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HowTo: Promote your app

10-14-2008, 04:11 AM
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Berlin/Germany
Posts: 949
HowTo: Promote your app


I think it would be nice for the devs to have a single thread which mentions all the tips for promoting their app. In a few discussions we talked about only "big names" getting the promotion in the AppStore on the front page, so it's nice for "smaller" devs to get a list of what to do to make things better.

Here are my ideas (I'm no dev, so I'm seeing this from a user perspective):

1. AppStore description

1a) Give us accurate descriptions in the AppStore. Describe what your app is, how you control it, what type of gameplay you have, what's the goal.

1b) Also mention similar games already available on the AppStore and compare you app against them (if you search for these other apps, your app will show up too!).

1c) Update the description often. Use the description to react to user complains or to give tips on the gameplay and to show, what you are planning for upcoming updates, so that the users can see, that the dev is interested and commited to the app.

1d) Translate your description (see this thread: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showpo...90&postcount=2 )

2. AppStore images

Include images which do not only show the splash screen, but which show gameplay at first. Remember, that the mobile AppStore and nearly all RSS feeds (like appshopper.com) only include the first image you upload!

3. Application preview version

When you put the app into the review black hole of Apple, also give out some preview version to several known review sites, like toucharcade.com and video podcasts.

4. Website and support

At least, your website should be ready, when submitting the game to Apple. Give an overview, a gameplay video and a support area with faqs and a form/email address for your customers. If your app sells well, think about creating an account on getsatisfaction.com to manage the support queries.

5. Answering support entries

Always - ALWAYS - remember, that many of the persons who write to you are your customers. They paid for your app and for your work. They will tell you if they like it or not. Some of them will have ideas for further developing. Answer with respect and within two days and don't take anything personal. Create an ideas-area on your website with ideas of your customers.

6. Dev visibility

Be visible to your current or upcoming customers. Show them, that you are commited to your app and interested in what they think of it. Create official accounts in a handful of boards like toucharcade.com and take part on the discussions regarding your app.

7. Updates

If you update your app, the app is shown again in the store. So don't give out huge update every two months, but small updates every two weeks. This also makes customers feel that the app is evolving and that the dev is putting in things the customers want. BUT, the app you ship to Apple as a first release has to be a complete and finished app. Do not misuse the update feature as a way to ship a half-finished product!

8. Price changes

Offer some price reductions once in a while to stay in the news. Change your AppStore Icon to reflect this, with including a "SALE" on it, so that it's very visible while scrolling through the store.

9. Lite/Free version

Offer a lite or free version with some levels, to reach the customers, who don't want to pay the full price just to get a feeling for the app. I would suggest doing this only for Apps over 2.99, because apps under hits price value are already a steal.

Last edited by Oliver; 10-14-2008 at 04:24 AM. Reason: more text
10-20-2008, 06:38 PM

thanks for those valuable tips.
One question though. Since our subscription to the iPhone Dev programm seems to be stuck in the same black hole where all those apps vanish for review I am getting impatient and questions pop up. So how do you give a preview of your app out before submitting it to Apple? As far I understand it, you can't simply send out the binary. Does it mean then that I'd have to add every previewer to the adhoc distribution list?



Unix guy, Mac head, iPhone dev, Rails wannabe, Computer Science alumnus, usability guesspert and overall big time visionary

10-20-2008, 08:42 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 49
Stefan, you can send a binary along with a provisioning profile. The receiver drags the app and profile into iTunes, and syncs. And yes, you have to add the UDID of every previewer. The limit is 100 for the $99 program.

I have sent invitations to several reviewers to do just that with BallsEye and have had no takers. In fact, I've done many of the things on Oliver's list with underwhelming results. So far anyway.
10-22-2008, 06:58 PM

I also think this translations service is so good:

10-24-2008, 12:32 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 2,412
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I can state from experience that you should make sure lite versions require a special balance of fun and leaving the user wanting more. Also give it a little time, with the number of apps released daily it can take weeks for your app/game to be recognized as a standout.
11-05-2008, 05:41 PM
I have also tried many of the suggestions above with unimpressive results. I have also submitted to many blogs/sites for reviews also with weak results. The best way to get your app in front of prospective buyers is to be in the top 10 of the app store. It just seems that outside promotion doesn't really do much. I would like to mention a good tool that I just started using. Pinch media analytics is a nice package that help track the effectiveness of your promotions. When promoting a product analytics are an invaluable tool and they offer a nice package for free.

kwigbo.com - iPhone dev blog with code snippets and more.
iReviewFail.com Funny reviews from the iOS App Store
11-10-2008, 08:25 PM
thanks for the info.

also make sure you set the release date to the future, we made the mistake of setting the release day to the day we submitted it and it didn't show up for another week while it was in review, kinda pushes your app back in the list of new apps.
11-26-2008, 10:58 AM
Good info Oliver thx. As a graphic designer I just want to mention the not so obvious here. Marketing outside of the app store is still the best way to reach customers, ie. if you are making a "zombie" game advertise where zombie fans hang out... magazines, websites, etc. Press releases to game sites and reviewers are also a big help.

My personal number one issue is that I am very hesitant to buy ANY game without playing a DEMO first UNLESS it has been reviewed by at least 5 site and has been given a 70% or better. I have bought soo many console games based on just thinking that they look great and then the gameplay is absolute ass. Try before you buy. Every game should have a quick demo version.

1. Demo 2. Real World Marketing 3. App Store

Hope this helps
11-27-2008, 01:16 AM
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Berlin/Germany
Posts: 949
There's currently going a presentation around which describes how first time users use the iPhone and the appstore. One interesting thing is, that one decision for buying or not buying an app is the look of the icon. They prefer bright colors, a professional look which matches with the iPhone look and no red, because ted means danger. There were also comments on what price point means what to them.

Due to the lack if copy and paste I can't give you the URL . I found it on the basic thinking blog.


Plus+: Lakeshore / OpenFeint & Game Center: taptoplay.de
11-30-2008, 08:53 AM
Originally Posted by jonaswills View Post
thanks for the info.

also make sure you set the release date to the future, we made the mistake of setting the release day to the day we submitted it and it didn't show up for another week while it was in review, kinda pushes your app back in the list of new apps.
We made that mistake once also - talk about learning the hard way!

Nessy at TaleeTalee

Games & Apps so far

utopia Solitaire (cough, soon!)