How to regularly get featured in app stores

In this article, Liza Savenkova, Head of Business Development at ZİMAD, explores the intriguing world of successful app featuring and discovers the key strategies to consistently secure positions in-store selections. Written in a casual tone and enriched with personal, professional experience, the piece draws from the company’s extensive experience with its flagship project, Magic Jigsaw Puzzles, and its collaborations with various platforms. Delving into the challenges and the significance of featuring effective communication with app stores, the article provides valuable insights for developers seeking to maximize their app’s visibility and reach. Embark on this journey of discovery and unveil the untapped potential of app store promotions.
featured screen from google play app store

Magic Jigsaw Puzzles has celebrated its 12th anniversary this year. On top of being available on Google Play and App Store, the app can be downloaded from such platforms as Amazon, Windows, Facebook, and others. Stores want to publish the product despite its age, and they do so not only because ZİMAD is constantly working to improve it but also because wisely built communication with platforms and thorough preparations for promotion in stores are essential parts of the product’s success and profitability.

When your app gets featured on an app store, it means that the app store’s editors have selected your app to be prominently displayed and promoted to a larger audience. It significantly increases the visibility of your product and, of course, boosts the number of organic installs. You have no direct impact over when and how your app will get into one of such lists, but you can take certain actions to increase your chances of being featured by the store. For example, you can create an event tied to a holiday like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, the 4th of July, etc. Releasing a new game can also be a good reason to be added to the featured list.

Partnerships and collaborations with famous brands capture the attention of the store because users love new content from popular brands.

Technical updates. Internal events is an App Store feature used to promote the tech features they want developers to use. Technical updates are also important for the store itself and for app users. When you add some tech-related elements to your game, even small details like stickers for iMessage, you show that you use all the tech opportunities the store offers to its users.

Building communication with a store

Apart from publishing your game, platforms can provide valuable feedback on your new releases. You can send them your new builds/product versions for testing and receive recommendations on what to change to polish the update. By following the store’s advice, you show your loyalty and present yourself as a competent developer. Thanks to a rapport with a platform, you might get early access to its updates. You will also be receiving invitations to various conferences and other events. The store manager may help you create and expand valuable connections. Such knowledge sharing is usually beneficial for both the developer and the platform.

Peculiarities of Different Types of Traffic

  • Today the tab provides the most general and wide-range traffic. There, your app will be potentially visible to anyone entering the store.
  • Games tab. It requires the user to be at least interested in a category, which makes the chance for a download higher. Visual and creative assets aimed at attracting the user play a crucial role.
  • Applications tab. Just like the Games tab, it has limited traffic, but its users are more determined to find what they are looking for.

Before submitting your game for a featured promotion, make sure you create an updated description that highlights your app and “sells” it to the store. It’s better to prepare a presentation that showcases the new event and content in the update.

To inform your users about the upcoming updates, don’t forget to update your accounts on social networks (Instagram or Facebook) as well — stores will notice it too.

Some platforms can ask you to provide the roadmap and budget for your products. If you are lucky enough to get selected for a featured promotion, you may have the opportunity to increase the budget for that period.

You might also be asked to create a banner or a video specifically for the platform to promote your mobile app or game. It should be unique and not previously used.

Some platforms can check your product for bugs like localization problems, tech issues, etc. Make sure to localize your metadata, texts, and visuals. Consider it as a checklist of tasks that must be done to demonstrate the readiness of your product for a featured promotion to the store.

To find out when the promotion starts, you can use various marketing tools and platforms like Appmagic, SensorTower, and others, depending on your preferences. You should also monitor the list of countries where your app will be promoted so that marketing specialists can adjust their plans. And, of course, analyze the featured promotion together with your analysts to see how your game metrics have changed.

Special Characteristics of Featurings on the App Store and Google Play

The App Store and Google Play add hundreds of new apps daily, and only several of them make it to the featured lists. And here are some important pieces of advice that may help you be among them:

  • Make sure all bugs in your app are fixed. Some platforms may check your product for errors. They usually include localization problems, technical issues, etc. Make sure to localize your metadata, texts, and visuals. Consider it as a checklist of tasks that must be done to demonstrate the readiness of your product for a featured promotion to the store.
  • Promote new features of the platforms. They like it when developers help them promote their own products. Learn what large companies are working on and be the first to implement it.
  • Create a high-quality page in app stores. You only have a couple of seconds to make a good impression. Optimize your page to increase the number of downloads. The more appealing your description, the more chances you have to get featured in the App Store or Google Play. Pay attention to ratings and reviews —they have to be very good (if not great) and reflect your product’s best qualities. This is definitely a must for an app on App Store or Google Play featuring.
  • Participate in contests and events by Apple and Google. For example, Google holds Indie Games Accelerator and Indie Games Festival for independent game developers every year, and the winners get featured on Google Play. Apple conducts a design contest during WWDC.
  • Release updates regularly. Updates show you care about your users. Keep fixing bugs and introducing new features. And remember: editors supervise stores to offer their visitors the best apps. They will never promote products that haven’t been updated for months.

Any developer or company would love to get thousands of new users by being on the Editor’s Choice lists in app stores. But there are pros and cons to every featuring.

First of all, being on any themed list will definitely unveil your app for a bigger audience, but those users may not be your target audience. For example, if your app is designed strictly for professional poker players and appears on the Today tab, it will surely receive tens of thousands of installs, but how many whales will be among them? And what rating will the app get after such a promotion?

Second of all, when your app is displayed on the main page of a store, its users pay very close attention to it. No UI or code bugs will be tolerated. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. And every error will cost you hundreds and thousands of lost users. You must be ready for a featuring and establish all the project processes in advance.

And thirdly, users that come from a featuring can sometimes distort your analytics. Product analytics, UA analytics, and store analytics experience real shock from the new peak values. Remember that featurings will interfere with your understanding of the project.

Some examples

In July 2022, Magic Jigsaw Puzzles was selected as the **game of the day in the App Store, and our installs doubled that day during the first run of the game-of-the-day event.**Later; this featured promotion expanded to other regions, including Asia, Europe, and South America. Our product has been promoted multiple times within the store. It must be noted that well-made art assets play a crucial role — they must resonate with players and hold significant value. This visual asset has been promoted 3-4 times in the US over the last six months, which confirms its great performance.

Another example is Jigsaw Puzzle Villa — our new title released last year in September. It was promoted in the Google Play collection of new games. During the first few days of the featured promotion, our organic installs increased by 55% compared to the number we had the day before the event.

And the last example is promoting your app within an internal platform event. We were cooperating with Marvel and carried out an event centered around the 60th anniversary of Spider-Man. Our product got four times more downloads during that event. It must be said that when you choose what to display on the platform, you should conduct market research to avoid duplicating the content used by other developers. Think about how your content can be implemented in other events. Be creative, make great games, and don’t forget to speak up about them!

Liza Savenkova
Head of Business Development, ZİMAD

Elizaveta started at ZiMAD as a User Acquisition Manager in January 2020 and gradually progressed to Junior Business Development Manager by October 2020. From January 2021 to October 2022, they served as a Middle Business Development Manager. Currently, Elizaveta holds the position of Head of Business Development at ZiMAD, starting from October 2022.

Elizaveta has experience of cooperation with such large companies as Disney, Sony, Marvel, National Geographic within the framework of partnerships with ZiMAD games.

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