Standing Out in a Crowded App Store
May 16th, 2013
The numbers from the App Store continue to impress:
- 775,000 available apps (January 2013 Apple)
- 18 Billion iPhone app downloads (projected 2013 ABIresearch)
- 10.5 Billion iPad app downloads (projected 2013 ABIresearch)
How can you make your shiny new iOS app stand out in that market? Here are some tips I've gained from first hand experience:
For organic app store searches, the most important part of finding your app is keywords.
Use All Available Space
Keywords are about getting your app in front of the most people possible who are searching for functionally you provide; Don't waste the opportunity to get eyes on your app.
(Sometimes) Include Common Misspellings and Plurals
Misspellings aren't always included in searches. Think of common misspellings for your keywords and do searches in the app store. If the results are drastically different, include the misspelling in your keywords. (same goes for plurals).
Don't rely on terms like "game" or "free" to increase your results: those terms are difficult to rank for, and won't increase your downloads.
Do Your Research
Use online tools to search for your keywords and to look for common phrases that you can use to describe your app. Below are a few of my favorites:
The icon is the first place that you can make a graphical impression on users. It's also difficult or impossible to change once your app is launched, because it helps define your app's brand.
Design for Different Resolutions
Don't just design a large icon and shrink it for the different sizes you need. Instead, ensure the icon is pixel perfect at all the sizes required - a blurry icon is a big turn off in the app store and on the device.
It's good if your app and icon have a similar feel to them. If you use a flat ui design for your app, but have a skeuomorphic icon design, it could mislead or confuse users.
The Golden Rule of Screenshots
There is one basic and all important rule for screenshots:
Show Your App In Action
Don't just show a menu as your first screenshot. It's boring and people will just skip to the next app. This is important real estate on the App Store - so show your app doing whatever it does best!
Talk About Your App
Finally, and perhaps most importantly: talk about your app. If you rely on app store searches alone, you'll be missing a large group of people.
Hang Out Where Your Users Hang Out
If you have an app for gardeners, hang out in forums for gardeners. You'll become more in tune with their needs, and you can develop a positive reputation for your app.
Develop an Audience
Start a blog or Facebook page, and give value to users by teaching them about your topic. If you provide value to users outside of your app, they will share that with friends, and that will help drive adoption.
Keep on Truckin'
It's easy to get stuck in The Busy Trap and get overwhelmed. The digital economy is still very new and requires constant learning and adapting, which can be very draining. So: set achievable goals and keep reading and learning. If you experiment enough, eventually you'll find something that works.