Indie mobile marketing
App store optimization and marketing your indie app

app store optimization

Its a great feeling to live your passion, to do what makes you happy. Thats probably the reason that you decided to go against the odds and go through the process of developing your app idea on a indie budget. Its not easy, even if you are a company with a team behind you have to go through developing pains in every stage of the process. So doing this as an indie developer where you and maybe a partner is participating is even a more difficult road full of challenges. But as being stuck in some part of the process can be discouraging, getting past problems and moving forward is a rewarding experience, and when you have in your hands a working version ready to release you feel on top of the world and every little and big problem you left behind seemed to worth it.

But the victory feeling can quickly disappear and be replaced with the uncertainty of what to do when you are confronted at the thought of submitting your mobile application to the App Store. You realise that the days where you can just upload your app, sit back and watch the installs roll in because of the simple fact that you put it there are long gone. Today the App Store gets more than 500 new apps every day, and in a sea of new and old apps where some have solid and aggressive marketing budgets its very easy to get lost and sink to the bottom, especially when all you got to market your app is, well, your app.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to scare you, I just want to make you aware of the current situation and try to give you some tips that if you implement will get you well ahead in the quest of promoting your app, best of all is they are free!

ASO or app store optimization

First of all and most important, app store optimization or ASO, ever heard of SEO? well this is kind of the same with the difference that we only do the on site seo as there is no way or no effect to gain in linking apps. ASO as you probably know stands for app store optimization and its the most important foundations you can set for your app, of all the app installs that happen about 60% come from users browsing apps in the app store so having the correct description, icon, keywords, screenshots and now even video its of utmost importance, lets review each component:

App name:

Your app name is very important and if you decided on it early on and its not optimised don’t get to fixed on it as you want to benefit your ranking from it. Your app needs to be descriptive and include the most relevant keywords for your app, but make no mistake here and go stuffing keywords in your app name, just create one that naturally includes your most important keywords and focus on the first 25 characters as these are the ones that shown in charts.

App keywords:

You can use a maximum of 100 characters for your keywords so pick carefully and don’t rush this process. Get some friends to give you their input, use the google keyword planner, look at what keywords your competitors are using and write every keyword you may think someone could use to search for your app, then once you have a good chunk start discarding the ones that are not so good and keep the best. You want to look for short relevant keywords and only one word keywords, the app store algorithm is good at combining keywords when a user search so don’t worry about this. Remember you picked keywords to put on your app name? well don’t repeat those keywords here as its not necessary. If you want to put a number use the number and not the spelled out word, as I said the App Store algorithm is good and will show your app in the results even if the user searches using words. If plural and singular forms of some of your keywords are very different consider using both of them. Now, when you input your keywords only separate them by a comma and don’t use spaces, in the app store its not necessary and its a waste of characters.

App Icon:

As you probably already figured out your app icon is also very important as its the first visual impression you give to potential users so it needs to be catchy and simple, also make it consistent to how your app looks like. Sometimes using borders its beneficial as increases the CTR (Click through rate) so consider this too. When you have your icon ready look at it and think, if I were searching for this kind of app, would this icon catch my interest? now rinse and repeat the same process on friends and you will know if you have arrived at something good.

App Screenshots:

When Im about to download an app I usually take a quick look at the screenshots before I tap that install button. Just to make sure that I’m not wasting my time by downloading an app that its not up to my expectations. When putting up screenshots of your app use all available slots and remember that the first 2 screenshots are the most important! also in iOS 8 you can include an app preview, this a video of your app. Take the chance to further explain your app and what it does in your app screenshots and make them look good but be careful of not accidentally portraying things that your app cannot really do.

App Rating:

We all want good ratings, they help us in the ranks and in driving more installs of doubtful potential users. You can start by using some help from friends and family to give 5 stars on launch, this may sound a bit unethical but hey, a little boost its deserved after so much work developing your app indie style. Get your active and engaged users to rate your app, I will not go deeply into this subject as it could be a complete post itself but try to create a funnel in your app to asks users, hopefully happy users (there are ways to track and identify them) to rate your app. Also and very important, keep a close and vigilant look on your app reviews page and fix any issues reported by users ASAP.

App Description:

What you write in this part its not going to get picked up in searches so keep that in mind and write something that is going to convince the user of downloading your app. If you already have positive reviews or blog posts of your app include them here. When listing the features of your app use bullet points for easy reading and remember that only the first few lines of this are visible without the users clicking on more so make those count!

This is the first and a very important step in setting solid foundations for your app marketing, consider the App Store your app’s home and where you should start shaping your marketing angle. Apply all of these tips and your App will be optimised for the App Store, keep in mind that app store optimization its an ongoing process and you should keep track of your keywords and description to make any necessary adjustments with each new update you release, as with the App Store this are the only instances where you can update that information.

It’s a good idea to hire overseas app developers?

If you have a an app idea you want to develop you don’t need to be a computer programmer or a highly skilled user to make it real. Nowadays there is a huge amount of available developers to choose from and you can hire one from overseas or a local one.

I live in Melbourne, Australia. And here the costs of developing an app can be high when you are working with app developers melbourne based. Yo can expect to pay anywhere from $80 to $150 per hour to a local and the truth is that sometimes depending on the complexity of your app is much more cost effective to get it done overseas at a fraction of what you would be paying to the local.

But with the cheaper costs of outsourcing your development to an overseas programmer also comes some risks and problems you may not be considering. When you outsource work overseas you need to account for timezone differences which will make communications and progression of development harder. Its a common mistake for people that had outsourced their development to an overseas person to just compare hourly costs and assume they will get the same thing but cheaper.

When you hire an overseas developer you are dealing with a person that probably has more ongoing projects and its not putting his 100% in your app as you would want or expect, after all you are paying him a fraction of what you would be paying for app development to a local and he needs more projects to make his income whole. This means that for him your app is just another project to be completed asap so he can get on with the next one, this plus the fact that he has never met you in person makes hard for him to create an emotional connection with your app, and lets face it, we all want to get special treatment.

On other side one of the advantages of hiring a local developer on a full time basis for your project is that you get personal meetings where you will be able to express exactly what you want to him and get him motivated and fully engaged with your project. At least in my experience most app developers melbourne based are passionate about their work, this means that an app project for them is much more than just a bunch of code to be completed in exchange for money. A local developer will get involved and emotionally attached to your app, he may even bring new ideas for features you haven’t think of before.

When you are working with an overseas developer the reaction time for changes, requests or enquiries is slow and can get to a point that is frustrating because a discussion about some feature or changes in your app can take hours and even days going back and forth over emails. When you work with a local you can just meet with him and resolve issues or communicate changes to him in little time and much more easily.

In the end the big difference and main reason to choose an overseas developer is the cost, but sometimes you can end up with higher costs fixing or redoing things in your app because of poor quality code or because you simply could not effectively communicate what you wanted and how you wanted it to a person that is thousands of miles away.

What you need to know before making this decision is how complex your app features are and what you want in your potential developer. For example not every app needs constant talks and feedback to be able to move forward, but some projects do and can mean the failure of it if your developer is really hard to reach.

Take the time to assess and identify the exact profile of developer your specific app project needs and you will save valuable time and resources in the future.