“It's like drinking from a firehose.” – Alfred Huger
Jingle bells, Super Cells. The holiday season is upon us!
The last few years have opened up our eyes to the power of the December tides – having worked at a retail e-commerce site a few years back, I can attest to the surge in traffic and sales that comes during this time. Chartboost just released some info about the Thanksgiving season that foreshadows an even bigger wave this month, citing a 48% spike in volume. It seems the turkey infused naps were no match for the lure of the new iPhone 5 burning in everyone's pocket.
What's even more interesting is that the spikes tend to begin around the first of the month (now) and peak around Christmas time, with a slow trail afterwards.
This can be exciting and overwhelming. You see this freight train of traffic and money coming at you full speed. What do you do?
Here's a breakdown of what you need to know to capitalize on this trend.
10 Ways To Market Your App During the Holidays
1. Update your description and screenshots. If there is one thing you should do, this is it. It's free, it's easy (most of the time), and appeals directly to the holiday shopper. It doesn't take much – maybe a santa hat on a character or even just some new text that says “Holiday Special!” Remember that in iOS 6 your first screenshot plays a big part in how people are going to find your app. If they see that it's related to the holidays, they'll be more likely to download.
2. Release an update that puts you in control. The biggest issue with controlling apps in the iOS world is that you have to go through an enormous review process to get anything changed. Who has 2 weeks during the holiday seasons to reach your users? Instead, think about stocking up your app with push notifications. These are those little popups that games have that say “Hey, you haven't been playing!” or whatever. You can set it up so that you can send your own or have them automatically popup after a certain amount of time. This gives you the ability to communicate with your customers and have them use your app when you want them to (like Christmas Eve). I use www.Parse.com for mine.
3. Stress your servers or anything offline. For most of you, this probably isn't an issue because your apps are native (everything's already inside). But for those of you using any sort of external protocol, have your IT team or developers simulate some big stresses. If you get an extra 50,000 users in one day, can you handle it?
4. Find partners to cross promote with. This is something that Chartboost does with their Direct Deals platform, but also something you can do with a handshake. If you have a game or an app that's very closely aligned with someone else's. You'll find that it's a lot easier to rise to the top when you can work with someone else (or a network of people). If you have a More Games screen, that's another way you can help promote each other.
5. Make money on the first 5 seconds, not lifetime value. One thing you will find is that users want to try a lot of new apps. No one wants to commit to a lifetime of in-app purchases and fuzzy creature messages while they're tearing open their next gift – they want to be WOW-ed and then move on. A lot of the bigger guys out there are using this time of increased traffic as a way to spike their user base, but I'm not. I know from my own experience in the e-commerce world that the people who shop and browse during this time are probably not going to be your best long term customers. So – fire off your Revmob FullScreen ad at the opening of the game and make some money.
6. Prepare for the iTunes Connect shutdown. In case you haven't been checking the hundreds of emails Apple has been sending, iTunes Connect will be shut down from the 21st through the 28th. That means NOTHING is happening in that area. No releases, no updates, no price changes, nothing. You can't get in there and I can promise you that they're not going to care if you email them to say “OMG I meant to make my app free!” Make sure you have everything ready to rock before the 21st so that you can sit back and drink some egg nog while the market explodes.
Last year they froze the charts during this time, it's unclear if they will again this year. The reason that matters is for anyone out there planning on buying installs in order to drive yourself up the charts. I'll update this if I ever find out for sure.
7. Capitalize on the Christmas hangover. Once the presents have been unwrapped and Mom's trying to save all the wrapping paper for next year, reality strikes that there are millions of people booting up their new devices. They're going to have endless curiosity to download apps and purchase everything in sight. This will NOT die off anytime soon. In fact (as you can see in the graph above), there is a strong bubble all the way to Valentine's Day. This is where you can really see some strong growth. You can shift your marketing away from the Revmob style monetization and more towards a user acquisition model.
8. Create A Unique Pitch. I think it's safe to say that we all agree on one fact – this is the most marketed time of the year. We're inundated with thousands of advertisements and messages, all telling us to Buy Now! or purchase some product for the holidays. The products that go viral and have huge holidays seasons are the ones that can differentiate themselves from the crowd. Spend an afternoon sipping a Peppermint Latté and come up with a pitch for your app that's one of a kind, then put that on your marketing radar. You need to stand out from the crowd, especially in the app store.
9. Add Gifting Functionality. You can get very creative about this, but being able to send a gift to someone is a great feature to add. Without getting into the iOS development, you can talk to your developer about creating a feature where a user can “send 100 coins” to their Facebook friend. You can even skip the development and provide a link to the Gifting App page in iTunes. Here's a link you can copy and paste:
Just change the AppID to your app and you should be all set.
10. Create a Holiday In-App Purchase. People are much more inclined to purchase something that's related to the holidays this time of year, so give 'em what they want. Instead of the “3000 coin pack” create the “Holiday Bonus Pack” as an in-app purchase. Or – add a holiday character. Or, unlock a Holiday theme for your app. The possibilities are endles.
Ho Ho Ho! Milk And Cookies For Everyone!
The holidays are a rising tide for all of us. We all get to benefit from overall search increases and thus we increase our success. Just remember that the users coming through your app are thinking a bit differently than usual, so cater to that. It only happens once a year and MAN is it fun! If you have any other cool ideas, please comment below so everyone can hear about it.
Good luck to everyone and happy holidays.