So you’ve got this amazing idea for an iPhone App. All the cool kids have got one so why can’t you? How hard can it be?
It’s not difficult to get an app made and to stick it up on iTunes. It’s not difficult at all.
The challenge comes when you want people to actually notice your app and click on the download button. With over half a million iPhone apps to choose from, how will you get yours noticed?
We’ve come up with a few pointers to help you on your way.
1. Concept and Design
Marketing your app starts at the very beginning with the concept and design. This will have a profound effect when you eventually load it up into the app store.
Finding a unique idea is not easy when there are already so many apps out there, so if you can’t be unique then at least try and be better than other similar apps.
Try and introduce some “wow factor” to your app. You want people to talk about your app, tweet it, share it and blog about it. Give them something good to talk about.
Check out your competitors, see how their apps work and see how you can do better.
Choosing your designer is also a vital cog in the process. You need somebody with experience and who understands what you are trying to achieve.
Not only should the app look good but it needs to work properly too. Test, test and test some more. It is important that your app is working perfectly the first time somebody uses it.
Once your app is being built you can start getting your website up and running. Drive people to your website where you will educate and inform them about your app.
Your website should reflect the design of your app so it is worth spending a little extra time and money for a well-designed site.
Encourage visitors to sign up for your newsletter so that you can tell them when the app has been released on the app store.
Some people prefer receiving news through social networks, so set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account which visitors can follow.
Remember to link your website to the app store.
3. App Store
All apps are sold through the iTunes app store so it makes sense that your listing is carefully thought out.
Your listing should have a compelling description that makes the user want to download it . Use keywords to ensure that your app turns up when a user searches for your type of app. Make sure your app is listed in the correct category.
Graphics are also important. The little square logo used in the iTunes store should look professional and stand out from all the others. Screenshots should convey a good impression of what the app is all about.
Apple do look at new apps and if yours is unique in some way it has more chance of getting listed in the “New and Noteworthy” category right at the top of the iTunes App Store. They receive hundreds, if not thousands of apps a day, so getting their attention is tough, to say the least. Being chosen as a featured app gives a massive boost and can be the difference between success and failure.
4. Pricing strategy
There are several ways on monetizing an iPhone app so you don’t necessarily have to charge anything for it at all. Many of the apps in iTunes’ top grossing list are free apps.
Some contain in-app advertising or even offer products or services for sale within the app. Some offer a lite version of the app to give users a taste of what to expect when they purchase the full version.
If you decide to go the paid route then your price-point is important. Many apps are $0.99 but it’s really up to you what you want to charge and what you can reasonably expect people to pay.
Some of the most successful apps have had no revenue at all but have built up huge user bases which make them attractive takeover targets. The most famous so far was Instagram which was less than 2 years old when it was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. It had no revenue but it did have over 40 million users at the time.
Spend some time doing detailed research into which pricing strategy is best for you.
5. Blogs and Review Sites
One of the best ways of creating a buzz around your app is to get bloggers to write a review. First prize is to find a blogger in your niche. Bloggers tend to follow bloggers so once one or two bloggers mention how great your app is, you could get mentions in some other blogs.
It is worth giving away some free promo keys to bloggers so they can try out your app. Hopefully they will have a good experience and spread the word.
6. Social Media
When people like your app (or anything for that matter) they want to share it with their friends. If you’ve got the design right then you should have a useful, interesting or just plain fun application that users want to talk about.
Twitter and Facebook allow fans to easily and quickly spread the word about your product. Make it easy for them by having share buttons within the app itself. Users can also share with contacts in their phone’s address book.
Promote your app amongst your own friends on Facebook and Twitter and ask them to do the same. Every little bit helps when you’re just starting out.
Relevant forums can also be useful. Try and find a busy forum relative to your niche. Join it and start contributing. It’s not advisable to just join and start promoting your app though because you are likely to be banned. If you add value to the forum, the members won’t mind you putting a link in your profile or signature and promoting your app in a subtle way.
In app advertising has been proven to have a better click-through rate than normal web advertising. If possible you want to advertise in complementary rather than competing apps.
It is easier to use a company that specializes in in-app advertising rather than trying to contact app owners direct.
8. Media Coverage
If your app is really unique in some way then online and offline media will be interested in covering your story. Compile a press release with some good images which can be handed out to the various media. Hand out some free access keys to journalists willing to cover your app.
Consider making a YouTube video about your app. A well made video showing what the app does and how it works can be a useful way of getting the message across. Videos are also easy to share on the various social networks and can be embedded in your website.
10. The Launch
Don’t hold back when the time comes to launch. Send the good news to your e-mail subscribers. Post it on Facebook, get tweeting and write blogs. Do whatever you have to do to get the news out. Get the buzz going around your app so you can build up that critical mass that you are looking for.