And the effect of App Store promotion
No matter how good your app is, you need exposure. Reviews in prominent publications and popular blogs mean a lot, some exposure can be bought through advertisements, but nothing kickstarts app sales like some promotion from the App Store itself.
How does one get this promotion? The process is opaque, but since I had no communication with Apple about Gridditor whatsoever before receiving the email requesting art assets, I can only assume that someone checks over new apps for promising candidates. Editor’s Choice/App of the week promotion requires you to send Apple some artwork given their specifications for the banner, usually with a very fast turnaround time. Getting it done in time can be trying, but the excitement of a big feature is more than worth it. “New and Noteworthy” and “What’s Hot” placements on the other hand occur without any communication whatsoever, and are always a pleasant surprise.
Apple updates the App Store features at approximately 3pm (New York) on Thurdays, so the the banner isn't visible for the full day. This is why sales rise on the second day.
My strategy, which I used before with Inkist, was to release at a discount ($0.99) during the feature to prioritize downloads over profits and hopefully get some word out, then to increase the price to the final $1.99 the following week. Does this strategy work? Unfortunately, there are far too many variables for me to know how much of a difference this makes. It’s possible that the vast majority who purchased in the first week at $0.99 would have still purchased at $1.99 and I’ve simply missed out on a large amount of profit. It’s also possible that the best way to launch an app is free, as Filterstorm was, in order to get that critical mass of initial users with which to spread the word.
In fact, launching as free was my initial plan, but Apple advised me to not change the price during the feature. I was too worried about missing out on profit from a full week of banner promotion to go through with it.
Regardless as to which strategy for launch is best, the power of promotion is clear. With the banner promotion I was averaging 2,400 sales a day, in “What’s Hot” that number dropped to 900 (though there was also a price increase), and the week after that went down to 215, a number that would surely be much lower without the reviews and buzz prompted by the initial feature.
Though it sold better than Filterstorm at launch, Gridditor’s sales have since slipped below those of Filterstorm. Several localizations were added to Gridditor (on 2012-10-26), which should provide some help, and I’m planning some advertising, too. It’s still unclear how Gridditor will perform in the long term, but I think there’s a large market for this type of image editor and will keep pushing.