Is it possible to get to the “top” App Store for free and what to do if it didn’t work for free

    For those who don’t like to read a lot and want to know all the answers at once, I’ll write in the first lines of this small article that, in my humble experience, getting into the “top” App Store is terribly difficult, and it requires extraordinary effort. Moreover, I’ll tell you that large publishers crawl to the “top” precisely due to the well-established work with journalists, bloggers and all kinds of portals writing about mobile applications, and, of course, due to a well-established application marketing system aimed at increasing the number of downloads. It’s a little easier to “shove” the top free application into the top, of course, provided that Apple sees it and puts it in the “New & Noteworthy” (New and Noteworthy) in the App Store. Well, now about everything in order.

    Part 1: Design, design, design again and some good ideas

    Observing what has been happening in the App Store since 2009, I gradually come to the conclusion that the “censors” of this app store are focusing on design. Apple actively "PR" absolutely everything that corresponds to its concepts of laconic forms and the correctness of the interface. Let it be a hundred-thousandth organizer, which, if you look, competes in functionality with the internal application "Tasks", but if it is designed as Clear - rest assured, it will be noticed by Apple and will fall into all sorts of lists.


    Of course, dear Habrachitatel now object: "But what about the idea?" It turns out that the idea is secondary. Even the best idea is sometimes obscured by poor design, the application falls to the bottom of the App Store where a bunch of other good but absolutely unnoticed applications are already lying around, the developer gives up, and it doesn't even come to marketing. This happens in the vast majority of cases when the development is carried out by an “indie developer” / programmer. Yes, with Doodle Jump it was different, but this is more an exception than a rule.

    The lucky ones fall into all sorts of lists, of which there are many in the App Store. Here you have the “App Store for Beginners”, and “Photography”, and “Best Applications for DJs”, and a bunch of other things. Major news sites such as Macworld, TUAW and AppleInsider notice those on these lists, and then as if on the thumb. Surely many do not know that the Russian Apple weekly sends out a selection of “selected” applications to journalists that are worth paying attention to in the App Store. In general, the essence is this - make the "right" application, and Apple itself will actively "PR" you.


    Practical tips:

    a) Feel the "design from Apple": you definitely need to make an application that "likes" Apple. This is the cheapest way to go to the top. All other methods are very expensive. Carefully study what the "censors" of the App Store love by looking at:
    - which applications receive awards at WWDC ;
    - which applications are in all kinds of lists in the App Store;
    - what applications are distributed in the newsletter to journalists (if there is access to this newsletter, if there is no access, the first two points are enough).

    b) Hire a cool designer:from programmers worthless artists. Many readers of Habra will now put a minus, scroll to the top and go to read the next article. But those few who can recognize the fact that they don’t know how to do absolutely everything on their own can write an application that gets into the “top” App Store and earns millions. Of course, there are exceptions, such as the same Doodle Jump and other "indie" applications. It is better to look for an artist on Behance , or the same Free Lance, or Huntim (an excellent Khabrovsky “freelance” and “job offer” service). When searching for an artist, I highly recommend revealing the boundaries of your imagination and not looking for an artist from Russia. Of course, European artists are likely to be expensive, but for example, a designer from South Africa or Australia / New Zealand may be too expensive. You will get an international team, and, believe me, asking uncomfortable questions, he will teach you a lot in the process of working on the application. It has a different mentality and you can immediately test how your application will be perceived there, beyond the hill (I probably won’t tell you that paid applications in Russia and paid applications that are downloaded in the USA with awesomeness are two different profitability stories).

    c) Do not be wiser:“Launched today, a poorly running application is still better than never running an ideal one,” says one of my good friends from Google. And he is right! The main thing is to avoid critical errors, crashes and what is called the “bad user experience”. If some functionality will be available only to the second version - users will not be offended. In addition, there will be time to learn what functionality is needed in general. Get a feedback, so to speak.

    Part 2: Advertising and PR

    If everything went well with what was described in the first part, then this section is not necessary to read. Surely your application is already in the "top", it downloads great, and money drops on a credit card. If everything is still wrong, a very expensive and not very pleasant story begins - application marketing.

    Here it is necessary to immediately identify two areas of work: advertising aimed at direct downloads and information activities, that is, PR. Let's start in order:

    - Social networks: We are used to the fact that social networks have everything, and besides, you can easily make a target for the target audience (men, women, age, interests, etc.). Draw for yourself a portrait of the audience of your application or game and buy ads with a link to the application page in the App Store. Facebook hasa convenient tool for buying clicks specifically from mobile devices , you can set up Facebook Ads that will be displayed on desktops, VKontakte is better for working with public places, while in Odnoklassniki it’s still difficult to do something about applications, Twitter has news content - create an account and publish links to relevant ones news gathering subscribers.


    - Advertising CPA networks: You can buy downloads in special CPA networks, the attitude to which is ambiguous (about ambiguity and bans you can read in English here and here, and in the meantime we will continue). By the way, Apple is very controversial about buying downloads, although the question is certainly philosophical. It turns out that if you buy downloading the application through the Apple advertising network, then this is not a ban, but if through a third-party, then this is “ah-ah-ah” and out of the “top”. The logic is not very clear and difficult to comment on, so just give a list of the largest networks. Buy or not buy, decide for yourself.  - the largest CPA network, you pay for installing the application and not for a click;  - also very large, you pay for installing the application;  (now ) is the same story; - some kind of German CPA network, not as large as the first three.

    Well, the official:  - CPA from Google;  - CPA from Apple.

    - Specialized publications: Here we come to the "classic PR". We are preparing a press release, creating a medialist (a database of publications and journalists with telephones, e-mail addresses, etc.) and figuring out a newsletter. I will say right away - everyone will send a price tag. Popular publications like ProstoMAC, and iGuides will ask you from 2 to 10 thousand rubles. for publishing the “promotional review”. The fact is that all these specialized publications earn just on the developers, therefore, stuffing stuff about your application for free there will be possible only by good acquaintance and personal agreement. We don’t have to talk about at least 30 thousand rubles, although there is an opportunity to put your own girls on the site if the authors of the project really like it and will meet their requirements. With such arrangements, my personal opinion is that everything is special. publications should be considered as one of the marketing channels of promotion and manage them accordingly (how to manage marketing channels read below in practical tips).

    - General media: When it turns out that in the special. publications can do something only "for the loot" it is highly recommended to pay attention to all other media. Think: Who would be interested in your application? What social problems can I attach to? How to interest the mainstream? After the answers to these questions are found, don’t be afraid to include RBC, Vedomosti, glossy publications and everyone else who by the way also sometimes writes about applications, and doesn’t take any money for this. Not the fact that it will shoot, but what the hell is not joking. If you are creating an application for motorists, include all automotive publications in the list; if this application solves a social problem, send the release to Moskovsky Komsomolets.

    Practical tips:

    a) Try marketing channels: Create a table of channels for attracting traffic for yourself, which will include promos in the special. publications, social networks, buying downloads and any other tools you have come up with (including graffiti painting on asphalt, distribution of leaflets by the subway, grandmother agitators, and what else can you come up with). Divide the entire marketing budget by these channels based on common sense and assumptions regarding the effectiveness of their work, say, for six months. And if, for example, according to the results of the first month from Facebook you did not receive the necessary number of downloads, try to transfer part of the budget to grandmothers with agitators who worked more efficiently - it’s important that you still have to have a budget for several months and at least would have 5-6 marketing channels in the mix. Otherwise, it just doesn't work.

    b) Do not limit yourself to specialized media: when you send out a release to specialized sites that write about applications, and after receiving the price list back, do not despair. Dig further and something will surely turn out.

    c) Make the release informative:links to graphic materials (icon, screenshots, teaser image for the article) must be included in the release. Do not shove pictures into the body of the letter, the publication is not pleased to receive letters of 5-6 MB - it is better to put the files on DropBox and give a download link. If you can shoot a short video and upload it to YouTube, this will only be a plus for you. Be sure to indicate in the release feedback contacts for communication and duplicate the release itself in the body of the letter. Feel free to offer promotional codes for a review, interviews with the developer and other "tasty" journalistic bonuses that can be pecked by seasoned sharks of a pen.


    Part 3: Do not neglect the "event" and a personal meeting

    The GameInsight company, well-known in Habré, organizes meetings with journalists of specialized 1-on-1 editions. Leading authors are simply invited to pizza, chips and Coca-Cola, and then they show games that are still in development and will be launched in a few months. Personal communication in working with the media plays an extremely important role. After sending out a press release, you can get 1-2 publications at the exit, and having arranged an “event” you will most likely get 10-20.

    It is clear that if you are an indie developer with a very limited budget for marketing your brainchild, then getting out is quite difficult. The event in Moscow will cost at least 200-250 thousand rubles, and you also need to collect a press kit for the journalist, which will include a certificate of the application, a flash drive with materials and some kind of gift (yes, yes - they no longer let journalists go without a gift) . In short, pleasure is not cheap. True money is definitely not thrown to the wind. If journalists come (by the way, there are events for which journalists cannot be assembled, this is a “file” either of the application itself or a team of “PR managers” working on the project), then you will have a pool of loyal authors who are likely to write something , with whom you can then communicate, and additional questions, harassment and all sorts of tricks to bring to a published review.

    Practical tips:

    a) Charismatic speaker: The most important thing at the press conference is the speaker. If you mumble something into the microphone in a language incomprehensible to journalists, periodically stammering and poking at a presentation, decent ones, having slightly fallen asleep, will sit until the end, and the most arrogant will leave in the middle of the action, even more demoralizing you. So, if the genius speaker Steve Jobs doesn’t live inside you, and “Awesome” and “Amazing” cannot be pulled out of your life, it is better to find someone for the presentation.

    b) Visual presentation and healthy humor:Joke, amuse the audience, do everything so that attention to you and the screen is not weakened. So you keep the concentration of journalists until the end of the event. They will find all the important information in the press release or ask later for more. questions by email. Do not be afraid to underestimate something - be afraid to lose the interest of the audience.


    c) Reception and gifts:Bribing a journalist is a criminal offense and is punishable by law. But no one said anything about gifts and press kits. This must be used - give journalists a board game about startups, a DVD disc with an interesting television show, for example Top Gear, turn on your imagination! Your efforts will not be in vain. Well, of course, a buffet after the event - do not have a disco, do not serve a lot of alcohol, a journalist should be able to soberly get to the workplace and write down the information received. Use the buffet for a session of additional questions. The developer and project manager must be there and continue to communicate with the media. By the way, if after a press conference you were asked 5-10 questions - everything went well. If there are no questions from the audience, you most likely failed the “event”.

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