iOS app launch – what I learnt

It’s been a few years since I released a new app, I only develop for iOS. My last couple of apps have both been paid (aka not free) and launch days hadn’t brought great results. Later I introduced a free version of of my apps, but again this didn’t yield great results.

This time round I released my first iPad add, I timed press releases to go out on launch day and I spent some time preparing my email for reviewers. Also I followed something I read, that make an app free at launch really helped.

When it came to launch day I thought I’d prepared really well, until I made a list of what I had to do that day.

My app is aimed at kids and in order to eligable to be classified as “made for kids” you have to jump through some extra hoops. You need to add a privacy policy to your website and have no links or anything in your app that will take a child out of your app aka link to your web site etc.

Recently I’ve started using mailchimp and sent a few newsletters to my small client base for existing apps.

So in my app, I couldn’t have links to a facebook page, twitter or newsletter sign up. At the time I thought ah well, I’ve never gained much from there, so no loss.

Getting back to my list of tasks on launch day, I realized that I had no way to keep hold of users. I couldn’t put anything in my next release as this would get me thrown out of the kids classification.

I realized that this was my biggest opportunity to gain users, after all they didn’t have to pay. Also that the main benefit of these users was “word of mouth”.

From previous experience I knew how hard it was to keep hold of users and to keep them on board, so if I didn’t have any provision to keep hold of them, it would be like sand trickling through my fingers.

Luckily I had a facebook page and twitter account from my first app, so I was able to give them a quick makeover and add links to them to my website and press release (it got rejected on release day, as my app store link hadn’t been live, so I was able to add my social links to it).

Also, I spent time figuring out how I could add a mailchimp checkbox to my contact form, I think this is a key way to get new subscriptions.

As I was still waiting for my app to appear in search, I figured I hadn’t wasted my time. So I was sent out some tweets with hash tags (previously I hadn’t had much success, but I hadn’t release a free app before, I’d only sent out promo codes). I used the tweet link from the app store, which was awesome as it added my app icon and a shortened url. Awesome, or so I thought!

On the second day I got an amazing amount of downloads from the US, I put this down to good hash tags. I proceeded with my approach of tweeting, however on the third day I didn’t receive this level of downloads. Also I wasn’t able to figure out where those amazing downloads had come from. I should have used tracking urls.