Marketing Your Apps With Awesome Screenshots For More Downloads And Income

Going on from the part 1 of this series, how to create app icons that sell, the second most important part of organic app marketing within the app store are your screenshots.  Just to recap, remember how people decide on apps to download:  they either search within the app store for a particular topic, or they browse the app charts.  Whichever avenue they use, their initial decision making is made on the app icon, the app name and reviews – based on these factors they will decide to whether to click on the icon for further information, or not.  Once they’ve clicked on the icon, the most important piece of marketing real estate is the screenshot section – if they like the screenshots and the reviews are positive, the user will download the app.

Don’t be one of those developers who neglects their screenshots!

A lot of app developers neglect the screenshot section and don’t give it the love it deserves.  An important point to note is that the screenshots section doesn’t have to be “just” an actual boring old screenshot and in fact IT SHOULDN’T BE! Clever marketers will use the space to insert their marketing messages and advertising copy.  Think of all the potential this space has…

We’ll discuss copywriting for apps in a later post, but for the meantime I want to open your mind to the concept of using your screenshots the “right” way.  I’ve seen lots of mistakes from app developers, including not using all the screenshots available (you have 5 slots) to not including copy within the screenshots.

Concrete Examples of How Screenshots Should Be Used In App Marketing

Here are some links to app profiles that have decent screenshots (open up in itunes, these are affiliate links so I may get a small commission):

The above app developers have done a decent job in marketing through the app screenshots.  In the first example above you can see the use of a testimonial in the first screenshot (although it’s a bit difficult to read in my opinion and doesn’t credit the source).  All the apps above also feature the benefits prominently in bold text surrounding the actual screenshots themselves and also there is a nice use of two screenshots combined together to form a large image.

The above examples are great for showcasing the options possible using the screenshot real estate, however all the above examples can be improved.  Personally there is a really important element missing here in these screenshots, namely a call to action! Remember, people need to be told exactly what to do, and the call to action should definitely be incorporated here.  Additionally, once you have some real testimonials built up or if you’ve been featured in media outlets, these elements should definitely be incorporated prominently into the screenshots – imagine seeing “as featured in CNN, Forbes, Time Magazine” in the screenshots and what this does for social proof!

How To Use ScreenShots To Sell Your Apps – Click To Tweet

Another small tip is that if your app is available for both iphone and iPad, make sure that you’ve uploaded screenshots for both devices.    iPhone screenshots need to be either in JPG, TIF or PNG formats, at least 72 dpi  and of the dimensions 960 X 640, 960 X 600, 640 X 960 or 640 X 920. iPad screenshots have similar criteria, however the dimensions for the iPad must be 1024×768, 1024×748, 768×1024, 768×1004, 2048×1536, 2048×1496, 1536×2048 or 1536×2008 pixels.  These figures have been taken straight from the source (iTunes Connect) and are valid for August 2012.

My Own Use Of Screenshots

Below you can see how I’ve incorporated these concepts into my own magazine app screenshots.  I’ve used the first screen to include both the key benefits to the user as well as a prominent call to action.  The second screenshot includes prominent figures that I’ve interviewed and contributes to the “social proof” element.  The subsequent slides feature more benefits.

MAKE APP screenshot 1

MAKE APP screenshot 2

MAKE APP screenshot 3

MAKE APP screenshot 4

MAKE APP screenshot 4

These screenshots are by no means perfect and there are still definitely ways that I could improve these.  I held off publishing this information because I wanted to make sure that these marketing laden screenshots were approved by Apple.  They were! So this method is OK by the Apple reviewers…

Now it’s up to you…

Let me know below how you would improve my app screenshots!

Also feel free to leave a link to your own app screenshots for people to comment on them and give you some unsolicited advice!

Remember to sign up below to get notified as soon as MAKE APP Magazine is launched (VERY SOON NOW!).  Also for being a member of this private list I’ll give you totally exclusive insights into my own app development experiences (as they occur) which won’t be available elsewhere… I won’t email you too often, around once a month…


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

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How To Do An iPad Screen Recording (For Free)

When preparing an app it’s pretty damned critical to have some sort of visual demo.  Video demos of apps are a great way to both explain to users the benefits of using the app as well as to garner publicity.  There are many services that offer “explainer video” services, however these can often end up costing an arm and a leg.  Typical costs can range into the thousands of dollars for a 1-2 minute video.

There are a couple of lower cost services for the cash-strapped app startups.  One potential service is Apptamin (, which offers simple video production services geared to app designers for around $700 (cost may vary).  The team come from an app development background themselves, so they know what they’re doing.  The videos they produce are fairly simplistic, but they do the job nicely.

Another low-cost option is to learn how to prepare demo videos yourself (if you have the time).  I actually purchased a course to learn how to create demo videos, but I’ve yet to finish it.  The course itself is jam packed with information and is really in-depth.  It’s also run by the great team at Grumo Media, who really produce awesome quality demo / explainer videos (see example below).

(This is a video that Ashton Kutcher actually tweeted his love for…)

The course costs around $297 through (affiliate link – if you purchase through this link I -get a commission).  Once you’ve been through this course you could even open a video design studio if you were so inclined.  The course runs through script writing, storyboarding, voiceover, illustration, animation, sound design, editing, delivering and even promoting the video!  I intend to get around to finishing the course when I have the time, it’s an awesome skill to have and can really help bootstrap your app promotion efforts.

However, the focus of this post is to teach you how to make a simple screen recording, which is really the most simplistic (and cheapest) way possible to get the idea across about your app. And it’s really easy (not to mention FREE).

iPad Screen Recording Step-By-Step

  1. Download the Reflection App (
    1. The Reflection App can be downloaded free.
    2. It works on both PC and Mac.
    3. The free version has a time limit per recording (10 minutes).
  2. Launch the Reflection App (after setup)
    1. Click on “Try” in order to use the trial version, no need to register.
    2. Note:  Nothing will happen immediately until you activate the Airplay function on your iPad device (Ssee below).
  3. Prepare you iPad for broadcast.
    1. Double click on the button.
    2. Scroll left & you should see the Airplay button (click on this)
    3. Select the device you want to broadcast to and then select “Mirroring – On”.
  4. That’s it!
    1. Now you should see a replica of your iPad on your PC.
    2. Use your favourite screen recording software (Camtasia for PC or Screenflow for Mac, for example) to record the mirrored version of the iPad on your computer screen.
airplay button on ipad

Let me know in the comments / questions below if you need any more help with recording the screen from your iPad.