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Appromoter MD Ed Vause presents the ten commandments of app marketing

Appromoter MD Ed Vause presents the ten commandments of app marketing
Ed Vause is the managing director of appromoter, an app marketing service for developers and journalists.
You can see the first of his ten commandments of app marketing here.

First off: I apologise now to anyone only developing for Android if you feel left out, but what follows is based on the reality that most developer's first port of call is still iOS.

Of course, much of what follows applies to marketing any app, but specifically it's based on the lessons we've learned from working with Cupertino's best known company.

Quality

There we go again: the 'Q' word, that beacon of supreme subjectivity. But that doesn't make it any less true.

Consider the volume of me-too, low quality apps that are submitted every day: it's no wonder that when it comes to choosing which apps to promote on the store, Apple focuses on the very best.

So the first thing to do is to not only build the best app you can, but to get some objective feedback along the way from people that understand what separates good from bad. The best people to speak to are games reviewers and bloggers, but as doing that's easier said than done, try giving your game out to friends who reflect your target audience.

Or failing that, speak to specialists like ourselves that can give you honest feedback. Just remember that Apple can't be bought or bribed – above everything else, it values apps that look great and play well.

Accessibility

For Apple, the choice of which apps to feature is often about accessibility and ease of merchandising.

If you are targeting European gamers then you need to be including EFIGS (English, French, Italian, German and Spanish) instructions and UI in your builds.

This is because although the regional stores are autonomous to a degree, they also regularly talk to each other, so the more you make your app accessible to more than one store, the more that Apple will like it and be prepared to give it a wider launch.

Basically, the days of putting an app out only in English and hoping for the best in non-English speaking countries are fading; Apple expects developers to put the work in.

Showcase Apple features and products

If you want Apple to love your game, then why not show Apple some love in return? Try to anticipate what device or software features that Apple feel are the most important or marketable.

If you know that they are putting out iOS 6 in a few months, then plan your launch around that time and make doubly sure that it's optimised for iOS 6, and includes features that Apple are going to be passionate about, like Game Center.

Apple likes to feel that you are helping it to showcase the best features of its devices, so get wise to it.

Obviously, you can't always predict major hardware changes, but do your best to include features that will make your game into a bit of a showcase for the Apple brand.

Respect the brand

Apple is one of the world's biggest brands, and with this standing comes a pretty rigid (but understandable) set of brand guidelines. So, if you put their logos or assets in a video then make sure you adhere to these guideline, especially since they are freely available on the web.

If you do feature Apple products in your video or press release you'll need Apple's approval, which can take up to five days.

If you want to play it safe, when creating video trailers show the game full screen and don't include any Apple devices, and just make sure any logos on the end credits follow the brand guidelines.

However, going the extra mile and submitting marketing assets to Apple for approval can be a good thing because it can draw Apple's attention to your app.

Timing

Pretty obvious, but worth saying again: don't announce your app is available on the App Store unless it actually is.

Announcing that your game is soon going to launch is something that bigger publishers and brands sometimes do, but the rule of thumb is that Apple really values exclusivity and the 'you saw it here' effect.

Universal apps

It makes it a lot easier for Apple to merchandise an app if it's a universal binary rather than specific to a particular model of device.

You can go ahead and make two different versions for iPhone and iPad, but don't come running to us if they don't want to feature it...

Finally: don't be scared

Despite being some of the most in-demand people on the planet, the folks at Apple are actually very nice and approachable, but they simply don't have time to deal with mountains and mountains of email pitches.

If you have followed many of the points above, then they'll be more receptive to hearing from you.

In a nutshell, they are looking for fun, good looking, high quality games that showcase Apple products and make it as easy as possible for them to merchandise and market as possible.

If you do manage to get in touch, don't send tons of information, screenshots and slide decks – a launch date, a couple of bullets on why your game is worth considering and its Apple ID (essential) are enough to let the App Store guys know your game is coming.

Good luck!
To find out more about appromoter and the services it offers, take a look at the company's website or receive up-to-the-minute updates via Twitter.

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Brandy Anderson
This is a great article, thank you for sharing! I'm curious about the point regarding universal apps though. I've come across a few sources that insisted that developers should make different versions tailored to iPhone and iPad separately. Their arguments were that even if an app is compatible with both devices, going the extra mile to specifically tailor the app to each particular device would make the app better in regards to UI, UX, etc.

What do you think of that? It surprises me to imagine that Apple would favor anything less than the ultimately awesome experience, and it seems that those sources don't believe that's possible without redesigning and restructuring everything accordingly. But your point makes sense too, which is why I'm not disregarding it. What to do??

Fraser Ross MacInnes Product/Design Director at Danke Games
Just wrote a massive comment for this, then my browser crashed!

Don't know how I missed this when it was first published but I agree with every word and will be following the series avidly. It's clear that developers are slowly catching on to the fact that services that effectively create large numbers of dead installs for them are next to useless and that the key to a long term business is placing a higher importance on retention than on acquisition (after an initial critical mass has been achieved). The only way to seriously pursue such a strategy, as Ed Vause points out, is to compete on an entertainment level with the best products out there.

Quality is everything now.
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