Under the Bridge

Roundup: App Marketing 2013

It’s been quite a while since we last collected any goodies about educating yourself in marketing and discovery and all those topics you need to have somewhat of a passing familiarity with to put enough food on the table to keep doing the fun stuff, so let’s list off our collection of interesting links we’ve noted lately, shall we?

First off, let’s get the depressing news out the way: according to App Promo‘s 2013 Survey infographic, it’s not getting any easier to earn a living:

81% of app developers said that they would not abandon their app despite the same amount not making enough money to support a standalone business…

More developers are not breaking even in 2013 [67%] compared to 2012 [59%]…

Most Android developers [73%] are not breaking even and are 4 times more likely [41%] to have zero revenue compared to iOS [58% and 10% respectively]…

Yeah. Besides the cold comfort of being less lame than Android, not much happiness there. Of course, they figure that their paid services are the solution to your ills; but check out their white papers and marketing tips collection even if you don’t have the budget to consider that. Not to mention follow their blog, which looks like it has a pretty good signal to noise ratio.

Right then. So how are we going to make sure we get into that 19% that do have a standalone app business?

First off, make sure your app doesn’t suck. Yes, that’s rather obvious, but it’s also quantifiable:

A very nice visualization of the US iOS App Store over at App Store Rankings shows that a 4.5-star app gets downloaded on average 3.7x more often than a 3.5-star app (265K downloads versus 71K). Our own research has shown that developers that use performance or user analytics tools to improve their apps generate about 3x as much revenue on average…

(And in what will become a theme here, check out Developer Economics’ automated testing, beta testing, split testing, crash analytics, and user analytics collections.)

Then, make sure your non-sucking app has its pricing strategy well thought out. If it’s paid, read Understanding App Store Pricing — Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4 and Part 5. If it’s freemium style microtransactions, that’s a tricky design philosophy, not “marketing” as such. Unless you count “exploiting addictive behaviour” as “marketing”. It certainly can make you money yes … but we’ve seen real world people act way too close to gambling or drug addicts about their little dragons and such to be all that comfortable with ourselves if we intentionally designed apps that way. And that leaves free with advertising, a strategy that we’ve been investing time into the last little while with a little project that we might be able to tell you about soonish. If you get our drift.

(Check out Developer Economics’ monetization tools, ad networks, and cross-promotion network collections.)

Those fundamentals out of the way, you can move on to the attention generation parts of marketing that you prepare during development to be ready on release day. There’s lots all over about the importance of preparing landing pages and videos and descriptions (that fit) and icons and screenshots and all that for your App Store release materials and press kit, so we won’t belabour most of that further than was done in last year’s links above, other than to point out a really awesome example — just do it like that. The exception that merits belabouring is picking your keywords correctly (and using your title as an extension of your keywords), since they’re the only means of in-store organic discovery, plus you can only change them with a binary upload and review process. There’s some good backgrounders here:

App Store Optimization (ASO): App Name And Keywords

Creating A Successful Keyword List

and if you’d like to try out a paid service, the contenders are

App Store Rankings that we’ve mentioned before has a cool Visualizing the iOS App Store tool.

AppCodes: “The Swiss Army Knife for App Store Optimization.”

Appnique: “appnique’s proprietary scoring algorithms are one of a kind for the mobile app industry.”

MobileDevHQ: “Getting your app discovered should be the easy part.”

SearchMan: “Powerful SEO Tool for App Store Search”

There’s also a possibly interesting video course done by “The App Store Optimization Blog” guy who cares about this to depths bordering on the unplumbable. And also has a collection of marketing services at ReleaseMyApp.com worth checking out.

OK. So your ducks are in a row ready to go, and it’s launch time. If you have no significant budget your PR efforts probably begin and end with prMac — which is no bad thing, mind you; we laugh ourselves silly regularly at people who offer to, for something between $250 and $1500, do pretty much nothing more than write you a press release and send it to prMac. (For that matter, they probably subcontract the writing to prMac too). If you have more money, there’s no shortage of services out there; you might look at AppLaunch or AppClover or AppPromo or AppWhateverComesUpInGoogle and if any of them strike your fancy enough to pay for them, let us know in the comments how that worked out for you. And if you have a lot of money, why just buy your way into the top 10 for $96K. What, too much? How about top 25 for $7K? How about cross-promotion, or those free app a day places, or plain old banner ads like the ones you’re showing to make money yourself? Well, if there’s anything that makes success with any of those predictable — other than having an app that doesn’t suck in the first place — we haven’t been able to find it. If you’ve got any resounding success stories let us know, but for most people the cost of advertising seems to be more than the acquisitions are worth.

(Feel like trying your luck anyway? Developer Economics has cross-promotion and giveaway and incentivized and advertising collections.)

And then, for most people, it’s the long slog of trying to get noticed by press (of the non-ripoff type) and Apple. Which is pretty straightforward really, these links between them pretty much cover all you need to keep in mind:

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Getting Reviews On Top Blogs

Get Your App Featured And Drive More Downloads

How to get featured on the App Store

Here’s a few more links with useful and/or offbeat tips:

Marketing and Social Media Tactics from the Trenches

Notes from the AltWWDC App Marketing Sessions

An App Store Experiment [EDIT: and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4]

So once you’ve gone and launched it, the real trick is tracking what’s going on so you know what worked for you! AppViz and CommentCast are our desktop tool App Store monitors of choice, and we just stumbled across this AppBot service that promises to mail us new reviews as well as note Apple features, should we be so lucky. And there’s a variety of web services too for tracking financials and advertising campaigns, all of which work pretty much as well as any other from what we can tell; App Annie‘s what we’ve been using, but feel free to speak up and tell us if any of the others are working better for you.

(Yes, of course Developer Economics has store analytics and campaign analytics and user analytics and crash analytics collections.)

And that pretty much concludes our roundup. For further research, as you’ve no doubt picked up from the above Developer Economics is the most definitive curated collection of services we’ve found anywhere:

Developer Economics Tool Atlas

and there’s another good curated list here that covers the spaces discussed here and also things like crowdfunding, localization, CRM and so on worth your research as well:

App Marketing Tools For Developers

And hey, if you have any success stories about what’s worked for you, let us know!


Appower is a marketing guide from AppSpire.me, another “Mobile App Marketing, Advertising, Guaranteed Rankings” service we overlooked above.

Designing App Store “screenshots” talks about using your screenshot uploads as billboards.

What ( I think) I know about advertising, as an indie game developer

App Store Competitive Intelligence: Creating Winners in App Store Optimization

How to write an app press release

oisin / app-release-checklist: “A checklist to pore over before you ship that amazing app that has taken ages to complete, but you don’t want to rush out in case you commit a schoolboy error that will end up making you look dumber than you are.”

An Indie Game Developer’s Marketing Checklist

How to Spy on Your Competitor’s iOS Keywords With the Keyword Spy Tool

Win In The App Store

iOS App Review Sites – 157 Sites For iPhone And iPad App Reviews

Putting together an App Press Kit

Our Best App Store Optimization and Marketing Tips for App Developers

Developing a Marketing Strategy for Mobile Apps – Before you Build

Mobile App Launch Plan Best Practices

The First 48 Hours: How to know NOW if you’ve got a hit or are DOA

Killer User Onboarding Starts With A Story