How do I most efficiently promote my iPad game?
July 12, 2011 11:41 AM   Subscribe

I released an app in the app store. How do I promote it? What works and what doesn't?

So, I am mostly an artist but since I'm part of a start-up, it's all hands on deck for everything. This means I'm a large part of the promotional team and I'm trying to learn as fast as I can! I would love some practical advice on where to send info, how to get attention. Basically: whatever you think might help!

Here's some topics I am concerned about/things I've done:
1. Friend promotion Told everybody I know about it. I spammed twitter & FB for a few days and a lot of friends DID download it....but since it's an iPad app, there just aren't that many friends with iPads.

2. Do reviews matter? We got a lot of strangers to download via promo codes, but they can't add reviews. I hate begging friends for (honest) reviews, but if it makes a large difference I will. I feel like reviews mostly just push people who are already interested over the edge.

3. Review sites Nobody I know just browses the app store for fun looking things, they use some sort of review sites. So we've sent promo codes/press releases to them and a few other similar ones, but of course so did everybody else in the world. Are there any non-obvious sites I might not have thought of that I could send an EPK to?

4. Advertising. We're taking out an ads, but really just because a site we sent an EPK to responded with an ad offer. So it's not a well-designed campaign, just "sure why not, this sounds reasonable" sort of thing. Any advice on a good campaign?

5. The cheaper the better. I'm not sure on the exact details of our budget, but it's not very large and of course we don't want to spend more on ads than we're going to make on sales, but who can predict that?

I'm sure there's a lot of things I'm missing. Please tell me what they are. Also I looked for previous questions on this topic and didn't find any. If I missed some, please point them out to me.

Sorry if I sound frantic, but this is an entirely new domain for me.
posted by Brainy to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know how you feel about in-person promotion, but going to a local CocoaHeads (or similar) meeting and giving a demo is a way to get word-of-mouth started.
posted by ignignokt at 11:50 AM on July 12, 2011

I spammed twitter & FB for a few days...

As far as FB is concerned, did you just send post "check out my program!" or did make a group (or whatever the hell its called these days) and ask people to Like or Join or whatever? The latter is the better option.
posted by griphus at 11:52 AM on July 12, 2011

1. Sounds good. It's obviously helpful to know a lot of people here. If you're not getting traction from your friends and acquaintances, you should personally ask them to check it out and give you feedback.
2. Yes, reviews matter and you should update your app so that it detects active users and prompts them to review the app. I think a lot of people sit on the fence when it comes to downloading these things so you'll definitely see an increase in your conversion rate when you have a nice set of five-star reviews.
3. I used to run a forum for an app site. It was really helpful when app developers would have a story angle on their app. For example, one guy wrote some interesting posts about how he had developed a custom graphics format to make his game performant. Otherwise we just deleted the pitch or put it in the spam section of the forum that nobody read.
4. Whether you have much money or not, you should only run "track everything" campaigns. You seriously need to know exactly what viewers look at and click on your landing page. (You do have a nice website to sell the app, right? Don't just send them to the app store.)
posted by michaelh at 11:57 AM on July 12, 2011

Response by poster: michaelh, We do have a nice website with screenshots...but since it's our first app, there's no way they can really avoid seeing it. We do track incomings though.
posted by Brainy at 12:07 PM on July 12, 2011

Speaking as a moderator at a large-ish Mac community, I can tell you that you get banned quicker than you can blink if you show-up in a forum, join, and then toss-out a "check out my cool app" post as your first post. So, don't go that route.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:14 PM on July 12, 2011

Response by poster: griphus, we didn't make an app Page (I think that's what you mean), but our company does have a page. Do you think it'd be worthwhile? I feel like it would only preach to the converted/already saturated market of friends.
posted by Brainy at 12:14 PM on July 12, 2011

Response by poster: Thorzdad, I DEFINITELY have been avoiding doing that. If fact the one forum I did post on was one where I had been a member for years....and it got reported as spam until a moderator said that long standing members SHOULD be able to talk about their projects. Ended up working out positively with a groundswelling of support and a lot of helpful feedback.

But yes, I should have said in my OP "without being an annoying spammer". Even going through official submit-for-review channels makes me feel like one.
posted by Brainy at 12:17 PM on July 12, 2011

I'm in your boat, and am also trying out various things. Haven't settled on a strategy yet. One thing I did find out though, nobody ever clicks on banner ads. So don't waste your money.
posted by tempythethird at 2:01 PM on July 12, 2011

Response by poster: tempythethird, we are just doing a small trial (not my decision) and I'm actually thinking that people won't click on it, but just knowing about it might help a little.
posted by Brainy at 2:15 PM on July 12, 2011

I rarely download free applications with an average of less than four stars. So I think that it matters even more for a paid application that you have good reviews.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:23 PM on July 12, 2011

I'm just one datapoint, but I download a lot of iPad games. The two things I watch are:

-Review sites, specifically TouchArcade and SlideToPlay. If you can get one of those two sites to review your game, obviously they're going to be a big help.
-Any apps or games I find interesting but which cost more than $2-3 (impulse buy territory) I add to my wishlist on AppShopper. I know the push for cheap $0.99 apps is seen as a failing of the App Store ecosystem, but with such an enormous selection of quality games at extreme low prices, I become very cost-concious. Sales and frequent updates are what push me over the edge on apps I'm not sure about. Even knocking your $9.99 app down to $7.99 or something makes me think "Hmm, maybe I had better get it NOW."

I'm sure all of that is common knowledge, but that's my $0.02. Or perhaps my $0.99.
posted by raygan at 4:41 PM on July 12, 2011

From experience with two games: It's painful. One game was for a Major Game Developer. It currently has 4.5 star rating and is $0.99. It was advertised by the Major Developer. It has sold pitiful numbers. The other game happened to be tied to a TV show and the host of the show played the game on the show. Immediately hit the top of the charts. Once something hits the charts it will tend to stay there.

Okay, you can't plan for these things, but I'll tell you what did and didn't help:

Don't: Pay for reviews. The pay for review sites without exception stink. (You probably knew this, but yeah. It wasn't my idea.)

Do: Free app of the day. 90% of people who take advantage of it wouldn't pay $0.99 for it anyway so you're not losing anything.

Do: Giveaways. You sound like you've spread your promo codes around quite a bit, but don't just give them away. Start a Facebook page and give 5 promo codes (or whatever) randomly to everyone who joins it by XXX date. Do the same with Twitter, everyone who tweets the hashtag #myAwesomeGame.

Don't: advertise. Well, you might. If your app has a focused audience you might have a chance. Google adwords are cheap to try, but I wouldn't expect much.

Make sure your friends who did download it rate it.

If it's more than $0.99, have a $0.99 sale for a couple days. Mention this in press releases you send out. This will get you to the top of the lists, where, again, you tend to stay.

Find out who's giving away iPads. Offer to add a promo code for your app to their prize if they give you a mention and a linkback.
posted by Ookseer at 7:20 PM on July 12, 2011

Since it's your project: MeFi Projects?
posted by limeonaire at 8:02 PM on July 12, 2011

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