Becoming Successful on the App Store.

Planning, designing, developing, illustrating, testing and debugging iOS apps can be a huge amount of work and by the time you get through with development it is easy to fall into the trap of just wanting to see your creation on the app store as soon as possible! However, the release of an app is not something you should rush into and a little careful planning (and subsequent execution) of a marketing plan can make all the difference between your app languishing at number 8273 in the charts and being successful!

I was lucky enough recently to be interviewed on this subject for a book which has just been released, iPhone App Entrepreneur by David Appleyard. David interviewed more than 15 iOS app developers along with adding his own insight and has produced a great guide to all of the stages releasing an iPhone app that don’t involve Xcode and a compiler!

So while I have been thinking about this subject a lot recently, I thought I would share my top three tips for marketing an iPhone app to give you a hand getting your hard work noticed.

  1. The app store is for distribution, not marketing! The app store is only really an effective marketing mechanism for the apps in the top charts which means that less than 0.05% of the apps in the store are currently in the US top 100 chart. As a small developer the chances of getting there without alternative methods of marketing are very slim. Luckily the most effective way of marketing your application is also the simplest! Talk to people about your application. Write to bloggers and influential people in the area that you want your application to sell. Go to conferences and Apple events, tell everyone who will listen!

  2. Use the web! It is really important to have a good quality web site for your app. All of those people you told about the app are going to need somewhere to link to from their blog/twitter/facebook when they spread the word for you! For smaller apps, this could be a page on your existing company site or for larger apps it could be a dedicated web site. As for the content of the site, the best advice I can give there is to use video as a really effective way to quickly get people interested and show them what your app is about.

  3. Make things easy for the press! It is worth having a dedicated page on your web site where the people writing about you can get to everything they might need to create the story. Contact details, artwork, press releases, icons, app store links, and anything else you can think of that might answer a question for the person writing about you! Also take special note of how sites like to receive news, most larger organisations will have a tips@ or news@ email address, or sometimes a form to fill in. Make it easy for them to write about you by following the process that they prefer!

It is also worth mentioning here that no matter how good your marketing efforts are, if your application is not quite up to scratch then it will be very hard to make it sell well. People really notice quality in iPhone applications and it is worth adding that last layer of polish to the app to give it it’s best chance in the app store.

Ironically, this is not the only iPhone app marketing book we have been mentioned in recently. I was giving a talk on iPhone development at Birmingham Science Fair recently and after the session one of the attendees mentioned that he had seen our Balloons! web site mentioned in a book he had recently read. Sure enough we were mentioned as a good example of a dedicated marketing site for an iPhone app in The Business of iPhone App Development: Making and Marketing Apps that Succeed by Apress. I had no idea but it was a very nice surprise!

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