Category Archives: App Store

Mobile commerce grows rapidly as more users browse products and make purchases from mobile devices. Smartphone spending had increased on 96% during Q1 2016, according to eRetail Sales Index. While many retail companies hesitate to develop mobile apps, the trend is clear: Clutch survey shows that half of all surveyed businesses will have an app by the next year.

Having a great shopping app can help a retailer to reach consumers on mobile platforms, drive more sales, and increase brand recognition. However, you should make sure that your potential customers know about the app and will definitely use it. Placing links to the app on your website and QR-codes on offline promotions may attract some users, but to garner maximum reach, you should use more time-tested and effective marketing methods.

The app marketing agency ComboApp shares marketing tips for shopping apps that can be easily incorporated into a general promotion strategy.

1. Make sure the app provides real value to users

Marketing services for a retail app

Who is your target audience? What features will they find useful? If your consumers are mostly millenials, they will enjoy social engagement with the app. If they’re baby-boomers, put an emphasis on helpful information on the products your app offers. Make sure your promotional message will describe additional opportunities for app users, such as:

  • Customized push notifications about sales and discounts
  • Trackers for deliveries and packages
  • Creation and management of shopping and wish lists
  • Sharing product pics to social networks to get feedback
  • An interactive map to navigate through the store

To find more ideas, check out the strategies of successful retail apps such as Net-A-Porter and ASOS.

The secret here is to describe the advantages of the app’s features and translate this message consistently through all available channels (i.e. website, social media, emails, offline promo, app promo page).

2. Benefit from owned media

Social media channels for promoting a retail app

Websites, blogs, and social media accounts are the main channels for promoting an app. People visit them for additional information and insight. It won’t help to make links to your app download page that look like annoying ad banners. Instead, place them in a form of essential information and additional feature.

  • Create informative posts to describe all advantages of your shopping app, and share these posts across social media.
  • Add appealing screenshots of the app that will show off its functions and opportunities.
  • Always add relevant hashtags to social media posts for increased visibility.

3. Motivate users to market your app

Motivate users to market your app

First, add a little bit of virality. World of mouth works more effectively than advertising. Think of a referral network that increases viral sharing though customers. It can be additional features, discounts, or little offline incentives for those who invite users to install the app. Make it easy for users to spread information from the app in social networks through sharing buttons. Ideally, each new user invites one more user after an install, which leads the app into a viral cycle:

Then, ask speakers and exhibitors to share information on the event app through their social media outlets. In order to encourage installs, speakers can also add some key takeaways from their presentations into the app in advance.

4. Optimize the app download page

App Store Optimization for marketing your app 

Users may find your shopping app through an app store search. To increase your app’s visibility in search results, use ASO (app store optimization techniques):

  • The app title should contain the main keywords, which users will use in order to find the shopping app: brand name, product titles. Browse your competitors’ app descriptions and think about the most sought-after terms to include.
  • Use 3-4 keywords in the app description. Include information on the app’s functions and features. Add screenshots and a promo video if possible.
  • Optimize in-app content and promo-site texts. That way, users will be able to find your app through a simple search.

By optimizing your app’s presence on the app store, you will increase the chance for users to find it through search and download.

5. Increase user engagement

Increase user engagement for your retail app

App installs are only half the battle. A larger part of customers may never use the app after downloading it. Use reminders to encourage users to engage with the app in order to fully benefit from its features:

– Push notifications are a great method for re-engagement. However, this method is quite intrusive, so remember to keep the messages brief and informative. Do not send more than 1 push notification per day. Use pushes to make important announcements or provide customized reminders.

– Facebook Engagement Ads are a more delicate way of engaging existing or potential app users. An engagement ad in the Facebook news feed will be shown to users who have downloaded an app or liked the brand’s page.

Marketing a shopping app takes a great deal of time and effort, but it pays off with higher rates of customer engagement and brand loyalty. Be sure to test out all the different promotional methods and find which method works best for your niche and target audience.

Good luck!

Need some help with your mobile app marketing efforts?

ComboApp has been helping app developments and companies successfully market their mobile apps since 2009.

Simply call us at 773.305.0886 or click on the Contact Us button in the header of this site. We look forward to helping you become the next unicorn!

The updated iOS features will change the way apps are searched, discovered and displayed.  App developers will need to adapt their app marketing strategy based on these changes. ComboApp chose the most important and overlooked iOS 9 features that app developers should consider.

Search API, Deep Linking

What’s New? Deep-linking based technology is integrated into the Search feature. This means that Spotlight will use user’s apps as a major search channel, thus exposing in-app content that will help to improve app discoverability. App content could now be displayed after typing App Store keywords. This is how it works. A user searches his or her device for “pasta” and gets results from a recipe app even if he or she doesn’t have the app installed.

How should app developers adapt? Think about what content can be found within your app and pay more attention to keyword relevant content. Deep-linking will certainly help enhance app promotion and app retention by providing a new channel for attracting potential user’s attention to enhance LTV via reactivation campaigns.

Siri Suggestions

What’s New? Before a user reaches the search box on his or her device, Siri fills a search page with apps and new suggestions that are most relevant to the user. Siri does this by learning user’s habits and gathering behavioral data.

How should app developers adapt? If your app is one that gets regular user attention, you will definitely benefit from the search page shortcut. On the other hand, apps like contextual and seasonal ones may experience a small negative effect when a user is constantly distracted by popular app suggestions. If your app icon could potentially get lost among tons of other apps that are already installed on a user’s device, don’t forget to create relevant short names for you app to make it more visible and easy to discover.

Reduced OS and Apps Sizes

What’s New? iOS 9’s file size is small in comparison to iOS 8 (1.3 GB vs 4.58 GB). There is also a technology called App Thinning that helps optimize the size of installing an app. No more space restriction when it comes to installing app updates!

How should app developers adapt? Small iOS 9 size has stimulated its quick adoption so developers should not hesitate with adjusting a marketing strategy. As for App Thinner, app developers should be careful. Now in Xcode 7 a bit code is generated during compilation for platforms that are supported by the app. This option is enabled by default but some third-party libraries are not compiled with bit code. If your app uses these libraries, then you should deactivate code generations (Include ENABLE_BITCODE=NO into the project settings).

Ad Blocking Option

What’s new? It’s the first time that Apple is allowing users to block ads. It is only available in Safari extensions, so this affects mobile web ads only. Ad blocking is supposed to help bring advertising relevance and quality.

How should app developers adapt? There will be no impact on in-app ads so no need to worry. If your user acquisition activity depends on the mobile web then it’s time to reconsider your marketing strategy and turn to better performing app inventory.

Some additional tips on iOS 9:

  • App Transport Security technology, as it is clear from the name, can help make data transportation more secure. It is enabled by default so if you server does not satisfy the ATS requirements, connection will end up with a mistake saying “An SSL error has occurred and a secure connection to the server cannot be made.”
  • We strongly recommend that app developers look through the official list of iOS 9 innovations and implement them all, if possible, into apps. You can get your app featured after release because Apple likes to feature apps that have implemented maximum novelties.

Although there is a lot for app developers to consider and apply, iOS 9 provides a great opportunity to create valuable in-app experience and reach out to a wider audience. If you need professional help getting your app high on the App Store and acquiring new user for your iOS app, contact the ComboApp team.


Eugenia Dychko, Content Manager

Apple recently made a number of changes to the way it features and organizes mobile apps in the iTunes App Store particularly aimed at the mobile game community.

This created significant buzz among industry insiders. Opinions from industry insiders, such as Oliver Kern, predict the close end of burst campaigns like Top 25, Top 5, etc. Is it an attempt for Apple to kill User Acquisition by removing burst campaigns or just a normal cleaning session from the App Store?

Apple has removed the possibility for games to surface among the featuring slots of a category page based only on data. Lists such as New, What’s Hot and All iPhone (Free & Paid) were changed by featured lists curated by Apple’s editorial team rather than algorithms in the same fashion as the main page.

These pages now have their own banner art at the top to better highlight the best new games within those sections. Within each subcategory page, consumers can browse editorial collections including Best New Games, All Time Greats, etc. Top charts such as Top Paid, Top Free and Top Grossing are still available.

This significant update is showing that Apple is moving from algorithmically generated sections increasing its focus on editorial content. This means that a fast rise in installs generated by burst campaigns or other user acquisition techniques will no longer automatically land your game on one of the featured categories as it would have in the past. If Apple staff judges the quality or relevance of your game to be lacking, based on their undisclosed internal list of criteria, your game will be weeded out of the selection no matter how many times it was downloaded today.

Essentially burst campaigns still work in the sense that their primary objective had been reaching Top charts. This is where burst campaigns can be sustained and scaled as an ingredient in a good marketing mix. What has disappeared is only the one-off effect of maybe getting featured in a category, which should always have been a secondary target given that there is a bit of luck involved. More importantly because this added bonus element has little impact on a sound, long-tail plan.

A burst campaign consists of acquiring cheap and low-quality users often from incentivized traffic sources in sufficient amounts within a short time frame (less than a day) so that the app will rise up on the App Store charts. When surfacing in the Top 10 or reaching the top of a category, the app will see an organic uplift that offsets the cost of buying poor traffic.

The best detailed resource about how such burst campaigns are executed in the app world is included in Eric Seufert’s “Trampoline Launch” slide deck. Although he is quoting that, there is no need for User Acquisition at all. “I don’t need to run mobile user acquisition. If I make a great game, it will grow on its own”. As a technique, User Acquisition has grown due to persistently rising competition, especially in the gaming category where the number of certain clones can reach hundreds. When Apple is clearly aiming to increase the quality of content, games and apps distributed on the App Store, cleaning out clones and artificially boosted apps, the User Acquisition technique will clearly decline.

Why is it only happening right now? Apple is searching to maintain its loyal end users. With more than 1 million apps on board it becomes a complex issue for end users to discern a worthy app from a clone app. Users have to dig through over dozens of referrals, review sites and social pages to gather user feedback in order to find the right app solving a particular issue. The App Store changed the algorithm to clear the ground from “weeds” and increase potential for high-quality apps to prosper.

It’s also a chance for smaller mobile app development companies publishing high-quality content to get noticed by Apple rather than compete in terms of budgets on burst campaigns with bigger publishers, which would be winners by default.

Here at ComboApp we are fully welcoming the fact that Apple is cleaning out “black hat techniques” and transitioning to transparency, measurability, scalability and productivity for developers while leaving behind costly and inefficient burst campaigns. This policy update is showcasing market development and maturity, which could not please us more.

The decline in using burst campaigns would probably be compensated by the growing demand for PR and Community building tools. ASO tools, including an icon, app description and keywords optimization, would probably attract more attention of developers. High quality design of promo screenshots, video previews media-kits and press releases would be the right assets to put more efforts on in order to get a featured position on the App Store.

The ComboApp team will help you to liaise effectively with the right media outlets and get you the right connections. The most important thing, however, is to build an app that is top quality. It doesn’t matter how much buzz there is or who you know at Apple, if your app is not an efficient, well-designed product that serves a genuine purpose it won’t get featured. If your startup has something that consumers will want or need and if you have designed it with love and care, then you stand a better chance of being recognized.


Oles Dzyub,
Branded Content Manager at ComboApp

It’s never been easy to push applications to the top of the App Store, especially if it’s the first app for a developer. You’ve created your first iOS title, but no amount of enthusiasm is going to make up for your lack of experience in publicizing it. We had this exact dilemma in mind when we decided to create the first time developer’s survival guide to app promotion.

iOS 6’s App Store makes promotion more challenging (and in our opinion more fun) than ever. Unlike in iOS 5, the iOS 6 employs a “Top Grossing” App list more than its traditional “Release Date” list. Anyone (i.e. you) launching new titles is going to feel this, as you’ll have the least time to gain a following. That means you’ll be relegated to the App Store’s vast no-man’s land of apps (unless discovered somehow). That means you’re unseen to consumers, plain and simple.

Guaranteeing that you have your app’s public profile raised as high as possible when it launches is important – not that we’d need to tell you that twice. There’s no shortage of things you need to get right to ensure that your first mobile app to be known, downloaded, and successful. No need to keel over in a fit anxiety though – ComboApp’s first time developer’s survival guide to app promotion provides you with an overview of each of these important factors. Go ahead, take a look:

Tips for 1st App Promotion on iOS 6

1. Graphic promotional materials tend to be the most expensive marketing solutions – but they’re more effective.

The new App Store incorporates much more graphics, banners, and other visual stuff in its new layout. No matter what app you look at or which ‘feature’ column you venture to, the first apps you notice are the ones jumping out via engaging and appealing visual content.

Some of the most graphics are going to be your product’s App Store icon and its first promotional screenshot. If you work to make both of them ultra enticing your reward is going to be much greater consumer interest.

Your App Store Icon:
The most general lists on the App Store all reveal exactly 3 things about every app on each list. The App’s Title, its Star Review Rating, and its Icon. Advice for effective app naming is simple – keep it short, catchy, and sweet.

The new App Store’s app icons are almost twice as big as they had been, and with consumers browsing through the App Store with increasingly higher resolution devices these icons can now incorporate logos, names, and more without coming off too busy. Use this space thoughtfully and you’ll see its full potential to help you wrangle an audience for your app.

Your 1st Screenshot:
iOS 5’s App Store emphasized the value of accurately informative descriptions as this was the primary thing users were pushed to explore. iOS 6 has abandoned this concept in favor of pushing screenshots as the primary descriptive aide on any given app’s dedicated App Store page.

Since screenshots are presented via sliding menu the first one become of crucial importance as it’s the only one shoppers see. This graphic shot is responsible for selling them on cycling through more screenshots, deciding to reading a more in-depth description of your app.

Simply put your first screenshot has the power to push consumers onto the path towards downloading your app or convincing them to ignore it and move on. Make it visually appealing, include effective texts that entice shoppers to try your app out. Expertly executed this is a powerful advertising tool, and you should develop it long before your planned release day comes and goes.

2. Reviews

Here’s a surprise: Focusing on getting positive customer star reviews and using them to your advantage is important. But, it’s also much harder to go out of the gates because shoppers have had no time to try and review your app. Plan out how you’re going to get good reviews. Do it before your app ever hits the App Store, and don’t ask us why – you know the answer already!

Helpful hint: Throwing in a “Please Review” button as an afterthought won’t really get the job done.

3. App Store Optimization (ASO) Done Right

We’ll be the first to admit that the new layout of the App Store doesn’t make searching for apps easy. In fact it’s downright goofy – vertical menus have been replaced with horizontal ones. It’s impossible to see lists of 25+ titles with a single swipe and although users do have the option of reinstating the old menu system it’s a hassle to do so and a safe bet that the vast majority of users won’t bother trying. Don’t even ask about the “See All” tab, it’s not what it once was.

What you should take away from it: unless your application is already at the top of the charts using effective keywords is more important than ever. You want users searching for your app to find you? Work for it! Use that 100 symbol limit wisely, take a look at your marketplace and what your competition is doing too.

4. Social Media Integration

Social Media is huge in iOS 6 and on the new App Store too. Facebook and Twitter are everywhere on there, and you’d better focus on them when promoting your app if you want to be a market winner. Make Facebook Fan pages and Twitter handles for your app before it launches. The long and short of it is if you want recognition for your app you should be looking at Social Media. Reach out through these social networks, get spotted, get “liked”, and get your app shared by the public!

Parting Thoughts

With the rollout of iOS 6 it’s become more difficult than ever to get noticed at the App Store. Don’t hesitate to utilize alternative promotional channels, impress bloggers, web based outlets relevant to your apps, and reach out to thought leaders influential amongst your target consumer demographic. Apps need to get experienced and reviewed as badly as people need air. Without them they are dead in the water.

Promotion is integral to any app’s success and while a quality product will almost always be the deciding factor in which apps will find a wide user base in the long term, getting them primed to do so is up to you. If you’re green to the industry don’t risk getting this crucial step wrong. Contact the professionals and get it right the first time around.



ComboApp team

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