The number of apps in the App Store has just passed 1.5 million. That’s great news, for Apple at least. For most developers, it mostly means more competition in what’s already a saturated market. While Apple paid developers $10 billion last year, the lion's share of that money went to less than 1.6 percent of them.
Certainly, a small number of apps do succeed. But as a Nielsen report shows, the average user uses only about 27 apps a month. "Uses" here means the app is opened at least once a month, along with basics such as email, messages, alarm clock, etc.
The number of apps used daily is even less encouraging, but that’s another story. The point here is that in the App Store, you compete with 1.5 million apps, and many of the top spots are already taken. Weigh in the App Store’s discoverability issues, and you're facing some serious marketing challenges. Yet, such competition is far from surprising: The app economy is as hot as it gets. App revenues are growing faster than ever before, and mobile is officially taking over the web -- whether that means ecommerce, advertising or search. After all, what’s 1.5 million apps compared to 644 million active websites?
To succeed under these circumstances, you need to get noticed. And since the battle for attention takes place in the App Store, here are 10 tips to make your app stand out.
1. Focus on regional rankings.
The App Store is often called the 1 percent economy because it’s the few apps in the top-25 charts that harvest most of the success. To get into the top-25 chart in the United States, you need at least 100,000 downloads in 72 hours. Getting that kind of traffic requires a huge marketing budget. However, the top-25 charts differ from country to country. So, focus your marketing efforts to dominate regional markets such as the United Kingdom, France or Germany, where the threshold for reaching the top-25 charts is much lower.
2. Polish your Appstore SEO (ASO) skills.
When it comes to new-app discovery, data shows that 63 percent of iOS users find new apps simply by browsing the App Store. Browsing is followed by friend referrals (50 percent), and browsing the top charts (34 percent). So, make sure your app is easy to find.
A common question many entrepreneurs ask our team at Appster about discovery is how exactly to make an app easy to find. The answer is that just as happens with traditional SEO, ASO is about high-volume, low-competition keywords. Apps that include keywords in their title tend to rank better (i.e., Wunderlist: To-do list and Tasks). App descriptions also count, but in any case avoid being spammy.
3. Make your icon and screenshots stand out.
Your icon and screenshots are some of the most important tools you have to get your app found. Your icon should stand out, look pretty and not be cluttered. The same applies to your screenshots. It’s the first impression that counts, so you want your screenshots beautiful and relevant.
4. Include a video.
The video is the newest App Store feature, introduced by Apple this past year. Google Play has had it for quite a while. It’s a powerful sales tool, and you should use it. To make it work, take the time to ensure it's not merely a nice showcase of features. An excellent video involves a mix of storytelling and selling and a strong call-to-action.
5. Get your copywriting text right.
Together with video, your description is one of the most important elements for convincing a visitor to download your app. You want to nail the intro line: those first few lines users see before they hit "more" to expand the text. Treat this text as if it were a copy for your Adwords ad. It should be crisp and powerful and state your value proposition in a clear and concise way.
6. Consider App Bundles.
App Bundles are another relatively recent feature that makes App Store marketing much more potent. App Bundles allows paid apps to be included in bundles of up to 10 apps. The great thing is that these bundles are featured on the App Store's main "Featured" page, boosting your chances to be found. You can include your app in up to three different bundles, each with its own description, screenshots and a separate listing.
7. Use horizontal distribution, if applicable.
A great example of horizontal distribution is Udemy. Aside from Udemy's main app, you can find numerous separate apps, built around specific Udemy tutorials. So, when you search for the brand, you’ll find the main app in the top result. You'll also find other Udemy apps, such as "Excel tutorial," "bitcoin tutorial," "project management course," "productivity course," etc.
Now, if you were someone searching for productivity, Excel or project management apps, you'd see one of the Udemy apps on your list, too. Obviously, this strategy works only for learning apps, quiz apps and a few other categories.
8. Improve your reviews.
When it comes to having an influence on conversions, ratings and reviews account for 75 percent, while screenshots and description account for 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively. So, the better your reviews, the more conversions you get.
One way to achieve them is to make sure your app is well tested (the majority of one-star reviews complain about frequent crashes). You also want to provide an outlet for customer complaints, as well as technical support.
9. Segment your users for better ratings.
Another way to improve your ratings is to segment your users into two categories: those who like your app and those who don’t. You can achieve this in the following way: Instead of showing a pop-up asking users to review your app, ask them, "Do you like this app?" If the response is yes, ask them to leave a five-star review; if the answer is no, direct them to your support forum.
10. Encourage referrals and word-of-mouth.
Referrals are the third most frequent method of new app discovery. There is no specific way to hack this, as it depends on your app. But you still should motivate users to share and make referrals by giving away freebies and other incentives. Likewise, you want to measure your Net Promoter Score and experiment with viral marketing strategies.
Obviously, all these tactics are useless if your product stinks. Yet, history has taught us that a mediocre product with great marketing beats a great product with mediocre marketing seven days a week. Work to succeed on both measures.