“Subject: promote game in appstore.
Hi, I have made very cute and interesting game for iphone. But I know that 90% of work is promotion and now I afraid to realise it. I need your advice.Thanks!!!”
—Real-world pitch request
In April 2012, marketing firm App Promo conducted a developer survey to assess success in the App Store. It found that 59% of respondents reported that they had not earned enough revenue from their most successful app to break even with development costs. What’s more, 80% said that the generated revenue was not enough to sustain a standalone business.
App Promo is, of course, in the business of selling marketing services. It boasts that those developers who earned at least $50,000 from a popular app (about 12% of respondents) spent 14% of their time doing marketing, and set aside $30,000 just for their marketing budget. Less successful businesses (52% of respondents) spent 5% or less of their time on marketing and had no marketing budget at all.
There’s no question that a large marketing budget helps promote an app, but for smaller indie devs, it’s more often a question of what you can do with a limited budget. Blog reviews play an important role, as do press releases (a general PR blast can cost as little $25, which is pretty cheap, as these things go up to $200–$400 for a well-defined audience; see our comments later in this book about how effective [or not] press releases may be) and small, targeted ad campaigns through Google/AdMob or email blasts. You can establish a social presence on Facebook and Twitter for the cost of your time and sweat. You can participate in one of those app giveaway sites to raise your app’s exposure or use a sale to try to establish a user base to give your product buzz and momentum.
If you have the capital to hire marketing help, there’s a lot that paid services can do for you. If not, you need to be persistent, clever, and dedicated to get the word out for your product. As bloggers, we can play a key role in that drive for attention, but we’re not the beginning and the end of your marketing tasks.