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Some Best Practices for Maximum Exposure at App Release

Controlling the release of your app is one of the keys to getting the maximum exposure for your app release. There are methods you can use to get that exposure and to keep things under your control for release. Let’s talk a little bit about the proper method for staging your app for release and how to set your app up for maximum publicity at release.

The first thing to note is that the App Store editorial items in iTunes such as featured, new and noteworthy, the large and small bricks, etc. are updated once per week. That update, as of last week, takes place on on Thursdays. The changes will go live at 4pm Pacific time. This change was made to better focus new changes just before the weekend rush. App sales are considerably stronger on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday US time.

Because of this change, your apps should stage your app to launch on Thursday to coincide with that editorial change. This will help you, and Apple maximize the publicity for your app.

A quick reminder — how to stage your app release

The goal of this method is to control the release date of your app, something that’s not explicitly supported by Apple. When you do this method you can drive all press releases and coverage to a specific release date of your choosing. In addition, once your app is approved, you can get promo codes. This allows you to send these promo codes to the press for review, before your app hits the App Store. This method can be done fairly simply with a little creative use of what tools you have from Apple.

When submitting your app, set the availability date to way in the future. This will make sure that when the app is approved, it won’t go live until you are ready for it to. Then once it’s approved, you can set the availability date to the date you want to release it. Make sure this is set to a Thursday for best exposure. Two weeks should give you enough time to coordinate press coverage and reviews and set you up for further promotion. More on this later.

Once your app has been approved, you can start pushing for the press coverage. As soon as your app is approved you can get promo codes. Your app will not appear in iTunes, but can be downloaded with a promo code. At this point, with your app approved but not released, a promo code is the only way anyone can download your app.

Why stage your app?

The main reason for this method is you can release your app on your schedule. Once it’s scheduled to launch when you want it to, you can point everything at that date. Press, ads, social media, everything. This puts you in control and gives the best opportunities for publicity.

Once your app is approved and you have promo codes, you can start pushing information out to press (might we suggest 148Apps?). You can give them your release date which will help them coordinate coverage. For best coverage, ask the press to do a preview immediately, mentioning the release date. Then follow up with a review to publish on the release date.

Another advantage to staging your app release is that it also lets you do a final test on your app. If needed, you can update your app before releasing it with this method as well. This helps reduce the chance of an initial bad experience by consumers.

Help Apple notice your app

The bonus reason is that staging your app helps Apple determine what to feature. It gives them time to look at apps before they go live.

If you have press talking about apps, and they mention the release date, Apple can investigate and look at the app for possible featuring. The Apple editors monitor the main iPhone sites for interesting apps and can follow up on these apps with data in their database. They have the ability to look at the app, the details, and most importantly when it’s set to go live.

This is why you want your app staged and set to release on a Thursday. You are more likely to be featured by Apple if your app launches the same day that the App Store editorial refreshes. Thursday at 4pm Pacific. That’s the key time.

If you have a good relationship with an Apple employee, you should engage them early to let them know what you are working on, get their feedback, and let them know when it’s launching.

Will this work for me?

This obviously won’t work for every app. Fart apps can ignore everything said above. Your app has to be really really good. An interesting idea, well designed, looks good, and does something on the platform uniquely or something that’s not been done before. This article can’t address that.

There’s also the matter of timing. Launching your app the same day as 100 other AAA titles dilutes the attention you can get.

Let us know in the comments how this works for you. While it’s not an absolute, this method should give you a greater chance of a successful app.

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Jeff Scott
I am the founder and publisher of 148Apps, the best iPhone app news and reviews site this side of Mars. I've been a web developer for nearly 15 years now. I'm also a stats geek, and I think that the iPhone is the best invention since the wheel!
Connect with Jeff Scott // email // www // twitter // facebook // linkedin

  • Sanjay Maharaj

    Great Tips Jeff, we are in the final stages of our Virtual LockBox iPhone app and your article is a good read for us. Will contact you soon

  • edgard

    very helpful thanks I need exact this tips for launching.

  • Simon

    Wow! thanks for the insight! I shall attempt this strategy with our next launch.

  • Aaron Watkins

    Great article Jeff, its so frustrating when a developer comes to me after their app has already launched and only then begins to think about marketing. So many missed opportunities! -Aaron

  • Sinecure Industries

    Great article! Lots of great tips. Naturally this is an open invite to bug you for our next release ;)

  • Anthony LaMantia

    I figured this out with my first real game release SlapWord, sadly I didn't to much prelaunch prep. on the marketing side and am hurting because of it

  • crazymikesapps


    Nice article and I agree with you. Control over a “your” apps release is key to good charting and actually the best chance a developer has to give their app traction. I would suggest that anyone who has an app close to being ready or ready now, embargo their app until 06/24. Due to the launch of the iPhone 4 the iTunes App Store will have millions of extra viewers and buyers on this day.

    Great article Jeff.


  • PlanHawk

    This is an incredibly helpful and intelligently written app. Thanks so much for the info. We hope to put it into action with our next venture. PlanHawk for iOS4 !

    Thank you

  • PlanHawk

    I meant well written article, not app… Got apps on the brain.

  • John

    Fantastic Article, if only I knew more about how the business works when i released iCountdown2012

    Next application i will be following these steps, and utilising review sites to aim to release all on the same day and approximately same time.

    Thanks again for the great Article

  • Rui Ferreira

    Incredible insiders insight you got here! Its almost like you are a super-guru-fly in Jobs mind. Nice!

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  • Nadav Bar Kama

    hi jeff… i have been reading tons of blogs regarding app marketing … it seams that all copy the same list of “obvious” steps. when actually you summed it all up in one word: “stage”. in my years at the uni, i learned a trick: with so much information to digest, try to take one phrase from every class, a word from every article …. well now i have it, and im going to use it: “stage”!

  • Mark Butler

    Thanks for the tips, Jeff. I am about a week away from launching You-Log Reading for the iPhone/iPad (OS7). I’ll have to rethink things now!

  • You-Log Reading

    Thanks for the tips, Jeff. We are about a week away from launching You-Log Reading for the iPhone/iPad (iOS7). Some good food for thought!

  • Pearly Penile Papules

    I totally agree with you about this.