5 Winning Ways to Sell Your App

 With more than 2 million mobile apps already on the market, “new” has lost a lot of its lustre. So how do you stand out when you’re just one among so many? Basically you have to gain the confidence of users and make sure they understand why your app is worthwhile. Here’s how:

1. Accept that instant success is unlikely

Thousands of apps are submitted every month and, sadly, few get the rock star treatment. Don’t base your marketing plans on front-page status in the app stores because that’s not usually controlled by producers and developers. There’s only room for a few. App promotion is based on factors such as popularity, past success of the developer or publisher, and longstanding relationships.

2. Build awareness

Apps tend to be used randomly over time. Promotional campaigns can’t be locked down to specific periods but work better as a slow build of frequent bursts. This long-term scenario is why mobile games often don’t launch with all features. Instead they deploy regular updates, expanding app capabilities – and improving customer recall – as the user base grows.

New feature updates also regularly attract a user’s eye back to your app icon. This might seem like a silly reminder but considering people only use 15% of the apps they download, it helps keep your app top-of-mind.

3. Highlight uniqueness

What differentiates your app? Apps that are “just like” another confuse users. Why not just use the original? Games are a great example. Without finding unique twists on play or game mechanics, users will stay loyal to established titles.

For example, if your app ties into your digital media TV show, ask why a user will download it to find out the next air date when they can get that information anywhere. Or whether a user would want your app to stream clips of your show when a broadcaster is likely doing that with their own video app. If you justify it as “fan mania,” you may not be engaging enough for genuine audience popularity.

Know what sets your app apart from other apps so you can make press and blog coverage more specific. Nearly every app developer sends bloggers and media/tech reporters a press release and download code. The outlets receive literally hundreds of coverage requests every week, but only publish a handful of articles. Communicating your differences gives them the fresh insights needed to please readers.

4. Be inclusive

Consider making your app available on multiple platforms. Don’t divide loyalties. Some people love iOS, others Android, many are curious about the new Windows devices…and there’s still Blackberry. Limiting app accessibility also limits channels that let potential users experience your app. Depending on the audience, and if your budget allows, consider porting your app to at least a second or third platform to increase reach.

5. Don’t portray. Persuade!

Ensure your page in the app store actually promotes your app. The opening paragraph should really grab users. Immediately establish why they should use the app, what sets it apart from others and why it’s awesome! Highlight features. Include notes about awards and technical updates lower down. Images should be operational screen grabs. Think of them as visual opportunities to highlight the app’s unique interface, experience or game play. The opening screen and menu page are simply not enough.

Examples include Hothead Game’s Big Win Soccer listing on Google Play, and Freshbook’s accounting app in the App Store.

Sasha Boersma
Sasha’s 15-year career in Canadian screen-media industries has spanned across game studios, television producers, funding agencies, and academia. She is producer for Sticky Brain Studios, which she cofounded, and works as a contract faculty at Centennial College’s Story Arts Centre.
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