App Marketing (For Magcasters) Part 1 – Magazine Icon Design

I’m no expert on marketing, but through interviewing lots of amazing app developers I’ve gained quite a bit of insight regarding marketing within the App Store.

One point that comes across time and time again is that many of these crazily successful app developers do very little in terms of “traditional” marketing.  You often hear app “marketing experts” recommending standard advice such as press release marketing, app review site submissions, etc.  However, just to drive home the point and to put it in Chad Mureta’s words (featured in the September Issue of MAKE APP Magazine),  the App Store is a “separate ecosystem” with its own organic source of traffic.

“The App Store is a “separate ecosystem” with it’s own organic traffic” – Click To Tweet

The Key Aspects of Organic App Marketing

The key organic app marketing points arise from how users search and download apps.  This is the general flow:  a user will search for apps (either by browsing categories or App Store search).  He then will click on an app based on the icon (i.e. THE ICON NEEDS TO STAND OUT!) and reviews (social proof). Once he is within the app description screen, he will generally skim down to the screenshots.  At this point, in the space of a few seconds, the decision is made as to whether to download the app or not.

Just to reiterate, the icon really needs to stand out from the crowd.  I’ll let you in on the process of how I chose my logo and magazine cover design.

How I Designed My Own Magazine Cover Icon

Knowing that the icon is so important, I spent lots of time browsing the Newsstand to see what kinds of magazine covers drew my eye.  I found, at least in my own subjective experience, that the title text of the magazine had to be very easily readable.  In practical terms, this means the font had to be HUGE, with adequate spacing between the letters, and the text had to highly contrast to the background in order to stand out.  For my own purposes, I found that white text on red background worked really well at drawing the eye.  You should also try and make the magazine cover different from the rest in your particular category, in order to further make the magazine stand out.

Here are some examples of magazine covers I really liked and which I gave my designer to model his design on:

Geek Magazine CoverOracle Magazine CoveriCreate Magazine CoverPC Magazine Cover

As my designer would send me drafts of the magazine cover, I would actually take a screenshot of the cover and overlay it on an image of an App Store search page within my category to make sure that the magazine cover achieved my goals.  I did this several times until I was happy with the results.

App Marketing: Icon Design

In the above image (an actual copy that I used to test my cover icons) can you spot an old version of my cover and the new version? Which magazine cover stands out most to you?

If you look at the sidebar, I’m sure you’ll be able to easily figure out which cover icon I thought was better ;).

App Store Icon Design

Above is another template that I used to test my magazine icons against.  On this page I find that apart from my magazine, the “Apps” magazine also jumps out, thanks to the crazily large font.  Next in line for me is the “Computer Music” magazine and then “PC House”.  What do all these icons have in common?  Extremely large fonts with a high contrast background. (As an aside, “Game Informer” also stands out, I think mainly because of the contrasting color scheme in the cover graphics compared to the other magazines on the page.)

Mind you, at this stage this is all blatant theory since at the time of posting this article my magazine is still pending Apple review, so I don’t have any concrete figures to share.  However, it IS based on hours of interviews with leading app experts (people who actually make money from apps) and my own in-depth (albeit theoretical) research.

Coming Up…

The next post on this topic will relate to the screen shots, another critical element of organic app marketing. I’ve seen lots of common mistakes being made by app publishers (magcasters included) – and you better pay attention, because this is the second most important aspect of the user decision process as to whether to download your app or not.  I’m holding off a bit on that post, because I want to make sure that the tactics I’ve used have been approved by Apple – but in the meantime you can check out Charl Coetzee’s screen shots (affiliate link, I get a teeny weeny commission if you purchase). Have a look at how he prepared his screenshots and what he’s done different from 99% of the other magcasters….

My mag cover makeover: Why I’m working on a new design – Click To Tweet

Your Opinion Counts!

What is the ONE thing you are going to take action on after reading this post?

Leave your answer below!

Author: David Janner

David Janner is a former M.D. and the Editor-in-Chief of MAKE APP Magazine. His passion is app development and app marketing. You should follow him on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ in order to get the most important industry related news, hot off the press. If you would like to arrange a 15 minute app marketing session to discuss your App Store Optimization strategy, contact him here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *