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What are the Best Practices for Submitting a Mobile App to App Stores?

Launching a mobile app in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store opens massive distribution potential. But successfully getting your app approved and ranked requires extensive preparation and optimization.

This comprehensive guide covers proven best practices for submitting polished, compliant apps to major app stores that will pass review and delight users.

With the rise of mobile app development, submitting your app to app stores has become a crucial step in reaching a wider audience. In this article, we will discuss the best practices for submitting a mobile app to app stores, ensuring that your app gets noticed and stands out among the competition.

Introduction

What is an app store?

An app store is a digital marketplace where users can download and install various applications for their mobile devices. Popular examples of app stores include the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. These platforms provide developers with a way to distribute their mobile apps to a large user base.

Why is it important to submit your app to the app store?

Submitting your app to the app store is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it allows you to reach a wider audience by making your app easily accessible to users. Secondly, app stores offer a trusted and secure platform for users to discover and download apps, increasing the credibility and visibility of your app. Finally, app stores provide developers with valuable resources and tools for app management, user analytics, and monetization.

Research Target Store Demographics and Preferences

Not all apps resonate equally across app stores, so research core demographics, categories, and preferences on your target stores.

For Apple App Store:

  • Skews towards U.S. users across age groups on iOS devices.
  • Arts, lifestyle and entertainment apps see strong engagement.
  • Users favor intuitive, simple and visually refined apps.

For Google Play Store:

  • Popular internationally particularly in emerging markets.
  • Finance, education, tools and utilitarian apps widely used.
  • Users are generally more price conscious and value functionality.

Understand key user differences to optimize appropriately. Evaluate top charts and trends to validate fit.

Audit and Polish Design Elements

While app stores don’t assess design, creating a polished visual experience still matters for user delight and reviews.

Key design elements to refine before submitting:

  • Clean, seamless visuals aligned to your brand style and identity.
  • Intuitive navigational conventions making flows natural.
  • Carefully considered information hierarchy spotlighting key features and content.
  • Consistent UI styling aligned to platform conventions users expect.
  • Optimized imagery assets compressed for performance.
  • Clear descriptive touchpoints like action buttons, menus, and icons.
  • Readable typography and spacing for all dynamic text and copy.
  • Compliant elements like attribute credits and external service disclosures.

Smooth design telegraphs quality and care upfront.

Optimize Branding and Messaging

App store descriptions and materials present a vital branding opportunity to frame positioning and messaging.

Branding and messaging best practices:

  • Lead descriptions with concise taglines crystallizing your value proposition.
  • Align tone and voice to resonate with your specific app’s users.
  • Illustrate unique benefits vs just stating generic features and functionality.
  • Speak to the outcomes and experience your app ultimately provides.
  • Include platform-specific terminology and conventions familiar to users.
  • Feature most differentiating app capabilities upfront in descriptions.
  • Ensure lifestyle imagery and screenshots reinforce your brand identity and messaging.

Clear, benefits-focused branding engages your target users.

Localize Listings for Target Markets

App stores allow you to localize metadata like descriptions, imagery and videos to resonate in different target countries and languages.

To optimize localization:

  • Translate all text into native languages using region-specific translators. Avoid machine translation.
  • Adapt terminology and phrasing to align with local culture and preferences.
  • Incorporate apps popular in target regions as comparison points.
  • Show common use cases and contexts relevant to local lifestyles and needs.
  • Feature recognizable landmarks and settings from target countries in visuals.
  • List major regional awards or media features under the localized title and description.
  • Customize promotional text and assets for holidays and events popular locally.

Localized listings demonstrate your commitment to creating an exceptional user experience for specific markets.

Engineer for Both New and Existing Users

Balance tailoring app store assets for both new visitors discovering your app vs existing users. Meet distinct needs.

For new visitors:

  • Succinctly explain core functionality and value proposition.
  • Persuasively sell the app experience and outcomes.
  • Provide easy-to-grasp descriptions and visuals to evaluate relevance.
  • Reduce barriers to downloading with calls-to-action.

For existing users:

  • Highlight new capabilities and features relative to their version.
  • Share upcoming product roadmap and events.
  • Announce contests, special offers or new content for current users.
  • Offer tips for getting more out of the app.
  • Request reviews, feedback and suggestions.

Factor in both audiences when crafting listings to broaden impact.

Validate Technical Requirements and Optimization

App store approval depends on meeting core technical and performance requirements to deliver quality user experiences.

Technical focus areas:

  • Stability – Rigorously test across environments to identify and resolve crashes or bugs.
  • Responsiveness – Ensure fluid 60fps animation and lag-free usage on target devices.
  • Compliance – Avoid banned API usage or unapproved data practices violating policies.
  • Security – No vulnerabilities or ability to access unauthorized data or phone features.
  • Optimization – Keep app size and memory usage contained by minimizing bloat.
  • Compatibility – Support all interfaces and versions your app targets in listings.

Robust technical QA protects your app reputation and expands approval likelihood.

Provide an Intuitive Onboarding Experience

Even if approved, apps with confusing initial user experiences quickly get uninstalled. Make onboarding seamless.

Effective onboarding principles:

  • Offer visual walkthroughs explaining core app functionality for first-time users.
  • Provide tooltips guiding users through key workflows step-by-step.
  • Set up intelligent defaults so users don’t start out with blank slates.
  • Allow easy importing from other apps or past user data where applicable.
  • Add reminders and tips prompting engagement with underused features.
  • Personalize messaging and recommendations based on user behavior over time.
  • Limit required upfront registration and configuration before experiencing app value.

Guiding new users maximizes retention potential beyond just getting the app installed.

Include Demo Accounts and Sample Data

Allow new users to test drive your app before registering via demo accounts pre-populated with sample data.

Benefits of demo accounts:

  • Removes signup friction letting users validate the app provides expected value.
  • Sample data illustrates intended workflows and use cases interactively.
  • Tours, prompts and tooltips can overlay sample data to educate.
  • Reduces data entry needed to simulate personalized usage.
  • Can limit functionality or time duration to encourage paid signups afterwards.
  • Provides risk-free opportunity to experience your app’s capabilities firsthand.

Demo accounts sell the experience over promises through self-guided exploration.

Craft an Effective App Store Video Preview

Your app store video should sell visually in 30-60 seconds why users need your app in their lives.

Best practices for high-impact app videos:

  • Spotlight the most exciting, differentiating user benefits succinctly. Avoid overwhelming with features.
  • Show real on-device footage with users interacting with key app elements rather than just animated explainers.
  • Use engaging music, motion graphics and transitions tailored to your branding.
  • Localize with translated subtitles and on-screen text for international store listings.
  • Include a clear call-to-action prompting viewers to download or learn more.
  • Adhere strictly to length guidelines avoiding extra required trimming.

Memorable videos make downloading and experienced the app irresistible.

Optimize with High-Quality Screenshots

App store screenshots visually showcase the end-to-end experience from onboarding to primary app functionality.

Strategies for compelling screenshots:

  • Spotlight must-have features and capabilities through annotated callouts and overlays on key elements.
  • Depict the primary user workflows and use case scenarios.
  • Use realistic rather than doctored data to represent real app usage.
  • Capture both phone and tablet interfaces if releasing on both platforms.
  • Localize screenshots using relevant languages and culturally appropriate content.
  • Include notifications, onboarding tooltips, menu navigation, account pages etc to reflect the full journey.

Pictures speak louder than words to visualize how your app delivers value.

Add Value with a Strong App Description

Your App Store description expands on video and images to describe functionality, use cases, and differentiators.

Elements of an effective description:

  • Succinctly explain the core value proposition and benefits right up top.
  • Provide contextual details around major features and capabilities shown in accompanying visual assets.
  • Share compelling use cases and examples tailored to your audience segments.
  • Include relevant keywords and phrases users search when finding related apps.
  • List any noteworthy achievements like recognitions, press features or customer stats.
  • Close with a call to action to click install and start enjoying the benefits.

Well-crafted descriptions reinforce credibility and relevance.

Highlight Customer Reviews and Social Proof

Positive app store reviews make buying decisions easier by instilling confidence in your app. Promote top reviews.

Ways to feature social proof:

  • Embed excerpts from your best five-star reviews near the top of your listing.
  • Call out total review volume and average rating.
  • Quote recognizable brands or public figures praising your app.
  • Share user testimonials on how the app solved specific problems.
  • Display flashy review awards and recognitions received.
  • Cross-promote new reviews through social media and email.
  • If ratings drop, address constructive feedback customers provide.

Peer endorsement is invaluable for conversion. Proactively request reviews from happy users.

Create an Ongoing App Store Optimization Process

App store optimization is not a one-time effort. Continuously refine and improve based on real data over the entire app lifecycle.

Ongoing app store optimization activities include:

  • Monitoring analytics for conversion rates, traction by geography and traffic sources driving the most installs.
  • Running split tests for elements like descriptions, screenshots and videos.
  • Staying atop of new platform features and best practices to incorporate.
  • Evaluating competitor offerings and marketplace trends to identify gaps.
  • Soliciting direct user feedback through surveys and reviews.
  • Updating listings when new features and content expand app capabilities.
  • Localizing additional languages and markets over time.
  • Rethinking pricing models and sales tactics as needed.

Consistent optimization efforts maximize discoverability and conversions long-term.

Preparing your App for Submission

Testing your app thoroughly

Prior to submitting your app, it is crucial to test it thoroughly to ensure it functions smoothly on different devices and operating systems. You can utilize tools like Xcode for iOS app testing and Android Studio for Android app testing. Pay close attention to the user experience, functionality, and performance of your app to identify and fix any bugs or issues.

Choosing an appropriate app name

When selecting a name for your app, it’s important to choose something that is unique, memorable, and relevant to your app’s purpose. Avoid generic names that may confuse users or infringe on existing trademarks. Conduct research to ensure that your desired app name is not already in use, both within the app store and on popular search engines.

Designing a compelling app icon

Your app icon is the first visual representation users will see when browsing through the app store. A well-designed and eye-catching icon can greatly improve the chances of users choosing to download your app. Ensure that your app icon is simple, scalable, and relevant to your app’s core features or branding.

Writing a captivating app description

The app description plays a crucial role in convincing users to download your app. It should provide a clear and concise overview of your app’s key features, benefits, and functionalities. Use persuasive language, highlight unique selling points, and consider incorporating relevant keywords to improve the discoverability of your app.

Creating screenshots that showcase your app’s features

Visuals are a powerful tool for showcasing your app’s features and functionality. Include a set of high-quality screenshots that demonstrate the user interface, key screens, and various use cases of your app. Make sure the screenshots are engaging and accurately represent the app experience.

Providing a privacy policy

App stores often require developers to provide a privacy policy that outlines how user data is collected, stored, and used within the app. This document is essential for establishing user trust and demonstrating your commitment to data privacy. Ensure that your privacy policy is easy to understand and readily accessible to users.

Understanding the App Store Review Process

App store submission guidelines

Each app store has its own set of submission guidelines that developers must adhere to. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines provided by the app store you are submitting to. These guidelines cover various aspects such as app content, functionality, user interface, and legal requirements. Failure to comply with these guidelines may result in your app being rejected.

Reviewing the app before submission

Before submitting your app to the app store, it is important to thoroughly review it to ensure it meets all the necessary requirements. Test the functionality of your app on different devices and operating systems to catch any potential issues or bugs. Take the time to fix any identified issues to improve the overall user experience.

App review timelines and potential issues

After submitting your app to the app store, it will go through a review process before becoming available to users. The length of the review process varies depending on the app store and can range from a few days to several weeks. During this time, the app store will check for compliance with guidelines, app stability, and potential security or content issues. Be prepared for possible requests for changes or additional information from the app store.

Optimizing your App’s Product Page

Creating a user-friendly and visually appealing product page

Your app’s product page is where users will get a detailed overview of your app before deciding whether to download it. Create a user-friendly and visually appealing page that effectively communicates your app’s value proposition. Use clear and concise language, incorporate appealing visuals, and organize the information in a logical manner.

Optimizing app metadata

App store algorithms use metadata such as app title, keywords, and categorization to determine the relevance and visibility of your app in search results. Conduct keyword research to identify popular and relevant keywords for your app. Incorporate these keywords naturally in your app’s title, subtitle, and keyword field to improve its discoverability.

Highlighting the key features of your app

When describing your app’s features on the product page, focus on highlighting the unique aspects and key functionalities that differentiate your app from others in the same category. Clearly communicate the value proposition and benefits of your app to potential users, making it compelling for them to download and use your app.

Encouraging positive user reviews

User reviews and ratings play a significant role in app store rankings and user perception. Encourage your users to leave positive reviews by providing a seamless and enjoyable user experience. Prompt users to rate your app within the app interface and respond promptly to user feedback or issues.

Conclusion

Achieving app store success requires far more than just submitting your app and hoping for the best. Thorough optimization across visuals, messaging, localization, technical requirements and user experience is crucial.

Additionally, app store optimization must be embraced as an always-on process. Continually improve listings based on performance data, monitor reviews, and keep refining the app itself over time.

With diligent effort maximizing initial impression quality and ongoing improvements responding to real user data, app stores can elevate mobile apps from side projects to scalable businesses delivering value to worldwide audiences.

Summary of best practices for app store submission

Submitting your mobile app to app stores is a crucial step to reach a wider audience and increase your app’s visibility. By following best practices such as thorough testing, choosing appropriate app names, designing compelling icons, and providing captivating descriptions, you can optimize your app’s chances of success in the app store ecosystem.

The importance of regularly updating and maintaining your app

App stores value apps that are regularly updated and offer a superior user experience. Continuously monitor user feedback, fix bugs, and introduce new features to keep your app relevant and maintain user engagement. Regular updates also demonstrate your commitment to providing a high-quality app experience.

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By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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