Image by Nina Geometrieva
Do you want to learn how to increase app downloads and get your game ranked higher?
Today, we’ll discuss the most effective strategies for indie developers to help increase app downloads and get their mobile game noticed in the App Store. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out or you’re an indie developer with several games under your belt; these useful tips can make a huge impact on your app’s success. You can apply all or just a few of them to improve your game’s overall visibility and installs.
So, let’s begin!
#1 – Make Your Game Awesome!
Let’s be honest. Sometimes good, isn’t enough. There are over 2.2 million apps in the App Store and more than 3.6 million in the Google Play Store. So, if you want your game to get noticed it needs to be better than simply good. It has to be awesome!
Creating a game that’s a step above the competition, will not only give you an advantage but it’ll also have the ability to sell itself. This is key when you’re trying to promote and increase app downloads. Don’t just make a game. Research, plan, and design the type of game that people will want to play and tell others.
To make an entertaining, polished game, you have to add elements that will make players connect emotionally to your game. We’ve talked a lot about this in our previous post, 5 Secrets of Game Design. Try to use the ‘Model and Improve’ technique to create a game with gameplay that’s familiar but unique. With the ‘Model and Improve’ method, you study and analyze top games in the App Store. Then you brainstorm ways that you can add, substitute or remove different aspects of those games to make something new.
You should also add surprises to your game to entertain and engage your players. This can be in the form of a gratifying reward system, unlockable characters, unique items, animated cut-scenes, power-ups or hidden portals leading to bonus worlds to be explored.
If you’re already published your app, you can always update it by adding a few new twists and bonuses into the gameplay.
#2 – Get Published
One of the quickest and easiest ways to increase app downloads is to get your game published. Publishers handle all the marketing and promotion of your game. So, going the publisher route can save you tons of time and effort. You don’t need to learn how to get more app downloads when you’re working with a publisher. They do all of that stuff for you.
However, there are a few downsides to using publishers. The first is it can be a slow process to get things going. Major publishers get flooded with submissions every day, so you have to be strategic and patient when trying to pitch and submit your game.
When you sign with a publisher, you also lose creative control over your game. A publisher might request that you make minor or significant changes to your app’s concept or look. But, if you’re flexible, choosing to go with a publisher can give you access to a team of professionals that can effectively promote your game to increase app downloads.
#3 – Cover All the Bases
When you’re trying to promote or sell something, details and presentation matter. That’s why it’s vital to ‘cover all the bases’ and optimize your App Store listing. Every little bit counts, especially when you’re an indie developer launching your app solo.
Remember, you don’t have to spend weeks or months researching keywords and analytics, but you do need to make sure you have the basics covered.
Think about it this way, would you want to download a game with a crappy icon and screenshots? Or a game that looked like the developer put zero effort into its name and listing?
Of course, not.
Although, app store optimization is no longer the powerhouse it used to be for getting immediate app installs, don’t skip optimization altogether. Instead, focus on covering just the core basics:
* Title w/ Relevant Keyword
* Researched Keywords
* Eye-Catching Icon
* Minimum of 4 High-Quality Screenshots
* Game Description (if submitting to Google Play Store, also include relevant keywords in your description.)
Do a little research with tools like Sensor Tower or Mobile Action to find the best keywords to use. But don’t overthink the process. There are also free tools like Keyword Tool that you can use to get quick keyword suggestions in seconds to help optimize your listing. You can also check out our guide on finding keywords for more in-depth step-by-step tips.
Also remember, every platform varies. Apple’s App Store doesn’t review app descriptions as carefully as the Google Play Store does. Google values keywords in the description as much as it does in the title, whereas Apple only hones in on the title, submitted keywords, and overall quality.
Having an eye-catching icon can also help increase app downloads. Users browsing through apps are more likely to stop and click on a game with an attention-grabbing icon. It’s good to take advantage of the screenshots slots available and include as many of your best screenshots as you can. Aim for at least 4 to 5 screenshots minimum.
If you want to increase app downloads and get your game seen, take the time to cover all your bases. The only devs that don’t need to optimize are the ones that are working with publishers. Most indie developers without an ‘entourage’ of professionals behind the scenes should do all the little and major things that aide in app visibility.
#4 – Localize
Localization is another way to increase app downloads. It involves translating the metadata, visuals, and app listing text to one or multiple languages. When you localize your game, you expand your reach, which often results in higher app installs and revenue.
At least 72% of mobile app users are non-native English speakers. That’s a HUGE amount of potential players that you may be missing out on by not localizing your game. Think about it, if your English based app is localized in Spanish and Chinese your reach would cover half of the globe. Localization can be a powerful strategy to increase app downloads and boost your game’s visibility.
Russian, Portuguese, and Chinese are great countries to target if your goal is to get more downloads. Languages like Spanish, German, French, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, and Italian also are excellent targets with large numbers of potential app users.
To localize your app, you can translate your app yourself or use an app localization/translation service. And if you’re releasing your game on Google Play platform, they offer localization services too.
Many game creators often overlook localization, but it can be a useful way to get more app downloads.
#5 – Get More Reviews & Ratings
App reviews and ratings can also increase app downloads. Both can impact your app’s ranking in the search results. Getting more positive reviews and ratings will make your game more appealing to potential players and boost visibility.
One of the best ways to get reviews is to ask for them. Start with people you know like family and friends. Get active on indie developer forum boards and post links to your game with a request for review. Promote your app on social platforms and encourage people to check out your game and leave a review.
You can also add an app review prompt or plugin that will pop-up after the user has played your game for a set amount of time and ask them to rate your app. When using notifications like these, remember timing is essential. Avoid showing the pop-up too soon or too frequent to put off players from leaving a positive review.
#6 – Build Up Your Online Presence
If your goal is to get more app downloads, building up your game’s online presence is essential. You should strive to get as many eyeballs on your game as possible. Creating a website or landing page for your app can help you establish an online presence. It is also a powerful marketing strategy.
Whether you decide to keep things simple or elaborate with your app’s website, a lot can be done to push installs. You can create a landing page with an updates sign-up to collect potential players or fans email addresses. Then send out newsletters or update emails. When your app is live, you can notify them and ask for reviews or feedback. You can also use your site as a platform to interact with players through blogging about the game’s development and answering questions. Add a press kit on your website to make it easy for journalists and game reviewers to write and promote your app.
Your app’s online presence is important, so always try to use your best screenshots and videos to encourage visitors to download your game. If you have the skills, you can make your own website or use platforms like WordPress, Blogger, Unbounce, or Leadpages to create them.
Also, remember branding matters. Try to make sure your site has the same matching domain name as your game’s name or indie studio.
Another major part of building an online presence is social media. Create social media profiles on platforms like Facebook and Twitter for your game. Research which social networking sites other games similar to yours is promoting on and join those as well. Start being active and posting about your game to generate interest and buzz.
Don’t forget to add links to your game’s social media accounts to your landing page or blog. It’s a great way to establish your brand’s authority.
#7 – Reach Out to Influencers
To increase app downloads, you have to let the world know your game exists. One of the best ways to do this is by reaching out to press and influencers. Press like journalists, bloggers, and game reviewers can help spread the word about your game. However for success with this tactic you need to do your research first. Study similar games and see which sites or blogs reviewed them.
Try only to contact the journalists and reviewers that write about apps like yours. Look at some of their previous work. You don’t want to reach out to someone who only reviews educational kid related apps about your shoot em’ up arcade game. Once you have a list of people, you want to reach out to find their contact information and give them your best pitch.
Reaching out to influencers can also help. For game-based apps, famous YouTubers can drastically boost your app installs. Research some of the top influencers that review or promote games and try to connect. Social influencers have large followings. If you can get them to mention, post, tweet, or discuss your game, you’ll get instant downloads.
#8 – Product Hunt
You can also increase app downloads by posting your game on Product Hunt. If you’re not familiar with Product Hunt, it’s a website that allows users to share and discover new products. All of the products are geared towards tech and includes the latest mobile apps and games, websites, hardware projects and high-tech products.
It’s the go-to place for early adopters and the ideal platform to showcase your new app. Getting featured on Product Hunt can drastically boost your game’s downloads.
Before you post your game, do a little research and try to create the best possible pitch. Also having an influencer from the site with a big following to post your app, instead of posting it yourself can make a bigger impression. You can only post your game once on the website, so be strategic in how you do it.
#9 – Experiment with Ad Campaigns
Ad campaigns and paid installs are also a strategy that can be used to increase app downloads. There are multiple ways that you can experiment with ad campaigns to gain traction with your app. If you’re using an ad company like AdMob that has free cross-promotion features, you can promote your new app on your previous games. They have embedded options in their dashboard that allows you to set this up easily.
In our previous post, Best Ad Networks for Game Developers, we list quite a few popular indie dev friendly companies to work with besides AdMob. If you’re interested, they’re definitely worth checking out. There are also PPI ad networks like AppSamurai that have excellent options too.
Another common method for increasing app downloads is using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snap Chat to run campaigns. Experimenting with different platforms and campaigns can help you find the right combination to get results.
#10 – Run a Contest
Running contests are also a good way to increase app downloads. Contests are a great way to spark interest and buzz around your game. It’s also a useful strategy to do to help boost visibility. They engage and encourage people to click, download, and share. All are key components for success when you’re trying to get more app downloads.
You can run contests on just about any social media platform like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Make participants ‘Comment to Enter,’ ‘Tweet to Enter,’ ‘Like or Pin to Win.’ There are also forums that you can post and run contests on like TouchArcade. Giveaway gift cards or promo codes to unlock in-app purchases for free to participants who download your game and leave a review. You’ll boost app downloads and reviews at the same time.
When you’re trying to increase app downloads, using any or all of these strategies can help. Try different approaches and be persistent to get results.