How to be successful on the App Store?

After speaking at MDDAY conference in Moscow on how we promote our apps, I decided to sum up my presentation here.

So how do we make our apps stand out? How do we reach high positions on the App Store? What worked and what didn’t?

I am about to share our AppStore success formula^.
^Please note, that this worked for Readdle. So we are talking about high-end paid productivity and business apps.

Great Product + Happy User + Press + E-mail + Splash = Success.

Great Product.
I am convinced that your business can’t be successful if your product isn’t awesome, or at least it isn’t perceived as awesome (Yes Beats, I am talking about you!).

A great product on the App Store should solve real life issue. It should be helpful and bring real value. Scanner Pro, for example, transforms your iPhone into a portable scanner. You no longer have to go to the office to scan something, that’s why this app saves you time and money.

Happy User.
A great product makes users happy. It’s that simple! Let’s be honest, we live in a world of egoists. Nobody cares how hard you worked, how much you spent, how passionate (or not!) you are about your business. Everyone is focused on one thing – “ME”!

So we have to stop thinking about our company, our work, some random features. Instead, we should focus on what makes our user better. We want to empower him, we want to make him more efficient, cooler, greater.

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If done right, it gives unexpected benefits and people genuinely want your product.

Press.
Back in 2008, when we just started, my pitching skills were horrible, I admit it. Unfortunately, I had to learn everything on my own, there were very few people who knew how to do things back then.

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I want you to avoid my mistakes, that’s why “Pitch Perfect” by Steve Sande and Erica Sadun is a MUST read. It provides a great overview of the industry, how blogs work and give great canvas how to pitch.

Some Press Tips.
You know that blogs do care about traffic, right? If someone wrote about you, drive some traffic to that article! It will make an author happier and he will more likely write about you next time. Sharing this article on social media, commenting and engaging is a great way to start.

Play a detective. Guys, you have to understand who are you talking to! Before mass e-mailing and pitching, try to make a research who is the best person to talk to on that blog or site. Follow them on Twitter, engage in discussions, care about what that person does.

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Be friends. Blogs and sites are run by people, right? Try to be genuinely nice and friendly. Help them! If they visit your town – give some directions. If they have a new initiative – support it. You don’t even know powerful that is!

Attend exhibitions. Although we live in a very open and connected world, I do believe that personal contact does matter! Attend exhibitions and meet people from the industry! Macworld iWorld, WWDC, MWC usually attract industry leaders, experts and bloggers – come and participate. You have to hustle if you want success.

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Pitch. Just keep it short. Tell why a person should read your e-mail, and skip 599 others. Be passionate! Tell why you products is amazing. And please, don’t forget to include links.

Create videos. Nobody likes to read! Make it easier for everyone – a picture is better than thousand words, a video is better than a picture. Launch videos do amazingly well in our case, getting 50-70K views in a first few days. 50,000 people actually spend 60 seconds of their life and saw your product! Isn’t it amazing?

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E-mail.
Who thinks that e-mail is dead? You are so wrong. I do believe that e-mail is the most intimate and personal way of communication with your user (we are not going to use Whatsapp or Snapchat).

If you have users, sign them up for e-mail newsletter? Send out tips and tricks, give exclusive news and something useful!

That’s how we did it!

Result: 600K+ subscribers with 50% open rate.

Splash. Never forget about trying different things and measuring them. A, B or even C stuff. Sometimes you’ll be surprised.

We showed two different splashes to PDF Expert users, when we were launching PDF Expert 5 as a separate app. The first one (my favourite) was a great looking photo that showed interface, gorgeous background and app info.

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The second one – simple minimalistic screen that tells that the new version is out!

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Guess which one won?

The second one was almost twice more successful, which brought us 70,000 (!) more clicks! Do the maths. That means you have to put away your assumptions and start measuring things.

So that was a short overview of what works for us. There are a few outstanding posts by Jeremy Olson and Dan Counsell that I strongly advice to read.

I’ll be happy to hear your feedback. Did I miss anything? Please do tell me.

Inspired by Japan

Doing 15 countries a year, it’s getting harder and harder to get that “wow” feeling when going somewhere. But Japan was a whole different story!

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I was fascinated by Japan’s history and culture for a while, and finally I had two good reasons to go there: TechCrunch conference and a business meeting. I’d like to dive into some interesting facts and details to give you a better idea about that side of the world.

Culture.

Everyone shows mutual respect to each other. Even people who stay on the bus stop bow to a bus driver before entering the vehicle. It is very unlikely that you can see a real personality of a person that you just met.  It is very hard to make friends or business with a Japanese person, but if you do – most likely your grandchildren will play together.

Being an entrepreneur is hard. You have only one chance to make it right, unlike in the US culture where failure is OK. What’s interesting is that when you end your partnership with someone, your next partner would want to have explanations on what happened. It’s like braking up with a girlfriend or even divorcing with your wife.

Technology.

Overall, Tokyo feels like a successful version of New York! It’s super clean and super..successful in all ways. I was surprised with the overall pace of the city ! In one of the biggest cities on Earth, no-one is in a hurry, like in NYC. And there is an explanation for that – Just In Time logistics system that was invented by Japanese manufacturers (Toyota implemented it in the mid 20th century) seems to be fitting well even for people.

An average toilet room has more buttons and wired than my VW car, I’m not joking.

The responsiveness of ATMs, automatic doors, small gadgets in the hotel room, etc is beyond my expectations. By the way, the national TV has only 6 channels and everybody watches them! So TV is insanely powerful channel to promote and advertise! My friend who made a miniature photo app found it to be #1 in Japan overnight, after some TV presenter introduce the concept of miniature photos.

Food.

Japan has the best food in the world. It could be ramen for $5 or a delicious sushi plate for $150.  The only regret is that I didn’t force myself to wake up at 4 am to visit the famous fish market. Next time!

Final thoughts.

This is a place I would want to live and work for a while, definitely. It amazing, welcoming, relaxing, chilled and full of meaningful things. If you are trying to decide on your next trip – book a flight right now for the end of April 2014 (cherry blossom) and it will be the best trip of your life.

Did I miss something about Japan? I am sure I did. Feel free to contribute :)