Are you a time-strapped, boot-strapped app dev looking for iPhone app marketing tools that don’t cost a fortune? I recently spoke with Chris Maddern, CEO of AppLaunch, to learn more about the service they’re offering to help indie devs get a leg up in the App Store.
What evidence have you seen that app review sites affect app sales?
When we started, this was mostly inferred logic and taken from our collective experiences (all of our co-founders were App entrepreneurs too!).
Several forums have cultures of sharing their download stats and correlating them against reviews and media coverage. There are lots of examples on iPhoneDevSDK forums.
Now, we’re working to create this data ourselves. Many of our users have been good enough to give us access to their download figures which we can then overlay on our automatic coverage-detection. We’re going to release an infographic in the coming weeks – at a high level, it definitely has an effect if you hit sites that are either large, or topical. Lots of smaller sites do have an impact but it’s less profound.
We’re working with AppFigures at the moment to provide this kind of transparency for every campaign.
Increasing the transparency of how PR works is definitely one of our goals – the current product is a long way from where we want to be ultimately, but has proved effective in helping developers.
Can you cite some examples?
Yes and no. We don’t release individual developers’ campaign stats but we can present them in aggregate.
Some high-level figures:
The average submission receives 7.6 reviews, with, on average 1.1 of them in the top-10 review sites.
The top-performing 10% of submissions receive on average 22 reviews and get covered by 4-6 of the top 10 App review sites.
We’ve never had a submission that didn’t get 3+ reviews. Although the one that got 3, we gave them their submission fee back!
Do app review sites treat your review requests differently than an app dev submitting a request themselves? If yes, how or why?
Honestly, this works both ways. We know quite a few people and have relationships with a lot of sites, I’m sure there are also others that believe strongly that developers should do their own PR and trash our emails.
We’re working to change these peoples’ minds – one recent report suggested 52% of iPhone developers spend $0 and close to 0 effort on marketing. (See this article on how most devs don’t break even on their apps.) We want to help these people to ‘get the press they deserve’. Deserve is a key word for us and we actually refund and don’t run almost half of submissions as we don’t think we’ll be able to help them. We can only show people your App, we can’t force them to care about something that is low quality, poorly executed or just another ‘me too’ App. This means that reviewers can expect a consistent format and quality to our submissions. This helps to make sure that reviewers keep reading to deliver value to our users.
What is the free portal site?
It is this – http://beta.applaunch.us/apps/Corkbin
It’s optional and automatically collects press mentions for your App. This will be released as a free standalone service – we’re pretty excited about this!
Approx how much time does your service save app devs?
I’m sure that a dev could take a shot at building an email list and then email the top 50 or so App Review sites in a couple days. It’s something that very few devs enjoy doing though and so rarely do it well. It’s also pretty hit-and-miss whether reviewers open emails from random people – each will tend to have their preferred PR Agencies and news sources. We are one for some and hope to be for others soon!
What is “submission tracking” and “same day submission”?
Everything is tracked. If a reviewer breathes while in close proximity to one of our emails or press pages, we know! We also tell you. This is fairly simple online right now but we will be rolling out much more detailed information with our AppFigures rollout later this year.
Same day submission is a priority 1-day turnaround. It can take up to 3 days for the 10-site package. Honestly, it’s usually same day though, we just can’t guarantee it as we’ll prioritize the premium packages.
What is “embedded websites”?
Yes – odd phraseology! It means that we we give ‘follow’ backlinks to your site – it may need rephrasing! A lot of traditional PR sites will charge you extra for this.
“Screenshots distributed” to whom/where?
Screenshots are sent, right in the emails to every reviewer. Again, lots of more traditional PR services will charge you for each image, each video and each link. With AppLaunch, we include everything to help you get maximum impact in every package. Charging per image feels pretty arbitrary!
What are the top 3 things every app dev should be doing to have a successful launch?
I’m going to exclude ‘make a good App’ here but it really is number one!
For utility Apps:
– Be proactive. Contact topic-specific sites early and often – they’re often pretty excited to get to review Apps on their topic vs. traditional physical products and services.
– Use twitter search to find people who have the problem you’re solving (you are solving one.. right?!) and reach out to them. Every user who comes directly from contact with you will likely become a brand advocate if they like the product.
– Follow up. Journalists and reviewers may be the only people in the world who are busier than you are – unless they’re seeking a restraining order, keep emailing them!
This is tougher. There are a lot of games released and most of them fall into the same category – games. The same best practice applies, but you have to be more agressive. With games it’s even more important to ‘build for success’ by building viral mechanisms in to the game.
For anyone writing a Press Release for their App launch – whether using the AppLaunch service or not – I’d highly recommend reading our tips on the AppLaunch blog – How to Write an App Press Release
What kind of results can devs expect by using AppLaunch?
AppLaunch for the most part isn’t a service – it’s a platform that lets *you* submit your App to every App review site. We simply approve and copy-write what you send to make sure that reviewers get consistent quality from AppLaunch submissions.
We have examples of Apps from AppLaunch getting in to pretty much every major App-covering online publication and so it’s really down to the product and the pitch. If you create an innovative, new App and write a decent pitch, then the chances are it will perform very well. We had one company that had 12x sales the week after their AppLaunch campaign, equally there are some that get picked up by only a few smaller blogs and see a 20% bump. They are always the ones that we considered whether to distribute in the first place as there was no clear uniqueness to the App or story.
Anybody got questions for Chris?
What did I miss in this interview? Let us know in the comments below!
Check out these related posts:
Think your app idea has what it takes to be the next Instagram? Think again. As of January 2013 there were 775,000 apps in the iOS app store, yet nearly 60% of developers report they never broke even on their development costs. Even worse, almost 70% report their most successful app never made more than $5,000. […]read more >
“What would it feel like if our phones were designed around people, not apps?” – Mark Zuckerburg on Facebook Home You may have heard the news already, the “Facebook Home” is being released today. Technically, Facebook Home isn’t really an OS. It’s also not a “fork” of Google’s Android software. It’s an App layer […]read more >
You can’t stop thinking about how awesome your new app idea is, can you? If you could just get this thing out of your head and into people’s hands, you could change the world. But what’s the process to take a good idea for an app to a five star feature at the top of […]read more >