This week, thanks to my employer, I was very lucky to have the opportunity to visit iTunes Canada and meet several employees who manage marketing. I was ridiculously excited about the chance to visit an Apple office and hear about App Store marketing from the source. It was a great experience, everyone was really friendly and I was really impressed with the positive atmosphere. Leaving the meeting, here are a few quick take aways:
- Everything iTunes shares in their meetings is 100% public information, so there’s nothing you can’t learn about the App Store market outside of speaking/meeting with them directly. In my opinion, the blogging/twitter community is pretty strong and if you are engaged in these spaces in addition to your own development then you know what’s going on. I felt like I already knew 98% of everything they told my colleagues.
- The app approval process is managed on a central basis. The details of this process is private and iTunes employees don’t know what goes on either (or hide it really well)
- iTunes has many featured lists all over their App Store that are hand picked apps by employees to fit various appropriate themes. Each country we get separate revenue reports from has it’s own iTunes department. (i.e. US, Canada, UK, Mexico,… WorldWide). These departments will have a few lists that are picked for the country/countries in that category.
- The App Store turns over worldwide on Thursdays, new lists will appear.
- It shouldn’t be any surprise that there’s really no trick to getting featured; just build good, engaging, innovative apps and have proper product descriptions/screenshots. Updating with new features (not just bug fixes) to satisfy/grow your user base is seen as a positive too.
- Further to point #5, there is no substitute to a good marketing plan. Make sure you are getting the word out about your app ahead of time to all the right people of influence. There’s a tremendous number of apps coming through the store every day, so you’ve got to be communicating above the clutter. These employees are users too, so it really isn’t hard to bet they will read publications on what’s popular early in the week.