Poor Man’s Guide to a great App Launch

How to Plan for your App Store Debut:

Building an exceptionally good app is hard enough and if you thought that was the toughest part, think again! Marketing an app and getting it into the top 100 of the app store is even more difficult (There is an estimated 775,000 apps in the app store). Of course anything’s achievable with a great app and an even greater marketing budget, but then what do you do if you are a normal Indie game developer or is a college graduate stepping in to the world of apps, have built a great app and deserves a share in the app store?

The first and foremost thing for any app to be successful is to have a great experience. Nothing can help you if the app ain’t world class. But then the app in itself being “Awesome” does not guarantee you app store success. For that you would need to plan your app launch meticulously.

I normally split the app launch cycle in to 3 parts:

1) Pre – Launch

2) Launch Day – Day Zero

3) Post – Launch

Pre – Launch Phase:

1. Create a splash page much before you launch your app. Collect e-mail addresses so that you could notify them when you launch your app. I recommend www.Launchrock.com for creating and deploying your splash page. Ensure that you create a great splash page that excites the user and makes them key in their e-mail ID for notification. Also, exceptional Splash Pages that starts trending on Launchrock gets featured by them further increasing your visibility.

2. Create a Facebook and a Twitter Page. Start engaging with your audience. Facebook and Twitter are great channels to drive targeted users. ( Facebook and Twitter marketing is a powerful method and I will write a separate post on how to build your Facebook and Twitter Following).

3. Create banners which are 640х100 iPhone 25 kb jpeg or png. Reach out to as many applications in the same niche as possible and try and buy spots on their pages. Can be expensive but try getting one or two. This would give a stream of downloads. Note that buying display Ad spots can be a little expensive so, chose carefully. Do not over spend. 2011 numbers shows that 30% of all app traffic is from in-app advertising and cross promotions.

4. Create a Press page on your website with all the necessary information. Also, create an e-mail draft to be sent out to the press/ blog reviewers etc. It’s very important that you create a quality e-mail draft to be sent out to the Press. Remember that the reporters receive hundreds of requests for coverage/ review everyday. Hence it’s very important to be precise and catchy with your description. Do keep in mind the following things while drafting the message (you can hire someone from Elance.com, Odesk.com or Copify.com if you think you need help):

·         ·         The name of your app exactly as it is spelt on the App Store.

·                   What it does and why it is different?

·                   The price.

·                   One link to your product page (Your website).

·                   One link to the iTunes product page.

·                   One or two screenshots.

·                   A video – No longer than 30 seconds. Remember this is a very important component. Many a times the reporter would play the video in trying to understand your app before heading to your app page. This leaves the first impression, so ensure it’s quality stuff and excites the reporter.

·                   A description in a concise paragraph. Say who your audience is, what your app does?

·                   What sets it apart from the Crowd?

·                   Contact information. An email address and not a link to a contact form.

·                   Skype IDs, Twitter IDs

I’m giving below a Sample Draft that gives you a fair idea of a good draft. Note that the below is for an app that lets people add interactivity to images:

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Subject: “App Name” for iPhone makes your Images Talk.

Spotted something interesting you would want to share with the entire world or something you would want to know more about? Want to share your stories and memories? Yes, “App Name” provides an easy, fun and an elegant way to do that. We let you add annotations (We call them “Spots”) on images and link it to rich media to highlight the interesting elements and stories in an image. Each spot gets its own thread of conversation which makes the conversation highly contextual. The user can join in on any conversation and start engaging in just seconds. This free app also enables the user to explore a plethora of interesting images along with the elements and stories that make them up. Wait, that’s not all, we let you create the rich interactive experience right there on your website as well in a completely hassle-free and effortless manner! It’s fun and highly engaging.

“App Name” lets you:

·                  Take Snaps in a flash and highlight the interesting elements in them using “App Name” Spots

·                  Share the stories and memories in a photo using spots.

·                  Effortlessly Link Video, Audio, Maps, Wikis, Photos, links to Amazon, Etsy, Fancy or any other portal on the web to any spot.

·                  Have engaging & contextual conversation around each spot.

·                  Explore & discover a plethora of interesting photos along with the elements and stories that make them up.

·                  Seamlessly embed your photos with the spots anywhere on the web

·                  Share your spots on Twitter and Facebook with a single click.

“App Name” ( Free) is available for download now at the iTunes Store ( iTunes address ) and you can read more about it at www.appname.com. Here is a video of “App Name” in action ( Link here ). You can also find attached a couple of Screenshots.

Please feel free to contact me, if you have any questions about the app or would need a promo code. I would be happy to answer your questions. Thank you in advance for considering my app for review,

E-Mail: [email protected]

Skype ID: “abc”

Check : http://maniacdev.com/2012/05/ios-app-review-sites for a great list of Blog/ Review site whom you would definitely need to contact.

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

5. Create a perfect App description to be displayed in the App store. I can’t stress upon how important this aspect of your app is. This is what your consumers would read first, hence ensure that you create an extremely compelling description. Also, Create localized and translated App description. You never know who all from where all are going to download your app. So ensure you have the app description localized. Try Elance.com or Odesk.com to get contractors.

Many a times, people forget the importance of KeyWords in your app description. A lot of your app downloads are going to happen organically through the Search function in the app store. Hence, ensure that you take time and think through properly on the keywords you would want to use so that you get maximum exposure on Search. IMP Notes on Keyword:

·         There is no need to include your app name as a keyword.

·         Separate your keywords with only a comma, not a comma and a space. Writing them like this, “memory,language,card” will help you to make the most of your 100 character limit.

·         Use tools like Google Keywords to research keywords.

·         You may only change your app name or keywords with the release of a new version. So think through and research your decisions.

·         If you don’t think a keyword is performing or being searched often, feel free to replace it with another keyword when you release your next version.

·         Do searches inside the App Store to see how your app ranks for important search terms.

6. Create BRILLIANT screenshots. Again, this is really important. First impression is always a lasting impression. You have may be 5 seconds to get the attention of the user before he swipes and moves on to another app on the app store. So ensure you create high quality screenshots, doesn’t matter even if you have to slightly edit the originals.

7. Identify Youtube reviewers to reach out to on a one-one basis. There are quite a lot of reviewers on Youtube with a large subscriber base. I must say, Youtube is one of the most viral of all the channels.

8. As soon as your App is reviewed and accepted, change the app launch date to your desired date of Launch. Its default date would be the date of submission of the app for review.

9. Try and utilize this period before your official launch. Generate Promo-codes from the app store.  Send out the promo-codes generated to app reviewers and try pushing it out through Facebook and Twitter. A maximum of 50 promo-codes per release is given by Apple, so ensure you send it to people who are willing to write reviews. Try and submit a small update to get another bunch of 50 promo-codes before launch if required.

·         Ensure the promo-codes are sent correctly and people don’t have to type it in to redeem. It can be tedious. Send them the direct links. Usehttp://redeem-now.com/ or http://www.appcodes.com/ for sending out direct promo-code links to download.

·         Run a contest on Facebook/ Twitter to give away the promo-codes if required.

·         Run a small contest on Review sites if possible and give away a few promo-codes for the winner.

Launch

1. Launch on a Tuesday. You will find a lot of varying opinions on this. I strongly believe Tuesday is the best day to launch. It gives you enough number of days to gain momentum so as to feature in the app store Top 100 by the weekend when maximum downloads happen. ( Breaking in to the Top 100 of your respective category is crucial if you want to drive organic downloads).

NOTE: Apple calculates rank based on the downloads/ activity on the last 4 days. Get your app in to the top 100 by a weekend when most downloads happen and will get a lot of organic downloads-

Rank (Day)  = (Day*8) + (Day-1)*5 + (Day-2)*5 + (Day-3)*2

2. Submit/ distribute your press release. Try http://prmac.com – this service is inexpensive and has huge reach. $22 for the extended service – these releases are picked up by serious players in the mobile industry. Others to try arehttp://www.prweb.com/ and more premium services like NewsWirePR – expensive but have 80,000 + industry influencers who could make a big difference

3. Get social. Use your own social network, and friend’s social networks to push updates. Run a contest and entice people to share the app with their friends. You can even buy posts on Large pages. There are quite a few pages with a large audience who would willingly share your posts for a fixed pay.

4. Reach out to Youtube reviewers whom you would have already contacted and make them post review videos.

 

Post-Launch

One day after launch

5. The day after launch, activate cross promotional campaigns using the banners created before launch. Do cross promotion from a network of Applications, related to your app’s category. In 2011, around 30% of all app traffic is from in-app advertising and cross promotions

6. Write and create threads on Forums. MacRumours, TouchArcade, Tuaw, Mac-forums, IGN.com,  etc,

7. Post to Hacker News.

Two days after launch

8. Two days after launch – follow up on any coverage received till date. Thank the people who covered your app. Tweet their posts and write comments on the articles.

9. Continue to create more threads, respond to people who have written on your posts

10. Follow up with all the YouTube Reviewers

11. Send people in the application a push notification to leave one positive review if they are enjoying the application. Ensure that you don’t bug your users too much with these requests but then it’s important as well that you gain a lot of positive reviews. It’s a fact that people who have had a bad experience with the app would instantaneously drop a negative review while people who liked the app have a much lesser chance of giving you a positive review. Hence, encourage them to drop a good note that would drive a lot of organic downloads going forward.

Three/Four days later…

12. Engage more on Social Media Channels.

Amarnath Vannarath
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Amarnath Vannarath

Amarnath Vannarath is an Entrepreneur, Hustler, Growth Hacker. He currently heads Marketing for FieldEZ Tech Inc, a SaaS product company. He loves to travel, is a street food connoisseur and a passionate Soccer player. Blogs mainly on marketing, growth hack techniques and startups. You can reach him at [email protected]
Amarnath Vannarath
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