Michael Dorn of Applyzer.com has posted info on an interesting experiment he performed. The goal was to see how a massive outlet of promo codes would be able to affect the sales rank. While such a practise surely might get frowned about by big Apple, it is commonplace amongst smaller development groups and individuals to trying to increase overall sales.
The times mentioned on this chart (Games/Trivia US) are central European time zone and document the last 13 hours. You can clearly see the jump in sales rank 11 hours ago with a steady movement toward the “visible sweetspot”.
The sweetspot is to achieve a rank no lower than 20 because this is when the app becomes visible on the “Top Paid Apps” bar on the left side of iTunes. The theory goes that this will dramatically increase the number of impulse purchases just because now the app is seen and on rank 21 or below it is not. A promotion that does not push your app into the visibility zone has to be considered failed.
The experiment in this case has been done be handing over 30 promo codes to AppGiveaway, letting them organize the promotion in terms of selecting random winners. Michael analyzed the hourly sales rank while leaning back. Hourly ranking updates where only recently introduced as “Pro” option on Applyzer.com in case you did not notice.
From the chart above we can roughly estimate that 1 free download = 1 position better. But that is only true for a seemingly non-popular category like Games/Trivia or Games/Word. Ranking Positions in the much coveted Action and Racing categories are much tighter spaced meaning that the number of promocodes you would have to “spend” to make your rank move is way higher. So high in fact that I cannot recommend this approach at all.
Promo Codes are much better spent on friendly bloggers who can give an in depth review of your app because the blog article will stick around and probably affect sales numbers long term as opposed to a “the giveaway has ended” making users feel sad because they missed out on a chance to get something for free.
It is generally agreed that Lite versions help you maintain visibility which giving a jumpboard off which to “upsell” to the paid version. Last time I checked a good conversion rate was considered to be slightly better than 1 percent, so the top 20 presence of LuckyWheel Lite in several countries probably has a much bigger long term effect than any kind of promotion or hype. For some wondrous reason (maybe because of the lovely Spanish localization?) LuckyWheel Lite is glued to number one in Games/Word in Spain for several weeks now.
Still all that fame has yet failed to make us rich. Review blogs have generally ignored our app which brings up thoughts of the review article system being generally rigged anyway. Or how can you explain away the unfair advantage that makers of app can reap who manage to get an “in” with TUAW?
A game might have a globally visible a free version, but you still wont make more than a couple of dollars from it. The explanation I managed to come up with is that the big dollars are burried in the top spots of the biggest categories on the biggest markets. Which are? USA of course as you can see on a very detailed article of MarkJ.
To cut a long story short these are my ideas for boosting your sales rank:
- Do Give-Aways only if you can hope to reach top 20 in your app’s category with it. Otherwise don’t.
- Find friendly bloggers who will trade a promo code for a review.
- Have a Lite version of your app available to generate conversion sales and stay visible long term.
- Consider moving from a category where you rank badly to a not-so-tight category.
- Use a tool like Applyzer.com to see what works for you.
Generating visibility that sticks will be more valuable to you long-term than hoping to strike it rich just because you gave away 30 copies of something.
THIS JUST IN: One hour ago Apple revealed on their quarterly conference call discussing earnings that they are working on a new ranking system whereby no longer the number of units downloaded are considered but rather the amount of money that an app is able to pull it. Clearly this is more interesting because then you will directly know who is making more money then you. One side effect that Apple and developers can hope for is that then it will be possible once more to compete on quality as opposed to simply competing on who can survive off a 99 Cents sales price.