For the past 9 years I developed, released and managed over 100 apps for iPhone, iPad and Mac and around 1000 updates for them. I’ve read thousands of articles with tips and tricks on app marketing tricks that an indie developer could use. I’ll share some of the lessons I learned. Don’t run away – there’s useful information for everyone – you might not be into mobile entrepreneurship, but you’ll probably want to sell something online at some point(even if only on Craigslist or Ebay).
Let’s play pretend: you’ve just spent a fortune developing a cool new mobile app or game, and another one to advertise it. And you somehow managed to convince people to tap the ad and reach your app’s AppStore (iTunes) page. But that’s not enough. According to recent analytics, there are over 2.2 million apps on Apple’s AppStore and over 2.8 million on Google Play Store. Your mobile app will have a difficult war to fight in order to persuade users to actually tap that “Download” button.
You have only one shot to deliver your most convincing message through the 4 items at your disposal: your app’s title, icon, app screenshots and your app’s description. I’ll discuss all of them in due time.
Today, we’ll focus on your app’s description.
7 effective copywriting tips proven to maximise the impact of your mobile app’s AppStore description
1. Be memorable from the start
What’s the core message of your app? What does it do?
The app’s description is folded(compacted) by default, showing only the first couple of lines(generally less than 255 characters). And because you lose clients with every extra click and unconvinced users will never tap the “more” link, you’d betted start by delivering a convincing “elevator pitch”. from the very beginning, as compact as possible.
“See what the world is watching in music, gaming, entertainment, news and more.” (YouTube)
“Instantly reach the people in your life—for free. Messenger is just like texting, but you don’t have to pay for every message (it works with your data plan).” (Messenger from Facebook)
2. Be brief
People don’t like it when you waste their time. They will NOT want to carefully read your app’s description. Try to deliver your message in as few words as possible.
Here’s, for instance, the 13-word description of Fidget Spin, a free game currently in the top free US charts:
It could hardly get any shorter.
Similar concise descriptions appear in most games published by Ketchapp, which is perhaps one of the reasons why Ketchapp games regularly make the top free games lists.
Off course, there are exceptions to every rule, and the AppStore description page is not a bad place to add instructions, feature lists and keywords that might help with ASO (App Store Optimisation). As a general advice, however, try to keep at least the first few passages (the ones read by most potential users) as concise and clear as possible. Your potential users will thank you for it.
3. Benefits and promise
People stumbling upon your app don’t really want to purchase it – unless you convince them. Turn their curiosity into conviction. Explain WHY they should buy YOUR app.
Remember your elevator pitch, those first lines that have to convince the user to download your app instead of another’s? Make it contain the unique benefit of your app – how can it improve their life or current status? What exactly makes your app special?
See what the world is watching (YouTube)
reach the people in your life—for free. Messenger is just like texting, but you don’t have to pay for every message (Facebook Messenger)
the world’s largest catalog of guitar & ukulele chords, tabs and lyrics. Learn how to play your favorite songs, get over 1,200,000 tabs and free daily updates with recent hit songs! (Tabs & Chords by Ultimate Guitar)
Google Maps makes navigating your world faster and easier. Find the best places in town and the information you need to get there (Google Maps)
4. Social proof
Gone are the days when users took pride in being the ones to discover a gem hidden in the dust. In a store with millions of other app choices, most of which are actually useless, people want to be confident that the app they are currently looking at is actually great. Remember to add some kind of social proof: tell your users that others (as many or as highly regarded as possible) have liked that particular app. Throw in a “Featured by Apple“, “As seen on CNN” or “Recommended by Oprah“.
Don’t have social proof? Sure you have – you’ll just have to think harder. Maybe your app was featured in some AppStore list or Collection, or mentioned in the press or some blog (even obscures one will do) (leave a comment if you’re interested and I’ll throw in several tips on how to make this happen, in a future blog post).
Or maybe your app got to the top of an AppStore section in some small country? Or, when all else fails, just quote some positive reviews that iTunes users or friends have given you.
Here are a couple of social proof mentions that I’ve placed in the first lines of some of my apps.
A top paid puzzle & strategy games in Spain, summer of 2015. (Lights Tap)
Featured by Apple and tens of personal development blogs (Self Help Classics)
Featured on PCWorld, MacWorld, Copyblogger and TheNextWeb (Clean Writer for iPad)
6. Write important features on the screenshots
The bad news: people skip text paragraphs with the same haste they ignore a beggar on the street.
The good news: they still look at apps screenshots. Actually, chances are that users will NEVER read your app’s description and decide to download your app or not based solely on the title, icon and its screenshots.
With the exception of several apps that don’t have to do this (such as Facebook, Instagram or Apple’s own), relying instead on their popularity, the clear title or self explanatory screenshots, most other apps, games included, will take advantage of people’s curiosity and write down some of the app’s features, purpose or call to action as text overlays over the images.
Text in screenshots should be brief and list some unique differentiating features. Avoid being generic (Fun game) or simply descriptive and focus instead on what makes your app different (2000 challenges).
7. Urgency and time limits
Tapping the “Buy” or “Get” button for a free app is so easy that everyone could do it. But with 2 million apps to pick from, they won’t – instead, people postpone purchases or downloads, then forget about them or simply lose interest. Adding a time or count limit or a deadline makes your current offer seem like a huge bargain that might soon disappear, and determine users to take action instead of waiting.
For paid apps or free ones with premium purchases, developers frequently use time-limited sales for this purpose.
Special sale price to celebrate being one of the most popular paid iPhone games ever! (Plague Inc)
◉ Pro Version: SALE 40% OFF !!! Very Limited Time Only !!! (Calculator #)
Careful, though, not to overdo it; don’t be “that guy” who always claims to have his apps “on sale”, but never changes their price. Trust me, thats’s what I did for a long time, and it doesn’t really work.
Instead, a more subtle approach that’s still effective is to use action-filled words and exclamation marks, in order to convey excitement, impatience and rush the user into a purchase decision. Use words such as “new”, “get”, “now”, “start”, “just”, “instant” and exclamation marks. These are widely used banner advertising techniques that work wonders in the AppStore just as well.
Also published on Medium.