Howdy, all you Teks fans out there! Our teeny-weeny holiday’s over, and it’s back-to-work time. That, of course, means, AppBoard Tuesday (ABT) – our free newsletter – makes a comeback from this week as well. In today’s edition, we won’t be dealing with how you should create apps. Instead, we would be focusing on what you should do after the app development process is over.
Maybe when you are learning the ropes of coding for mobile apps, the mere completion of an application is viewed as an achievement. In the professional world though, things are a whole lot different – and unless your app manages to stand out amongst the 1.3 million-odd applications at Google Play Store or iTunes, the entire thing would be treated as an exercise in futility. Creating a post-release buzz about a mobile app in order to ensure strong initial download figures is not a particularly difficult task though. Here’s how you should go about gaining maximum exposure for your apps:
- Submit your app – Yes, this is a bit of a no-brainer – but it’s the first thing you need to do. Once you are done with all the mobile app testing stages (and are satisfied with the results), submit your app at iTunes and/or Play Store. For the former in particular, you will have to be extra careful – for the app review process at the Apple App Store is rather rigorous. Of course, that does not mean you can get away with making buggy Android apps!
- Get reviews – This is where you will need to showcase your PR skills. Ask your colleagues, friends, family members, other close acquaintances (basically, any person you can approach for a professional favor) to give a favorable review of your app at the store. Make sure that your application is indeed worthy of a high rating (in fact, that’s the first thing you should consider!). Provided that your app is good, users would start giving reviews on their own over time. A fairly large number of positive reviews within the first week or so after the release of the app can serve as a great launching-pad.
- Showcase the designs – If you have created a unique, breakthrough application that no other mobile app company has been able to think about – good on you. Given the sheer number and variety of apps at the stores, chances for that are slim though, and there will be competition in practically every genre. What can make your app stand out is its UI/UX designs, color combinations, splash screens, and other display features. Channels like Behance and Pinterest can go a long way in highlighting the mobile app designing styles you have made use of. Find out how you can promote your app through Behance here.
- Think cross-platform – There’s more money in iPhone apps, while Android dominates the worldwide smartphone market. Any mobile app developer worth his/her salt would want to reach out to the maximum number of people. If you have made an iOS application, create an Android version of it as well (and vice versa). Specializing in cross-platform mobile app development would help you have a buffer – just in case any one version of your new app fails.
- Optimize the app-description – It’s only partially true that people do not generally bother to read the entire description of an app at iTunes or the Play Store. Everyone browses through the first 2-3 lines though – and that’s precisely why you need to explain the key functions and benefits of your app at the very outset. Arrange the rest of the text in small paragraphs/bulleted points. Do not forget to research for, and include, relevant tags for the app. Do not make any false claims in the description, however!
- Social media is your friend – Think Facebook, think Twitter, think Google Plus. On FB, announce the arrival of your app at the store(s) and provide the download link – without being overtly promotional about it. Regularly tweet about the key features of your new app, and use the ‘hashtag’ option to emphasize on them. On G+, publish information about your app in more or less the same way. Change the reach of your Google Plus posts from ‘Friends’ to ‘Public’. The more people get to know about your app, the better.
- Think beyond your own social media pages – This is, for all purposes, an extension of the previous point. On Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus and most other leading social media sites, you will find groups/communities/pages dedicated to mobile app development. Promote your application on them as well (you might have to become a member of these communities first). In addition, you can publish teasers/images of your app on the pages/timelines of other people interested in app designing and development. Do no spam though – and ask for their permissions, before going ahead with your postings.
- Publish informative press releases – You might have heard that online press releases have lost much of their value – since a large number of them are not newsworthy at all. However, for publicising a newly launched app, they are still one of the best tools. Ideally, write in third-person about the app’s features, the purposes it is meant to serve, the availability at stores, the price (if it’s a free app, mention that). Do not promote the app too much, and avoid praising it to the skies. PRs are supposed to be neutral, you have classified ad sites for more hardcore promotions.
- Regular upgrades are important – People shy away from mobile apps which are upgraded rarely, if at all. Provide information (in the app store description as well as via social media) regarding how frequently you plan to provide free updates/version upgrades (yep, they have to be FREE!). You have the option of naming the introductory version of your app something like ‘Version 1.0.1’, and include a few basic features (say, bug fixes) as ‘new’ in it. Buyers love apps that at least seem to have been recently upgraded.
- Bad screenshots = Bad impressions – A rule of thumb you should learn by heart. A prospective buyer is not really interested in how much technical expertise has gone into an Android or iPhone app development process, (s)he only skims through the app-descriptions – and all that (s)he wants to know whether the app would be useful and easy-to-use. This is where the importance of using high-quality app screenshots at the stores come into the picture. Ask your graphic designer to make detailed screenshots (at least 5) for every version of the application (if it is an iOS app, have separate screenshots for iPhone and iPad). Remember, these screenshots are the only way the public can form an idea about your app.
- Listen to what the early adopters have to say – Mobile app testing in a focus group is important, but it is not entirely foolproof. It is very much possible that an app which everyone at your mobile app agency have loved actually has certain snags (say, causes excess battery drain, consumes too much mobile bandwidth, etc.). Actively seek feedback from the people who have downloaded your app during the first couple of weeks. If there are any user-complaints, rectify it – and release an updated, problem-free version. Before launching a large-scale promotional drive, make sure you will not be pushing a defective app. Word-of-mouth publicity matters!
Email marketing is another initiative that is often adopted by app development companies, to inform potential clients about new app releases. If your company has a weekly/monthly e-newsletter subscription facility, promote new apps through them as well. The app market is crowded and getting featured at the stores won’t happen overnight – but if your application is good and you follow smart post-release promotional strategies, the chances of success would become a lot brighter.
That rounds up this week’s dosage of Teks-gyan. If you are into the mobile application development business, do let us know about how you generally go about promoting your new apps. If you wish to know in detail about any particular aspect of app-making, do let us know – and we will try to cover it in forthcoming editions of AppBoard Tuesday.
ABT will be back next Tuesday, with yet another interesting discussion on mobile apps. Wait for it…and stay zapped with apps!