Dec 27

If you’re tired of watching holiday themed movie reruns, you can now watch the iOS 7 Tech Talk Videos. These Tech Talks are like a very concentrated version of WWDC. Coming several months after WWDC Apple can assume that most developers by now have some experience developing for iOS 7, so they don’t have to start at the beginner level.

You should watch the “App Store Distribution and Marketing for Apps” video. It provides general advice on app marketing, from Apple’s perspective. (Keep in mind that when it comes to the App Store, Apple always has the best interest of Apple in mind. Which may not necessarily be in the best interest of indie developers and small app businesses.) The video also shows email addresses for the App Store marketing team. If you don’t already have a personal contact on the team, you should make a note of these addresses. When you release a new app that you think is worthy of being featured in the App Store, you should let them know. Of course they can only promote a very small number of apps, so the odds are not in your favor. But the odds are even worse if you don’t tell them about your app in the first place. Showing Apple that you have a marketing plan outside of the App Store helps to get their attention. In addition to the usual “only on iOS” and using the latest iOS technologies.

The marketing video also mentions the “App Store Code Program”. This was the first time I heard about this program. It’s a way to give away your paid app to a large number of people. It’s not designed for when you run out of promo codes and you need a dozen more. Instead think 100,000+ redemption codes. Think big!

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Oct 24

It’s been interesting to follow Trey Smith‘s journey building his app business. Trey comes from an Internet marketing background so he brings new perspectives on marketing apps. That’s why I enjoy his products and listening to his presentations.

Trey is currently in the launch phase of a new product called Indie Academy. This course teaches you how to build apps (primarily games) using Unity and distributing them via Steam. You can of course deploy Unity apps to mobile devices too, but according to marketshare stats, the PC platform is much larger than iOS and Android combined. And there’s a lot less competition on the Steam platform – about 3,000 titles – compared to iOS and Android with over a million apps each.

So if you are developing games or have any interest in the Steam platform, you should checkout Trey’s latest webinar. (Replay)

The webinar also has some great ideas on how you can break through the noise and reach reviewers and important media people to tell them about your app. Specifically pay attention at 41:38.


written by Nick

Jun 18

#AltWWDC was a great conference organized by the Appsterdam folks in San Francisco last week. The intent was to be an alternative to the sold out WWDC next door. Interestingly there were many attendees wearing WWDC badges at AltWWDC. A testament to the high quality of the speakers.

There were several sessions at AltWWDC discussing marketing which is a topic that you won’t find at Apple’s official events. Here are my notes from the sessions that I attended.

Traditional Marketing Sucks. Let’s Get Weird.

Speaker: Eli Hodapp – Editor in Chief,
Live stream video:

  • For your app launch, think about what you can do different. How can you be smarter than everyone else?
  • Example: Bounce On 2 first launched a free version of their game. In the app there was a countdown timer to the launch of the full version.
  • Bypass the press by building your own community. Make memorable connections in smaller communities.
  • Examples: Post a thread for your game on the forums. Or in the iOS Gaming Subredit.
  • Crescent Moon Games
    • Participated in every RPG discussion on the Touch Arcade forums. See user “JoshCM”
    • Posted early concept art.
    • Built a loyal following.
    • The end result was that the editors of Touch Arcade wanted to put up something on the main website because of the activity in the forum. Much better than sending press releases that nobody cares about.
  • Summary
    • It’s so easy to connect to people.
    • Build a fan base.
    • You can do this every day.

Turning Angry Customers in to Fans – Tales from Indie Tech Support

Speaker: Josh Michaels
Live stream video: (starts around 17:00)

  • Tech support is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about app marketing.
  • This session is very funny and offers great practical advice on how to respond to tech support emails.
  • The presentation is well worth watching. My dry bullet points here cannot do it justice…

Marketing You Won’t Hate

Speaker: Jean MacDonald, Partner Smile Software
Live stream video:

Create an Email Tips Series

  • When the app launches the first time, ask customer if they would like to get an email tips series?
  • Schedule a short autoresponder sequence of emails. Send the first welcome email immediately, then the first tip on the following day. Send a new tip each week after that.
  • Smile uses MailChimp. (Note that the autoresponder feature is not included in the free MailChimp plan.)
  • The open rate for these tip emails is about 75%, and remains consistently high.
  • This is one way to capture emails from customers that come from App Stores.
  • Make the tips short
  • Number the steps
  • Include a screenshot. (Bonus: allows you to see email opens)
  • Customers respond with fan mail!

Review Your Approach to Twitter

  • Don’t retweet everything nice everyone says about you. You’re preaching to the choir.
  • Retweet tips from your customers. (After verifying the tip.)
  • Smiles uses Hoot Suite to manage Twitter with multiple people.
  • Reply with thank you to customers.
  • Don’t tweet actual promo codes.
  • Better to have a give-away on Twitter.
    • Ask a simple question. (Related to your product.)
    • First five responses win.
    • Tweet follow up announcing winners, with their Twitter handles.
    • Then DM the code to the person. (Requires winners to follow you.)
    • The answers to your question also gives you valuable data.
  • Encourage a dialogue
  • Reply to mentions

Sponsoring Podcasts

  • Smile started small with a coupon offer on one podcast.
  • Like to work with smaller podcasts and grow with them.
  • List of new and upcoming podcasts:
  • On these smaller podcasts $1,000 will get you on 4 podcast episodes.
  • You don’t want to sponsor just a single episode. That is a waste of your resources. You need to build recognition over time.
  • Find a podcast where the host is a fan of your software. Much better than the host reading a script about you.
  • Give the host guidelines, not a script. Change them over time, to not get boring.
  • Promote the podcast yourself.

App Marketing Panel Discussion

Moderator: Brett Terpstra


Live stream video:

Random notes from a wide ranging discussion:

  • Marketing has to start before the app is done.
  • Blogs are a great way to get out pre-release information.
  • Writers want personal interactions. They want to see indies succeed.
  • Apps need to be marketed like music and movies. Before they are available in the store.
  • Create a great teaser video.
  • If you spend 3 months developing an app. Spend three months on marketing.
  • Find influencers and try to get them to use the app.
  • Beta program is also important.
  • Send out creative beta invites to get people excited.
  • Begin your launch at least 4 weeks before your launch.
  • Comment on a blog with a thoughtful response to get the attention of a blogger.
  • Attend events to connect with people.
  • Advertising does not work for apps that cost less than $10. The economics are not there.
  • Tracking is critical.
  • Buy impressions with metrics in mind.
  • ROI is difficult for paid apps.
  • Price discounts works well for paid apps. Combine with paid installs to accelerate adoption.
  • Measure app engagement before paying for ads or installs.
  • Don’t underprice your app. Easier to lower price later and to have temporary sales.
  • Try everything in the App Store.
  • If your app does something sensitive, e.g. 1Password, people want to pay more for a “trusted” app.
  • Huge difference in customer opinion between free and $1 app.
  • Use an honest approach.
  • Bloggers see everything under the sun. Excellent source for feedback.
  • Don’t be afraid of showing your app before it’s ready.
  • Make sure you list any limitations and requirements in your app description.
  • MacUpdate advertising effective for Mac apps. Automatically does A/B testing.
  • How do you get to the right person on a multi-person blog?
  • Read and research past blog posts.
  • Create a spreadsheet with names and interests.
  • Friends are a powerful source of recommendations.
  • Make it easy to virally spread the word inside an app.
  • Don’t be pushy in the app. Give the control to the user.
  • Email to blogger:
  • Begin with a concise description of why your message is important to the readers.
  • 85% of press releases don’t have active links to the website.
  • Risky to mention past stories, since the writer may not be personally interested in the topic.
  • Traditional press releases are pretty much dead.
  • Create an HTML page where the writer can get all the necessary info, copy & paste, etc.
  • The excitement of the developer is contagious. The tone of the email is important. How much passion is behind it.
  • Many apps play well together with other apps. Reach out to those developers and collaborate on marketing.

written by Nick

Feb 19

Tope at App Design Vault has created a great infographic on the topic of getting app reviews. Check it out here and be sure to also download the Good Pitch sample.

While you’re there, take a look Tope’s pre-made app design templates. If you find something that fits your new iOS app project, then you can save a lot of design time and money by buying the template. I’ve used several for my own and clients’ apps.

written by Nick