’t forget the app store.
Everybody loves free stuff! They don’t care what it is, a desktop wallpaper, screen saver, mobile wallpaper, theme, or anything else. You can either design a wallpaper or ask someone else to do it (don’t copy!). Use this stuff to build fans and followers. You can also just give them away for nothing at all in return (for the purpose of some publicity).
If your app is paid one, then you have more ways for promotion as compared to free apps’ developers. You can organize some contest and giveaway the application for free to the winners. Keep the contest simple, and let everyone participate. On Twitter, you can choose a specific hashtag, and ask people to add that hashtag to their tweet. Provided you have enough fans and you know about social media marketing, if the hashtag appears in the “trends” section, you get tremendous exposure.
16. Free or Trial Versions
The biggest mistake a developer can do is, make the application a paid one and don’t let users try it for free. Most users prefer to try an application before paying for it. It’s better if you provide a free version with a few basic features only, or ad-supported version. You can also provide a limited period fully featured version, which will stop working after a specific period of time.
17. Let Users Spread the Word
Add a shortcut somewhere in options menu to let a user share the application with their friends. It’s very useful as the “impressed” users would like to share it with their contacts, and eventually it’ll be advantageous for you. You can place a “tweet this” link too. But make sure the app doesn’t irritate the user by showing annoying pop-ups reminding to share it.
18. Regular Updates and Bug Fixes
To retain users for long time, to build reputation, and to get 5 stars from maximum users – you need to work regularly. Provide time-to-time updates with new features and fix bugs reported by users. It lets the people know that the developer is alive, and listening to them.
19. Limited Period Discount
This strategy will give you maximum return only if the application has enough recognition. Dropping the price to a nominal amount say, $0.99 for a limited number of days will help in getting more than usual number of downloads. There is an option to make it free for a limited period, though.
20. Google AdWords
Pay for publicity. Google AdWords is a great place to start an advertisement campaign. There are some other options too, if you don’t want to use AdWords. You’ll get to set many options, which will decide the ‘targeted’ people. For example, you can set the location where the ads will appear. If you choose USA, people in USA will be sole viewers of the ads.
Collaborating with some other organization or website for promotion is very effective, if the other party has some goodwill. If you don’t want to go too much into this, you can simple organize a giveaway. Choose a blog with enough readers and contact the editor to host a giveaway of your app on their blog. Make sure the readers fall in your niche, i.e. iPhone users.
22. Direct Advertisements
Due to any reason, if you don’t think that ad networks like AdWords and BuySellAds aren’t effective, you can place direct advertisements on other websites/webpages too. Find a website with targeted visitors, and contact the owner to place ads on their site.
23. Ads in Other iPhone Apps
In-app advertising is growing at a significant rate, and it’s very effective too. You does not only target only those users who use iPhone, but also you get a lot of other factors to narrow down the relevant publishers. You can set age, gender, location, network operator, handset and many more options. Only the relevant users will then see your ads. Some of the popular ad networks providing the service are AdMob by Google and Medialets. You can search for more, easily.
24. Email Campaigns
Let people know about your awesome app via email, it has a great conversion rate. If you can manage it yourself, you can save some bucks. All you need is a huge list of emails, relevant for the purpose and some skills. If you’d rather prefer to work on the development of application, you can hire someone to do the job.
25. QR Codes
Add a QR code or data matrix so that users can easily read the code using their smartphones, and download the app right away. Place the code everywhere possible, in advertisements, webpages, etc. The codes can be created within a minute, for free. Some websites allow the service, you can try i-nigma or search for more on Google.
26. Cool Merchandise
Get some cool merchandise with printed logo or stuff related to your app, like T-shirts, Cups, Pens, Greeting Cards, etc. You can either put them on sale or give them away as prize for contests. Remember Angry Birds cookies? Get some inspiration from others!
Find some popular blogs in related niche like, app review, iPhone, etc. and contact the editor to review your app on their website. You can also post paid reviews, if the editors accept the same.
28. Hire Someone
Promoting a product really needs a lot of time and skills. If you don’t have the required skills or can’t manage some time for it, it’s better to hire someone else and focus on application development process. You just need to pay an amount, and you can relax on your couch. The advantage is, well… the person will be having required skills and enough time.
29. Get Featured
If your app is super awesome and you’re a little lucky, you can make it to the list of featured apps. This will provide tremendous exposure and publicity. But, it’s not as simple as it looks. This is the place (image) which should be your target.
30. Be Creative
Show your creativity and skills for promotion. Find new ways so that users ‘notice’ the presence of your app. It’s good to get inspiration from the competitors and other developers, but don’t copy their strategies. It’s not only a bad practice, but does not give proper returns always. Be original, be innovative.
31. Bookmark This Page
It’s human nature to forget a few things out of a big list. So, it’s better to bookmark this page for reference. Choose a few methods (which you like) at one time, work on them and then come back, choose a few other… and so on. Press “CTRL + D” to bookmark it now.
What’s you view? Do you think the points I’ve mentioned above are helpful? If you have some better ways to promote iPhone apps, do let everyone know about it in your comments.