10 Ways to make your app stand out in the mobile crowd

19th October 2011

You’ve had your million-dollar idea, and you’ve turned it into an app. Now you’re ready to release it upon the world.

But you’ve got one big problem: you now have to compete with the hundreds of thousands of apps already jumping up and down and vying for the attention of consumers.

So how to make your app stand out from the crowd? Here’s a checklist of ideas to help you make your app more visible.
1. Get good user reviews
Reviews can play a vital role in a potential purchaser’s decision to download an app, according to Brian Akaka, CEO and founder of mobile app marketing firm Appular.

As a result, some developers try to garner positive reviews by prompting people to rate the app. Some developers also wait until a user has launched the app a few times before prompting them to rate it, as this increases the chance of reviews being given by those who are happy with the app.

2. Get the name right
Choosing the right name for your app is crucial in getting potential purchasers to consider your app. For a start, it should be spelt phonetically – so people looking for the app can get its name right in the search box.

“If your friend tells you the name of an app you should be able to spell it by yourself, because often if it’s word of mouth and you can’t spell the name of the app then that’s a big problem,” Akaka said.

The name can also be used as an additional descriptive field so people know what the app is about.

“One of our clients is an app called Zombie Booth, with which you take a photo of yourself and it turns you into this 3D animated zombie. The official title is Zombie Booth 3D Zombifier because we wanted people to know what the app does and we felt like Zombie Booth by itself didn’t quite convey as much,” Akaka said.

“But at the same time, if someone does a search for Zombie Booth they will find it.”
3. Take advantage of keywords
To get apps to appear in searches on Apple’s App Store, developers should think carefully about how they use the 100 characters they are allowed for their keywords as this, as well as the popularity of the app, is used in sorting search results.

“Apple is indexing those keywords as well as the app name when it is sorting its search results,” Akaka said.

Since Apple does not index the description, developers should make sure any words people might use to look for their app are included in the keywords.

4. Description should not just be a list of features
The app description should detail what problem the app solves to give potential purchasers a reason to download your app.

“Whether it’s a game that keeps the kids quiet, or an app that will help you learn another language, really focus on the main problem that your app solves instead of focusing on features,” Oren Todoros, CEO and co-founder of mobile app marketing firm AppsMarketing, told us.

When writing the description for the Apple App Store, extra consideration should be paid to the beginning of the paragraph as this will be the most visible.

The app store description is critical and here you really want to focus on the first two lines of the description because the default view of the app collapses the description and only shows the first two lines.

“Like a PR pitch, you need to be getting their attention in the header,” Appular’s Akaka explained.

5. Get the icon right
“Because apps are considered so disposable, and there’s so many of them and most of them are free, we have the opinion that in general consumers are not spending a lot of time researching or comparing,” Akaka said.

“Because of that, we need to attract their attention and seal the deal in 10 seconds. Of the main things that we focus on, number one is the icon,” he said.

AppsMarketing’s Todoros compared the importance of the icon to the cover of a book in terms of getting consumers to open up the app page.

“If a good icon pops out and it looks inviting to the user they’ll want to discover more,” Todoros said.

Using bright colours such as red, purple and green help the icon stand out, and icons that feature an image of a person or character tend to be successful, according to Todoros.

“A lot of icons that really stand out have a border around the icon that is sometimes a different colour and that just helps the icon really stand out above the rest,” he said.

6. Get people talking about your app
It is important to create a buzz around your app on relevant blogs and app review sites to get people actively searching for your app.

As long as your app is of a high quality, Todoros said there is a good chance your app will get reviewed.

“There are so many bad apps out there that whenever you present them with something good enough or high-quality images, something that is really of value, then they will be happy to share it.”

App makers should also pitch the app to bloggers and commentators relevant to the function of the app, according to Artyom Diogtev, head of social media for mobile app marketing firm ComboApp.

For example, when promoting an app for a travel agency, contact “bloggers who write about travel and tourism and try to negotiate mobile app reviewing on those blogs”.

“If you limit [your marketing] to just within the app store you are basically doomed, you’re not going to win this battle,” Diogtev added.

7. Make it free
Developers should think about whether to make their apps free, as charging for an app can prevent it becoming a viral hit, according to AppsMarketing’s Todoros.

“What a lot of developers are failing to do is to understand how an app becomes viral. A lot of apps they are trying to sell for 99p when the freemium model seems to work a lot better.”

“If people have to pay a dollar or two dollars for an app they’ve never heard of they’ll just skip it.”

ComboApp’s Diogtev explained that developers can still make money by including in-app purchases.

“You give up your app for free but you give certain features by selling them as an in-app purchase, but the app should be free otherwise your chance to compete with other apps is very limited,” he said.

However, in-app purchases may not be the best way for all developers to monetise their app.

“Obviously there has been a great shift to freemium, but it does depend on the kind of app you are trying to make. Does your app depend on virality or on a large user base? Then absolutely you should be going for freemium,” Appular’s Akaka said.

“At the same time, if your goal is to monetise quickly and you don’t foresee people using your app for that long, then I think the paid model makes more sense,” he said.

8. Include good screenshots
Including good screenshots in the app description is very important – particularly for iOS apps on the App Store as when the description is collapsed to the default two lines, the screenshots are the most visible thing.

“The screenshots are absolutely essential – probably more important than the rest of the description even. A lot of people’s app download or purchasing decisions are based on what they’re seeing visually as opposed to text or descriptions or reviews,” Akaka said.

“They need to be showing the best parts of the app, not the intro screen or the menu screens, which a lot of developers tend to default to. It really needs to convey why the app is interesting and useful to the consumer.”

9. Advertise
The most effective way to secure iOS downloads is to appear in Apple’s charts and one way to get into the charts is to pay for a lot of advertising.

“Being in the top 10 chart is going to get you as much visibility as if you do a huge advertising campaign,” Appular’s Akaka said.

10. Target international markets
By targeting an app marketing strategy in non-English-speaking countries, app makers increase their chance of being noticed because there is less competition.

“There is a huge wealth of websites, blogs, journalists that are outside of the English-speaking market. For example, Italy has been a very strong market for our clients – France as well,” AppsMarketing’s Todoros said.

App developers don’t even necessarily have to translate their pitches to get picked up by non-English-speaking media, according to Todoros.

“They’re hungry for good information and competitors – other app developers are not necessarily doing that, they’re just sending pitches out to the main 10 or 20 app review blogs or websites and forgetting that there is a huge European market they could be reaching out to.”

App developers who take the next step by translating their app into European languages and creating localised versions also increase their chances of the app being successful as they will be competing with a far smaller market.

Silicon.com