Anybody can publish an app into the App Store and see it fall into oblivion. This post lists all the best practices that will provide a solid start for your app, ensure that it reaches the target audience, and beats competitors
You can’t underestimate the importance of building a user-friendly and intuitive app, as well as promoting it with a good strategy plan and making it unique enough to stand out from the millions of other apps in different stores.
There are a few basic steps that you should take, before and after launch, in order for your app to reach success.
- Research competitors’ apps
- Beta test your app to eliminate bugs and make it more user friendly
- App Store Optimization: app name, keywords, description, screenshots, etc
- Plan and establish promotional channels for your app
- Choose the best date and steps for the launch
- Gather honest reviews for your app
- Measure and track: MAU/DAU, retention rates, downloads, ARPU, LTV
- Keep updates coming and use patch notes to talk to your users
- Listen to customer feedback
Researching competitors’ apps
It’s very important to start your way to the app stores top rankings by researching the key players in the chosen category. This can give you some great insight into how other apps are named, which categories they target, and which keywords they are using. You can create a spreadsheet, like the one below, in order to find out where your app stands against the competition.
Such spreadsheet will help you notice any key features that you might have missed.
Be sure to look at the reviews of competing apps and try to make a list of all the comments and complaints. Here’s a great example of a user making a feature request via an AppStore review. Making a list of the most wanted features and clearly communicating them to your audience will greatly help your app stay ahead of the game.
You spent so much time designing your app by adding many useful features, that it’s going to be guaranteed hit! Or is it? Users will often use your app in the ways you haven’t even imagined. In that case, beta testers help polish your app before releasing it to the market, giving you a first opportunity to receive unbiased first-hand feedback from your target audience.
The key is to find as many people that fit the targeted audience as possible, to then recruit as beta testers, actively engaging with them to learn as much as you can about your app. You should reward active beta testers with different perks, and put them on the early sign-up list. They should be the first to know when your app is out.
Apple TestFlight is a great platform to beta test your app. You should carefully plan the number of beta testers as it depends on your goals, the length of the test, and how much data you need to acquire.
App Store Optimization
There are major factors which should be carefully considered before publishing an app, like an ASO-friendly app name, a suitable category, representative screenshots and videos, etc.
It is very important to pay attention to every possible decision on this stage that would captivate new users to choose keywords, as well as localize for different regions. Careful testing and analyzing of all the key parameters leads to the best visibility and discoverability for your app.
Naming an App – You should carefully consider the two types of app names:
- Unique Brand Names
- Combined Name
- Small description or a few keywords
A lot of developers optimize discoverability of their apps by using a combination of brand names and common search terms.
Finding Keywords – The keywords are the most important factor that will help your app get discovered by users. The app has just about hundred characters in the keywords section. You can conduct a deep analysis of the most effective keywords using different services like App Annie. Remember to experiment with your keywords to find out which works the best for your app.
Writing a Description – When you search for an app, the App Store displays only a few lines of text that users need to tap on in order to continue reading, so it is important that your app clearly states its key message in the first lines of the description.
Sometimes developers add key milestones an app has achieved, that captivates the audience and gets them to try an app out of pure curiosity. It can be either a feature in a major blog, a top position in an App Store category, or the mention of a major media award.
Making Screenshots and Videos – The screenshots of your app are the most representative means you have at your disposal to show your audience what the app is about. The best way to do that is to cleverly combine detailed main features of your app with some actual screenshots on a target device. This would help your users understand what your app does and how it does that. Customers also need to figure out if they like the app visually, as well as determine if they need this certain application.
Localization – It’s very important to understand if your app is going to be useful around the globe. If so, then you should definitely consider having App Store essentials, (app name, description, keywords, etc.), translated to different languages. This will greatly help your app get discovered in foreign App Stores.
Publishing in the App Store
Your app is officially ready to roll. It is responsive and beautiful, everything is ready for the App Store, names and descriptions are translated into different languages, there are captivating screenshots with cool videos describing your app, keywords are carefully picked after days of analysis, and the logo look stunning! It is time to submit the app to the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and other platforms. Make sure you are following all the guidelines and best practices so that the app does not get rejected by reviewing commissions and the process goes smoothly.
Marketing Strategy: Press Kit, Outreach Plan, Website
“Whats next?”, you ask? How about a well designed marketing strategy for an apps initial impulse that involves a basic promotion campaign. Here’s a basic checklist of activities your marketing plan should definitely include:
- PR support – write letters about your app to the list of tech blogs, mobile centric blogs, major media and others. Be sure to include a press kit, with all the needed information, and review codes for your app.
- Influencer marketing – don’t forget to contact relevant YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr personalities about reviewing your app. This will allow people to advertise your application to their viewers, allowing for higher recognition of your app.
- Community outreach – Reach out to struggling users through forums and communities that gather people of similar interests. This will allow customers to trust the app, and prevent bad reviews.
- Website – Having a dedicated website greatly boosts SEO for your app, as well as its overall discoverability. If you lack resources to make a website, then use some free platform like WordPress, Medium, or Tumblr.
The basic promotional campaign must have a required exposure to the media ensuring initial user acquisition. All these steps contribute greatly towards making an app a great success.
Plan the day
You should decide the best time, place, and context to launch your mobile app. It is also important to develop a profound understanding of your audience segments, and make value-based target group segmentations.
Planning a release date in advance will help you ensure that your app gets needed exposure and press coverage. Make sure you keep track of major announcements in the tech world so that your app’s release date does not coincide with another.
You do NOT want your app to be announced on the same day as a new iPhone or PlayStation.
Don’t forget that building anticipation around your app and getting it reviewed by the media can be very helpful on your road to success.
After the launch
Getting user reviews in apps is a matter of dispute right now among all the developers. Should you ask your app users to leave a review in the App Store, or should you buy an initial number of reviews on some shady website, that promise a hundred real life reviews for just a few hundred bucks?
The best way is to encourage your users to leave feedback in a very subtle and discreet manner. The new guidelines in the App Store suggest asking only a couple time in a year. It is also important to give your users something in return for feedback and let them know that you took their review into consideration.
User Tracking Tools
Your app revenue and download numbers are a great indicator of its success, but you have to be sure that this success is long term. Which features draw people in? How often people use your app?Are there particular sections where people get frustrated?
Keeping track of these parameters is a key to continuously improve your app and keep users engaged. Things that you should keep track of are:
- DAU and MAU – Your daily and monthly active users. This will give you a better understanding of your apps use and popularity.
- Retention rate – How often people return to your app. Check daily, weekly and monthly retention rates. This will help you determine how well your app fits into your users’ lives.
- ARPU –The average revenue that each user brings in; The total revenue generated by the app, divided by the total active users.
- LTV (Lifetime Value) – The net dollars a customer contributes over their life as a customer.
In order to track and analyze all these key metrics there are lots of high-end services that provide lots of useful data. You can choose from different great services like App Annie, Mixpanel, AppsFlyer, Localytics, AppSee, Countly, Apsalar, Upsight, and others.
After gathering all the data, you should have monthly visibility and ranking reports as well as in-depth analysis that include dynamics for all key metrics. Those reports will help make conclusions, run tests, and automatically change everything to keep your app on top of the charts.
On average, a smartphone user downloads 25 apps on his phone, with the number being as high as 40 in some countries. And all those apps have to update once in a while.
Mostly users update all the apps automatically, but there’s a huge number of people who read out the update notes and sometimes choose not to update if “bug fixes” fail to mention changes or new features. You should treat the app update description as a marketing channel to boost retention rates of your users. Describe what’s new, mention even slightest changes, promote some discounts or free trials, and tell people that their feedback was heard. This can get back users who haven’t opened your app in a while.
Imagine your app being downloaded a million times. Out of the hundreds of thousands of users, each one should be treated individually, because the market is competitive. Word of mouth is a powerful tool that can be harmful if you don’t pay enough attention to your users.
Developers have the option of replying to user reviews on Google Play, a feature that is soon coming to the Apple App Store as well, but not everyone is doing it to support their customers.
Sometimes developers are so pissed off with reviews they even go down to insulting their users. Please don’t do that.
Here’s an excellent example of a developer responding to a customer query with a viable solution to solve issues privately.
Where Bekitzur comes in
There are a lot of details that need to be professionally handled to insure a successful app launch.
Bekitzur is a team of designers, developers and mobile marketing professional with proven experience in building and launching successful apps. We have all the knowledge, experience and tools to cover ASO, ensure good reviews, and make advertisement campaigns to reach the right audience, and make any necessary changes to your app.
If you want to develop your app from the ground up or improve visibility, design and features of an existing app, our creative team will be happy to take the new challenge.