While Silicon Valley gets all the hype, here in Sacramento, we’re working hard to grow our tech and startup scene. Appency works with companies across the US, but we’re proud to call Sacramento, the capital of The Golden State, our home. We recently were included in Clutch’s announcement of the top business service companies in California.

Clutch meticulously researches business service companies like digital marketing agencies and web development firms all over the world.

We list on Clutch’s website while they collect reviews from our clients based on the digital marketing services we do for them. We take our Clutch reviews very serious, as they provide great feedback and paint a wonderful picture of what it is like to work with us.

In the most recent review Clutch collected for Appency, the client really appreciated our commitment to their product. They said,

“Appency was instrumental in the launch of the product and providing resources for marketing and development.”

 With these reviews on Clutch’s platform, we sit at the top of their Sacramento Digital Marketing Agency directory (even as an agency that only works with apps!).

Our stellar 5/5 star rating on Clutch is so impressive that Clutch’s sister website, The Manifest included us as a Sacramento agency leader.

So, while The Bay Area and LA County become too expensive and stifle their creativity, we’ll keep it real in Sacramento and continue make a BIG noise and do great work. Want to work with on your mobile app marketing and digital marketing needs? Don’t be shy, reach out!


Mobyaffiliates has released their research on Top Mobile App Marketing Agencies in 2017 and we’re proud to say we’re on it, along with 25 others.

We just wanted to say thanks! It means a great deal to be included in a “Top Agencies” list–that is what we strive for, after all!

Looking for a list of the categories and subcategories in iTunes? We were too – so we decided to list them in a blog post for future reference and to share it with you as well!

Last updated: 7/6/2017 for iOS 10/11 (Tabs will not be added until the release of iOS 11 in September, 2017)

Apps Tab

  • Books
  • Business
  • Catalogs
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Finance
  • Food & Drink
  • Games
  • Health & Fitness
  • Kids*
    • Kids – 5 and under
    • Kids – 6-8
    • Kids – 9-11
  • Lifestyle
  • Magazine & Newspaper
  • Medical
  • Music
  • Navigation
  • News
  • Photo & Video
  • Productivity
  • Reference
  • Shopping
  • Social Networking
  • Sports
  • Travel
  • Utilities
  • Weather

*Selecting “Kids” and an age range does not use up your primary or secondary category, but it does submit your app for additional scrutiny which the app must pass before being listed in the Kids category.

Games Tab

  • Games/Action
  • Games/Adventure
  • Games/Arcade
  • Games/Board
  • Games/Card
  • Games/Casino
  • Games/Dice
  • Games/Educational
  • Games/Family
  • Games/Kids
  • Games/Music
  • Games/Puzzle
  • Games/Racing
  • Games/Role Playing
  • Games/Simulation
  • Games/Sports
  • Games/Strategy
  • Games/Trivia
  • Games/Word


Sticker apps for iMessenger have a unique category called “stickers”.  Stickers apps can have a stickers category, and a stickers subcategory.

  • Animals & Nature
  • Comics & Cartoons
  • Eating & Drinking
  • Emoji & Expressions
  • Fashion
  • Gaming
  • Kids & Family
  • Places & Objects

With virtually everyone these days walking around with a smartphone in their pockets or purses, marketers are eager to engage with this growing audience of consumers. Appency helps them do just that!


Appency is a global leader in marketing and public relations for the mobile application space. We’ve built a loyal following since we launched our firm in 2009. Recently, we were happy to have been identified as a leading mobile and app marketing company by Clutch, a B2B research firm based in Washington, D.C. Below is a quote from one of our reviews.


We’re proud to say that our clients have glowing things to say about us as well. Clutch evaluates and analyzes the top digital marketing firms around the globe. Their analysis is based on both qualitative and quantitative factors that include direct conversations with agency clients. We’re extremely happy to have been included in Clutch’s recent release, but we’re even more gratified by the glowing feedback we receive from our clients.


Another client of ours said in their interview that:

“Appency is an amazing partner. I can’t say enough great stuff about them. As a startup and an entrepreneur, it’s great to work with an agency that has the same sense of urgency that you do when dealing with things as important as marketing and user growth.”

Check out Appency’s profile on Clutch. There you can see what services we provide and read all of our reviews.

The Future of Apps

To say that apps play a big role in our everyday lives would be an understatement. After surpassing desktop in 2011, eclipsing television in 2014, this year, mobile has cemented its position as the top media channel. According to Flurry’s annual report, an average consumer now spends more than three and a half hours every day on mobile apps. That is a 35% increase in time spent from a year ago, which means that in just 12 short months, the average time each consumer spend on their phone, increased by more than 40 minutes. To put things in perspective, that is nearly twice as much time as the average parent spends taking care of a child.

The industry has grown immensely over last couple of years, and it is likely that it will continue to do so. But what does the future of app development hold? Two of the biggest companies have vastly different ideas about the future. Apple is trying to the make personal computing devices even more personal. It presents itself as a company that combines software, hardware and services into one all-encompassing package. On the other hand, Microsoft is trying to extend its apps to software other than Windows, in order to provide the users with a mobile experience that transcends devices.

Cross-Platform Development

When it comes to platforms, we tend to default Android, iOS, and to a lesser extent, Windows Mobile. Apple has its grip on the high-end market, with no signs of letting go in the near future; Android is seeking “world domination” through devices available at lower prices and Windows mobile simply isn’t growing fast enough. Although developing apps that work easily on multiple devices and platform is not an easy job, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach, we will be seeing a rise cross-platform when it comes to mobile development tools. As a matter of fact, earlier this year, Microsoft purchased the software startup Xamarin, in order to let the developers design app that could run on iOS, Android and Windows platforms.

The Rise of Enterprise Apps

At the end of the decade, we are probably going to see a big shift toward the development of enterprise apps rather than consumer apps. The reason is simple – most consumers are accustomed to free apps, while businesses are a lot more willing to pay up for a product if it promises reduced overall costs and greater productivity. In addition, the enterprise app market is very lucrative; according to a 2015 Vision Mobile study, almost 50% of enterprise app developers earn over $10.000 per month, compared to less than 20% of developers who only work on consumer applications. One more thing enterprises need for success of their app is app marketing. Appency, for example, is covering all aspects of mobile marketing in one holistic service crucial for apps success in today’s oversaturated app markets.

Developing Apps for the Internet of Things

The future is not just about our smartphones and tablets anymore, we are heading into an era of the Internet of Things. Even though current efforts by the developer are not paying off yet, mobile development for the IoT is getting bigger. With the introduction of the Apple Watch and the rising popularity of Android Wear, we are only now starting to see the true potential of wearable technology. At this year’s WWDC, Apple announced a major update to their IoT platform HomeKit – they have built a dedicated app that enables a user to control all devices in his or her home. Now, all HomeKit-enabled devices, from lights to garage doors, can be controlled with a single application.

Global Development

Driven by lower costs and the improved quality of service offered by international developers, global outsourcing will definitely rise in the next couple of years. According to ContractIQ, developers from the US charge $150 per hour, on average; app developer from Eastern Europe or South America charges only $35; while an app maker is even more cost effective. Most people think that lower cost could imply poorer quality; however, offshore developers are more than capable of producing quality work. Furthermore, as smartphones and tablets became a part of everyday life in third-world countries, the technology will surely change the social and economic aspects of life in those countries. Moreover, a recent UNESCO study suggests that new technology could tackle illiteracy and enrich education in developing countries.

Beyond Apps

While many people predict that smartphones will superseded by the evolution of wearable devices and the IoT, some researchers suggest that the  smartphone will become a “central choreographer” in a blended ecosystem of experiences across any connectable device.  This April, Forrester Research published a study, which suggests that in the next ten years, smartphone users will be able to get everything they want immediately upon picking up the phone, without using an app. The information will be brought to users automatically; for example, if you walk in an airport terminal, the device will recognize the environment, and then present you with special deals and ads. Forrester analyst Michael Facemire explains, as smartphones take on more tasks for consumer without the need for apps, the market will become less app-centered.

Nate Vickery is a business technology expert and futurist mostly engaged finding latest technology trends and implementing them into SMB and startups management and marketing processes. Nate is also the editor-in-chief at business oriented blog- Bizzmarkblog.com.

The new mobile apps are coming out every single day. Most of them fail within the first few months when the maker finds out that it’s not going to work because it’s a massive pool of millions of apps and new ones are coming every single day.

We decided to create a brief checklist of five main culprit reasons that make this happen and end up many founders’ dreams of building something out of their entrepreneurship passion. Interestingly, there are a few things which are common in many of the mobile apps that never make it and end up somewhere in the middle.

The viral app isn’t a success. It’s a hype. Once it goes up, then it goes down. Who plays Flappy Bird anymore? The problem with viral content is that it comes quickly and seizes everything, then it goes away. Today, Pokemon Go is a viral mobile game that is everywhere in the U.S and Europe. The question here is that, would it same or bigger after 2 years from now. It’s not even released in most of the countries yet.

Take a look at the 5 reasons why most of the new apps fail:

  1. The Core Concept

When the core idea of the app isn’t that strong or inspiring, it doesn’t do very well on the market. The core concept means the value proposition that makes the app stand out from the crowd. Before processing the raw idea of an app, if a founder does a little bit of analysis based on the target audience, territories, and demographics in order to make a fit between the core concept and the relevant audience. For instance, you won’t find elder people pursuing Pokemon on the roads, but young people would be everywhere in the public places playing the same game.

  1. The Weak Branding

Branding does have a huge role in any app’s success. The branding isn’t just about presenting the app in front of the people using the right name, logo, and color scheme, in fact, it also consists of the marketing plan of the app. If the founder of an app does understand the basics of branding, not only does he focus on the appearance of the app, but he also emphasizes on how to bring it in front of the target audience. The weak branding approach could end up many helpful apps that have the potential to grow and become bigger, but they end up without doing much on the market.   

  1. Marketing Budget

Having no marketing budget could end the game before it begins. In fact, having the budget and using it wrongly might bring the same kind of results. So, it shows that only budget doesn’t matter, the allocation of budget does too. Now, marketing has a various areas to invest the money in, for instance, in search ads, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, in-app advertising, so keeping all the eggs in the same bucket won’t help here, instead, try testing out the advertising models turn by turn, then compare the outputs of all the campaigns. Once you figure out the best ROI method of marketing, try to emphasize on that to grow. Once the startup founders and app makers put their whole marketing budget on one platform, they risk the whole marketing campaign, therefore, many apps don’t make it further.

  1. Storytelling

Storytelling is a way of engaging, entertaining, and attaching the audience towards the certain brand. The smart companies try to share the stories behind the apps or products they’re about to release. It shouldn’t be a concern that how they do it. Now we have the internet, social media, search engines, and lots of peer-to-peer messaging tools. Things actually go viral if they’re supposed to be and worth it. If a brand comes out and launches their apps on Google Play and App Store, and along the way, they add up a startup story of founders that how they started off or how the idea of the app came into existence. For instance, the story of Angry Birds that the founding company had launched 51 games before Angry Birds, but all failed and this one got huge success. Now everybody knows the story of Angry Birds.

  1. PR and Media Relations

One of the most important reasons of why an app fail is having no access to the mainstream online media, editorial staffs, and news publications. When you do have the relations on such level, it becomes easier for you to provide the information and news about your upcoming app. This is an untold reality of being successful in the mobile apps arena. Once an app founder or brand has this privilege which can’t be purchased, but can only be built over the course of time, then he can utilize it at the launches, and the odds are, when the high-profile and main stream publications publish a story of a newly born app that could potentially go huge, it actually gets closer to the success.

How to avoid it?

The purpose of this article was to help guide new startup owners and founders about taking the initial steps wisely because once they set up the base, it becomes harder to actually reinforce a whole new plan afterward. Choosing the right hands to get the job done would ultimately be the righteous thing to do.

About the Writer: Malik Usman works as a Content strategist and Internet Marketing expert with Citrusbits a mobile app development company based in San Francisco, USA. Reach out to him for mobile app development services.


Unless you’ve been living in a fallout shelter (an actual one, not the game app) and cut off from all internet access for the past week, you’ve no doubt heard about or seen people playing Pokémon Go. (Appency got so into it they made an app that maps out all of the nests called PokeNet! Check it out on iOS and Android). Millions of users are now glued to their little screens trying to fulfill their dream of being a master.

Yet you’ve already seen this phenomenon before. A considerable number of smartphone users are glued to their apps for most of their waking hours, whether they’re enjoying time off or “working” at their jobs. This presents a real danger both to the users of these apps and the people around them.

A Wild Lake Appears!

Apps that require the user’s full attention and also require the user to travel are some of the most dangerous. While the most obvious reference might be the new Pokémon app, you might be surprised to know that even GPS has been shown to create potentially life threatening situations. A woman recently drove her car off a boat launch into a lake because her GPS told her she was going the right way.

It’s also no surprise that cellphones in general can be distracting; the AAA Foundation did a study and found that the number two cause for teenage vehicle accidents was related to using the phone. My personal experience has been that younger drivers are more likely to do things other than talk or text while driving.

Pokémon Go presents issues for pedestrians who are just trying to catch their latest prey. For those who haven’t tried the app, it requires you to physically visit a location and then catch a Pokémon by throwing Pokéballs at it. The whole process means looking at the screen no matter where the target is (and it can be anywhere). This can lead to some dangerous situations for those who aren’t paying attention.

Compromised Privacy

If big hacks have shown us anything, it’s that services you access through apps can potentially be deadly. One man killed himself over the data breach of Ashley Madison, which was perhaps also a lesson about the dangers of “looking for someone other than my wife.” Celebrities suffered a similar humiliation over the “leak” of their nude photos in 2014.

If there’s any lesson to be taken from that, it’s that security apps shouldn’t be considered optional. People using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and security apps are much less likely to be hacked. Both help protect user accounts and private data by encrypting internet traffic and removing malicious software.

Having an account hacked can be a devastating experience, especially for young people. Embarrassing incidents on popular social media apps such as Facebook can lead to bullying, depression or worse.

Apps can do a lot of great things and be great tools for anyone. People just need to remember that improper usage can have serious ramifications. Go catch some Pokémon if you’d like, but make sure you’re not sneaking into private yards or walking out into traffic!

What do you think about the safety of apps? Tell us what you think and leave a comment below.

About the Author: Cassie is an internet security specialist and entertainment blogger. If you’d like to read more of her work, visit Culture Coverage for regular updates.

The following is a guest post by Swati Panwar, Content Writer at Gamentio. She is a technical writer by day and an insatiable reader at night. Her love for online games could be seen in her write-ups. Besides this, she is also fond of poetry. She’s extremely empathic towards animals and when not writing, she could be found cuddling with her cat.


Launching and marketing a game app is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some terribly fail to make a mark while others mint billions of dollars purely because of the fact they were able to devise a perfect marketing strategy for their app which paved a way for it to gain popularity over the years.

Each app is different and so should be the marketing strategy to promote it. Gaming apps are completely different from the service based apps and that is why a unique marketing strategy needs to be developed for such apps. Moreover, if your game is a social game like Rummy card game or a role playing game you need to make sure your app doesn’t get lost in the crowd.

Marketing is certainly not just one secret formula but a variety of things done concurrently. Here, we will try to enlighten you about a few techniques which could come in handy to promote your intuitive game app.

  • Personal Online Presence
    Having a personal online presence helps you in the longer run. It will prove beneficial when you launch your app among your followers. Start building your followers such that more and more people are aware of your app and you can also ask for a feedback from them.

    Interact with the people you want to meet on social media platforms by joining groups like App Entrepreneurs and Marketers on facebook and many such groups.

    Build your reputation by talking to like-minded people on platforms like Reddit, Quora, ProductHunt, Instagram, Youtube. Share valuable ideas & information and people will be more likely follow you, talk about you and share your profile with their friends.
  • Justify Your Idea

    Everyone is proud of his/her app idea and think it would be revolutionary but it’s very important to perform a double-check.  Gauge demand of your app by searching the similar kinds of apps on app store. The more the similar apps you find, the more the competition would be while if you’re not able to find the same kind of apps you may want to re-think your game app idea. Take a look at your competitors and set your targets accordingly. It wouldn’t hurt to re-iterate your plan.
  • Reviews Matter
    google-play-user-reviewsSource: http://www.androidheadlines.com/

    It really helps to keep track of the reviews of your competitor’s product in addition to your own. It gives you a very broad idea of the features your app must have and the problematic areas related to it. There is a scope of improvisation with this technique since you get to know what does people actually look for in your app.

    Well, it’s not only about the opportunity to resolve troublesome issues but you also get a chance to integrate new features and ideas which other apps adorn. Although it’s good to be unique but it could cost you very much if you don’t pull all those features in your app which people have gotten used to.

    Review mining tools like LaunchKit, AppFollow and SensorTower makes the process much easier than the manual reading through the reviews. They help you monitor all the reviews of your product and route them directly to your inbox or development team’s software.
  • Revenue Model
    While deciding the revenue model of your app, keep in mind the below-mentioned things to aim for :
  • brand awareness
  • new users
  • retention and loyal customers
  • generate revenue
    Keeping these pointers in mind you should decide whether you want to earn or grow your user base and this decision should drive you towards the right revenue model for your app. The different kinds of revenue model that you can adapt are as follows :

Keeping these pointers in mind you should decide whether you want to earn or grow your user base and this decision should drive you towards the right revenue model for your app. The different kinds of revenue model that you can adapt are as follows :

  • Free to buy + in-app purchase
    By far this is the most popular revenue model in the market. People don’t hesitate to download free apps to give them a try and if the app is intuitive enough then users tend to remain loyal to the app. In-app purchases only make the app more engaging and retains the users.
  • One time payment
    This is a hard to sell model and it caters to a targeted niche. People who have their trust in the application and are regular users of the app are the only customers. This revenue model is a little intricate one since future development costs cannot be derived from it.
  • Free trial version+full paid version
    This is an exciting model. While it gives a flavor and touch of your game app to the users, it also makes them subscribe the full version of the app as the trial version addicts them to the core.
  • Free+advertising
    This model can work as a revenue model where you can offer some in-app purchases to the users which remove the advertisements.

If you’re going for a paid app then always remember that it is very easy to drop a high price rather than raising the amount at a later stage. Hence, choose the price of your app very carefully.

Also, while deciding the revenue model of your game app always ask this question to yourself at every stage “Will my monetization strategy cover my future development costs ?”

  • It’s all in the name
    It is extremely important to have the right name for your app which is easily searchable and is based on the popular or major keywords. Generally, your app should contain 1 to 3 highly descriptive words. Also, after deciding the name of your app you should probably consider reserving the following so that nobody else use them :
  • Domain names
  • Social media handles

Knowem is one such site where you search multiple sites for the domain name at once.

  • In-App Marketing
    Promotion of your app starts from right within your app. It is hard to market a weak and a dull app so things have to be just right in order to entrap users from the very start. User retention should be the main motive to ensure the popularity of your app. Few things that should be kept in mind are :
  • User Experience: Users won’t bother to come back again if they do not find your app easy to use
  • Design: Detailing and overall look and feel of the app should be awesome
  • Push notifications: To entice people and make them come back
  • Sharing: Ensure that people can share with their friends on various platforms
  • Feedback: Good way to engage your customers. Let them contact you from within the app, from the app website and through social media. Derive a way to drive the good ratings towards the app store and bad ratings to your support team.
  • Measure retention: Keep a check on your app’s installation, daily users, average time per user, and uninstallations using iTunes Connect for iOS apps and Google Analytics for Android apps.
  • Measure app marketing channel’s effectiveness: It’s best to know the best and effective channel for marketing your app. Companies like Tune, AppsFlyer, Google Analytics etc. can help you figure out the best promotional channels for your app.
  • Ad Exchange: If you’re limited on your budget then this marketing technique will helpful for you. Services like TapForTap and Tapdaq lets you do free tap exchange with other app developers. This way your app will be publicized as well as you will earn for showing ads inside your app.
  • App’s Online Presence
    Finally, the basics of marketing and promotion of your app is a quintessential way of building your app’s presence in the market. Follow the pointers and be sure of reaching your goal.
  • Website and blog: Well, that’s an indispensable thing to create to cater all the necessary information to your users and new customers. A blog will help in more user engagement. Create links to download the app, post promotional videos, and testimonials, if it is a service based application.
  • App Store Optimization: Content description of your app really matters and if it sucks then probably people will just walk away without giving a second thought to the app. Focus on the following:
        1. App’s name and the keywords
        2. Design of app icon
        3. Screenshots of your app
        4. Improve app descriptions
        5. Work on feedbacks and facilitate the ease of reach to your customers
  • Social Media Handles: Use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to reach out to people and post updates on these platforms
  • Guest Blogging: Another great way of inviting traffic to your website and app is through backlinks generated by guest blogging on high DA websites.
  • Podcasting
  • Youtube videos: Creating promotional and explainer videos on videos will increase the chances of people discovering your app
  • E-mail marketing: Nothing can go wrong with email marketing as it is the most private affair between the customer and the company. Unless until the user doesn’t unsubscribe from the emails, you can send him promotional emails and the weekly or monthly newsletter containing all the updates of the app.


Marketing is not a one-time thing, it has to go on and on changing according to the circumstances of the market and competitor’s marketing strategy. However, a constant focus on a few things will help you maintain a place in the market.


  • Building the right app while keeping the target audience in mind
  • Discovering techniques for user engagement and user retention
  • Optimizing the app store page
  • Taking feedback from users and work on it- extremely important
  • Cross promotion of the app
  • Keeping a tab on the app’s effectiveness



Hand writing Ethics topic on chalkboard

It happens all too often.

The office phone rings, and on the other end is an app developer with the same story. “I worked with these ‘app marketing experts’ and I have nothing to show for it. They don’t even pick up the phone when I call any more!”

As it becomes harder and harder to succeed in the app space, developers desperate to do anything to promote their apps are all too often fleeced by savvy sales people at agencies that are promising the world and in the end offering very little. As more of these so-called agencies pop up, I feel that as the old guys on the app marketing block it is our obligation to point out some of the red flags and ethical grey areas that we see more and more of our competitors engaging in. With that in mind- here are my tips for spotting a poor quality marketing firm, or one that is simply in it to take your money.

Avoid any agency that has app marketing “packages” listed on their website

Marketing is not one-size-fits-all. You do not market a game in the same way that you market a shopping app or social network. Having a shopping cart of services on your website indicates to me two things – the first is that you have a template of services and you keep trying to do the same thing over and over no matter who the client is, and second that you will take on any client as long as they can pay your fee. Why is that bad? Because the PR side of marketing is built on relationships, and relationships with journalists require a certain level of  quality control. If I pitched Rob LeFebvre at Cult of Mac your Tetris clone… he would laugh in my face, or worst of all for an agency that relies on communication… he would stop paying attention to my emails and miss out on the high quality apps and stories I sent his way.

Beware the ASO “Expert”

This statement may well offend a few people in the app marketing space. Frankly, there are too many people running around the internet calling themselves “ASO Experts”. ASO is nothing like SEO. With SEO there are literally dozens of tweaks and changes that you can adjust and monitor that will affect how your website shows up in search. In iTunes… there are three. (Yes, there are more than three things that determine how your app shows up in search, but there are only three that you as the developer have direct control over). App name, keywords and company name. Other factors like app store reviews and number of downloads you are getting are vastly important – and there are marketing tactics that you can use to help those variables, but most everything you need to know about keywords for app store search you can learn from a couple of hours of research online.

Don’t mistake this for me saying that ASO is not important. It is. Search optimization is a foundational tactic in app marketing that needs to be performed correctly in order for your app to succeed. It will not however, cause your app to succeed. There are tens of thousands of app doing ASO “correctly” – this will only get you onto the playing field. It will not win the game for you.


You get what you pay for

Appency has never been the lowest cost agency out there, and we do not ever plan to be. Our team is made up of professional marketers, the kind with degrees in marketing and years of experience working with apps and brands and have a deep understanding of the variables and tactics that make the difference between success and failure.

The median salary for a publicist in the United States is around $40,000 a year – often more for a marketing generalist that can handle all of the various aspects of marketing for a product. That salary does not take into account all of the overhead that goes into having employees. When you hire an agency, you as essentially hiring a team of people to do the job instead of having to hire that person in house. When you hire Appency, you get access to people with experience in public relations, ASO, social media, advertising, video production, on-boarding tactics, graphic design, and more. You may not get them for 40 hours per week like you would an in-house person, but you are getting access to a team of people that cover a variety of skills you would be hard pressed to find in a single individual.

On top of that, good agencies have access to some expensive tools that it would not make sense for you as a developer to have to purchase on your own because an agency can spread the cost of those tools out over a number of clients. Media contact databases, social media management tools, data extraction tools and more all cost a pretty penny.

All this to say that someone charging you $1,000 a month to solve your app marketing needs is most likely not putting in the time or effort to your account that they need to be, or they are simply ripping you off knowing that you have very little recourse to come after them when they fail and throw up their hands with a “well, we tried”.

App review websites will not make your app successful

In the early days of the app store, there were literally hundreds of app review websites, and interest in this new app world was high enough that these sites received enough traffic to keep them alive with ad dollars. That world is gone.

Over the years, we have watched the majority of these sites fail, to the point where there are less than 10 sites that focus solely on reviewing apps (caveat – not counting gaming sites), that have enough traffic to drive any decent amount of downloads. Not to say that many of those low traffic sites are not still running – many of them now work on a pay-to-play model, happy to take your money to post a review on their site that no one will ever see.

Before paying for a review – do your research. Ask for a sites Google Analytics report. Check their Alexa ranking. Look at other reviews the site has done and see how much conversation is being generated on each article. Look up the last few apps they reviewed in AppAnnie and see how that app is doing. See if the app reviews are praising apps that do not deserve praise. All of this will give you a better picture of if the cost the site is asking is worth it.

The lie of “guaranteed” coverage

Which brings us to the lie of guaranteed coverage. Ethical journalism cannot be bought, and sites that have high quality, high volume traffic do not tend to sell coverage. When someone guarantees you coverage, they are generally saying “if we do not get coverage, we will buy cheap reviews on sites that get no traffic to cover our obligation and not have to give you back your money”. Not to say that all guarantees of coverage do this. Some agencies may be so confidant in their relationships that they will put themselves on the line, but before you fall for the guarantee trap – get an idea of what size of site they are guaranteeing you. To be fair – Appency does offer guaranteed coverage, but only for a very specific type of PR outreach called survey focused PR, and when we guarantee it, we are guaranteeing coverage on a major (top 20 online traffic) site like AOL, MSN, Huffington Post, etc.

Cheap downloads do not create loyal app users

This goes back a bit to the “you get what you pay for” point. I spent some time talking on the phone the other day to a marketer for a brand who was very interested in our expertise and full service approach to app marketing. As we got to advertising – he asked me that dreaded question. “How much will I pay for installs?”.

First of all… let me say this. Unless you are attempting burst marketing, DOWNLOADS DO NOT MATTER. They don’t. Stop thinking about downloads as the end goal.  The end goal of app marketing is USERS. The most successful app business models (freemium and ad driven apps) will not generate any revenue from downloads unless the downloads actually start using your app. Even pay-to-download apps, while they do make money from the download itself, are hurt by poor quality downloads over the long term.

Which brings me back to the question of “How much will I pay for installs”.

My general answer to that question is to start with the industry average cost of Facebook driven installs in the United States, which means the answer is $2-$4 per install. I use Facebook as my point of reference because it has high quality traffic and good targeting options at a cost that tends to be lower that other well targeted ads like Google AdWords for mobile.

I follow up the $2-$4 with the caveat that at the beginning of an ad campaign, costs tend to range on the higher side and start to go down as targets are narrowed down by the data that we receive and Facebook works on its own optimization. I even mention that its possible to go under the $2, but that is mostly for broad stroke apps like games with a very wide audience that does not need a ton of targeting.

These are facts. This is the cost of a decent quality download.

“Well…. so and so told me that they could get me download for a dollar”.

In the end… this person will not receive a proposal from me. It is a battle of lies that I do not want to get into, and a high quality app marketing proposal and plan takes a decent amount of time from the person writing the proposal that I do not want to waste on a client who has made it clear that all that matters to them is the lowest cost per install.

Cheap downloads are available, but in the vast majority of cases, the quality of the download you will get for the dollar range are so poor that none of those downloads will turn into users, and you have just spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a lie.

This may piss a few people off

I will be the first to say that there is an exception to every rule. There are going to be a couple of agencies that use the “package A, package B, package C” on their website that are trying to do the right thing. There are paid app reviews that are on the higher quality side (especially in the world of Mommy Bloggers). There are people who do ASO that are worth what they are asking you to pay them assuming you simply don’t want to take the time to do it yourself, and there are low cost downloads that can be found on occasion. What we ask is that you as a app developer do your research before you spend a single penny on app marketing. Ask the questions. Know the red flags to look for and when you finally make your decision, do it knowing that you are informed.






Apple Killing ASO

Apple is killing the small developer through app store search

On a daily basis the Appency team gets emails from frustrated app developers looking for help solving their app marketing problems. We have spent the last seven years fighting an ever more challenging battle for our clients against an app store that is flooded with apps on a daily basis (to the tune of 1.5 million available apps in iTunes) With every passing day success gets harder to reach for the average mid-sized developer.

One of the first things we do when an app that is already live in the app store comes to us, is take a quick peek at it in the App Store. Even a ten second glance at an app’s page can identify some fundamental issues and give us great information. We can see when it was launched, what its ratings are, how an apps screenshots and descriptions look, etc. Even an app that has poor quality app search search optimization (ASO) can be found because the developer has given us the name of the app to pull it up.

At least that’s what we thought.

Something happened to me today that was a first. Something that I feel is a dire omen that app developers need to be acutely aware of.

I went to the app store, typed in the app’s exact name…. and it did not show up in search.

I am not saying it did not come up in the top 10 or 50 search results. The app didn’t show up AT ALL.

I figured there must be a mistake. Maybe the app wasn’t live yet. Maybe it was live in other countries but not in the US app store where I was searching. I went to the app developers web page and found a direct link to the app and clicked on it. The link took me right to the app, which was definitely in the US app store. Just to double check I searched again for the app name.


I scrolled through all 100 results in the iPhone app search looking for the hard to miss icon.


Zip. Zero. Zilch. It was like the app did not exist.

Now, it is understandable that there may be over 100 apps that use reasonably similar search terms that may be doing better than this app. However this was a perfect name match search. I was looking for a specific app in the app store and I could not find it.

At least Apple had some advice for me:

ASO failure

Not sure how much more specific we can get.

“Use more specific search terms”.

Like what? What is more specific then a perfect match on the apps name? (And I can tell you that the words “Tomato” and “Pie” were not part of this apps name like search result number 95 might suggest). The 100 apps that appeared in search were almost all games – while the app we were searching for was not, it was an app for tracking a baby’s developmental progress.  It took me searching for the app development companies name for the app to finally show up in a search result, something no regular consumer would do if they were not desperately trying to find the app. Most customers would have given up long before this.

Even more interesting…. the exact same search in Google Play discovered the app in position #14. Not only that, but of the 13 apps that were shown before it, only one of them was a game. The other 12 were apps that were also related to an infant’s developmental progress.

The Death of the Small Developer

ASO is the most basic, foundational level marketing an app developer can do. If your app does not show up in search results in the app store, hardly anything else matters. This is even more important for a small app developer that has little to no money to spend on expensive app install ads, versus a large app developer who can jump start their apps life with direct download ads. Even good public relations for an app, a less expensive solution than advertising, will do little to help an app that is not appearing in search results as our experience has shown us that many downloads from a user reading a review or story online tend to come from the user going to their phones and desktop computers and performing a search for that apps name.

Any ASO expert will tell you that the most important factor in determining an apps search results is the apps name. Everything else, like keywords and app ratings are supposed to be secondary to that fundamental principle. If Apple cannot show in the first page of search results an app with an exact name match to what you searched for, then Apple’s search is broken and in need of a major overhaul. While I know that Apple has less experience in search than their main competitor Google, it seems like something this basic should be a given. There is no excuse for Apple presenting close to 100 games when searching for a baby tracking app when Google Play quickly shows you a list of apps that actually match what you were searching for.

For small app developers, many marketing efforts are hard to sustain. Public relations (PR) can help a launch, but later in an apps life without major news PR becomes less and less of an option. Advertising is expensive, and even for large developers achieving a positive return on investment is near impossible (This does not mean you shouldn’t advertise, this is only one of the reasons and I am happy to talk to you more, just drop us an note).

Fixing the Problem

Yes, this app developer has done ASO poorly. Their name is generic enough that many other apps are going to be grabbing onto the exact keywords in the name and using them as a part of their name or in their hidden keywords field. Saving Apple fixing their search, there are a few things this and other app developers in a similar situation should consider.

  1. Change the name of your app. Use something unique that will allow people specifically looking for your app to easily find you. Save the more generic search terms for a tagline that can also be a part of your app’s name.
  2. Get friends and family to download your app. Even if they don’t need it. I never understand the developer who comes to me and says “we have had zero downloads”… if you are not willing to use your own network, or simply cannot convince even the people closest to you that the app is worth downloading, then maybe you should be in a different business.
  3. Pay for some downloads. If app store search is penalizing developers with no download traffic as much as it seems they are – then the life and death of your app depends on getting more downloads, and with your app not showing up in search, you are going to have to directly point people at your app page. Advertising is by far the quickest way to do this, however it does come at a cost. Consider finding a professional in the space to help you with getting the most for your ad dollar.

Supporting the developer is the best way for the App Store to make money. As it gets harder and harder for developers to succeed, they will move to other platforms that help them pay the bills and keep the lights on. App store search is not a small problem – it affects every app in the store, and needs to be addressed before the entire independent developer ecosystem collapses.


*UPDATE 3/6/2016*

I wanted to add that the search being done is on the iTunes desktop. The app DOES show up in search when you do your search via the iPhone or iPad, in or about position #20. While I believe that there are more apps downloaded from the phone than from the desktop, I do not believe that the desktop traffic is so little as for it to not matter to the developer. Unfortunately, data on if a download comes from desktop or mobile is difficult if not impossible to find. I have reached out to SimilarWeb.com to see if they might have data around this and will post an update when I hear back.

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