cally receive more than
100 emails per day entreating them to
write about a new piece of so;ware, so news
releases get ignored.
“We try to develop a personal relationship with press people,” Pusenjak says. A;er
attempting to get more than 100 bloggers to
write about the game, he gave up. Instead, he
now sends out short personal notes rather
than standard releases, and explains, “We
focus only on newsworthy items, not a note
about how we changed the color of the dots.”
Do something unusual
to create some buzz
Mailbox is an app that helps computer
users with an unenviable task: cleaning up
one’s email box and reducing the hundreds of
pending missives to zero.
To promote Mailbox, which is now owned
by Dropbox, the ;le-storage service, the company made an online video “that created an
emotional connection with the viewer,” says
CEO Gentry Underwood, company co-founder. With an upbeat audio track, the
video showed a smartphone user quickly dismissing unwanted emails, scheduling others
to be read later and reordering their placement, all of which led up to the Holy Grail: an
empty email box, with the tag line “Put email
in its place.” ;e video spread on its own,
through repostings and mentions on Twitter,
tech/culture site ;e Verge and others.
;e only problem was that the app wasn’t
ready to be released, so Underwood took reservations. “Within two months we had 1. 5
million names,” he says. People went to the
Mailbox website simply to see how far up the
By Eric Taub
THERE’S A GOOD chance you’re addicted
to your smartphone and all its great apps.
And a;er playing with some of them, you
may have thought: I can create something
So you hire an app design ;rm or do the
work yourself. And the finished product
comes out beautifully. You create something
so smart and compelling that the only question is, can fame and fortune be far behind?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
With more than 1 million apps each now
available in the iPhone and the Android app
stores, the odds of hitting it big are, frankly,
The quality of smartphone and tablet
apps ranges from groundbreaking and compelling to clunky and useless. But app store
success is not based on merit alone. While
you need a great app to succeed, many great
;e di;erence between success and failure
o;en comes down to a sophisticated marketing strategy that allows your work to stand out
from the crowd, attract great word of mouth
and become more than a novelty. You need to
be creative, able to modify long-tested marketing rules to ;t today’s social media world.
“People think, ‘;e app store will make
me rich,’ ” says Felipe Laso, a so;ware developer for Chicago-based Lextech Global
Services, and author of an online paper on
how to promote apps to become successful.
“But you need to set realistic goals.”
;ere is no one path to success, but there
are general rules; many are similar to those
used by book authors to drum up sales. Here
are the key ones.
Employ a little chutzpah
When Igor Pusenjak created the highly
successful and addicting game Doodle Jump, © THINKSTOCK/VLADGRIN
a little luck
it started out as a dud. ;e ;rst
day it was available, in 2009,
Pusenjak sold just 20 copies. “I was really disappointed,” he says.
Taking a risk, he emailed Apple, asking
them to put Doodle Jump in the “New and
Noteworthy” app listing on their website, citing its unique feature that allows players to see
other users’ high scores in the face of the
game. He lucked out. During that period,
there weren’t many other apps to compete
with, and Apple did what he asked. A few
weeks later, Doodle Jump rocketed to the
sixth most popular app. To date, more than
100 million copies have been downloaded.
Develop a relationship with those
who in;uence purchase decisions
;e standard promotional methods used
in the pre-social-media era are much less
e;ective today. Pusenjak, the Doodle Jump
creator, found that sending out a regular press
release served little purpose. Reporters typi-