After watching this presentation of “Building on an App Store success” from a creator of Badland, I felt obliged to write this post. With all due respect I have to disagree with the statement he made, saying that it just takes to change the price and your app will go up in charts, so you don’t have to do anything else. This might’ve been true 3 years ago, but not now.
The situation is no longer the same as it was before when it comes to App Store discovery. There are many price change trackers like AppShopper, but people tend to install less apps now, and they actually use just a few of those.
My experience shows that in order to make a great price drop campaign, you should be reaching out as many people as possible to let them know that this app goes on a time-limited sale. In other words, you have to inform people about your price drop, and price tracking sites are not enough.
Recently I made a price drop campaign for our flagship app – Scanner Pro. As a result, it went straight to #1 spot in business category worldwide. Also, Scanner Pro joined Top 5 league in overall Top Paid Apps in many countries including USA, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, France, etc.
So how did we do that or what does it take to make a great price drop campaign?
Imagine you have your app ready to be discounted. It has good ratings, high price and great perceived value for users. So we are ready to go! The main idea of a promo campaign is to hit various marketing channels at once, so you have a higher cumulative effect which leads to higher positions on the App Store, that, in turn, leads to higher organic exposure and downloads.
Set up a campaign.
This is a very basic first step in which you decide the scale and the goals for your price drop campaigns. Pick good dates for the promotion (I would recommend Tuesdays for productivity apps and weekends for games). Plan all activities 2-3 weeks in advance, since it’ll require some time to prepare.
Tech press loves great stories that make a lot of traffic. Writing about a price drop is not something bloggers would like to do, unless it’s a popular app so they can use affiliate links to generate extra revenue.
I would recommend creating an interesting story that would be appealing to press and people. For example, Scanner’s Pro sale was to celebrate its milestone of 6 million users. Sites like iMore, Mac Stories, iDownloadBlog, Cult of Mac, 148apps, 9to5mac are likely to write a short mention if done right.
Send Out E-mails.
Send e-mails to your own subscribers and consider buying e-mail blasts from other media companies.
We have a huge list of people who subscribed themselves via our apps because they want to receive news and deals from Readdle. It’s important to make the e-mail as friendly as possible, by just saying that there’s a great chance to get the app with a huge discount because of the milestone.
Some media companies have huge e-mail lists of people who might be your potential audience. Consider doing e-mail blasts campaigns with them, even though it might not be purely ROI positive. The logic behind that is to get this extra bit of users who will download your app and give it a momentum to reach the Top Paid charts. Macworld and The Next Web might be the first two options to explore.
Make a Splash Campaign.
This is one of the most powerful channels! We call it “splash advertising”, when a person who has one of our apps sees a full screen banner that conveys the message we want.
Readdle built its own “splash notification” system that can track impressions and conversions. It also supports various languages and A/B testing. If you don’t have a system like that, there are many 3rd parties who do something similar.
It is important to avoid hard-selling message because the main goal is to friendly inform your users about a time-limited offer.
Use Strategic Partnerships.
I am confident that all indie app developers are not competitors, but they are on a same boat. Try making friends with them, because it might be a good idea to get access to their user base. Some folks are doing mutually benefitial e-mail marketing and splash campaigns, consider doing the same. You give, you get.
As I said every little bit helps to get the momentum, if done right and at the same time, it gives you a pretty high chance of hitting the top charts.
Find an Effective Advertising Channel.
This is one of the hardest challenges since paid advertising seems not to be working for paid apps at all. However, some time ago Facebook app installs gave me hope, but this is no longer the case. If you manage to find a good advertising channel – you hit the Holy Grail.
Create Buzz Via Social Media.
Don’t forget that people love deals and sales! We are extremely happy when we get a good item with a solid discount. Apps are no exception. Make your Facebook and Twitter communities talk about it. Sale + promo codes giveaway usually works better for us, when I explicitly ask to share something (it normally gets 300-400 retweets).
Scanner Pro hit #1 Paid Position in Germany and Japan. This was possible only because the app was localized. Not only that, but the whole marketing campaign was localized too (e-mails, splashes, pitches for press, screenshots, etc). It sure does require extra effort and time, but I believe it pays off.
Make a Video.
Video is the most powerful tool to showcase your app or product, especially when you have an app like Scanner Pro. When people see it, they get it. I am going to articulate the importance of videos in a separate article later this week, but trust me – it is indispensable. Me and my team shoot a great video that showcases three various use cases for Scanner Pro. In a few days it got almost 20,000 views, which is not that bad for an app video.
The site was totally redesigned and localized too. This is also very important if you expect traffic there.
I hope these isights will help you. Good luck and share your thoughts below.