First Steps: Identifying Your App in iTunes Connect

The App Store is a highly competitive, vibrant, and constantly evolving digital marketplace where success requires a thoughtful strategy and a desire to delight users. iTunes Connect is your tool to manage, maintain, and market your apps on the App Store. The tips in this chapter can help you effectively use iTunes Connect and the App Store to increase your app’s potential for success.

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Use the App Store to Your Advantage

Take advantage of the tools provided in iTunes Connect to effectively market your app. The text and images you choose can make a powerful presentation for your app on the App Store. Your app name, developer name, categories, and keywords can greatly aid customers to find your app. The clear description and compelling images you choose can lead customers to download your product.

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Focus your message. Create a clear product definition that is thoughtful and succinct. This focus will help you choose artwork to emphasize the message and not distract customers from your app’s core value. Here’s an example of compelling copy entered in iTunes Connect:

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Create compelling artwork. Your app stands out in the store if it has compelling artwork and screenshots. Users are immediately drawn to beautiful icons and screenshots that show the capability of the app. Users of Apple devices have learned to expect gorgeous icons.

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Make sure your app is easily discoverable. One of the most important factors to a successful app is making sure that customers can find it on the store. Carefully choose your app name, categories, and keywords to make sure customers can discover your app.

Control the release of your app using iTunes Connect. You can control when the app becomes available by setting the availability date. Make sure that you provide plenty of time in your schedule for the Apple Review process.

Enjoy the benefits of quality. Apple chooses apps for promotion purely on the merits of the app. There’s no advertising or paid placement opportunities on the App Store. Apple takes care to present apps that provide a great user experience, are designed for the platform, and display beautifully on and off the store.

Evolve with the app market. Keep your finger on the pulse of the App Store by downloading and using apps every day. Read reviews to learn what users care about. Research your competition and consider the best strategy for your app. Because every app is unique, many business models are successful across the categories on the App Store, including Free, Premium (one-time payment), Freemium (free with In-App Purchase), and Paymium (paid with In-App Purchase). Price thoughtfully and offer a strong value proposition.

Iterate and innovate. Listen to your customers and respond with updates. Plan updates carefully so that your app evolves over time. Space updates appropriately for the most impact with users.

Think globally. The App Store is available in over 150 countries, so you want to localize your app and metadata to attract downloads. Customers prefer to browse and shop in their native languages; in your localized description be clear which languages your binary supports. For a list of countries in which the App Store is available, see “App Store Territories.”

Localize properly. When providing translations for your app description, app name, and keywords, localize professionally or not at all. Don’t use online translators or translator widgets. Remember that bad translations, even though they may be funny, can do more harm than good. Be aware of cultural sensitivities, and present a professional and authentic tone in all communications. If you need assistance with translations, Apple recommends browsing the services of these third-party localization vendors.

iTunes Connect helps you put information on the store for your app, but it’s up to you to make the material you include the best it can be. The following sections provide tips to get the most out of the metadata you include in iTunes Connect.

Choose an Effective App Name

Your app name plays a critical role in how users search and discover your app. A name that is simple and easy to remember can yield more successful search results. Choose a descriptive app name that reflects what your app does and is distinct and appropriate. Keep app names as short and concise as possible. Pay particular attention to how app names appear when viewed on the App Store on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

After you submit an app, you can change its name only the next time you update the app binary with a new version. Otherwise, to change the name you must reject the app and resubmit it.

Decide on Your Company’s Name

If you have enrolled in the Apple Developer Program as a company, you can specify what you want to use as your company name. In the store, the “company name” is used prominently for navigation and to group your apps. Your legal entity name appears as the “seller” of your apps. The two names can be different, and you can use the distinction between the two to drop official labels—such as Inc., Ltd., Corp., and AG—or to establish a distinct brand name.

The company name is displayed with your apps on the store. In this example, “Apple” is the company name and “Apple, Inc.” is the seller name. When users tap your company name, they see all of the apps you have on the store.

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If you have enrolled as an individual, the company name is the same as your legal entity name.

Write Marketing Text

Now that you’ve captured attention with your app name and icon, follow up with informative and lively information for your app’s description. Use your app’s landing page on your website to tell even more about your app.

App Description: Gratify Your Customers’ Curiosity

Write a clear, concise, and informative app description. The first few lines are the most important area you have to describe your app. It’s your chance to make a great impression on a customer who was interested enough to look for more information. Focus on the functionality and design of your app from a user viewpoint. Describe what makes your app special and describe what features separate your app from others.

To provide the best possible description:

  • Include a brief opening paragraph or two and a short bulleted list of main features.

  • Localize for markets where appropriate.

  • Include user reviews, accolades, or testimonials only at the end, if at all.

  • Use line breaks and bullets to enhance legibility. Don’t add extra white space between text or lengthen your description unnecessarily.

  • Be aware of how the app description displays in the App Store on each device type.

  • Don’t reference specific prices in your app description. Referencing a local currency can mislead customers in other App Store territories and cause confusion.

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When updating your app, complete the “What’s New in this Version” field thoroughly and thoughtfully. Add messaging to encourage users to update. Present the changes in plain and authentic language rather than technical jargon. List items in order of importance.

URLs: Keep the Conversation Going

Create a landing page for your app on your website. Provide information beyond what’s included in your app metadata. For example, include an app trailer, more screenshots, testimonials, or industry accolades. Consider providing a downloadable media kit that includes high-resolution app icons and screenshots, your company logo, and marketing text describing your app.

Create a support system for your app on your website. Make it easy for users to contact you directly with app issues, feedback, and feature requests. In addition, consider including an in-app way for users to contact you.

To ensure flawless presentation, avoid links to blogs or pages with mostly dynamic content. Do consider providing localized information: You can provide separate URLs for each language you support. Make sure that the webpages are live when your app becomes ready for sale on the store.

Set Up Searching and Browsing

Browsing and searching are the most important ways customers find your apps. Customers browse within categories, and you set keywords to determine when your app appears in customers’ searches.

Categories: Get in the Right Place

One important aspect of discoverability for your app is the category it appears in on the App Store. Categories allow users to browse through a collection of apps. iTunes Connect lets you assign your app to two different categories where users can browse to find it. Make sure to carefully choose categories that best describe the main function of your app. All category submissions are reviewed by Apple.

When an app appears in search results, it is shown in the category you set as the primary category.

Keywords: Get the Best Results

Thoughtful and strategic keywords that pertain to your app help your potential customers locate your app more easily when searching on the store. If you choose unique keywords, your app has a better chance of being located relative to other apps when customers use that keyword in the store search field. In addition, if your app serves iAd ads, the iAd App Network uses your app’s keywords in choosing the ads to target to your app. Assigning extremely common keywords or less relevant keywords could lessen your chance of being located quickly and reduce the value of the ads your app receives.

When choosing a keyword, don’t use competing app names, company or product names, or trademarked names. Avoid inappropriate or objectionable terms or irrelevant words such as celebrity names; all keyword submissions are reviewed by Apple.

Do localize keywords when appropriate.

This image shows how search results are presented on the App Store on iPhone and iPad:

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Choose Images

Your app icon and screenshots can make your app stand out in the store, on the app’s page and in search results.

App Icons: Your Global Visual Presence

Keep your app icon iconic. The icon is the face of your app to users, so it must be memorable and display well at a small size. Memorable icons are clean and simple, showing only one visual. They are immediately recognizable and bring your app to mind.

To create great icons, follow these guidelines:

  • Make the icon appropriate for your app.

  • Create a simple icon that is consistent with the design of your app.

  • Make the icon legible (even at small sizes).

  • Don’t scale up images from smaller artwork.

  • Avoid using words in your icon.

  • Ensure that small and large icons are consistent.

  • Don’t clutter your icons with free or sale messages.

  • Never include pricing information. Referencing a local currency can mislead customers in other store territories and cause confusion.

  • Don’t brand your icons with company logos; the space is too small to be effective, and the additional images clutter the presentation of the main image.

  • Consider cultural sensitivities and use universal imagery.

  • Don’t be afraid to consult a professional graphic designer.

  • Think globally: A single app icon is used in all store territories.

For overall design assistance, consult iOS Human Interface Guidelines or OS X Human Interface Guidelines. For specific requirements for the app icon, see the description of Large App Icon in “Version Information.”

Screenshots: Pictures Tell the App’s Story

One of the most important elements to the success of your app is your screenshots. Create compelling and visually stunning screenshots. Place the best screenshot first. Show the actual view of your app, using the full screen, without graphics or borders around the image. Focus on showing the users’ experience when interacting with your app.

When creating screenshots to be posted to the store, follow these guidelines:

  • Optimize your screenshot for best presentation on the device.

  • Make sure the content is legible and appropriate.

  • Don’t place the screenshot inside an Apple device image.

  • Always remove the status bar from screenshots to present a cleaner look. iTunes Connect expects screenshots of dimensions that exclude that area.

  • Use all five screenshots to tell the story of your app. Highlight the moments of your app that make it compelling.

  • Don’t combine multiple app screens in the area designed for a single app screen.

  • Take screenshots on the target device (not in iOS Simulator). To do this, hold down the Power button and press the Home button. The screenshot is saved to the Camera Roll.

  • Provide screenshots in portrait or landscape mode.

  • Use high-resolution Retina devices to make the screenshots.

  • Avoid overworking the screenshots with marketing messages and additional graphic treatments.

  • Only add minimal graphic overlays when it’s necessary to explain the image.

  • Don’t forget to localize screenshots. Before taking the screenshots, set the iPhone or iPad language from Settings > General > International > Language. Set the Mac language from System Preferences > Language & Region.

  • Consider cultural sensibilities and restrictions.

  • Don’t reference specific prices in your app screenshots. Referencing a local currency can mislead customers in other store territories and cause confusion.

The first screenshot appears as a search result on the device App Store on iPhone and iPad, so place the best screenshot first.

Newsstand Cover Art: Continue Your Brand into Another Level of User Interaction

When you are selling an app to deliver magazine or newspaper content, your current issue appears where the app icon would appear in the store. Make sure that users make a visual connection between what they see before they purchase the app and what they see when they download Newsstand products and make subscription decisions.

For information about Newsstand art requirements, see “Newsstand Icons” in iOS Human Interface Guidelines.

Set App Ratings

The App Store has a special category for apps targeted at children aged 11 and under. Even if your app isn’t specifically targeted at kids, you help your customers make good choices for children and adults by providing content ratings.

Ratings: Advice for Your Customers

The rating for your app informs parental controls on the store. All apps are required to have a rating. iTunes Connect provides a list of content descriptions for which you identify how frequently the content appears in your app. Your selections are converted to the app rating.

Table 2-1 describes Apple’s ratings, and Table 2-2 provides the equivalent ESRB and PEGI ratings.

Table 2-1  Apple rating chart

Rating

Definition

4+

Apps in this category contain no objectionable material.

9+

Apps in this category may contain instances of the following content that may not be suitable for children under the age of 9:

  • Infrequent or mild occurrences of cartoon, fantasy, or realistic violence

  • Infrequent or mild profanity

  • Infrequent or mild mature, suggestive, or horror-themed content

12+

Apps in this category may contain instances of the following content that may not be suitable for children under the age of 12:

  • Frequent or intense profanity

  • Frequent or intense cartoon, fantasy, or realistic violence

  • Infrequent or mild mature or suggestive themes

  • Simulated gambling

17+

Apps in this category may contain instances of the following content that may not be suitable for children under the age of 17:

  • Frequent and intense mature, suggestive, or horror-themed content

  • Frequent or intense sexual content or nudity

  • Frequent or intense references to alcohol, tobacco, or drug use

Table 2-2  Apple rating, ESRB, and PEGI equivalency chart

Apple rating

ESRB

PEGI

4+

EC

3+

Not applicable

E

7+

9+

E10+

None

12+

T

12+

17+

Mature

16+

No Rating

This content can’t be sold in Apple stores.

Adults Only

18+

Territory-Specific Ratings

Some countries have more specific ratings requirements for app sales than others. When rating your app, iTunes Connect displays territory-specific restrictions to help you understand the consequences of particular types of app content. For example, apps with frequent references to simulated gambling can’t be sold in Korea if the category of the app is Entertainment or Games. The territory-specific information appears below the rating when you are setting the ratings for the app:

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Made for Kids: Target Kid-Friendly Apps

If your app rates 9+ or lower in Apple’s ratings, you can include your app in the Kids category on the store. You can further target apps inside the Kids category by specifying the age range appropriate for your app. Apps are organized by age range inside the Kids category.

To make sure parents understand what information your app collects and how that information is used, when you identify your app as Made for Kids, provide a URL that links to the Privacy Policy governing the app.

Incorporate iTunes Connect into Your Marketing Strategy

iTunes Connect gives you powerful tools to help attract customers to your app.

Giving Your App Away (to Select Customers)

You can request up to 100 promo codes per approved version of your app in iTunes Connect. Create a plan to use these promotions, including seeding appropriate press and editorial contacts prior to the app release. These codes can help you reach influencers who can create buzz and awareness for your app. To create actionable marketing, advise the press to publicize your app only when the app is actually available for customers to download.

Scheduling Price Changes to Correspond with Marketing Campaigns

You can use iTunes Connect to implement price changes to correspond to marketing events. Perhaps schedule a price reduction to coincide with an external event: For example, drop the price for your golf game during the British Open and use that change to advertise your app. Future price increases can provide compelling reasons for customers to make their purchase decision sooner rather than later.

Using Incentives to Sell Subscriptions

When offering auto-renewable subscriptions for sale from inside your app, incentives can be good tools to help customers choose your app. Two kinds of incentives are available: free trials and opt-in incentives. Both incentives automatically enroll customers in the next standard subscription duration. With opt-in incentives, users agree to share their contact information with you, giving you another marketing tool to reach your customers.

Designing Vanity URLs

For offline communications such as print and TV, provide a simple way for users to find your app with an easy-to-remember App Store Short Link. The App Store automatically generates these URLs for all apps and companies.

You can make App Store Short Links for iOS apps in the following forms:

  • Single app. http://appstore.com/<appname>, such as http://appstore.com/keynote

  • All apps for a company. http://appstore.com/<companyname>, such as http://appstore.com/apple

  • Single app with company name. http://appstore.com/<companyname>/<appname>, such as http://appstore.com/apple/keynote

For more information, see Creating easy-to-read short links to the App Store for your apps and company.

Leveraging Smart App Banners

The Safari Smart App Banner feature provides a standardized method of promoting apps on the App Store from a website viewed on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. These banners improve users’ browsing experience compared with other methods. Tapping the banner takes users directly to the app on the App Store. For more information, see “Promoting Apps with Smart App Banners” in Safari Web Content Guide.

Preparing for Your App to Be Featured on the App Store

Apple regularly features high-quality apps on the App Store and Mac App Store. You can be ready by having attractive, high-resolution artwork available. With the introduction of Retina display, high-resolution art is now required for promotional placement.

Here are examples of iPhone and iPad apps being featured on the App Store:

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Set Up Payment for Your App

The agreement you accepted when you joined the Apple Developer Program is all you need to distribute free apps on the store. If you want to sell an app, serve iAd rich media ads, or offer products for sale or download from inside the app, you need to agree to additional legal requirements and to provide information to receive payment for your earnings on the store. Table 2-3 summarizes the requirements. The Contracts, Tax, and Banking module in iTunes Connect organizes the contracts and the documents you provide and lets you know if changes are needed.

Table 2-3  Contracts and registrations for sale of apps

Contract

Description

Free Applications

  • iOS

  • Mac OS

Granted as part of signing up for a developer program.

Paid Applications

  • iOS

  • Mac OS

Required to offer apps for sale on the App Store or the Mac App Store. These contracts require financial contact information, bank, and tax information.

iAd App Network (optional)

Required to have an app serve rich media ads from the iAd App Network. This contract requires financial contact information, bank, and tax information.

Banking Information

Required to receive payments from Apple or offer apps for sale on the App Store or Mac App Store. You’ll need to include information for a bank account that can receive electronic payments.

Tax Forms

Required to offer apps for sale on the App Store or the Mac App Store. Tax forms for the United States are required even if you aren’t selling apps in the U.S. Tax forms may be required to sell on App Stores for developers based in Canada and Australia. For the remaining territories, tax forms aren’t typically required.

Encryption Export Registration (optional)

Required to distribute apps that incorporate encryption in any form. Because apps are uploaded to the Apple server in the United States, all apps are subject to U.S. export laws. All apps that use, access, contain, implement, or incorporate encryption in any form must comply with U.S. export regulations, and if apps are distributed in France, to French import regulations. See the FAQ page for World Wide Trade Compliance for the store.

You provide this information when you submit an app binary for review.

Next Steps: Create an iTunes Connect Record for Your App

Everything begins by developing a great app. Take your time to perfect the technology implementation, user experience, and presentation. Feature placement on the App Store is not a marketing strategy—it’s a reward for a great app. Invest in your success by creating a compelling presentation on the App Store and driving awareness and engagement through a thoughtful marketing and advertising strategy.

Now that you know what it takes, you’re ready to sign in to iTunes Connect and start building your catalog of apps. See “Creating an iTunes Connect Record for an App.” In parallel, you can review your contract requirements to make sure your legal requirements are in place when you’re ready to distribute apps. See “Managing Contracts, Taxes, and Banking.”