The App Store is a really tough place to find success. Now home to over 800,000 apps, competition has never been more fierce. Couple the sheer volume of apps with unscrupulous developers paying for reviews and buying installs and you could be forgiven for thinking your app will never make it in the charts. However, all is not lost.
The best way to win this war is to get smart. That means finding more ways of getting users and the press excited about your app. A landing page is one of the most effective things you can do to help your app before it launches.
Building some hype
A landing page is essential to help raise the profile and awareness of your app. It gives you a central place to direct users and collect their details before your app goes live. Having the details of hundreds (hopefully thousands) of potential users who are interested in downloading your app can really help boost your chart position on day one.
Each day new apps are announced and most of them don't have a great landing page. A lot of them are missing key elements, and at the very worst they don't even say what the app does. Let's take a look at what I considered the minimum requirements to be.
What makes a great landing page
A great landing page contains the app name, icon, tagline, promo video and a sign-up form offering a way for users to get notified when the app launches. Here's a basic wireframe of what a good landing page looks like.
Twitter and Facebook links are also good, but not essential. I'll talk about why in a bit, but first let’s look at each element in a little more detail.
1. Name & Icon
Displaying the app name and icon prominently on the page is pretty obvious, but making sure they work together is absolutely essential. A great name and icon can help users more easily identify and find your app while browsing the App Store. They need to work nicely together, the icon should reinforce the name and vise versa. For example, Ember for Mac uses a flame as its icon.
The app icon is part of your branding, don't cover it up with fake cloth or put it in the shadows and definitely don't put your landing page online without one.
A good tagline should encapsulate what the app does and why it can help the user. Consider the Clear tagline for example: "Life is messy. Simplify with Clear." It speaks to the user about how it can help them, not about how fancy the app is or what features it has. Just remember to make it personal.
3. Availability Date
Letting customers know when they can expect to be able to download your app is very important. If a user knows the launch is just a few weeks away they may hold off from buying something similar and wait for your app.
As you're probably aware, app development is a fine art, and predicting launch dates is an even finer art. I've often found it's only possible to give an accurate date when you're at the point of thinking “any day now I’m going to submit this to the App Store for review“. The safest option is to just give a ballpark estimate on when it’s shipping: a season or month is usually good enough. Having a slightly fuzzy launch window can also give you the extra time you need should things not go as planned!
4. Promotional Video
Producing a great promo video is not easy. If you're just starting out, a video can seem like an unnecessary cost, but putting in the time and effort can be really beneficial. A good promo video will show how the app benefits the user while also showing off some of the more notable features. This can help to get potential users excited and thinking about how they can fit your app into their lives.
A promo video also has a great side benefit of helping reassure everyone including the press that it's going to ship soon, and it isn't just vapourware.
5. Sign Up Form
I know Twitter and Facebook are often looked upon as the holy grail of marketing. People assume if they can gain a big following or a lot of page likes they'll have instant success with a product launch. I'll let you into a little secret… it's not true. Social networks can help and are great for chatting with users, but I've found by far the the best mechanism of letting people know about products at launch is via email.
Twitter is very transient and even if you have millions of followers, only a small percent will actually see your tweets. Compare this with email and you can easily achieve an open rate of 50% and above. Social media is great when used for the right thing, but email still performs better when selling products, every time.
Whatever you do, just make sure the email sign-up form is the main call to action on the page. Make it clear that by signing up they will be the first to know when your new app launches.
Once a user has signed-up via email, it's the perfect time to pop up a thank you message and ask them if they'd like to share the link on Twitter or Facebook. This little technique works incredibly well, and can keep a steady flow of new people coming to your site.
Once you have a great landing page you need to try and drive as much traffic there as possible. The more people you can direct to the page the more sign ups you'll get. When your app goes live you can finally make use of this list and let everyone know it's now available for download.
Getting people to pay attention to your app is never easy, but having an awesome landing page is a great start.