1. Focus on doing one thing well
One of the most common mistakes companies make when releasing new apps is biting off more than they can chew. Don’t be afraid of tightening up the feature list, less features means:
• Less things to go wrong
• Less assumptions about what your customer wants
• Quicker to make
• Less support hassle
• More informed decisions about future updates
If you are planning on making a paid app, updates are a crucial influence on increasing overall sales – the more updates the better!
2. Gather customers before your launch
There are lots of ways of becoming popular on the app store. Once apps start ranking high on the charts, they tend to stay there…the trick is getting there in the first place. One of the best ways to climb the ranks is to concentrate on getting lots of customers to download your app in a short period of time by sending an email campaign. You can gather potential customers by:
• Writing a blog related to the topic of your app and gathering email subscribers
• Partnering with another company that has aligned interests and allows you to market to their customers
• Creating a smaller free version of your app to obtain potential customers for the full version
3. Establish feedback channels early
Make it effortless for your users to send you feedback directly from inside your app. If you don’t, they may leave a bad review on the App Store which can badly damage sales. You can also avoid bad reviews by having comprehensive FAQs and responding quickly on social networks to customer queries.
On the flip side, you also need to encourage positive reviews. People are more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one. One of the best ways of obtaining positive feedback is making your app pop up a message asking for a review after it has been used 10 times – this way you are asking for a review from an already loyal user.
4. Make publicity easy for bloggers and journalists
If you intend on getting decent press coverage for your app, you need to make it easy for bloggers and journalists to talk about you. Don’t expect them to do all the work – the best way of doing this is making a sexy little press kit with high resolution screenshots, logos, fact sheets and anything else to make it quick for someone to talk about your app. The other upside of this approach is they are more likely to use the pretty images that you provide instead of terrible ones they might make themselves!
Once you are armed with your press kit, it makes contacting a hit list of press outlets a lot easier and the chance of them covering you a lot higher.
5. Iterate, iterate, iterate
Apps are a living thing and need constant attention to be their very best. The last thing you want to do is not change anything because you are terrified of upsetting users (even if you know it is better in the long run). How many times have you seen those Facebook groups for “Bring back the old Facebook!”? A lot of the time, people don’t know what is good for them and you need to have the confidence to make your app in the way you think is best.
Ben Hamey is an entrepreneur, passionate about the intersection of design, business and technology. He works at Bonobo where he makes all sorts of fancy-pants products for iPhone, iPad and web.
You can also follow him on Twitter.