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Your iPhone and iPad App Marketing Strategy: Grand Slam or Base Hits?

The Apple App Store has matured very quickly, and you have to develop a solid marketing strategy to realize success. This chapter shows several potential strategies and outcomes from your marketing plans.
This chapter is from the book

There are several reasons why it's hard to make it big. First, the sheer number of apps for sale on the App Store has made it much more difficult to stand out from the crowd. Instead of just a few similar apps in your category, there are likely hundreds, even thousands if you are selling a game, vying for the buyer's attention.

Secondly, the intense pricing pressure causes many developers to start off at a low price or quickly drop their prices to $0.99, a figure that makes it extremely difficult to break even much less make any profit. According to the website 148 Apps (www.148apps.biz), almost 42% of all apps (games included) are priced at $0.99. Figure 1.1 shows a range of apps, from free to $9.99, and their percentage totals on the App Store. You'll notice that 77% of all apps sold are at $1.99 or lower.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1 iPhone app prices tend to be bunched around the $.99 and $1.99 level and lower.

Source: www.148apps.biz

The large number of competing apps may seem daunting; however, these statistics are not presented to be discouraging. Rather, this chapter is designed to point out that the App Store has matured very quickly, and you have to develop a solid marketing strategy to realize success. The App Store is not running on Internet time—it's on mobile time! Your marketing strategy also has to be tuned to work with your buyer.

We've Seen This Movie Before

The iTunes App Store is much like your local supermarket. In the 1980s, the average supermarket carried about 7,500 items. Today, that same supermarket carries upward of 52,000 items! Every vendor is fighting for shelf space so more people will buy their products. Amazon.com is no different; booksellers are trying to stand out in a very crowded market. Not counting other items, its bookstore alone boasts well over 250,000 titles. Many authors hope to achieve fame and fortune by landing on the top 100 list on Amazon's book home page. Other authors had hoped to get their big break by being mentioned on Oprah or some other television show. The App Store has exploded from its introduction of fewer than 1,000 apps to well over 435,000 apps at the time of this writing. Just like the supermarket vendors, every app developer is vying for that eye-level virtual shelf space. They are either hoping to make it into the top 100 sales for their categories in the App Store or get a mention in the "Staff Favorites," "New and Noteworthy," or "What's Hot" sections of the App Store. Table 1.1 shows the breakout of the highest selling categories of apps available on the App Store. Approximately 500–600 apps are posted to the store each day! According to Apple, almost 7,500 apps per week are still being submitted for the approval process. Although it may take another year or so, the App Store could see over a half million apps!

Table 1.1. App Store Percentages for the Most Popular Categories on the App Store

Type of iPhone/iPad App

Percentage of Total Apps











As the store has grown, it has necessitated reconfiguration numerous times to further segment the apps into logical groups where buyers can more easily connect with sellers. Apple continues to improve the search capabilities of the store, adding more home page app categories such as "Made for IOS 4" and "What We're Playing" in the Games section. All of these groupings help your app to get more visibility if it's rotated in for one of those groupings. As shown in Figure 1.2, the top paid, free, and grossing apps are shown in the right column on the App Store's home page and are displayed on the home page of the App Store.

Figure 1.2

Figure 1.2 Top Paid Apps, Top Free Apps, and Top Grossing Apps are shown to the right of the App Store's home page.

If you drill down into a category such as Lifestyles, you see that there is also a breakout of the top 10 paid apps and the top 10 free apps along with a newer category for top 10 grossing apps as shown on the right side in Figure 1.3. Notice that this particular category has 70 pages of paid apps (12569) at 150 apps displayed per page! If you add in free apps in the Lifestyle category, there are over 23,000 total apps at the time of this writing! If your app manages to sell enough copies to make it into the top 100, you will see your sales climb dramatically (as long as you stay on this coveted list.)

Figure 1.3

Figure 1.3 Each category on the App Store has a listing for paid and free apps.

You can also sort the apps within each category by Name (A–Z breakouts) and by Release Date and Bestsellers as shown in Figure 1.4. Searching by Name is helpful if you're searching on a particular name of an app or your best guess as to its name. Release date is the default. Searching on some of the other categories such as "What Hot" allows you to search by name alphabetically or by when the app was featured. Newly featured apps are first on the list.

Figure 1.4

Figure 1.4 The App Store allows you to sort by Name, Release Date, and Most Popular within each category.

The App Store will continue to make improvements to help strengthen and refine the search process and showcase apps in the best way possible. In order to create a winning sales and marketing strategy for your app, it's important to understand the dynamics of the App Store and understand that there are several strategies that you can employ.

There are three pillars of your app's success as shown in Figure 1.5. Failure to address all three of these areas means the likelihood of your app succeeding in the market is slim. I know there are stories of some apps seemingly not addressing these areas and yet achieving wild success. This is true. There are always examples of people achieving success in books or movies that, for some odd reason, defy all understanding and lack of marketing. I wish that success for all of you.

Figure 1.5

Figure 1.5 Three pillars of iPhone/iPad app success: a market, well-written app, and deliberate marketing

The same goes for iPhone/iPad apps. But even the successful apps that achieve (perhaps) undeserving success have done at least two of these three things right. They definitely have a market for their apps, regardless of how stupid or pointless the apps might be. They may claim to have done no marketing, but word of mouth (a form of marketing) has propelled them to success.

Most developers are trying to knock their apps out of the park. They want the grand slam and think anything less is failure. A number of developers give up, thinking there's only two possible outcomes to selling their apps: the Big Win or No Win. But there are actually three possible outcomes: the Big Win app, the Steady Win app, and the No Win app. All apps fall into one of these three categories. Over time and without marketing or product updates, all apps will eventually slide from one category down to the next one below.

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