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Mobile app submission strategy – deal with the app-stores “supermarket”


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Plan your approach towards the variety of app stores, when submitting your app
Don’t just submit your app without prior planning. well, you could… but then there is the RISK of making painful mistakes that might cost you a lot, and worse, may help your competitors get ahead of you. read this to plan ahead your submission.

My regular set expectations:

  1. This item provides free starting-point training on mobile apps’ submission strategy. Once done reading, you should move-on to additional how- to related trainings (on
  2. Hence, practical questions that might rise during the reading and are answered in other trainings are linked wherever relevant. Enjoy your reading!

App strategy – what does it mean?

Strategy is a high level plan focused on one or more goals under limited resources and conditions of uncertainty. App submission strategy means planning the submission steps that best serve your goals. (Sometimes it is just fun to begin form the very basics)

When thinking of questions as “which additional (to Gplay and iTunes) app-stores should I submit to?” or “what are the benefits and costs of “one-app for all” vs “unique app per each territory” ,you then realize that the common “submit on iTunes and google play” approach might not be the optimal one. Moreover, it might not be relevant for your app. in short, prior submission planning is VERY important.

I used to promote an app that was submitted using the “app for each territory” strategy (unique app per each location). It was a legacy from the past where we used local mobile carriers as distribution channels (during the pre app-stores age, can you remember?). I believe this strategy had caused us some pain: Budgets were multiplied by locations. App download and reviews were counted separately (hence ASO was far from optimal). We had to build an internal operation for each territory!!! (Marketing, BizDev, Projects). Point is that we woke up late. We could have benefit from initial planning and early action.

My best way to start planning is through counting the main conflicts, and to provide some guidelines.

App submission strategy main conflicts

  1. Global or local? if your app targets the global market, first question is should you submit one global app for all territories, or submit unique app for each territory. If your app target one local market, one less conflict for you, yeeeeiiii
  2. Free or paid? Are you leaning on revenues from premium upsell? You wish to submit a premium version only? A free “light version”? Just free with in-app purchases? Are you planning to add some ads as well? I can’t identify one ultimate way, but you need to be aware for the pros and cons of each
  3. App stores selection with so many android stores and some iPhone too (jailbreak), you should wisely select after understanding their benefits and the attached effort.
  4. Submission resources what is your capacity to deal with multiple stores? You could use helpful submission aggregators to deal with multiple stores’ submission, but still, the more distribution channels you use, the more resources you will need to allocate.

Once the above is solved, you should proceed with the planning:

  1. Pre-requisitesproduct design adaptations and additional specific requests, E.g. Facebook connect is a mandatory pre requisite for Facebook app-center.
  2. Time to market considerations have you got specific plans re your time to market? As preparing your submission materials, and the process itself, might take a while, plus approval is not at all immediate, you should consider TTM as well.
  3. Submission materials-copy, screen shorts, visual elements and so forth.

Guidelines to solving main conflicts

Global or local

The app stores can identify users’ location. It’s done when users are logging in the store. The developers decide of the locations they are targeting, and so enable users from those locations to download their apps. So app stores are segmented by their supported territories, each store by its unique infrastructure.

This conflict is relevant if your app targets the global market, or at least more than one country. If that’s the case you might want to localize your app’s download page, as well as the app itself, offering contextual info or services, localized menus, languages, social media channels, you get the idea…

Given that localization is a must, “One app fits all” submission strategy might demand some extra development (e.g. initial opening screen asking the user to mark preferred language, followed by synchronizing local layers through the service).

You can bypass the need for extra development by duplicating your app and separately submit it for each local store. But know the consequences: fragmentation of download ratios and reviews, therefore negative impact on your ASO (app store optimization). It might become impossible to win the ranking battle, when your achievements are cut into pieces, and your competitors, that submitted one app for all territories, are enjoying one whole chunk of downloads and reviews. Think about it before making a decision.

You should also know that even when apps are using the one-for-all submission strategy, they still benefit from the stores responsiveness to location. The stores’ UX is usually considerate of the users’ login account – so users are interacting with their relevant local store (I am talking about iTunes or google play). The apps are ranked with regards to the local territory (other we would have always explored through top Chinese apps). Users can explore through local reviews. Multiple languages for app description are as well supported (By the way, there might be differences between mobile and desktop view of the app stores).

Below you can see a screen shot of top free apps on google play (logged on my local account). Local apps are enjoying high ranks as well as global ones. You would of course see another list on your local territory.

I enjoy support of my local language. Check out whats’app’s download page presenting local reviews (mad reviews, following what’s app “paid soon” notification…)

item6000_google_apps item6000_whatsapp

When submitting an app, you can include localized communication materials. If you decide on “one-app-fits –all” submission strategy, you can enjoy localized view on the app stores. While you will keep your local looks, you will maintain consolidation of reviews and downloads; hence you will maintain your rank optimization.

If you still decide on submitting multiple apps (per location), know that you will most likely encounter higher investments on deliveries, marketing and so forth.

On the other hands, the benefits of fragmenting to local apps are mainly splitting the risk (e.g., bad reviews, app store rejections), and saving development effort. If you tend to start with multiple apps, and then consolidate, check on the app-stores to see if and how consolidation is done.

One major use case of fragmented submission is when you are entering new territory. Let’s assume you are already established with your app (got your nice rank and high rate on the store… generally happy, sun is shining), and naturally you wish to penetrate new territory, try your luck again. You are not sure how your app will perform in there, how it will be perceived, as cultural differences play major role in apps adaptations. You are willing to quickly improve on the move, and you put your product teams (or yourself) at the position. All cool. One thing though; you are really concerned with risking your current position – your established high rate and your rank. In this case, submitting a brand new client provides a solution, even though you are enforced to put some extra effort. That way you can easily test your performance, enjoy smooth entrance to the new market, no risk to existing assets. When time is right, consolidate…

You should know that some stores calculate major parameters including reviews across all your apps (as long as listed under the same developer account). Still, you are less valuable when splitting apps. One rotten apple does not impact the whole basket…

Summarizing the global local conflict of submission’s strategy I would claim that (with the development, pre requisites and pilot exceptions) submitting one global client will most probably prove to be more efficient, and financially & ASO wiser, compared to the split local apps strategy. Plus you don’t even need to compromise on localization. Ha, and don’t worry about analytics. Existing analytics are covering location in both cases.

Free or paid

We are not discussing the optimal business model in this item, so I will not address the premium profitability aspects. Let’s assume you’ve decided to lean on premium upsell (paid features). If you have decided not to, you may skip this paragraph.

Not all stores enable payments, and those that do are not necessarily enabling payments in all territories supported. You need to consider that on your planning.

Main question here is how you plan on offering premium features. Here are some considerations:

  1. Your app includes ads? You might want to consider “no ads “premium version… as paid users have less patience for ads.
  2. What do you think of Shazam’s approach (they offer free version with limited service. becoming an addict and it’s not enough? Great. Purchase the premium unlimited app…), I generally love this strategy: first try it out, becoming an addict? Now is the time to get you paying…it’s a well done execution of “light version” promoting a “pro paid version”. Well done Shazam! Love the app as well. Totally addicted. Paid for the premium version …I swear I have no agreement with these guys.
  3. In-app purchases – basic app is free and it includes some upsell features. Don’t forget: apple sets minimum pricing.

I don’t have a sharp recommendation for which submission tactic is best. Trial and error I guess. If you’d point a gun in my head I’d say that first you must check on your competition, make sure you offer same value for the same price (or at least submit your app in a way to be perceived that way). If your competitors are publishing their app for free, you might consider do the same (though there are some unique cases- e.g. whats’app is a paid app on iTunes, while competitors are free).

I would also recommend promoting your app through the free apps zone, either by submitting free app (upselling premium features – “freemium app”) or submitting light version converting users to a pro paid one.

Small comment: many users are frustrated when presented with ads in paid apps (or after paying for premium features in free apps). as long as you have decided not to make your users unhappy, therefore to make sure paying users will not view ads (but just make sure the ROI remains positive), you should identify those users, and disable their’ clients from ads display. If that’s not supported by your app, you should consider the light free app pointing a pro paid one.

Last recommendation here would be: don’t confuse your users- I would not submit both premium paid app and free one with premium features, in parallel. That’s just too much. I would simplify my premium offers as much as possible, not offering too many packages, making sure the value is well understood and that the pricing is fair.

App stores selection

As iOS is a closed platform, users can’t use external (to iTunes) app-stores, unless their phone is jail broken. So for developers, iPhone app stores selection decision is an easy one.

One of the benefits of an Android platform is that it is an open source. Users can therefore enjoy several App stores. Bigger discovery opportunities for app developers, another headache for the marketing force.

If you had ever asked yourself why android users search apps on the web more than iPhone users, the above might provide an answer…

Among the popular names are Samsung, Get jar,, Amazon App store and more

The main benefit of publishing your app on multiple app-stores is to increase your chances of distribution and monetization. Some Android App Stores have advanced app discovery features through variety of techniques including install incentives like paid apps offered for free. More importantly, the chances being featured on 3rd party’s app store can be hysterically higher than on Google Play.

Piracy is a downside here. So far there is nothing much to do about it. The more distribution channels you will use, the higher the chances you will “enjoy” piracy. Still, don’t get discouraged. Being out-there is still the right tactic.

To decide which of the stores are of your interest, consider your app’s value and core of operation (e.g., some stores are focused on games). Also check which stores are popular and used at your targeted market. You should then make sure these stores support your business model (paid app, free app… etc.).

BTW-Some platforms are only using links to the Google play download page – I refer to them as “promotional platforms” vs. the “real” app stores, enforcing submission of the app file (APK)

Submission resources

Submitting an app takes time. Preparing the materials (copy, screen shots) consumes some time, and the submission process itself, with uploading everything consumes some more time. Expect to spend extra time on bumps on the way, as unexpected rejections (which may accrue when you are less familiar with the process). Though you can use valuable aiding tools, still, the more stores you are using, the bigger the time spent. So plan ahead and prioritize, for the case you are overloaded and can’t submit your app to all stores in parallel.


Sometimes we tend to treat the submission as an output level, interesting only as a final step before the launch. Sometimes we therefore disregard the huge potential of planning and optimization the submission. Well, it’s a pity as some submission elements can’t be edited once pressing the “enter” key (so you have to resubmit or wait for the app’s upgrade). In general, you can significantly benefit from planning your submission ahead, by increasing your chances of hitting your goals and by decreasing your time and effort spent. In fact, you should do so, as your competitors are probably planning their submission it right now, as we “speak” …

Tsipi Joseph
Tsipi is one of Co-Founders, a mobile expert and a mentor. Over 10 years of experience in the mobile and marketing industry: Director of Marketing at Telmap, Comverse and marketing professional development director at the American Association of National Advertisers.
Tsipi Joseph
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