App Promo tip #3: App store marketing

Our third weekly app promotion tip together with our friends at App Promo takes a closer look at app stores. Using these channels to market and sell your apps is your best tool for getting users to discover your app, so understanding how to best use these stores can make all the difference for you, your app, and your business. Follow the jump to learn how to position your product in apps stores, how to make the most out of keywords and categories, how to handle reviews and rating, and much more.

Since its inception, the application storefronts have been the most powerful merchandising and promotional vehicle for app discovery. With the app stores so influential, it is incredibly important to understand how to use them to your advantage. Success starts with setting up a proper product page that uses effective keywords and is categorised appropriately. Pay attention to the comments you get from reviews and ratings. This feedback, whether good or bad, can give you an idea of what is working and what you’ll need to change. And think outside the typical app store box – look at other exposure opportunities from tech companies, operators, and mobile device manufacturers – they may have app stores of their own.

For example, at Sony Mobile, we have our own channel on Android market, prominently displayed whenever a Sony smartphone user goes into Google Play. We continuously offer selected partners, especially game partners, slots in this channel. If you are a game developer, you can check out the Stand out from the crowd marketing programme for more information”.

Your product page is a marketing opportunity

Be sure to put some thought into the elements that make up your product page in the app store. Don’t treat this as a just a mandatory step in the submission process, but rather an important marketing opportunity. Remember, all parts of this page need to be geared towards one goal – download. Your name, icon, description and screenshots are tools you have to convince the user to download your application. Make sure you use all options available to their full potential.

Some quick tips:

  • If you are not an already established brand, then choose an app name that is relevant to your app’s purpose.
  • Your app icon is your logo so make sure it is creative, high quality and represents what your app is all about.
  • Upload as many screenshots as possible, prioritising those that showcase your features and content.
  • Don’t waste screenshots on loading screens or standard device processes like calling, texting or shutting down – focus on your app.
  • Include a video if the store allows it, a well done demo of your application goes a long way to converting the audience to a user.

Don’t forget your keywords

The app stores search algorithms and their use of metadata is still somewhat a mystery. What we do know is that optimising your description and utilising keywords does make a difference.  Some app stores like to provide fields to input keywords of up to 100 characters. If this is available, use it!

When selecting your keywords:

  • Start first with keywords you may already have from your web SEO efforts.
  • You don’t need to include your app name.
  • Many developers believe that you only need commas to separate, not spaces, which should free up some characters.
  • Select keywords that will maximise results – avoid general terms and use words relevant to your app’s niche and purpose.

Additionally, write your app description including all of your keywords.  List your features, your content and even go as far as include the types of users or scenarios you feel your audience may use to search for an app.

Choose your category strategically

When it comes to choosing a category for your app within the store, do your homework. Perform searches to see where your competitors show up. Look in the categories you feel you would most fit to see what apps are featured.

You will want to choose a category that is a logical choice for your audience to find you. But be on the lookout for opportunities that will allow you to stand out. Categories with fewer total apps or that have little to no other apps with your offering may be better suited to provide you the visibility you need.

Reviews & ratings can be the key to climbing the charts

When a user enters the app store they make most of their download decisions in the list view. Here they are given only a couple of things to help them make their decision: app name, icon, price and the rating and number of reviews. Ratings and reviews aren’t just great vehicles to collect feedback on your, they also help your app standout in the list. Apps with more activity (ratings and reviews) are more apt to be tapped on than those that have no star ratings or comments.

Additionally, app stores have started to factor in activity (ratings and reviews) as part of the criteria used to build the merchandising areas – like the top chart. Actively encourage feedback from users. Include a call to action in your app, your webpage and social networks to request reviews and ratings.

Create an area in your “About” or “Info” area of your app that has a link to review and rate your app. Consider a timed pop-up to appear in the app while the user is interacting with it to remind them to give feedback. Make getting feedback from your users a core part of your ongoing marketing efforts for your app.

Add a personal touch when submitting

The app store submission process is automated and for the most part the thousands of developers and product owners who submit their app have no visibility or access to the people behind the process. Just because you don’t have a name, doesn’t mean you can’t differentiate yourself by personalising your submission using the notes and comments. Don’t leave this optional area blank. Use it to highlight how your app is unique. List new APIs that you are using. Spell out features or design that you feel differentiate your app.

What you want to do is create a reason for the reviewer to remember your app. This is a great first step in building a relationship with this team and could help increase your chance of being featured in their marketplace.

Think beyond the OEM application stores

The manufacturer and carrier storefronts are not the only places users can find your app. There are many app catalogues, third-party app stores and app search engines you should utilise as part of distribution. Search these out and make sure you submit your applications so that they are available.

For example, Sony Mobile has a number of channels available to help developers gain app exposure. Developers (in China) can submit app requests for inclusion in the PlayNow storefront widget, which provides easy access to an extension library of the latest mobile apps and games. Also, all Xperia™ smartphones come with a Recommender widget, in which we offer slots to selected partners and developers regularly. And as mentioned before, the same thing goes for the Sony Channel of Google Play.

Alternative app stores usually have additional marketing opportunities (such as Sony Mobile’s Stand out from the crowd programme) where you can take advantage of such as advertising and paid features. They also provide analytics and reports that can provide further insight into your users to feed back into marketing. The more places your app exists, the better chance your audience can find and download your app.

We also consulted with Android developer, Bradley Johnson of Be-Rad Entertainment, who provides some additional considerations for developers on app store marketing.

If your app is a paid app, definitely consider releasing a Lite version as a free download. A lot of mobile users are hesitant to even spend $0.99 so having a free version will get a lot more people looking at the game, which increases the chance they’ll become a paid customer. Listen to user feedback and keep updating the app. If people are complaining about something, fix it. If people are loving a feature, give them more of it. This will get people coming back to your app which will lead to a higher chance they’ll tell someone else about it. Also don’t be afraid to change the app icon and screenshots a few times to see which ones work best. People might respond better to a particular screenshot or icon and be more likely to download the game. It’s a quick change and if you pay close attention, it will really help maximize sales.

Brad_Johnson, Android Developer

Brad_Johnson, Android developer

Developers, so what’s your app store of choice? And what do you do to make your app stand out above the rest? Leave us a comment or question for us below.


App Promo is a leading app marketing and strategy firm whose goal is to assist developers and app owners in succeeding in the business of applications. App Promo provides services geared towards increasing discovery, optimising revenue and ensuring better positioning of applications to set them up for success. 

Feature image courtesy of Alvimann @ Morguefile.

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  1. By Sofia Altamirano


    When will get a new Sony Tablet? It would be good to supplement with the Xperia software with Mobile BRAVIA Engine © on a screen of 10.3

  2. By Anonymous


    Sony Mobile’s Stand out from the crowd program looks to be games only. I only decided to developed my app IpBike because of the hardware feature set offered by the Xperia Active. Over 50% of my active users are using Sony devices. Is there anything I can do to try and get some marketing help?

  3. By Joe Padre


    Thanks for your question. Your IpBike app sounds like a great tracking tool for bike data, and it’s cool that a majority of your users are on Sony devices. Yes, the Stand out from the Crowd program is intended for games. Unfortunately, we don’t have a formal app pitch program at the moment. But we will get in contact with you directly with some suggested app promotion ideas.
    Thanks and best regards,
    Joe from Developer World

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