So you have developed the app, which could very well become the next “big thing”, if only more people will take notice of it, download it, and spread the word. You were actually able to get it approved for publication in the Apple App Store. Congratulations. Is your job done?

If you are satisfied with the trickling number of downloads, then yes, your job is done. But you firmly believe that your app is the greatest thing to come out in recent years, and you want the number of downloads to hit the six- or seven-digit mark. That means your work is not yet done. In fact, it is actually just beginning.

Apple App Store: Ways to Increase Your Downloads

© | Lukas Gojda

In this article, you will learn 1) how you get your app listed in the Apple store, 2) why to list your app in the Apple store, and 3) how to increase the downloads for your app.


At present, there are several app stores where users can readily download and purchase apps for their devices. However, there are two app stores that are considered to be the “giants”, and one of them is the Apple App Store (the other one is Google Play).

The Apple App Store is where users can find iOS apps, covering pretty much everything, from games to books, news, sports, travel, photography, sports, health and fitness, food and drink, weather, and social networking, to name a few.

App developers that wish to have their apps created, tested and eventually published and distributed in the Apple App Store have to follow a series of steps, outlined briefly below:

  1. Sign up for a developer account with Apple through the iOS Dev Center. Signing up is free.
  2. Enroll in Apple’s iOS developer program. Enrollment entails an annual fee of US$99, and users will get to choose which developer program to enroll in, and that will largely depend on what type of app you will be developing. The options available include the iOS Developer Program, the Mac Developer Program, and the Safari Developer Program.
  3. Upon approval of your enrollment by Apple, you will be able to download Xcode, which is the main development tool for iOS.
  4. Develop your app using the various tools provided.
  5. Once the app has been developed, you are ready to deploy it to the App Store. First, you must request for certifications for development and distribution from Apple. There is also a need to register the devices that will be used to run the app that you have developed.
  6. Register a unique app ID, which will serve as the identifier for every app you develop. Provide all the necessary information to create a profile for your app.
  7. Log in to iTunes Connect using your iOS Developer credentials.
  8. If you are distributing your app for free, skip this step and proceed directly to step 10. If you are offering a paid app, fill out all the necessary “paperwork”. This involves the electronic signing of contracts and terms of agreement, and providing additional personal information and details, particularly on banking and financial aspects. After all, there has to be a way for the money to get to you.
  9. Prepare the following:
    • The name of your app;
    • A description of your app; and
    • An icon and at least one screenshot of your app, in accordance with the accepted size requirements set by Apple.
  10. Submit the app to Apple for approval, filling in all the information required (as prepared in Step 9).
  11. Wait for approval from Apple. If it is disapproved, Apple will provide the reasons why, and you will have to work on them before submitting again. Review for approval usually takes an average of around a week. This is actually the longest wait, since processing for the App Store and getting it ready for sale takes only minutes.


There are certain advantages why many app developers choose to publish their apps on the Apple App Store instead of other app stores. Here are some of them.

The Apple store is known for having high-quality apps thanks, in large part, to its strict quality control. Apps have to be submitted for review and approval before it finally makes its way to the App store for distribution, so users are more assured that they are downloading something that is actually useful to some extent. Other app stores are not as stringent in their approval or screening process, so some useless apps make their way on the shelves.

Users that go to the Apple store are usually willing to spend money on the apps and, more particularly, they can afford it. In short, Apple users are from the richer demographic. Let’s face it, majority of app developers are in it to make money off the apps that they create. Sure, they might start out by offering free apps but, down the line, they would want to start earning money from their apps.

App developers get the lion’s share of the app sales. 30% of the sales will go to Apple, and the remaining 70% will go to the developer, so it is the latter that will earn more.

Developers do not have to pay hosting fees or other related fees, since Apple will shoulder those bits already.


Being one of the two biggest app stores means that the Apple App Store holds millions of apps – free and paid – specially designed for iOS devices. That paints quite a picture for app developers: if they hit it big, they can expect their apps to have millions of downloads. On the other end of the spectrum, they are also facing the risk and possibility of their app being overshadowed and, worse, being buried into obscurity by the other apps.

Needless to say, the App Store presents a competitive environment for app developers and their apps. It is highly possible for very good – outstanding, even – apps going unnoticed (and un-downloaded), while there have been many instances of lackluster – and downright disappointing – apps getting a lot of downloads.

What made the difference?

The marketing of the app. It is possible that the developer of the less-than-stellar app was very good in getting attention for their app, while the developer of the actually-very-good app did not know the first thing about putting the app out there for consideration by users.

Do not make the mistake of the latter developer. Fortunately, there are many app marketing strategies and techniques that you can employ, and here are some tips and tricks that you can apply so you can achieve that high download count that you want for your app.

Learn from feedback

Basically, you have to find out what users who visit the Apple Store are looking for – what they need and want – and give it to them.

Never forget that you are catering to iOS users. They choose to go to the Apple Store to get their apps for specific reasons, and it is up to you, the developer, to make sure that they find what they are looking for once they visit the App Store. If you are targeting users that run apps on specific iOS devices such as iPhone or iPad, listen to what they have to say, particularly on what features they want the app to be able to offer when they are actually launched or being ran in those devices.

Optimize your app

First impressions last. That also applies to apps as seen on the Store. Visitors to the App Store tend to check out the apps that first appear once they log in. Your goal is to make your App appear in the first page or, better yet, in the top ten or first place rankings.

App optimization involves paying attention to several factors.

  • Choose the right app name. Much like SEO or Search Engine Optimization, you have to take note of the keywords that you use. When choosing a name for your app, consider the following:
  • It should be simple enough to facilitate easy recall. Keep it short and simple. Often, long-winded names using complicated words tend to overwhelm users, and they won’t bother to remember them.
  • This involves choosing one keyword that can sum up your app and what it offers in a single word. The keyword must be present in the app name, such that users will immediately have an idea what the app is all about just by reading the name.
  • Choose the right keywords. The App Store will ask for a set of keywords that will apply to your app, so that when those keywords are used in searches, your app will appear. It is important to choose a set of keywords that are often used by customers.
  • Write a good description for your app. The first rule when writing an app description is to make sure it is correct. It should correctly describe what the app can do. Some make use of narratives while others prefer to enumerate the features and characteristics. The latter is usually more appreciated by users, since it is easier to digest information when presented in bullet points, rather than meandering and verbose sentences.
  • Accompany your app with screenshots. Users will not download an app unless they have an idea what to expect once they installed it on their devices. Like it or not, users are still largely easily swayed by visuals, and getting a glimpse of the user interface, even if only through screenshots, is already a good start. When adding screenshots, choose those that captures the main view and the main functions of the app. Fortunately, the Apple Store allows up to 5 screenshots to be uploaded to accompany your app, so you can pick the choicest screenshots.
  • Translate, when necessary. Take note that Apple users are not purely US-based or from English-speaking countries. Localizing the app by providing translations to various languages will be a major point in your favor. Non-English-speaking users, for instance, will be easier to convince to download an app when they see it is also available in their language. This will increase your app’s chances to be downloaded by users in countries across the globe.

Generate buzz about your app

Set up a website for your app.

This is easily one of the best ways to generate buzz about your app outside of the Apple Store. Create a website that will be solely dedicated to the app you have developed. Here, visitors to the site can download the app, or be redirected to the Apple Store for download, whichever is more convenient for them. Of course, you would also have to employ a separate optimization program for your website, because the more traffic your website gets, the higher number of potential users who will download your app. This website should also serve as an avenue for users to contact the developer for any issues regarding the app.

For some developers, setting up an exclusive website might be too much work. There is an easier, and often cheaper, alternative: a weblog or blog. Here, developers can also provide periodic updates regarding the app, and can also encourage interaction and input from users.

When making use of a website or a blog, it is highly advisable to make it available on mobile as well. Remember that most app users make use of mobile devices, so making the website or blog more accessible in mobile form is an advantage.

Establish a social media presence.

Social media and social networks have become powerful platforms when it comes to all sorts of promotion. Even businesses turn to social media to widen their reach in the market. It is no different in app marketing.

Social media platform users number to the millions, and so this is a great way to increase your app’s chances of being downloaded. Some of the most popular apps today have their own accounts in social network platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Obtain the help of influencers.

Influencers are individuals who can help steer attention toward your app. A good example would be bloggers and celebrities. If you will be able to impress them with your app by giving them the app in advance to try out, they will definitely make sure to let their followers know about it.

Encourage ratings and reviews.

The App Store facilitates users leaving ratings and reviews to apps they have downloaded and used. This is one of the best indicators of the quality of an app. A user who is looking for a photo editing app, for example, will rely heavily on the reviews before making up their mind on whether to download an app or not, or on whether to pay for it or not.

Similarly, the larger number of users that downloaded an app will mean a larger amount of ratings. The more frequently rated and highly rated apps usually appear on the first page. Thus, encouraging users to leave ratings and reviews is another good way of optimizing your app.

Give your app away for free

Okay, so maybe you never really relished the idea of giving away – for free – something that you have worked long hours on. But this is a strategy that is employed by new developers, or those that have not released any app before, and are looking to get exposure before actually asking for money for their apps.

What many successful app developers do is to set a designated time or date where users can download their app for free. They may even name specific conditions that must be met by users before they can get the app for free. Remember, as much as Apple users are more willing and able to spend money on quality apps, they would not say no to a free one!

Build a loyal fanbase (or customer base)

Yes, app developers also have fans; if they are excellent at what they do, that is. If you are not comfortable with the term, you’d probably prefer the phrase “customer base”.

Users tend to form a certain degree of loyalty and attachment to developers that deliver what they want. If a certain app developer heeds the concerns of users and makes significant efforts to meet their demands and expectations, they will not hesitate to try the other apps created by that developer. They will also be more inclined to look forward to future releases and even promote that developer’s works. Word of mouth is said to be one of the best forms of advertising and, if you have a fan base that is loyal to you, and believe in your work, they will definitely help reel in other users to download your app.

Be updated with Apple’s latest products

Apple is now regularly releasing new and updated mobile products and devices, and you have to keep yourself in the loop on what these releases are in order for you to be able to keep up with the app requirements and expectations. You cannot expect users to download an app that will only work for a single device, and an older version, too! Keeping yourself updated with the latest products from Apple will ensure that you can also update your app accordingly, in order to cater to more users.

Hone your app development skills

You owe it to yourself – and all the people who will potentially download your apps – to be good at what you do. As technology evolves and advances, so, too, will the demands and expectations on apps. Continue learning and studying about app development. Participate actively in events organized purposely for app developments. One good example is Apple’s Annual Worldwide Developers Conference, where developers converge to share knowledge and acquire new ones.

Of course, at the core of all these, is the app. The best way to ensure that your app has a lot of downloads is to have a very good app – one that actually offers something useful or valuable to users. Back up all your app marketing efforts with an app that will be worth the attention – and the money – poured into it by Apple users.

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