Getting your app featured by Apple is one of the best ways to drive traffic and potentially converting into hundreds of thousands of downloads.
Besides the obvious download metrics, getting featured also gives you press leverage and credibility
Best of all - it’s entirely free.
It’s the holy grail for app publishers. That means a myriad of other apps in your space are trying to get featured too. Here’s a guide to how to cut through the noise.
Step 1: Figure out what Apple wants
The first thing to realise is that there is no secret algorithm determining how people get featured. There is a team in charge of it - App Store Managers decide if your apps gets featured or not.
That means you need to keep Apple in mind when you build your app.
There are two things that Apple cares about most and that’s Apple and their end-users. Apps that are designed knowing this have a better chance of getting featured.
Use the Apple Developer Resources page to be up to date with their latest updates, features and products. The more compatible your app is with iOS in general and their latest updates in particular greatly increases your chances of getting noticed.
Users only want to use really great products. If you don’t think your app is quite ready, don’t push it to be featured. You don’t want App Store Managers to associate your company with unfinished apps.
Avoid that by soft launching your app first.
Big companies try to target small communities during their soft launch and try to garner as much information as possible: customer feedback, UI and platform reviews, and even the game’s monetization processes.
If you copy this strategy, not only will you have more information to strengthen your application but it makes you look like a major publisher.
With this groundwork in place, you are ready to start reaching out to App Store Managers.
Step 2: Reaching out
This is your big moment to pitch your app!
I have to reiterate - getting an app featured is really hard. Perseverance will play a big part in whether or not you are successful. Keep at it and don’t get easily discouraged!
Before you send out any emails, make sure you have a tracker installed that can let you know how many opens and clicks your email has had.
When you’re seeing a lot of opens it is a good sign you’ll get featured. If they like your app then they’ll pass your email around the different App Store Managers. So keep an eye on those metrics.
Who to reach out to
Finding the right contacts doesn’t have to be too complicated. You either use the central contact or you go aggressive and reach out to individual App Store Managers.
Because Apple wants to funnel all applications to firstname.lastname@example.org, we no longer use this method of cold emailing App Store Managers, but be aware that this option is out there for you to use.
To do that you:
- Search for “app store manager” in LinkedIn
- Filter by company: Apple
- Filter by your region
- Use an extension like Email Hunter to gather email addresses
The 3rd step is critical - App Store Managers outside of the US are less swamped with feature requests.
How to write a great pitch email
The email you send has to be both very convincing and very short.
Remember to make use of any killer stats or reviews you gathered during your soft launch. And make sure you flag those brand new Apple features you have integrated.
Here are some other tips:
- Include your App ID: This sounds very basic, but you’d be amazed what people leave out. Find this in the App Information page of your iTunes Connect.
- Have a Video: Make it really easy for the reviewer to take a quick look at your app to see if it’s worthy of a feature. The quality of your video will be used to judge the quality of your app.
- Leverage Social Proof: Have any of your past apps been featured? Tell them!
- Ask for Feedback: There is a saying that you get money when you ask for advice, and you get advice when you ask for money. That applies here.
Keep it short: Each point only needs to be a sentence. A sentence on social proof, a sentence on why the app’s different, and a video. It should be between four and six sentences in total.
When to write your email
You have two options. Either three weeks before launch or after the app has gained a little traction.
The benefits of pitching three weeks before launch are that it gives the App Store Managers plenty of time to schedule your feature slot and it allows you some flexibility to make amendments and improvements.
We often advise our clients to do this.
Publishers can also have success pitching their app after the launch. Has your app gone viral? Do you have incredible engagement figures? Did you get featured on a huge mailing list? Use that.
Apps that have shown they can gather users are very likely to get picked up by App Store Managers. This is a riskier strategy, of course, because very few apps go viral (at least without being featured in the App Store).
Step 3: What to do after you feature
An App Store Manager replies and lets you know you will feature (after filling out a few forms). Well done! This is what you’ve been working so hard for.
Please note: You might not get featured on the main page but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Keep an eye on your app’s categories - make sure you don’t miss your big moment.
Being featured boosts organic downloads, but it also gives you ammunition to send to journalists and tech bloggers. All journalists covering the mobile market want to know about the hottest new app - now you have some great proof that your app is it.
Don’t let that feature tag go to waste, boost it with timely articles and watch your downloads soar.
With these techniques, we have gotten eight clients featured on the Apple App Store. If you can apply them then you will have a great chance of getting featured too.
BUT, keep in mind that you shouldn’t rely solely on Apple Feature as it’s highly unpredictable. There are thousands of new apps released every week, all of them vying to get ahold of a coveted feature spot. Be sure to get other means of hitting those target metrics without getting featured; otherwise, you’re doomed to fail.
Getting featured should send you to new heights, not keep you afloat.
The Ultimate Guide to 360° App Store Marketing
This article is part of a bigger project with Priori Data and Peggy Salz — a mobile authority, industry educator and lead author of The Everything Guide To Mobile Apps and Apponomics: The Insider’s Guide To A Billion Dollar Business— are working on: an e-book titled THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO 360° APP STORE MARKETING.
The aim is to bring together a select group of recognized ASO experts and ninjas including Moritz Daan (Phiture, ex-Soundcloud), Thomas Petit (8Fit) and Charo Paredez Ortiz (DOCOMO Digital), to name a few. It’s a free resource focused on giving app developers everywhere on the planet what they need to grow their business on a budget.