Diving head-first into the dog-eat-dog world of the Apple App Store is the fast track to a flop.
Statistics compiled by PocketGamer.biz reveal that, in May of 2015 alone, Apple received a total of 53,942 submissions on the App Store. That works out to an average of 1,798 submissions per day. All told, the App Store currently houses 1.9 million apps.
So how do you make your app shine through such a crowded field of competition? Having a world-class app, while necessary, is only half the equation. The other half is a smart PR strategy. A carefully thought out launch plan can make the difference between obscurity and virality.
Design Your Icon and Choose Your Screenshot with Strategy in Mind
Your icon and screenshots should dazzle. If you have the resources, one of the best investments you can make in your app is to hire a designer to create an icon for you. On the other hand, if you have a limited app marketing budget, try using a template to create a logo.
You can find dozens of sites that have free app icon templates that will automatically render all the different sizes required by iOS devices. You can edit a single object and then churn out high-quality icons for Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, and more. Here are some other tips to help you design an App-Store-friendly icon:
- Don't include words. That's what your title and description are for.
- Say no to standard gloss. Apple gives app developers this option when submitting an app to the App Store in an effort to make the icons more Apple-esque and standardized. The last thing you want is a homogenized icon, so opt out of the standard gloss. If you like the look, apply a gloss yourself so you can better control its appearance.
- Don't forget the detail. Apple now requires you to submit a 1024 X 1024 pixel icon, which means it should also look good in full-screen mode. Also, you never know where and on what background your app's icon might appear, so including a border is usually a smart move for consistent branding.
OPTIMIZE YOUR APP'S NAME AND KEYWORDS FOR APP STORE SEO
Your app's name and keywords are the first things potential users will see after your logo. If users are browsing the App Store on their iPhones remember that only the first 33 characters of your app's name will display. This is a function of the new Cards-style display Apple introduced with iOS 6.
These display limitations of the App Store mean that your app's name — at least for non-game apps — needs to be as straightforward as possible. Put the most important and relevant keywords at the beginning if you can. You don't want your app passed over because irrelevant words display in search results. Users should also be able to tell immediately what your app does by its name. The words in your app's name serve as keywords for searches, so the challenge is to find a balance between keyword loading and branding.
Send Press Releases to Apple-Only Outlets
Getting your app noticed and written about by a major app website will be a huge boon to its success. For a brand-new app with an unknown developer, though, you may have to narrow your target a bit.
You'll of course want to submit a press release to major outlets such as PrNewswire and PrWeb. However, you risk becoming a needle in a haystack on massive sites like those. To more precisely target the niche Apple market, try also submitting a release to PrMac, which only accepts iOS-related press releases.
Remember to write a story rather than simply regurgitating information when writing your press release. Is your app out to challenge an industry titan like Instagram? Everyone loves a good David-and-Goliath story. Alternatively, you can focus on what problem your app solves.
Connect with Bloggers on iOS App Review and Other Sites
Industry bloggers have developers reaching out to them constantly, entreating them to write about their apps. While connecting with influences in your market is critical, your email will get lost in the crowd if you take the traditional approach. Before you send your email, connect with the influencer through social media, commenting on or retweeting a post, for example. Striking up a dialogue will give you a nice segue to mention your app.
You'll also have a better chance of getting your app noticed if you focus your efforts on Apple-only review sites, such as AppAdvice or BestAppSite. These sites offer detailed reviews of promising new iOS apps and publish news stories of what's going on in the Apple app world.
The App Store requires creative PR strategies to make your app stand out. Focusing on the niche Apple audience and optimizing your App Store SEO will help your app set itself apart.