The good news is that there is a way you can promote your app without having to spend a dime. We did it with Watercolors and got covered literally by hundreds of publications among which Business Insider, Washington Post, The Guardian and many many others. Here’s exactly how we did it:
1.Prepare your marketing materials
Make sure you have all of the following at a very high quality:
- App presentation website. What we did with our website is that we added a playable web demo level so that editors can get a taste of how cool our game is even before they install the app. Be inventive with your website.
- Press kit. Downloadable archive containing press release and images that editors can use for their articles: icon, logo, screenshots.
- Youtube video presentation. It can be a simple screen recording if your budget doesn’t allow to create something fancy.
- Promo code link or APK file. Once the app is approved on the App Store, Apple allows you 100 promo codes for distribution to press even before the app is published. Use them wisely cause each code can only be used once. For Android, you can always send the APK file.
- Social media (Facebook/Twitter links). Social media platforms are usually informal and that’s a good thing in this case. It allows editors to get a feel of your true voice and also to stay in touch with updates about your app.
2.Create a list of the editors you are going to pitch to
This is where you are going to spend most of your time. Research as much as you can and find the most relevant publications for your app. The more the publications are on the same niche as your app, the more chances that you will get covered. For example, with Watercolors what we had was an artsy iOS indie puzzle game. This doesn’t mean that we only contacted indie iOS game review websites, but we did contact as many as possible, and only after that worked our way up to indie ios puzzle games, indie ios games, ios apps, general app review websites and ultimately general publications.
Once you’ve selected the publications, select the relevant editor to contact. For example if your app is a social network, don’t contact the guy who writes about games. He will most likely not cover you, or even if he does, his readers are most likely not your target. Do a thorough research about the editors, about what kind of articles they usually write, what kind of apps they usually prefer to promote and choose to contact the ones that suit your app or story.
Another way to go around this is to search articles about your competition. The editors who wrote those articles will be more likely to cover your app as well.
Sometimes you will not find a personal mail contact, but a general contact address or simply a contact form. Don’t be discouraged about that. Behind those are real people as well. So talk as you’d have that editor in front of you.
3.Write personalized, short, NON-ROBOTIC emails with a good storyline (ELIMINATORY PROCESS)
There are 3 important tests that you need to pass in order to get covered. What is awesome is that you can easily measure the success rate for each of them. Knowing what your Achilles’ heel is, you can then make the necessary changes and improve. So here are the 3 steps and the tools to measure them.
STEP 1: Get the editor to open your email by having a very good subject line
Bottom line is that if you don’t have a good storyline they won’t even open your mail. And that’s not because they’re these evil creatures that don’t want to help you, but because they actually receive over 100 email pitches/day and there is just not enough time in a day to go through them. Your subject line will be your first eliminatory test. Your first objective is to get them to open your email. This is actually your pitch. Most of email clients show about 70-100 characters of the subject line in the inbox list before they trim it, so that’s as much as you’ve got to convince them to open your email.
Your pitch should usually be about your product or an exceptional story related to it. So this is the perfect time to describe what your app brings to the table, why it’s different and why people should be interested in it. With Watercolors our pitch was “Watercolors – Novative mechanics puzzle game: colors combine and destroy each other”. A bit long, but it worked. Our goal was that our pitch should be as clear as possible (watercolors – a puzzle game), simple, to describe our unique concept (colors combine to solve the puzzle) and create a bit of anticipation (colors combine and destroy each other).
Stories do a good job as well. For example, the guys from Threes told their story about how their app was cloned and that got them a lot of press. And for a good reason. After months and months of struggle to develop the app, they’ve found their game cloned into 2048 which actually outperformed them in the beginning. It’s a really good story and people should know about it.
MEASURE: A good tool to measure the success rate of your subject line is Sidekick. This is a Chrome extension that notifies you when the email has been opened.
STEP 2: Get the editor to install your app by writing personalized, short, NON-ROBOTIC emails in your own voice
Ok, so what do I mean by personalized, short, NON-ROBOTIC emails in your own voice? First of all, you shouldn’t just copy and paste your email to each editor in the list and just wait “for the fish to bite”. Get over your commodity and put some effort into it if you’d really like some good results. You’ve already researched about them so why not drop a line giving them a short feedback about their work, telling them what you liked about their articles or simply showing some interest in what they did.
This shows them that you actually took the time to follow their work, will create a more personal relation right from the start and it will show that you are not only a value sucker who only wants to take advantage of their influence. Instead what you do is that you offer them value as well in trying to help them with your feedback or simply recognizing the value in their work.
Be concise. Receiving hundreds of emails per day, they don’t have the time to go through a wall of text.
If you are indie, show that within your mail. Don’t try to sound like a major league company. Be respectful and professional, but use your own voice. Be friendly and not very formal. Maybe drop a little joke somewhere. That never hurt anybody J
Don’t forget to mention the release date for your app. It’s important for them to know when to write the article. They want to be among the first to let people know about your app.
Also, don’t forget to provide the marketing materials I mentioned at the beginning of this article.
MEASURE: Use Usetokens to manage your promo codes and track when they’ve been used
STEP 3: Impress the editor with your app so that she gets interested in writing an article about it
There is no way to get around this one. Your app simply has to be excellent J
MEASURE: Most of the editors will let you know about when they are going to publish the article. However, there will be some who won’t. Use Google Alerts to get notified when an article is posted about your app.
If there’s any other tips you’d like to share on getting your app covered by press use the comment section below. Also, if you find this article useful don’t forget to share it with your friends.
As they say… sharing is caring!