Distribution tips for mobile apps

Satyajit Sahu is founder of iRewardChart, an iphone and android app that helps parents keep track of their child’s behavior and reward them appropriately. The app was featured on NBC’s Today Show, CNET, CNN and several other national media outlets. The app was recommended by Apple as a parenting essential and won the Best Parenting App award two years in a row. This is a recap of a talk he gave at a parenting and kid-focused tech meetup.

The following are some tips to increase app downloads:

1. App review sites: Get reviewed. Doesn’t matter by whom, whether it’s by a blog read by 100 people or 1M people, every post/article about you is a permanent footprint, and looks good in Google’s eyes. Video reviews are especially better for SEO.

2. ASO (AppStore Search Optimization): Hack your title, description, and keywords to be more searchable. With iOS6, it’s even more important, because now the search results are full-screen.

3. Pay-per-install: Companies like GetJar, TapJoy help discovery via a virtual currency platform. You can get promoted through their network. This works best for freemium games.

4. Giveaways: Everyone loves freebies, and it still is a great way to get distributed. However, you need to have a plan behind a free day promotion. Amazon has a AppOfTheDay program that gets a huge number of downloads. So perhaps you can use that to promote an in-app-purchase upgrade, or another app. Giving away free works if you have closed viral loops so that those tens of thousands of users bring in millions of other users.

5. Vanity URL: This could help get your app listed in the Application tab of Facebook. Then you can launch the app within Facebook, or any other site for that matter. There are many listing apps (such as apps for busy moms, apps for toddlers, etc.), they use the vanity URL to invoke your app. Kindertown is such an app discovery platform for kids apps.

6. Facebook App Center: It helps to have a profile on Facebook AppCenter (facebook.com/appcenter). This makes you more visible on the largest social network.

7. Cross-promotion: If you have several apps, cross-promote one through another. If users are happy using your app, they are likely to look for other apps made by you.

8. App Integration: Many app infrastructure companies open up their platform to be used by any developer. For example, Dropbox, Evernote are hugely popular, and provide fairly deep integration onto their platform. Some have even created a portal (http://trunk.evernote.com) to feature the apps.

9. Strategic partnerships: Do you have synergy with a website where your users visit often? You could even co-brand a version of the app (maybe a free version with limitations) for a partner. That way, they get to flaunt an app in the appstore, and you get their distribution channels, be featured on their website. If you’re partnering on a paid app, then there may be a cost involved, so you should negotiate a fixed cost for a fixed time duration.  After the initial period you can have a rev share with the partner.

10. App Stores: Some appstore do curations. Apple has several regular features (What’s hot, Essential listing, Staff picks) and some seasonal (Halloween, Olympics, etc.) picks. It helps to be featured on these curated lists.