How to Get Your iOS or Android App Discovered, Period!
The various app stores are overflowing with apps from so many categories. Developers have many challenges on their way to succeeding in this space, but there is one thing in common for all developers, small and big. Whether you are Rovio or EA, or you are a small developer working on your first app in your basement, there is major question mark ahead, where and how is your app going to get traffic?
Yes, even Rovio has to deal with the question of traffic, maybe now less before, but you can be sure it is an issue even the largest developers have to answer. When it comes to getting your app discovered and downloaded, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that while all developers want a shortcut to success, an easy way to get to the top of the charts, such a magic trick does not exist. If you are looking for a short and simple solution that requires no effort on your part, you might as well close this post now.
However, there is good news too. As mentioned above, you are not alone on this issue. Millions of developers across the globe have the same problem as you. Does that make you feel better yet? Well, it's a start. The reason this is good news is because there are many companies that have set their goal to conquer the issue of app discovery because it is such a popular challenge.
Some of these companies are more effective than others, and new discovery solutions are born almost daily. It is impossible to list every single one of these companies, and such a list would only confuse you, so we thought we would provide a list of all major app discovery companies. If you want to increase your app's traffic, you need to distribute that app as widely as possible. Using the toolsÂ mentionedÂ below, combined with all the various independent app stores, you are significantly increasing the chances of your app getting the discovery it deserves.
One more point before we get into the list. It is important to align your expectations with reality when it comes to app discovery. All these tools are great for getting people to notice your app. However, you do not get paid for impressions. You want people to download the app and that part is really up to you. Your app has to be good, no, scratch that, it has to be great. There is too much competition for mediocre apps.
In addition, the app icon, as insignificant as you might think it is, is the first impression the user has, and if it is not appealing, you risk losing the user. Before releasing your app, you should spend a significant amount of time and resources designing the icon that will represent your app. You only have one chance to capture the user.
OK, enough about that, we discussed the steps you need to take before releasing an app here.
The following is a comprehensive (but not complete) list of some of the best discovery tools out there for iOS and Android developers. As a developer, each one of these tools should be used differently. For example, to get featured by services such as AppShopper, FreeAppADay, or other price-tracking services, it is important to offer promotions and lower the price of your app from time to time. To get some exposure from Chomp, you need to enhance the data that is accompanied by your app, such as its description or tags. With Appboy, you should integrate their SDK to increase your exposure. Like I said, every service works differently, so click the links and explore the different solutions.
- Chomp (iOS / Android): Some might say Chomp is the "Google of Apps".
- Appolicious (iOS / Android Site): The top "social" app discovery tool.
- AppShopper (iOS): Site/app for users to find apps based on price reductions and promotions.
- Appboy (iOS SDK): SDK to add "Checkins" (like FourSquare) to apps.
- Appsfire (iOS / Android): Site/App to help users discover new apps in various creative ways.
- Zwapp (New) (iOS): Scans your iPhone and shares app recommendations with user's social graphs.
- AppBrain (Android): Alternate app store to the Android Market.
- FreeAppADay (iOS): Site/app offering daily promotions of free apps.
- GetJar (Cross Platform) Largest independent cross-platform app store.
- Androlib: Another large alternate to the Android Market.
The above list will get you started and will give you much wider distribution than the App Store or Market alone. In addition to using the above tools, nothing beats getting a positive review (even a negative might help) on a leading online publication. I know this might sound difficult, but just last week David Pogue of the NY Times wrote a piece about top photography iOS apps and the data in the article was almost all crowd sourced.
In fact, the first app mentioned in the piece, QuickPix, was brought to David's attention after the developer sent him a simple email to tell him about the app. That is how it is done. You do not need a large marketing budget or a PR team, what you need is time, patience, and most importantly, you need to create an app that people will want to talk about. That is the best shortcut to success.
Did we miss any additional tools to help get apps discovered?