First of all, let’s try to understand how Apple makes a choice. There are two angles to it. There is an Apple’s App Store editorial board that reviews apps by category and, on a weekly basis, distinguishes the greatest apps (as we’ve mentioned before, this means new, innovative and the ones that promote the iOS platform), and there is a word of a mouth.
Understand the editorial board
Two things to keep in mind that might influence the editorial board:
- Tailor your app to the seasonal selections Apple uses within the App Store. For example, in December you will notice the Christmas and New Year apps in top of the list, where is September is back to school and back to work time when many productivity apps spring up.
- Working on BiteHippo, we managed to update the app for iOS7 and app was immediately noticed and featured by Apple in the What’s Hot in Productivity. If you can combine launching your app (its update) together with a public release of the new OS, your stake definitely goes up.
Connect with people
Build informal networks. There is also a belief that informal network of current and former Apple employees, along with PR professionals, play an important role in sketching the list of candidates. So, overall visibility of your project and word of a mouth may play a crucial role in the selection process. You got to get on their radar.
It’s all about the relationship. To sum up, you may get lucky once or even a couple of times and get your app featured on the App Store. However, building a great relationship with the App Store’s manager is a huge help if you are thinking long-term. Reality check shows that there is some bias towards large developers/publishers that have existing relationships with Apple employees, however, many startups also get noticed and recognized.
You got to know somebody at Apple. One of the best ways to do it would be meeting Apple developers at WWDC. You can alway catch up with people after the session or in the Labs. Bug Reporting always helps. Finally, business networking. From my experience, Apple employees are not that talkative, so don’t bug them with too many questions about Apple. However, it’s a great chance to tell them more about your project :)
Establish new connections within Apple. Even if your app gets rejected and you receive an upsetting email, view this as an opportunity – try to maintain a conversation as you’ve already got somebody on the other side. You can try to clarify what are they looking for in particular in the featured apps, what you could change about your app to make it more valuable to users and increase your chances of getting featured. Be persistent and concise in your emails. Once featured, don’t forget to provide the roadmap for further updates and product development.
App Store Search Engine Optimization. This helps you to ensure your app will reach the necessary amount of downloads (at some point you need 25 k downloads per day to get to the top charts of the US App Store). That’s why, you got to focus on natural incorporation of keywords in the title and description data. As reviews and ratings are very important, don’t forget to offer users the opportunity to review the app. Push notifications works great in this case. You can lear more about App Store optimization from our dedicated post here.
Word of a mouth. Scopely is the Los Angeles-based mobile gaming platform founded by social gaming entrepreneur Walter Driver and AdSense co-creator Eytan. Together they have developed social apps and games used by millions of monthly users. Walter Driver says it’s not easy for the new comers, unless you have been releasing apps frequently. Also, he has found that word of mouth is one of the best sources for discovering apps. “Because users hear about new apps through friends and many use their smartphones in social situations, word of mouth is one of the best ways to reach new users”.
Media. The bare product is not enough, so you need to think of an effective media campaign. Here you can go as will as you can: media publications (Techcrunch, Mashable), reviews on blogs, corporate news (Today Show, Reader’s Digest), events and meetups, a demo video – all of these help to boost app visibility and increase the number of downloads. You can also consider hiring a professional PR firm to help you with this task.
Facebook ads. Here is an insider tip from Readdle, a mobile development company from Ukraine focused on productivity apps, that has got their apps featured on App Store multiple times. Denis Zhadanov, Marketing Director at Readdle, shared with us: “Don’t just wait, be smart about it. Launching Facebook ads targeted at San Francisco and Silicon Valley, you can get more attention to your product and gain visibility aiming at Apple’s employees.”
In the nutshell, if you are serious about it, make connections at Apple, and never miss an opportunity to speak about the cool app you created.
Check out our posts on How to Make a Killer Product and Why Even Bother About Getting Featured on App Store.March 18, 2014