Win in the App Store - 2014 Edition


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From my 2014 talk. A version with speaker notes is available at

Yes, it's still possible to "win" in the App Store 2014 when creating a non-game app. It's definitely harder with more competition, more venture funded apps in the space, and features not taking an app as far. That's why the business aspects of apps is even more important than it has been in the past.

Here are some practical tips for how to market your app. It's focused on a v1.0 launch but these tips will still be helpful for point or feature releases.

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  • I’m excited to be here because I know it’s still possible to win in the App Store, especially in non-game categories.
  • But I do have to start with some context for our discussion today that highlights where we are today in the App Store compared to even a year ago.
  • Paid apps—still the revenue model of most—may have peaked going back to 2011 / 2012. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
    Obviously there’s more competition but features from Apple also not getting you as far. We’re also seeing more venture-funded apps in the business, productivity, and utilities categories.
  • When we launched Agenda in 2011, there was only 2-3 serious calendar apps.
    Now you see apps like Sunrise,’s Cal plus apps like Mailbox and Paper getting millions for big marketing budgets, faster product development, and multi-platform support.
  • You’re the CEO, CMO, COO, and CFO. You’re all the C’s.
  • More than a CEO, the late Steve Jobs was the best marketer ever. He knew how to help people understand the need for his products.
    You can have the best app on the planet but if you don’t spend as much time thinking about and executing your marketing, no one will know about it.
  • I want to provide some very practical advance on how to approach marketing your app.
  • Focused on v1.0 but still applicable to point or feature releases.
  • Bulk of this discussion will be focused on the pre-launch activities; they’re not necessarily hard but they have to be executed perfectly and well in advance of launch.
    Ultimately, launch day is the best opportunity for your app to be successful and will set the tone for the remainder of your app’s lifespan.
  • Name has less impact than it used but still has weight and allows you to not have to use it in keyword.
  • If you can’t do it this way, just do the name of the app, followed by a short keyword-rich description.
  • Keeps track of ranking, shows difficulty & opportunity, track competitors against your keywords and their rankings.
  • Paragraphs are 2-3 sentences.
    Features are bulleted without word wrap.
  • We localize keywords, description, App Store screenshots, as well as localize UI and content in the app (except settings).
  • We spent upwards of 1-3 days on our screenshots. And it takes longer when you localize them.
  • Splash page & beta testing
    Relationship building
    Press materials
  • Meet with the App Store team, engineers, and all the press that attend the event.
    AltWWDC and just having coffee, lunch, parties, etc.
  • Especially for non-games, humanize your app. This is why Apple’s advertisements and generally, their marketing has been so successful for so many years. You can imagine Apple actually having done promos like the Clear one.
  • $4k-$5k to produce the Clear kind of quality; most likely higher if you don’t know people; five figure budgets when you start getting into the studio itself.
  • Ensure the listing is fully propagated around the world by the morning.
    Don’t publicize till morning.
  • Should be ranking the early AM. Release all the marketing that’s under your control: email, social media, blog, etc.
  • This uses the bundle page and allows prospective customers to see all the reviews we’ve received in one place.
  • We cycle quotes in and out on our listing, website, etc.
  • I try not to bother Chairman Gruber but I reached out to him on launch day because we had a relevant data point for him to highlight in relation to news of the day on charging for iOS 7 ready apps.
  • Turn 1-2 stars to 3,4, & 5 stars. We try to reach out to those customers who provide negative reviews and win them over.
  • Automate support using Zendesk. Any actual touch we receive from customers we want to either highlight a bug or a feature request. Not just common requests.
  • Share key roadmap features
  • New prices; new keywords, new screenshots, new App Store descriptions, new apps, free apps, Universal apps, new localization, new devices, new partnerships, new advertising
  • Customer preferences are changing, ranking algorithms are changing, devices are changing, iOS is changing, Apple as a company is changing. We need to make small changes, test impact, rinse and repeat.
  • Care more than others.
    Sweat the small stuff.
  • Win in the App Store - 2014 Edition

    1. 1. PRESENTED BY @kenyarmosh [CEO & FOUNDER] ! Win in the App Store Renaissance 2014
    2. 2. @kenyarmosh • • • • Editor’s Choice Seven featured apps O’Reilly author NFLPA, Foreign Policy, Homesnap [CEO & FOUNDER] Agenda Today
    3. 3. First, the bad news.
    4. 4. Paid apps may have peaked. (and is still the revenue model of most non-games)
    5. 5. How do we respond?
    6. 6. Be great at business.
    7. 7. “I build apps.” ! vs. ! “I’m building a business… by creating apps.”
    8. 8. Many here still are not marketing.
    9. 9. These tips don’t replace having a great app.
    10. 10. They help a great app succeed.
    11. 11. pre-launch launch post-launch
    12. 12. pre-launch
    13. 13. pre-launch app store listing
    14. 14. app store listing • • • • • Name: Include keywords Keywords: Important for ranking Description: Optimize for mobile Screenshots: What sells the app Localizations: What sells MORE of the app
    15. 15. keyword mistakes • • • • • Less than 100 characters Putting spaces between keywords Long words that no one will type Keywords you won’t rank for or low traffic Not using keyword analysis tools
    16. 16. SensorTower
    17. 17. We spent upwards of 1-3 days on our screenshots.
    18. 18. pre-launch teaser activities
    19. 19. Attend WWDC every year. (even without a ticket)
    20. 20. Trailer Website Promo Code Press Kit
    21. 21. leading up to v1.0 launch three weeks before launch • Submit to Apple • Promo video two weeks before launch • Press kit done one week before launch • v1.0 to press w/launch date • Draft of initial FAQs
    22. 22. launch
    23. 23. the night before: “soft launch” • • • • • Release around 11 PM ET Ensure listing looks good & purchase Publish complete website & FAQs Check support & Twitter monitoring Any initial social proofing of listing
    24. 24. by 9 AM ET “Release the hounds.”
    25. 25. Support is marketing. (usually)
    26. 26. Start prioritizing 1.0.1.
    27. 27. post-launch
    28. 28. Know your numbers.
    29. 29. revenue by country
    30. 30. support turnaround
    31. 31. know your numbers • 30%-50% of lifetime revenue in 1st month • Weigh all costs (e.g., time, support, API, etc.) • Cut losses as needed
    32. 32. 1.0.1 & roadmap • thanks contacts & keep them informed • submit 1.0.1 w/in 1-2 days of launch • find the big win for 1.1
    33. 33. test, measure, repeat • iterate across app store listing elements • similar pre-launch activities for feature releases • continue with beta testers/testing
    34. 34. final thoughts
    35. 35. Paid apps aren’t dead. (but are harder to sustain)
    36. 36. Freemium not proven outside games. (without venture funding )
    37. 37. Improve moving target) or die. (the App Store is a
    38. 38. Love what you do. (riches follow passion)
    39. 39. thanks! @kenyarmosh [CEO & FOUNDER]