Every app developer wants his app reviewed on popular blogs, as it’s probably one of the best way (with promo campaigns) to gain a lot of exposure and get downloads. So how does one get such a review? Well, if you’re not one of the big guys yet you need to ask for it. And you need to do it the right way.
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If you’ve tried it before, you know it’s far from easy to get a free review (don’t even bother with paying for one – it’s proven useless in most cases) and there are many mistakes you want to avoid.
WHAT YOU NEED TO INCLUDE
Just like for how to write a press release I could share with you the email sample I usually use. But guess what? There’s actually a great and insightful interview already online where Erica Sadun from TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) answers questions from the App Design Vault on how to successfully pitch your app and make sure it gets reviewed. That way, you don’t even have to take my word for it!
Bloggers are really busy and basically the idea of this email you send them is to include all the key elements about your app and why the blogger should even bother looking more into it. You will find that several elements are the same than for a press release, which makes this email kinda like a “short press release”. These elements, that Erica details in the interview, are the following:
- The name of your app exactly as it is spelt on the App Store
- What it does, and why it is different
- The price
- One link to your product page (Your website)
- One link to the iTunes product page and/or Google Play product page
- One or two screenshots
- A video (important!) 30 seconds to a minute.
- A description in a concise paragraph. Say who your audience is, what your app does, what sets it apart from the crowd.
- Contact information. An email and not a link to a contact form
- Skype IDs, Twitter IDs
CHECK OUT THE REVIEW REQUEST SAMPLE PITCH
WAIT! WHAT ABOUT MY PRESS RELEASE?
What’s the point of writing a press release if you end up sending an email to bloggers and journalists? Your press release is a must-have in your app press kit and you can publish it on a major PR site. Also, I’ve seen some bloggers request a press release, so you better not make them wait when they ask for it. More traditional reporters (from big or local newspapers for example) still expect you to send a press release, no matter how intrigued they can be by your review request. It really depends who you’re writing to.
When you add your press release to your pitch, don’t add it as an attachment but in the body of your email. You can mention in your email that the press release is at the bottom of it and insert it under your signature for example.
A FEW OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
I’d like to add a few points to what Erica says in the interview:
- Don’t forget that no matter how well crafted this email is, you won’t get results if you don’t identify correctly the person or blog you send it too: no iPhone games blog is going to write about your productivity app.
- Be nice. You’re writing to someone that doesn’t know you at all and asking him to review your app. Know who you’re talking to and use their name. “Hi XXX” can go a long way: check out Rob Walch’s interview, who has run the longest iOS podcast out there, explaining you why. Don’t come across as pretentious and don’t try too hard neither (they’re not your buddies).
Some blog reviewers advise to make a first light contact with the blog if they don’t know you, telling them about the upcoming app and asking permission to let them know when it’s out. That way, you’re not sending a “my first app is published” email. For some reviewers (as Erica), the first email needs to be the one and include everything. So here you go, you’ll have to make that choice yourself.
- No mass emails. That comes along with the previous point: if you want any chance of having something published about your app, write individual emails and adapt them slightly to who you’re writing to.
When working on the narrative structure ask yourself these questions:
What’s the story?
What sets your game apart? (Game strengths)
What’s the atmosphere and tone?
Who is your player persona? (Age, gender, location)
Be sure to include:
- The world
- The character
- The obstacles (goals)
- What will the character do to confront them
Find relevant movie or game trailers that you like or that have a similar style and use them as reference. Notice how they compose the story.
For example a zoomed out pan will give you context for the environment and close-ups aim to convey emotion and connect the audience with the characters.
No need to explain the game mechanics or go into too much detail. Find the core concept and tell a story worth watching.
Last but not least is deciding to have a voice over or narrator on your video. If you do, make sure the narration doesn’t go for too long, find someone who can represent the spirit of your game.
When using on-screen text and the voice over at the same time they should be synced together. It becomes a real challenge for the audience when the voice over doesn’t match the title card.
- In-detail description that doesn’t make sense to someone who doesn’t know your game
- Stating the features and technical elements of your game (number of levels, leaderboards, gameplay time, even though lots of trailers do it)
- Lengthy trailer
- Shot from one angle or with no camera movement
- Shaky gameplay or hard cuts between one action and the next that are hard to follow
- Not including a call to action.
STEP 3: Open with a BANG!
Consumers only care about your content if you earn their attention, this makes the first 3 seconds of your video crucial. Hook the audience with a spectacular intro.
A visually impactful composition can be a cutscene with specific dialogue, a cinematic piece you have created specifically for this game trailer or a 2D composition with animation, depending on the type of game you have.
Give the viewer a reason to stay and get invested as the intro will set the tone for the rest of the video. Think about the 3-seconds rule as a foundational moment that brings new people to your fan base.
A trailer can be 1-3 minutes long, but shorter videos tend to have higher viewer engagement rates. We recommend your trailer not to go over 60 seconds, this will also help you place your video in other platforms that have time limits like Instagram. Additionally, include the game’s title in the first 3 seconds (ideal logo placement is 1.7seconds) to ensure brand recall.
Here’s why: According to Wistia the average 30-second video was viewed 85% of the way through, while the average 2-minute video was viewed on average 50% of the way through. What’s even more 20% of the audience drops after the first 10seconds and 44.1% of the audience skips the video after 60 seconds.
The shorter a trailer is, the more chances you have that the person will commit to your story all the way to the end card. Mobile users live in the age of instant entertainment and their favourite snack is content so prepare to hit them hard and quickly.
Intro logo animation: Yay or nay?
This is the brand animation at the beginning of the video (AKA bumper animation), sometimes it can be added at the end as well.
If this is well done it makes the video look polished and high-end. If this looks poor or it’s too long it could be the reason why your viewers drop off.
Consider making 2 versions of your trailer. One with the bumper animation, very helpful when your viewer casually comes across with the trailer, (like on YouTube) and one version without the bumper if your viewer is on your app store.