Fergus Hurley's Blog

App Store Optimization Best Practices

The Apple App Store is an ever changing marketplace that requires app developers to constantly adjust their strategies to out perform the competition in the largest, most lucrative digital store in the world! Below are some of the key components that every app developer should be iterating to maximize their success. The example I use below is based on the fitness app, P90X app but could easily be adjusted for any app.

Title

The app title should start with the product name but include top keywords (P90X Fitness – Total Beach Body Workout System)

Screenshots

Should include descriptive text overlays with screenshots of the app. These are more marketing screens than “app screenshots” and this is the first thing and most prominent item on App Store pages. See Vine and Cut the Rope as a good example of this.

Description

The description should be short and sweet as the the goal of it is to get people to download the app. Try to use special characters such as stars and all caps strategically to draw the user to the most important information.

What’s New

This text gets the same preview area as the description and all previous versions are viewable by clicking on Version History. Therefore, this should be considered marketing copy and not simply say “bug fixes”.

Search Keywords

  • Name and all misspellings (P90X, p ninety x, p ninty x90x, p90, 90, etc.)
  • Gyms (Crunch, Equinox, 24 Hour Fitness)
  • Competing products (Insanity, Jillian Michaels, Jazzercise, Zumba)
  • Related terms or categories (Fitness, workout, cardio, gym)

Free/Price Changes

For paid apps a useful distribution tactic is to drop the price to free for a short amount of time and run a cost per install (CPI) campaign at a cheaper rate. Dropping the price also enables you to get picked up in the blogosphere and app review sites which will drive organic downloads. Plus, services such as Free App a Day and App-o-Day can promote the price drop in their distribution services if you do a deal with them directly.

In App Purchase/Packs System

At least one of the fitness packs should be free in the app so that when a user downloads the app they get instant gratification and see how it works. The packs should then be sold in packages which heavily encourage people to buy the most expensive pack by discounting it in comparison to the combined price of each pack i.e. save 40% by buying all packs.

Subscriptions

Just like with regular gyms most members join for long term subscriptions and although it costs a lot to acquire a customer the life time value (LTV) of the customer makes it a profitable strategy so adding a subscription to updated or new monthly exercises could be another long term revenue source.

User Reviews

If a user launches the app 5 times then they probably like the app. Therefore, you should show a popup to these users asking them if they like the app and if they select yes then to write an App Store review of the app. If you see negative reviews it is worth reaching out to the user if you can find their contact details and then trying to solve their problem and asking them to update their review. For every 1 star review you need nine 5 star reviews to maintain a 5 star status!

App Promotion Ad Creative  

Including memes and clear calls to action just like web banners is very important: “P90X: Want to be HOT this summer? Yes ” (Yes is a button). Also, using different ad creative in different context/apps is important as is refreshing the ad creatives (creating new ones) every few weeks.

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The Lifecycle of an App

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Like butterflies, every app goes through a lifecycle. If you skip a step or jump to a step too early then your product is more than likely going to fail. If the next stage in the lifecycle does not work then you must revisit previous stages and iterate the process again. Also, you should be talking to customers at each stage of the process.

Here are the basis stages for a social app:

– Need finding of problem
– Core concept/pitch of solution
– App Store description
– Design: feature map
– Design: UX
– Design: UI
– Design: animations
– Development: bug free app
– Distribution: launch press (also, feature updates, partnerships, milestones, etc.)
– Distribution: community management
– Distribution: social media marketing/presence & SEO
– Distribution: paid marketing (pay per install, SEM, FB ads, etc.)
– Optimization: tailor the app experience to your different types of users
– Optimization: A/B test landing pages, emails, push notifications
– End-of-Life: notify users and shutdown app (hopefully you don’t reach this stage!)

What are the stages that you use for your app lifecycle?

Great resources for building a killer app trailer

This post originally ran on Appolicious.com.

The demand for mobile applications is undeniable. According to Gartner, revenue from mobile apps will exceed $15 billion in 2011, and pass $58 billion within three years. IDC reported that 10.9 billion apps were downloaded in 2010 and projects that more than 76.9 billion will be downloaded in 2014.

The new mobile app culture is extending into virtually every area of our personal and business lives. A mobile app turns our smartphone into a stockbroker, cookbook, personal shopper, and accountant.

When it comes to building buzz and monetizing apps, nothing plays as significant a role as the app trailer. With over 350,000 iPhone apps and approximately 300,000 Android applications on the market to date, simple screenshots and wordy explanations aren’t enough to make an application stand out.

The 1-2 minute video trailer is one of the few ways a potential customer can experience an application before downloading it. Done right, trailers communicate what an app is all about and trigger the urge to buy and/or download. In just the last couple of years, the mobile app industry has given rise to a whole new world of supporting applications and a proliferation of services and tools to help app developers build these uber-important app trailers.

We’ve seen a full range of application trailers, everything from low-budget demos to big budget productions. Flipboard, for example, showed just what’s possible with some clever editing, creativity, a great soundtrack and a little humor, as did the videos for Groupon Now! and popular App Store puzzler The Heist.

If you’re gearing up to launch an app, you might be wondering how you can showcase your application with your own really cool video demo. To help your application stand out in today’s ocean of mobile apps, there are many resources at your disposal.

Useful software for video production includes iMovie (available as part of the iLife suite and as an iPad app) Apple’s Final Cut ProAVID, and both AfterEffects and Premiere Pro from Adobe.

When it comes to creating app demo videos, some great examples of helpful software packages include Sound StageSimFingerSnapz Pro XiSowU HDXtranormal and Prezi. Whichever platform you’re working on, there should be something there to suit you.

Finally, to create great screencasts, check out software programs like ScreenCastsOnlineCopernicus or Telestream ScreenFlow.

If, however, you don’t have the time, expertise or inclination to create your own trailer, you can hire a freelance video producer or firm to produce a customized demo. These experts not only handle the technical and creative aspects of video editing and animation, but they can help you determine the most compelling way to show your app.