Marketing Intelligence

Before you start developing your next great iPhone app, you need to take some "marketing intelligence" steps to ensure the success of your app. Marketing intelligence involves conducting due diligence (research) for your marketing plan on the front-end of the development process, instead of the back-end when the app is completed. The steps involved include:

  • Find and exploit a niche.
  • Name and brand your app so it can be easily found.
  • Carefully select the category for your app.
  • Create a very, very, user-friendly interface.

Find and exploit a niche

Carefully examine the App Store categories (and sub-categories) to see if you can exploit any categories that lack apps. Apps that address unfulfilled needs do very well. Look at what apps are needed. See if you have the development capabilities to create an iPhone app that is going to be more marketable and provide you with a greater revenue potential.

Example: You could develop a clone of a successful game, but this approach is overused. Instead, look at the top 100 games and come up with an idea for a game that's different from or fresh in comparison to those. Don't hesitate to consult iPhone users for game ideas.

Name and brand your app

Naming your app is one of the most important tasks you'll face. For example, if your app has something to do with Twitter, you better have "Twitter" in your title. If you do, every time someone searches on "twitter" your app will show up. Determine all of the functionality in your app (focusing on keywords), research competing apps, and then pick a name that incorporates key words.

Example: You are making an app that provides a food recipe database, and you love the name "Yummy Tummy." BAD CHOICE! The name of your app should have almost everything to do with its functions, the app category it's in, and the keywords that will be used to search for this app. You might consider "Comfort Food Recipes" or "Food for Mobile Lifestyles." These titles directly reference your app's functions and are rich in keywords. They will wind up in a variety of search result lists (comfort food, food recipes, food apps, recipe apps, etc.).

In addition to name, every iPhone app should be branded under a larger software development name (even if the developer is a one-man show). I strongly suggest you create an overall brand for all your apps. Take advantage of keywords in your individual iPhone app names and overall software developer brand name.

Category placement

Selecting your app's category is vital. Before you do, consider the app's functionality and put it in the obvious category. For example, if it's a game, it's better to put it in one of the games sub-categories, not in Entertainment. Sometimes an app could legitimately be placed it more than one category. In this case, select the category where you will have less competition. Whatever you do, don't place an app in a category that has nothing to do with its functionality. Finally, consider your app's category placement at the beginning of the development process, not when you are submitting the app for approval.

The importance of the user interface

As the founder of, I have tested and reviewed thousands of iPhone apps. I have also tested, but not reviewed, hundreds more. The hundreds more were never reviewed because either the app's user interface was deplorable, or the instructions on how to use the app were confusing or non-existent. With the App Store bursting at the seams, an app with a poor UI has a poor chance of success.

Unless you exploit a niche and create a unique iPhone app, you'll have to assume that there will be at least one or two iPhone apps just like yours. If that's the case, what can you do to set your app apart from the competition? People are impatient and will not fumble around with an app for more than a few seconds. You literally have that much time to win over a customer. An outstanding, easy-to-use UI is one of the only ways to achieve this. The user should be up and running as fast as possible. Make your app's functionality obvious and create an interface that is easy to understand. Provide instructions on how to use the app that are available from every navigation screen. Consider the usefulness of each button as well as its placement. Finally, test your app over and over again— with real users!

Fierce competition

The competition is fierce for app sales. To give yourself an edge against your competitors, you must exploit a niche, name and brand your app properly, place it in the optimal category, and create an outstanding UI. In other words, you need to employ some marketing intelligence. If you have any questions about iPhone app marketing, please feel free to contact me at

Take these steps before you start developing an app!
Summer 2010
Creating Apps
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