Last year, the Apple App Store was entirely redesigned. While the App Store’s design foundation will remain the same, you can expect to see changes in the native app discovery funnel with yesterday’s release of iOS 12. With a more personalized app marketing framework in place, taking steps to be featured may be more important than ever.
Everybody wants to be featured in the App Store. A spot on Apple’s feature page is a powerful way to boost traffic, increase visibility and drive downloads. With over 2 million apps available in the App Store today, the competition for getting noticed by editors is aggressive. While there is no for sure way to get featured, there are tactics you can leverage to improve your chances.
The App Store launched 10 years ago. Apps have made the iPhone what it is today, and users wouldn’t find the device as valuable without them. In a decade, the App Store has redefined the way we live: it’s enabled countless new businesses, created millions of jobs and generated entirely new industries. As of this year, the App Store draws in more than 500 million weekly users. Apple makes billions of dollars from the App Store thanks to the mobile app development industry and for this reason, Apple strives to maintain a healthy relationship with developers by acknowledging quality products and featuring their work.
The layout of the iOS 12 App Store will be very similar to the previous version. However, the menu bar will include a You May Have Missed Tab – rather than giving users the full extent of content from the past seven days, the App Store will only showcase the most noteworthy apps from the week. More importantly, iOS 12 enhances the store’s personalized experience by featuring apps that are tailored to individual user preferences.
The iOS 11 redesign made apps easier to discover. The iOS 12 update makes discoverability personalized.
Store Maven data shows the App Store drives 50% of app installs. Of that, 21% of app installs come from users who discover mobile apps through a featured App Store placement. Naturally, landing a featured spot in the App Store is a boon for conversions, but an added element of personalization drives downloads further.
In a recent blog, Store Maven goes on to expose that a significant determinant for the success of a feature placement is where the feature call-to-action appears in the App Store. Specifically, a narrow niche placement has a positive correlation on conversions. For example, iOS games that are featured in a particular category perform better than those featured on the App Store’s Today page. This observation is realistic if you consider that users who discover an app through a niche feature placement are using a more targeted search, whereas users who scroll through the Today page are a broad, nonspecific audience.
With iOS 12, users will be given the particular interests they find in niche corners of the App Store, right on their Today screen.
Before you reach the step of submitting to the App Store, you need to first have a great mobile app, a creative design, and make sure your app is addressing a need for your users. These are three things you should already be doing before you can even think about getting featured in the App Store.
This is a make or break. Ensure that your app is of the highest quality. It should be simple, intuitive, and useful. Why would App Store editors choose to promote a flawed app? Before thinking about being featured, try to fix any and all bugs in your app.
Building a native app is your safest bet. Apple unquestionably wants to feature apps that are built specifically for iOS, not cross-platform. If you want to be featured in the App Store, you should focus your efforts on iOS development and build a native iOS app. Additionally, Apple likes to see native iOS apps because they are generally of higher quality and have a better user experience. With hybrid apps, you’re typically compromising the user experience so that it can be used on other platforms. In short, when it comes to getting featured in the App Store, you’ll have a much better chance if you build a native app because the user experience is often better with native compared to hybrid apps.
You should understand that Apple is always trying to promote their own products. When you’re trying to get featured in the App Store, you need to align your app’s goals with Apple’s objectives. For example, if Apple is promoting an API, you could build a product that leverages this new API. Building your app with Apple’s product release in mind is one of the best ways to get featured on the App Store. If you help promote Apple products to users, Apple has a better chance of promoting your product. Further, you could make your app available to other Apple products, such as the iPad, Apple Watch, and so on.
How can you stay up-to-date with the latest Apple releases? Pay attention to their annual WWDC event, Apple’s software update schedule, Apple’s hardware updates, etc. Promote Apple’s products only when it makes sense to do so. For example, if it’s useless to have an app on the Apple Watch, don’t waste your time. If your users want an app on the Apple Watch, extend your product to WatchOS. See how Apple’s features can fit with your product to meet your overall business objectives.
This one is simple. Apple likes to see apps that are frequently updated and relevant to users. You can add new features for special occasions, for example.
You only have a few seconds to make a good impression. Optimize your App Store page to boost the number of downloads. Does your store page do a good job of persuading the user to download the app? Each and every element on your page plays an important role in determining whether or not a user will download an app. In lesser words, the more enticing the description, the better your chances are of getting featured in the App Store.
Search within app stores themselves is actually the most important method for app discovery. App Store Optimization is the process of optimizing your app store listing so that your app shows up higher in the search results. App Store Optimization is meant to drive more traffic and ultimately more downloads by increasing visibility which will help you get noticed by editors. Keywords should be strategically placed throughout various sections of your app listing. The title of your listing should also include your main keywords. However, you should find a balance between including keywords and keeping your title succinct.
Your icon should be distinct, enticing, and memorable. It’s the first thing people see when searching for your app in the App Store. An icon is demonstrative of what your app does. In order to increase the click-through rate to your App Store page, you must design an icon that stands out among a sea of competitors. Consider making your icon vibrant and use contrasting colors.
The rationale behind using ratings and reviews as a ranking factor is that they are reflective of user experience.
When people are deciding to download an app or not, one of the first things they look at is the app’s ratings. A safe spot is to maintain a 4.5 rating or higher. Just like users, Apple editors have the same decision-making process when they’re looking to feature an app. It’s important to remember that Apple is always thinking about profit. They are more likely to feature an app that is doing well than one that is suffering. Although ratings are hard to control, it all comes down to user satisfaction. A good user experience and a useful app will often amount to high ratings and positive reviews.
Developers should encourage their users to submit reviews, be diligent in managing and seeking to resolve negative reviews, and should keep communication channels open to field user feedback.
Try to promote your mobile app before and after the launch. You should consider creating a website for your app where users can learn more about the app, sign-up for your email list, download the press kit, and so on. Promote your app on social platforms such as Facebook. Get your app mentioned in top tech publications. This will help you boost credibility, increasing the chances of being seen by Apple editors.
Every day, a free or paid app and game is reviewed by professional App Store curators. Apple receives thousands of pitches to feature mobile apps. This tactic can be useful if done persuasively. Craft a convincing pitch that outlines what your app does and how it’s unique. When considering apps to feature, editors look for high-quality apps in all categories, specifically, new apps and apps with recent updates.
Apple accepts pitch emails to a formalized messaging system at AppStore.com/Promote, which is accessible through your Apple ID.
Apple editors base their decisions on a number of factors. There is no particular formula or checklist that app publishers and developers can follow, however, we’ve summed up a few considerations that editors keep in mind when choosing the next app to feature:
If your app is selected to be featured on the App Store, fill in the form as soon as possible, and provide striking visuals for the feature banner. Make it easy for Apple to showcase your app on the feature page. You should also keep track of the number of downloads you have currently and the ones acquired after the feature. Do everything you can to make sure you’re focused on retaining users acquired from the feature.
Although there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to getting featured in the App Store, you can definitely increase your chances by using the above tactics. A quality app, that is useful and unique in the app market will eventually get noticed. Being featured in the App Store is a great opportunity to increase brand awareness; however, to have a successful app over time, you’ll have to add a lot of value for your users in order to achieve high engagement and retention rates. It’s up to your development team to keep adding value through updates. Listen to your users and understand what they want to see in your app. This will amount to a loyal user base and higher retention rates.