My pen was flying over the Steno notepad at Dust or Magic’s conference. Words of wisdom from guest speakers on children’s tech spurred many ideas about apps for kids. But my thoughts lingered on how to ensure parents continue to discover these apps. This list is my attempt to assemble resources and tips for marketing kids’ apps.
First, do some reading…
Positive Digital Content for Kids is a book that addresses how to make great content for kids by assembling experiences from industry experts. The book is free to download, and is artistically designed so it’s easy and delightful to read.
Research about what makes an app educational has actually been done, and is published in the Journal of the Association for Psychological Science. If an app for kids intends to be educational, this article provides a foundation for that claim. It discusses four pillars for an effective educational experience: active involvement, engagement, meaningfulness, and social interaction.
Kids’ app maker @Reks has been around since 2010. This company recounts their determination to succeed in the App Store by detailing every marketing strategy along the way. The post also covers how they kept up with changing App Store search algorithms, in addition to promotional strategies.
Then do some networking.
Collaborations between developers help everyone understand changes in the marketplace. The Developer Exchange is a private Facebook group for family-friendly app makers to engage in these conversations.
Dust or Magic is a regular gathering of children’s tech enthusiasts and professionals who align fundamental theories of child development with interactive product design. Themes in a Dust or Magic conference are about putting the well being of the child first. If you come, you’ll meet neat people.
If you are in the Bay Area on June 15th, plan to attend the Tech With Kids 2016 “Developing Apps for Kids” conference.
Time to get prepared.
Online services directed to children under 13 are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission through the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Know What’s Inside helps developers design their apps with privacy in mind, and also hosts a discovery center to help parents find great apps for kids. Consider registering with Know What’s Inside to understand best practices and to get your apps listed on the website and through the Know What’s Inside social media channels.
Know the platform.
If you are releasing your app on iOS, Apple has developer support pages, forums and guidelines for submitting your app. There is also an email address email@example.com to let Apple know about your upcoming release.
How about spreading the news?
App Friday has been around for years as a grassroots volunteer effort to put a spotlight on family-friendly apps. This year the team created an email newsletter to distribute new app listings on a weekly basis. Get your new app listed by registering in the App Friday database. Don’t hesitate to self-promote on Fridays using the #AppFriday hashtag on social media.
Speaking of social media, building and monitoring your online accounts can take some time. Make sure there are resources to promote app news on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Here are some ways small tech companies are using Instagram for brand-building: How Tech Startups Use Instagram to Showcase Their Products.
Feedback is always helpful.
A published review may provide helpful feedback for product development, and testimonials to use for marketing. Teachers With Apps, Children’s Technology Review, Smart Apps for Kids, Common Sense Media, Graphite, Kindertown Digital Storytime and Pappas Appar are all actively publishing reviews. A more complete list of app review sites is published on Pappas Appar here: http://www.pappasappar.se/review-sites/.
Don’t forget to check your iTunes ratings.
The rating your app receives on the iTunes store is important to how a prospective buyer will evaluate your app. Does it have four or five stars? Inviting happy customers to review your app would be a great way to build those ratings early. Consider inviting beta testers to review as soon as the app goes live.
A final checklist for the basics:
- Icon: Does your App Store Icon stand out?
- Description: Is your iTunes App Store description readable, and is it linked to your current website?
- Category: Is your app unique, or is the category or subject you are launching in overcrowded?
- Keywords: Is your app title intuitive and easy to find with a keyword search?
- Website: Does your website have a description of your app, a support page, and social media links so customers can get in touch?
- What else? Gather feedback and experiences from fellow developers. The ones who have been around awhile really know their stuff.
Need to connect? Find me on Twitter. Happy to help.
Photo credit Flickr [Omar Jordan Fawahl]