iPhone App Marketing Secrets

In the last issue we examined samples of some of the winning strategies used by some of the most successful app developers out there. Positive marketing strategies and tips are even more crucial in the vast app ocean. This will become even more important with the influx of new apps developed for the iPad. For an app to be successful, you need to get the word out and have it stand out from the crowd. Since Apple doesn't help developers with marketing specifics, it is even more crucial to learn what works and what doesn't work in a hurry.

In this second part of the series, we are going to examine what marketing strategies didn't work for these developers and should be avoided.

Marketing strategies that proved unsuccessful…



FMyLife"If you do not listen to your customers' opinions, you will not be successful."—YoonJeong Kang

Flixster Movies

"Advertising has never worked very well for us."

Joe Greenstein


FMyLife"We tried buying into exchanges like AdMob and doing a bit of advertising like that. (Success was) tough to gauge. It's nearly impossible to track your advertising campaigns since there are so many variables and, unlike the Web, you can't track goals [like an App Store download] unless you build your advertising platform that way. [That requires a lot of time and money to do and most small developers don't even bother.] For the most part, throwing a banner up and trying to pay $1 for a download when you're making $1.70 does work. It's a lot of work to manage and if you don't pay attention to it, you'll lose money." — Saverio Mondelli, enormego

Gas Cubby and Trip Cubby

GasCubby"Many developer's have chosen to offer a "Lite" version of their app. There are two main strategies for this: You can put ads in the Lite version to make some money then try and convert users to the premium version. You can limit the features of the Lite version and use it as a free trial for the premium version. As opposed to what most people think, this strategy doesn't seem to be paying off for most developers."

David Barnard

Mafia Wars

"Paid advertising."

Lisa Chan

Pocket God

PocketGod"It's hard to quantify what isn't successful. On occasion there were individual marketing pushes that were not successful because we botched the timing or implementation, but I can't say there was a particular strategy that wasn't successful. We never tried advertising, but I think that it would be ROI negative."

Dave & Allan


"One thing I learned the hard way (is that you should) not try to ration promo codes or material. The more material a potential reviewer has on your app, the better it is."

Emanuele Vulcano

Convertbot, Weightbot

"We haven't really done much that wasn't successful. We don't spend much money on marketing so there's not much to lose in anything we do."

Mark Jardine


RedLaser"In terms of things that didn't work, we certainly haven't figured out how to make paid advertising work for us. We've recently experimented with cost-per-click advertising, but the problem with that is that the amount of money you spend to get enough exposure vastly outweighs the new downloads you get as a result."

Jeffrey Powers


Ping"We found advertising to be unsuccessful because the cost per click was too expensive for a $0.99 app to be profitable."



"We hired a PR firm, and they were great to work with, but it isn't clear that doing so increased sales. We've also run a couple of contests (some with relatively high value prizes), and we've found that it is hard to get participation in the contests."

Rebekah Fugat

Learn from your mistakes!

From my own experience with marketing my app, I have to agree that online paid advertising doesn't work that well. I purchased ads on Facebook and even though I received great click thru rates, they did next to nothing when it came to translating into actual sales. If something isn't working or you are not seeing results, don't be afraid to try something else quickly. Constantly tweak your marketing strategies and try new avenues. Remember that you learn from your failures, and the knowledge that you gain can translate into successes. As the saying goes— no sacrifice, no victory.

In the next part of this series, we will look at some of the biggest obstacles developers faced while marketing their apps and how they were able to overcome them. In the meantime, if you have any questions and comments about this article, do not hesitate to shoot me an e-mail at kevin@sitekstudios.com. If you are an app developer who would like to share your ideas, let me know.

Top selling app developers discuss marketing strategies that didn't work
Summer 2010
Creating Apps
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