Chances are, if you want to create a successful iOS mobile app for your business, you’ll want to get it in the spotlight and make it stand out from the competition. One of the best ways to do this is to get it featured in the Apple App Store. While this does take time, money, and effort, it’s definitely worth it in the end!
In this post, you’ll find the most important things to consider if you want to get your business app featured in the Apple App Store, and the steps you should take to get there. So here are some of the secrets to giving your app a better shot at those highly-coveted Featured spots:
1. Find out how the App Store features apps
You might be wondering how Apple decides which apps are featured. No, it’s not some complex, automated algorithm behind the featuring process. The featured apps are actually hand-picked by editors. And Apple has 155 app stores all over the world, each of them with its own editorial team. The store editors’ responsibility is to ensure that the featured apps will be the ones most likely to appeal to the local users.
So, take this into account before starting to build your app. Ask yourself: In which App Store would you like to get your app featured? Would it be of interest to those users? If editors decide that your app is not tailored to that audience, they won’t take a second look at it, no matter how cool it is. Think about selling original Jamaican merchandise in a US department store. How many US citizens would buy it? None or very few. The same goes for apps.
Keep your ratings and download scores high
Apple’s editors also take performance metrics into account when choosing which apps to feature. Over half of the featured apps have user ratings of 4.5 or higher. Another metric Apple considers for featuring an app is the number of downloads. The more, the better. We know you might find that a paradox, as the purpose of getting featured is to get more downloads.
2. Build a great app that meets Apple’s highest standards
Build a great app! Easy to say, hard to do. And you might say that there are plenty of great apps that don’t get featured, so nobody finds out about them. Nonetheless, an iOS app must be flawlessly built from all points of view to be eligible of being featured. Apple is an exquisite store, so it doesn’t want second-hand, low-quality, poorly designed merchandise in their shop. Especially in the front row! To find out which apps they consider feature-worthy, follow them on Twitter, @AppStore.
Respect Apple’s design guidelines
Your app must be wonderfully designed, bug-free, and it must offer a great and engaging user experience to gain Apple’s trust and approval. Obviously, Apple will want to advertise apps that fit their aesthetic, so they are going to favor apps which prioritize smart, clean design. Be sure the designers you hire are very talented and up-to-date on the iOS Human Interface Guidelines.
Use Apple’s latest features
From a technical point of view, you must follow Apple’s latest trends, iOS updates, and API releases. You must keep in mind that it is in Apple’s best interest to highlight apps that show off their latest iOS and hardware features, in order to drive the adoption of those technologies. In the end, it all comes back to doing what benefits Apple.
To thrive in their ecosystem, you must find the key to the symbiosis between you and Apple. So, make sure that the mobile app developers you’re working with are up to date with the latest iOS development standards. Two years ago, the iCloud feature was the low-hanging fruit for iOS app integration. Now, 3D touch is the big buzz. The App Store even has an “Enhanced with 3D Touch” section. In other words, integrate Apple’s newest features into your app, and you increase your chances for a featured position.
Make it iOS first or only
Apple loves exclusivity, so you must show that you are dedicated to Apple. Build your app only for iOS devices or, at the very least, launch the iOS version first, and Apple will take it as a sign of loyalty. Also, make sure your app is designed for all iOS products: iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. This will suit Apple’s business model, and is, therefore, another sign that you’re trying to build a win-win partnership. If you support someone, that someone is more likely to support you, right?
3. Perform frequent updates and seasonal customization
Apple features apps that are new & fresh. Make frequent updates and you will improve your ratings. Also, Apple has a “Best New Game Updates” section. The update itself can earn you a feature if you make a great update to your game app.
Take seriously into consideration seasonal updates. Why? On holidays, people receive new devices as gifts. And, with the news devices, come new apps. It’s no surprise that during holiday seasons there’s a boost in the number of app downloads (for example, Christmas Day). Also, the App Stores gets ”decorated” into the festive spirit, with holiday-specific featured categories. There is also a featured “Best of [The Month]” category. So, produce seasonal content, or dress your app up with a holiday theme. Check out the holidays calendar and tell your developers!
4. Optimize your app page
We’ve talked about getting your app featured, but ultimately, the goal is increasing the number of app downloads. If you get featured (Wow!) and users land on your app page, they must find an attractive, organized, brushed-up page. If not, they will not click the “Get” button. Know that Apple will look for elements like a good, accurate description, nice screenshots, and a wise promo.
Also, because app store searches account for over 67% of actual app discovery, one technique to get your app discovered is App Store Optimization (ASO), which is similar, in a way, with on-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In a future blog post, we’ll dive deeper into this topic.
5. Invest in marketing & media coverage before launch to App Store
Don’t wait until after its release to create buzz around your app. A great way to attract the attention of Apple editors is to get your app mentioned on blogs or tech websites like TechCrunch, Mashable, or other regional tech blogs, for non-US app stores. If the post is appealing to the editors, they’re more likely to consider your app for submission. Of course, this is pretty tough to do, but it can be absolutely essential for a successful app launch.
We suggest building a beautifully-designed, dedicated website/ landing page to promote your app. Include nice screenshots and a video teaser. Have an email sign-up form and all the usual social buttons on the page to create word-of-mouth buzz. Invest in paid ads to promote your app on Facebook and Twitter. To tickle Apple’s pride, show your love for Apple in the promo video by featuring your app on an Apple device. By doing this, you show that your app is fully functional on the latest devices, with the latest features, and you prove your commitment to Apple. They must love it, too!
Don’t start the teasing for your app too early, though! Two or three weeks is generally enough time. An announcement when you launch will help propel you up the App Store charts, get you the required visibility, and increase the chances that the right people at Apple will take notice.
6. Build a direct relationship with Apple
Last but not least, beyond everything we’ve talked about, there is still one more important factor to get your business app featured in the Apple App Store. To make sure Apple knows about you and your app, you should try getting directly in touch with someone at Apple. If your app follows the above criteria, Apple will want to know about it. But, it could very easily be missed among all of the daily app submissions. So, why not try a shortcut?
How can you reach someone at Apple? One idea is to attend The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) and start networking! Chat with Apple developers, editors, and representatives. If you can’t do that, try to connect with the editors through LinkedIn. There you’ll be able to see the people who are responsible for your target app stores and get it touch with them.
If you’ve made it to the end of this post, you might be thinking that getting your app featured in the Apple App Store is a very difficult, if not impossible, thing to do. We’re not going to lie to you: It is not easy. But, all good things require effort, don’t they? So, don’t waste any more time and start building your app NOW!