THE HOLY GRAIL: How To Get To The Top Of Apple's App Store

ipad mini at apple store

Photo: AP

With more than 700,00 apps in the Apple App Store, breaking through to the top can prove to be a difficult task.We spoke with some experts and developers in the mobile app space whose apps have reached the top of the charts.  We learned from them what it takes to get there.

Dale Carr, writing for the LeadBolt blog explains the metrics required just to get your app featured in Apple’s App Store:

As of May 2012, Apps must receive at least 25,000 downloads per day to get a spot among the top 50 in U.S. category. Other countries are a little more lenient, Apps must get 10,000 downloads per day in China, 5,000 in the U.K. and South Korea. And a little less in Germany, France and Australia. Obviously, the numbers reduce significantly when looking at the top 50 in a particular category.

While that may not seem like an easy task, if your app can stand out from the others in terms of engagement, social ability, and the ability to share, your app should take off.

“Instagram was a perfect storm, it beautifies natural self-expression, offers a more beautiful optimised version of your own world, and the core activity is sharing,” Walter Driver, the CEO of Scopely a Los Angeles venture-backed startup building the next generation of social mobile games, told Business Insider.

Keep reading for the top ways to reach the top of the App Store charts.

Focus on your community:

Francis Pedraza, the leader of the team at Everest, believes that focusing on your community is one of the most important things any app developer can do.

Everest is an app that encourages users to live their dreams and achieve personal goals. The app helps to break down big goals into small steps, build step streaks, learn from others, and capture your journey along the way.

'Within the Everest app there is a dedicated community where people can comment on other's dreams,' Pedraza told Business Insider. 'Start-ups that focus on growth prematurely end up having a less rich community. If you focus on engagement within the user base that you've already established you create a really rich community that people want to be a part of.'

Creating a meaningful user experience:

David King Lassman and Joe Sumner founders of Vyclone, a viral video app, which was selected as one of Apple's best apps of 2012 told Business Insider that creating a meaningful user experience should be an app developer's top priority.

'We would tell people to spend more time making their app something that people want to share with others. The reality of the App Store ecosystem is that it's out of your control, if you want to try to figure out ways to move up the list faster, we've found that there isn't really a trick. Developers just have to have an app that has multiple user benefits.'

Don't discount the power of word of mouth:

Walter Driver, CEO of Scopely, is an expert in creating awesome consumer mobile experiences. Driver has developed social apps and games used by millions of monthly users.

Driver has found that word of mouth is one of the best sources for discovering apps.

'Because users hear about new apps through friends and many use their smartphones in social situations, word of mouth is one of the best ways to reach new users.' But Driver admits that it's really difficult to break through the charts, especially for people who are new to the game that haven't been releasing apps frequently.

Make sure you have a product that does something cool (or at least that Apple thinks is cool):

Walter Driver, CEO of Scopely, also shared that one of the most important things developers can do is make something cool.

'Make something that resonates with users and stands out from the crowd,' he said. 'Apple definitely pays attention to and acknowledges apps that show off the Apple medium, and I think that's terribly important.'

Discount your app, initially:

If you are charging for your app, consider lowering the price for the first few days or weeks.

Apps like Checkmark, a location-based reminders app, had major success in the Apple App Store despite lowering their initial price.

Ryan Cash, Checkmark's Founder, believes that 'app pricing is very different for every type of app, and it's something very difficult to figure out. It's kind of scary, but exciting at the same time. You'll never know if you could have earned more or less.'

Although he regrets discounting his app in the beginning, Checkmark remains a popular app. It now sells for $4.99 up from $0.99 during its inital release.

A few days after its launch Checkmark was at the top of the App Store productivity category and users couldn't get enough.

Use search engine optimization and keyword search to optimise your app:

Hire a PR team to help you reach more prominent people:

Hiring a PR team helps to blanket the market with as much coverage as possible.

A PR team can reach out to journalists and key stakeholders, offering them demos and reviews that can coincide with your app's launch.

In addition, PR teams can manage your social media presence and help spread the word.

Use App promotion networks and agencies:

App promotion networks like FreeAppADay, TapJoy, Fiksu, app-promo, and W3i all help your app to get noticed.

Unlike PR agencies, promotion networks offer a range of services to mobile developers and publishers, ranging from traditional PR and marketing, to highly specialised services such as Appstore SEO, app sponsorship campaigns, and mobile ad buying.

Nominate your app for an award or two.

Apps can receive awards from the tech industry at events like the Crunchies, Appy Awards, or Best App Ever Awards.

These events are great ways to gain exposure to a wider audience which will drive downloads.

Now check out the top colleges and universities if you want to make apps:

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