Advertising your iApp

My iPhone application, Yummy, has been on sale in iTunes for a couple of months now and, as a number of other developers have noted, after the initial launch sales figures take a significant nose dive very quickly. I’ve been trying to think of ways to increase visibility without taking too much time away from actually making enhancements to the software.

As luck would have it, I got a “free trial” of Google AdWords and thought I would give that a try. Results have been… well, not exactly what I was expecting.

The way AdWords works is that you give it a bunch of search terms and when someone enters those terms you go into an auction with other advertisers with the same terms. You can set a maximum bid and a maximum per day. I confess that these are not values that I have played around much with; I stuck with the defaults. You then get charged when someone clicks on your advert, not just when it’s put in front of someone.

It turns out that with my choice of words I was averaging £0.33 per click. If we assume that every click results in a sale then I would say that this is on the high side of acceptable. Yummy retails for £1.19 in the UK, with Apple getting 30% and the tax man another chunk.

However that’s not necessarily a good assumption. In fact, I have no real idea of how good or bad it is. Using Google Analytics and AdWords’ built-in statistics I can see how many people visited Yummy’s website and I can see how many people clicked the link to the App Store. What I can’t see is the number of people who clicked on the ad that ended up buying a copy.

But the cost of attracting customers and the inability to track the effectiveness of the campaign was nothing compared with my frustration in penning a suitable advert. I started with the following text:

Delicious on your iPhone
Search and edit your
bookmarks in one app on your iPhone

Sure, I’m not going to make a living as a copywriter any time soon, but given the space constraints I didn’t think it was too bad.

However after a couple of days my campaign was suspended because I’d used a trademark in my text. Now I’m no expert on trademarks, but I really don’t see the problem here. I’m not trying to sell dodgy iPhones; I’m not passing myself off as Apple; and I’m not selling a competitor, indeed all Yummy users are already Apple customers.

Writing about an application that runs on an iPhone without mentioning Apple or iPhone is not easy. I ended up with: on the move
Search, add, edit and delete your
Delicious bookmarks in one iApp

They have not suspend that yet, but I think it’s a substantially less compelling advert.

So overall, it was certainly worth a try — I had nothing to lose — but for the price-point of Yummy I don’t think it’s worth paying for AdWords once my trial funds expire.