How Much Does it Cost To Get an App Featured by Apple?

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Posted: September 12, 2016

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Peter Fodor is founder of AppAgent, a mobile marketing team jam-packed with experts available for hire. Peter helps developers market and monetize their apps and games while retaining product ownership. As a former gaming CEO at Flow Studio he prefers a holistic approach to the mobile business and a strong personal involvement. Since 2011 Peter worked on the launch of nearly 20 apps and games for all mobile platforms. Today he serves gaming companies such as CI Games, awarded studio About Fun and mobile startups Tradewise or BudgetBakers. 

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Once in a meeting with a new fin-tech client I was asked how much would it costs to get a new application featured in the App Store. At first the question seemed silly to me, but later I understood how perceptive it was.

The reality is, you can’t buy the spot with cash. The only way to achieve it is with the quality of the product you have created, and the investment you have made into it.

In this article I’d like to show you how putting small pieces of different work together can result in getting featured on the US App Store home page. Talking about money and impact, with our help we generated an uptake in users that they would have cost the organisation around $50,000 in user-acquisition. All within one week…

Here’s how we did it

Built on a solid foundations

Nine months ago AppAgent started working with a San Francisco based startup previously called Trdr [:Trader:]. It’s an iOS fin-tech company founded by Adisorn Ratankovit who served as head of technology at Investools before the company was acquired by TD Ameritrade.

Trdr notifies investors about relevant market changes and helps them to make better informed investment decisions. The tech science behind the app is a proprietery SignalRank technology which scans thousands of market events and filters only relevant information affecting a user’s stock portfolio.

The main competitors for the app are news apps such as Bloomberg or Yahoo Finance. Because the app integrates several brokerage accounts it also competes with brokers as well.

Tradewise iOS app

Tradewise

The definition of who’s and what’s 

Soon after we’ve kicked off our cooperation back in November 2015 Adisorn jumped on a plane and came out to visit us for an intense week of business planning and engagement in Prague.

The main task was to clearly define the target group and product positioning. The app stands as somewhere between a news app, a notifications app and an investment portfolio reader. We also laid down basics for changes in the UI and for upcoming acquisition campaigns. In total we’ve been through 10 meetings, done tons of work and added dozens of new tasks to the list.

The product is the king

We at AppAgent always start on any project with a proper analytics setup and evaluation of the onboarding. Here we’ve so far completed two iterations and two more are planned in a near future to get above 85 % rate of the finished onboarding process.

To improve performance, we’ve suggested tweaks on the main screen of the app to emphasise daily performance of trader’s portfolio. An iPad version of the app was partially released in June with a complete redesign planned for this summer.

The major change we’ve suggested to our client was a rebranding of the product from ‘Trdr’ to ‘Tradewise’ so it’s easier to understand the name and to build a brand. As part of the process we have workshopped over 50 new names from which we’ve tested 5 and picked one of the two most up-voted.

This helped us to clarify the proposition. The new name is emphasising the target group and value provided by the app. With the new name came a new logo and a new app icon.

Dealing with traders

We ran numerous low budget campaigns ($1-2000) where we’ve tested different methods of targeting and in total 16 different creative executions of Facebook ads. Our work resulted in up to 7x decrease of the initial CPI which our client had before we’ve jumped in.

Part of this was optimization of the store listing where we’ve tweaked screenshots, description and tested a tagline rich on relevant keywords. The conversion increase by 10% definitely helped to optimize the CPI of paid campaigns and we’ve tickled a steady stream of users coming from an organic search.

The show time

Once we’ve reached 5000 downloads and a rating of 4.5 stars, we knew the app was ready for the show time. But we had to bring to the table an additional “Reason why” from Apple’s perspective. That is usually implementation of their latest technology. As a result, the developer of Tradewise integrated 3D Touch for a quick access to the most important dashboards and a Notifications Widget which makes the access to the key figures even quicker.

Armed with good numbers, clear positioning, a nice looking store listing and a pair of new iOS features, it was time to pitch the app in person to a regional dev relations manager.  Soon after the meeting we’ve got a response from the App Store Manager requesting more details with two good tips for additional features recommended by the US editorial team. This positive signal was confirmed a week later when Tradewise appeared in a “New Apps We Love” section on the US App Store homepage, a “…and profit” homepage collection and a day later in a “Stocks&News” section in a Finance category.

Tradewise app is featured in Live Long and Prosper App Store category

Total costs? 9 months of work

Such a significant featuring (of what could still be classed as a niché app) resulted in a huge spike in downloads. Two weeks later we were still seeing a nice long tail after the home page featuring ended so no doubt that the hard work paid off. Both for Tradewise and AppAgent teams this is a boost for upcoming months where we will further improve the app and work on reaching more US stock traders.

I hope this case study answers how much it takes to get a prominent spot by Apple. What wasn’t mentioned are the years in business which we all have spent learning and building our relationships. As Steve Jobs said in his Commencement Speech at Stanford, it’s all about “Connecting the dots”.

Takeways

  • Clearly define the purpose of your app
  • Understand your target group and its needs
  • Get enough downloads to analyze and improve the app
  • Reach rating of 4.3 stars and above
  • Implement the latest Apple technology
  • Pitch the app to Apple, focus at sections where the app fits the best