A lot has been said about getting featured in Google Play or iTunes and, indeed, it’s a well-justified reputation. Being featured is a blast. True. You get a lot of high-quality users. However, the road to paradise is paved with all kinds of actions that need to be taken and some requirements that need to be met, that many developers are unaware of.

Do you match the standards of quality? Are you being a good developer?

Do you match the standards of quality? Are you being a good developer?

Once upon a time, being featured was almost a commodity. New apps were automatically featured, and just asking the app stores internal teams to feature your app was many times all you needed to do… but those days are over.

Today, there’s a hidden UX and performance standard you just have to meet, if you want your app to be featured in Google Play or in iTunes store. The top developers know it: if you meet with the app stores representatives they will provide some hints, but most app developers aren’t aware of the bits and bytes.  Battery consumption matters, crashes, and so forth, are side effects all app developers encounter. Where are you on the quality score graph? You better be somewhere high or ‘no soup for you!’. Don’t expect Google or Apple to let major performance issues slide. They know it all, and their stores teams are instructed to consider the users interests prior to everything else.

Take the time to make sure you follow the Android Developer’s Essentials for a Successful App and pay extra attention to the Core App Quality section. Do not neglect the relevant store requirements (e.g., device compatibility).

Performance or UX issues which may keep you from being featured, can be the result of hooking up with the wrong SDKs – ad networks, analytics, attribution or crash reporting. Therefore, run checks and investigations on SDKs before implementing them. Make a mental note to go over SDKs reviews on the web or at the SafeDK Marketplace.

SafeDK Marketplace

You can also hunt for the SDKs that key players in your market are implementing by using this tool.

SafeDK's App X-Ray: Scan any app to see the SDKs inside

How do the store reps become aware of the little UX details, you ask? They go over your users’ reviews. Are you putting enough effort to shine in there too? Top developers get lots of quality reviews. It’s not by chance. They master the art of pushing users to provide reviews.

BTW- An opportunity lies here as well. If you had significantly increased your app quality and it is reflected in the reviews you are getting, you have a great “excuse” for requesting to be featured.  

Rumors have it that Google prefers developers that use Google’s product portfolio. Yes, we have heard that more than a few times and, yes, stores reps have not yet denied it. It makes sense, when you think about it.  True, promoting great monetizing apps will results in increased revenues to Google or Apple but, the teams who promote mobile apps have other KPIs as well. For example, Google play teams will love to know that your brilliant app is exclusive on Android OS. We are not saying you shouldn’t develop your app so it supports a variety of operating systems. But, if for some reason your app supports one only, you’ll have an advantage in pushing your app to being promoted. You must leverage this restriction / ‘weak point’. If you wish to increase your chances of being featured, a great tactic is to use Google (or Apple) SDKs enrichments (i.e., social login, payment, location API or else), and once you’ve done it, utter it loud and clear. The stores teams are enthusiastic employees and are usually enormously patriotic about their workplace. To give before you take makes a good strategy in this case.

By the way, we often get this question: “will Google still promote my photos, keyboard, backup … app, though it competes with its own app that offers the same service?” Well, yes! Totally! Just take a look at what’s being featured now, chances are that you will find at least one app that offers a function which overlaps with a specific Google app. As much as we would like to think so, the average developer is hardly perceived by Google as a real valid competitor… The giant companies, who own the biggest app stores are involved up to their heads in so many products, that we doubt their own employees are even remotely familiar with the entire portfolio. Don’t bother yourself with thinking about it. Most likely, “competing” with a specific Google product has no negative impact on your app getting featured.

Are you connected to your ‘go to’ guy in the store?

Are you connected to your ‘go to’ guy in the store?

With so many developers out there, you can still get featured by chance, but you can’t just sit and wait for it to maybe happen. You’ve got to be proactive. Considering that your app is of great quality, and you’ve done your homework with regards to the above, you may still never live to see your app featured, simply because you keep being under the radar, while other proactive developers put effort in establishing direct relationships with the stores’ teams.

Therefore, our first advice to you on this is: get introduced to the right colleague/s who can refer you to the ‘featured’ committee or staff members. The way to go about this, is to trace your regional representative who is usually busy with collaborating with local industry players. Ask around, something will come up. Getting to know who that person is, by all means, does not at all mean that once you do- your job is done. Not nearly. But, the intro will get you noticed, and you can take it further from there.

Do you have the perfect reason why should your app be promoted?

Do you have the perfect reason why should your app be promoted?

Getting through the door is one thing, but getting it nailed is another.

Many developers we talk to aren’t paying any attention to the timing and the context of their promotion request. Chances are a lot higher if you come up with a good reason for “why” and if you know the RIGHT answers to some though questions, one of which will probably be: “why you? Why now? In which geos? A good answer would be linked to a major version update, with cool new features, plus some inbound data sharing (usage stats, great retention trends). Be honest and transparent. No, you are not superb all over the world. Name the geos that are really best performers, in terms of retention and virality.

Experienced marketers who know the ropes plan ahead of time, make sure to share their plans with the stores teams, get them involved in noisy launch plans, and share some  secrets with them (e.g., PR planned campaigns, paid media campaigns, product roadmap etc.)

Those in the inner circle are much more likely to take an active part, boosting the effect and contribute to the success, whether it’s voting to featuring the app, or spreading the news in other ways.

Are you really ready for the global attention?

Are you really ready for the global attention?

If your app isn’t at all localized, don’t be surprised by not being featured globally. Think of it this way: would you want to promote an English app in a country where almost nobody knows English? The app stores teams must think of their users. A localized app is naturally a better nomination for featuring from their perspective. So… don’t be a stranger, localize!

Never say never

Don’t say “I’m never going to be featured”, say “I didn’t get featured yet, but it’s coming”. Although following the mentioned guidelines does not guarantee anything (sadly, nothing does), it still significantly increases your chances and consistent high quality app is the key. We will love to hear from featured-apps publishers about their stories and experience.