Earlier this month we reported that downloads increase for featured apps; no big surprise, of course. The power of premium placement — whether in a digital news rack or on a retail floor — is unquestionably important.
The challenge now is this: How does one go about getting their app featured in the Apple or Google stores?
The question has no easy answers. To begin with, “It is unclear how an app becomes one of the chosen-ones,” writes Tiuri van Agten, an analyst at Distimo and author of The Impact of Being Featured in an App Store.
Published guidelines for both Apple and Google developers are rather vague on the subject, and run mostly to lists of dos and don’ts along with the expected branding standards and legal restrictions: all good stuff to know, for sure, but simply playing by the rules only gets you so far.
There is no magic “do this” list that will ensure featured placement, but we’ve uncovered a few critical elements that can improve the odds.
As Dan Counsell writes, “It’s worth understanding that Apple doesn’t feature apps to help us developers, it features apps because they benefit Apple and its customers – as long as you remember that, you’ll do just fine.”
Create a New Game
Dave Addey has done the homework on what kinds of apps get featured on the App Store around the world. He’s found that games are big business. “Only 16.8% of the apps on the Store are games, and yet they make up about half of the apps featured on App Store home pages worldwide,” according to his research.
(Interestingly, games are most popular in the Republic of Korea, where 64.4% of the features are for games. Germans and Austrians, on the other hand, seem less inclined play: 36% of their features are for games.)
Solve a Problem for Apple or Google
“When Apple announced they would be building their own Maps app and Google Maps would no longer be shipped along with every iPhone, there was an opportunity for Transit,” writes Mikael Cho of Crew.
“Because Transit focuses on giving you real-time public transit information wherever you are (and this public transit data was not going to be included in Apple’s Maps), Transit’s main function aligned perfectly as a product that Apple could feature as an alternative to Google Maps.”
When Apple contacted them to ask for some updates so they could feature Transit in their iOS6 launch, the developers knew they had hit on a winner. And the 18,000 downloads on the first day of launch proved them right.
Find the not-so-perfect in Apple and Google, and make an app that closes those gaps. It’s irresistible to both the companies and their users.
Tell a Good Story
In his take on improving the odds of being featured, Matthew Panzarino on TheNextWeb notes: “There are a variety of factors including what Apple thinks will sell. But apps that have a strong press presence (read: positive press), act as ambassadors for Apple’s devices and that use the latest APIs and features of iOS are all among those regularly picked.”
It’s critical to work with the media, building excitement before-hand and having a definite go-live time and press embargo.
“Whilst some sections of the media may dislike embargoes, ultimately knowing when your app is going to be available is an important piece of information. It allows your media contacts to place any coverage in a suitable window in the outlet’s schedule,” advises Nik Fletcher of Realmac Software, who has had his own apps featured.
“For bonus points: Know where writers are based, and tailor their emails with the embargo time in their appropriate time zone. Making a journalist’s life easier can win, at the very least, brownie points for work and consideration,” Fletcher notes.
Build Your Tribe
As a developer, it’s never simply a matter of building it so they will come. Each person who touches your app is an incredible opportunity for you.
“Your app’s rating is one of the most important factors influencing its ranking in the various lists and search results in Google Play. It’s also one of the key signals that the editorial staff looks for, when curating apps and games for promotion in the store,” states the Developers Guidelines for Android.
Encourage those positive reviews, and respond intelligently to the bad ones. Build your tribe one member at a time to hit that critical mass of raving fans.
At the end of the day, it’s a numbers game. With approximately 20,000 new apps a month being added to Apple, and similar numbers at Google, you are swimming in a vast pool of competition. That’s not to say that it’s an impossible task. Rise to the challenge with all you’ve got. Be smart about absolutely everything and develop your heart out.