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How to make your app stand out on the App Store

Recorded – watch the full episode on YouTube.

As an indie who has done well, what are your tips for getting success on the App Store?‌

Ish Shabazz: I think one of the biggest ones is to engage in the community – it's really important. For example, what some people will do is not even think about marketing the app or telling anyone about the app until it’s done, completed, and in the store and be like, "Hey, I just shipped my app." So… “Okay, who are you? What's your story? What's your app?" This is the first time anyone's heard of you or your app, you've made no connections. We don't really know much about your app. There's not a lot going on. So I think what's helpful is to be involved in both the iOS community and with the community that your app is suited towards, for a couple reasons.

One is that you get good feedback, to make sure you’re actually scratching their itch as well, that there are features they want. The other one is for word of mouth, so when you tell people about your app, they can tell other people. I really find that authentic relationship is the best way to sell something. Like, "Hey, I've made this thing. You have a problem, my thing solves your problem." So you're not really selling the product, you're really just selling a solution. Folks are happy to get a solution. They have friends, who also need a solution, and then it goes like that too.

"So what's helpful, I think, is to be involved in both the iOS community and with community that your app is suited towards."

Another thing that's really helpful, is that Apple now has a form you can fill out if you would like to be featured. So you can say, "here's what I've done. Here are some screenshots. Here's why I think this app is great." And if they agree, they may feature you in the store. That will add a bit more momentum.

Paul Hudson: Engaging with folks is just huge, because not only are you building word-of-mouth marketing, but you're also, I hope, getting feedback. As you said earlier, it's really important to pick an app that's a topic you care about, otherwise you'll find it very hard to work on. Or you'll miss key features. And this is your chance to slightly correct that.

If you are less than aware of all the varieties of need out there, you can talk to folks. And actually, of course, Apple was bitten by this when they launched Health. They wanted it to be a one-stop shop to track all your body health, but then there was no period tracking? That's half the world you've missed out there, Apple, good job. How many women were on the coding team for that one? How many women did you talk to? Of course, the app was probably top secret before launch because it was from Apple, so they probably talked to hardly anybody. So it's a problem for everyone – go out there and say, "Here's my idea, what do you think?"

"Even though you're independent, there's a community, there's a team who's rooting for you. They really want your thing to be great."

Ish Shabazz: Absolutely. It helps to make a better product in general. Even though you're independent, there's a community, there's a team who's rooting for you. They really want your thing to be great. So it helps to do that. There's another side of that though: you have to find the identity of what your app is after taking all the feedback, because you really cannot make something that satisfies every single person. If you try to satisfy everyone, you will satisfy no one. Once you to get all the feedback, you need to say, “okay, here is what we want this app to be. And here are the ideas that will help make that better along this direction." If you try to everything, you could end up doing nothing.

Paul Hudson: Yeah. So again, just scratch that itch you've got, get it out there and see what the response is, I think. I know negative reviews suck, no one wants negative reviews, but if someone's taking the time to stop and tell you what they think is wrong with your app, that's helpful. And it gives you chance to improve and iterate, and you can actually remove all reviews when you release a new version if you want to. But it gives you chance to say, "Okay, that, oh, that's a good idea. I could do that better."

Have a rule of two or three, where if the same feedback is being given to you by three different people, you should probably think, "Okay, that's maybe 10,000 people thinking the same thing and then not saying it." So that feedback is just really important.

"Why isn't this app free?" That's a no, 10,000 people are thinking that, but no."

Ish Shabazz: The one exception to that, I would say, is, "Why isn't this app free?" That's a no, 10,000 people are thinking that, but no.

Paul Hudson: Yeah. So my Latin app, every time someone complained about the price, I put it up a buck. Because honestly, it's an extremely obscure area. You either want it or you don't want it. If you're willing to pay for it, you'll pay whatever the cost is, quite frankly, because you want this functionality. It helps that a lot of schools buy it 100 at a time, rather than one or two, they just buy in bulk for the whole year group.

No matter what you do, no matter what price you choose, or how cheap you make it, people always say they wish it was just a little bit cheaper, just a little bit cheaper, a little bit cheaper, and then it's free and you're making no money at all.

Ish Shabazz: Yes, exactly. I've also noticed that with free apps, you actually get worse reviews. Because with a free app, a person has no investment, have to use the app. They're just like, "Oh, I'm just here to troll."

This transcript was recorded as part of Swiftly Speaking. You can watch the full original episode on YouTube, or subscribe to the audio version on Apple Podcasts.

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