15 Rules for Pitching Your App to Bloggers

When pitching your app to a blogger for a review, remember the important rules listed below. They can spell the difference between your app being reviewed or ignored by a blogger or reviewer.

1. Visit potential reviewers' blog sites

Read the reviews and posts of potential reviewers to see if they might be interested in your app. (Simple example: you wouldn't send a pitch about a productivity app to a games blogger.) If there seems to be a good fit, comment on some of the blogger's posts—he or she will notice it. When you finally make your pitch, the blogger will recognize you and be more likely to read your e-mail. If you mention some of the comments you made, it will drastically increase your chance of getting your app reviewed by that reviewer or blogger.

2. When submitting a pitch to a big website, target specific reviewers

When pitching a big review site, find reviewers who have written about similar apps. Again, personalize the e-mail for the reviewer. For example, when I wanted my app (SoccerCard SKS) to be reviewed by MacWorld.com, I looked on their site and found a review of another soccer app. I found the reviewer's e-mail address on his personal blog site and pitched him directly. As it turned out, he didn't want to review my app, but he did pass it on to a senior editor whose son played soccer. He reviewed the app, gave it a rating of 3 ½ out of 5 mice, and included it in their "App Essentials Collection" for Soccer Moms and Dads. Best of all, he allowed me to quote him inside my app's description in the App Store. Talk about a great testimonial!

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3. Don't forget to pitch to sites that focus on women

You're an idiot if you ignore the huge women/mom demographic. It doesn't matter if you have a game or utility app, pitch it to these sites. According to some studies, women are 7 times more likely to recommend products they like than men. In addition, women are a huge influence in men's buying decisions. If you want to read a great book on this subject, check out Marketing to Women by Marti Barletta.

4. Do not send out mass pitch e-mails

Your pitches need to be targeted and personalized to the appropriate sites and reviewers. Make sure your app fits their focus (see next point).

5. Keep your e-mail pitches short

Personalize the e-mail with the blogger's first name. Tell the blogger why you are e-mailing them and give a brief sentence about your app. Then list out the app's benefits. These should be listed as bullet points (no more than 3) and kept short (1-2 sentences each). Bloggers receive a lot of review requests and don't have time to read something the size of the Declaration of Independence. Value their time and make your pitch short, sweet, and easy to understand.

6. Don't beg or come across as desperate

This is the most important rule. Ignore it and the reviewer will ignore you! I can't tell you the number of times I have deleted developer e-mails that plead for a review.

7. If you can, compliment the person you are sending your pitch to

If you enjoyed their blog, mention that. Point to a specific blog post you really liked. If they wrote a book or you saw them in an interview, mention that as well. When done properly, comments like this are not ignored.

8. Explain the challenges or problems your app solves for the user

Customers don't want a list of features—they want to know how your app is going to make their life easier and solve the challenges they face. Bloggers and reviewers are there for their readers, not for you. Be polite and give them an outstanding reason to let you in the door. Be sure to keep it down to only one sentence.

9. Include links—not attachments—in your e-mail pitch

Bloggers and reviewers are not big fans of attachments. In addition, a message with an attachment is more likely to be flagged by their spam filter and sent to their junk mail folder. Note also that most of these folks use a smartphone to read their e-mail. The last thing they want to read on a smartphone is an attachment.

10. Keep attachments small or host them on a server

If you must (and I stress MUST) send an attachment, keep the file size below 100k. You definitely don't want to be the person that crashed their e-mail because you sent a video demo. A better solution would be to host the attachment on a server and include a link to it in the e-mail pitch. If you want to show some screen shots, include a link to your website or a direct link to your program in the App Store. The App Store link should always be prominently included in your e-mail, along with your e-mail signature.

11. Offer them promo codes for their visitors

If one of the sites or bloggers has a huge fanbase that is exactly your app's audience, offer to give him or her 5-10 promo codes as a giveaway on their site or blog. Everybody wins, and I have had great success with this tactic. But I would not just give the blogger the promo codes outright. As the blogger's fans ask for them, then give them to the reviewer. Remember, you only have 50. You don't want to waste them in case no one asks for them.

12. Never request or demand a publishing date

Never tell a reviewer that you need your app reviewed by a specific date and avoid asking them how soon they'll be able to post the review. If you're pushy about this at all, the blogger may tell you to forget the whole thing. Most bloggers have lives (and full-time jobs) outside of their blogs. It's advisable to cut them some slack. If you don't hear anything from them in a couple of weeks, send a short, friendly e-mail reminder (hi… if you have any questions… would love any feedback you have…, etc.). Don't mention the review in this reminder—they'll know why you sent it.

13. Don't expect a review because you sent them a promo code

Remember that it's not a blogger's job to review your stuff. They only want to write about what interests them. Just because you send them a promo code for a free version of your app, don't expect them to review it.

14. Never be rude, unprepared, pushy, or desperate

If a reviewer likes you and your app, they will talk about it long after they publish your app review. However, the opposite is also true. If you are rude, unprepared, pushy, and desperate, they will either ignore you completely, or worse, you will become their whipping boy for years to come. You'll get the worst kind of "word of mouth" advertising, and you'll have no one to blame but yourself. (Check out David Meerman Scott's blog post about this (bit.ly/9yaty2); it's absolutely brilliant stuff.)

15. Finally, cultivate a long-term relationship with reviewers

Hopefully, you'll continue to market great, new apps in the future. If you establish a great relationship with a few bloggers/reviewers, it will be easier to get them to review your next app. And even if it's not the type of app they are interested in, they'll be more likely to help you find someone that is. Cultivate your relationships and build a network of reviewers willing to look at your apps. It will help you get reviewed and noticed.

In summary, you need to intelligently target your review pitches. Find reviewers that are interested in your type of application. Make sure your e-mails are short and helpful. Don't lean on bloggers, don't make demands on them, and make it a priority to cultivate long-term relationships with them. Above all, remember that they are doing you a favor by reviewing your app—don't waste their time with poorly written or targeted pitches.

Rules to follow if you want your app to be reviewed and not ignored
January-February 2011
Creating Apps
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