21 Ways to Get Your App Featured on the App Store

How to Get Featured on the App Store: 21 Proven Tips

Competition in the App Store is fierce. More than 20,000 apps and 2,000 games are submitted to Apple every month, joining the 1.96 million apps already available for users to download.

In other words, standing out from the crowd is essential.

There are many different ways to promote your app. But perhaps the most effective tactic is to convince Apple’s editors to place your app on the front page. The question is, how exactly do you get featured on the App Store?

In this guide, we’re going to look at the many routes to App Store stardom.

How to Promote Your Product on the App Store

The App Store is a marketplace like no other. It provides you with direct access to one billion iPhone and iPad users, along with over 100 million Apple Watch owners. Last year, these people spent $72.3 billion on buying apps and in-app purchases.

It is an incredible place to do business, without doubt.

However, Apple’s “walled garden” approach also presents some unique challenges for developers trying to promote their apps. In general, app marketing outside the App Store has a relatively minor impact on downloads.

For this reason, our list of recommended promotion techniques is actually quite short:

  • ASO (App Store optimization) — Think SEO, but for the App Store. Except, good ASO should make your app product page more appealing to users. That means everything from localizing the description to upgrading your screenshots.
  • PR and influencer marketing — One way to reach a lot of people is by sending your app to bloggers and YouTubers to try. In some cases, inviting influencers to download and try your app free can have a similar impact.
  • Getting featured on the App Store — By far the most powerful form of promotion for any iOS app. This can mean being awarded App of the Day, being featured in an Editorial, or earning a coveted Apple Editor’s Choice listing.

So, about that feature…

21 Tips for Getting Featured on the App Store

Given the very personal nature of App Store selections, there are no “secret hacks” that will guarantee your app will be featured. That said, you can increase your chances by applying the following principles and techniques.

1. Understand How the App Store Works

As a starting point for being chosen for a feature, it’s helpful to know how the App Store actually works.

The Featured section is not controlled by some complicated algorithm. Every selection is hand-picked by Apple editors.

Michael Ehrenberg, a former App Store marketing manager, actually shared how the process works at the Mobile Gaming USA conference.

The App Store is available in 175 regions and 40 languages. For each part of the world, Apple has a local editorial team. Ehrenberg explained that, each week, local App Store editors determine the best and most relevant apps for their specific users.

By having humans choose the apps, Apple ensures that the featured apps will be the ones most likely to appeal to local users.

As you start crafting a strategy to get your app featured, keep this process in mind. It doesn’t matter how cool your app is; if the editorial team doesn’t think it will speak to local users, it’s not going to be chosen.

2. Build a High-Quality App

This point might seem a little obvious, but we’re going to say it anyway: make sure your app is actually good.

Look at it from Apple’s perspective. This tech giant has essentially created a virtual mall, and being featured is like having your product in a store window. Apple simply isn’t going to give that kind of (free!) exposure to a low-quality product.

So before you even start thinking about a promotion campaign, focus on improving your iOS app. If you have some popular product features, figure out how you can make them even better. Stamp out the bugs, add new functionality, and ensure that your app exactly fulfills the App Store description.

3. Design Your App According to Apple’s Guidelines

Over the years, Apple has built a reputation for outstanding design choices. Just think about the beautiful curves of the Apple Watch, down to the minimal icons in iOS menus.

Apple wants to advertise apps that fit that aesthetic. So, they’re going to favor apps which prioritize smart, clean design.

If you want your app to be featured on the App Store, make sure it follows the iOS Human Interface Guidelines. Editors are much more likely to pick out your product if you take notice of these principles.

Design Your App According to Apple’s Guidelines

4. Build for iOS First

Aside from helping developers, featuring apps in the App Store is a form of promotion for Apple. They want to show users all the reasons why they should choose or stick with iOS.

If you build your mobile app solely for iOS devices, you are giving the App Store editors exactly what they want. Even if you build an Android app at the same time, releasing your app on iOS first is a smart move.

5. Make Your App Universal

Another way to win the favor of App Store editors is by making your app universal. In other words, optimize your product for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Universal apps align more closely with Apple’s business model, and so act as another signal that you’re trying to build a good relationship.

Not sure how to make your app universal? Check out Apple’s

Universal App Quick Start Program for loads of useful resources.

6. Use Apple’s Latest Features

Compatible with Apple’s aesthetics? Check. Compatible with all of Apple’s products? Check. Compatible with Apple’s marketing strategy? That’s another area in which you can stand out.

Adding functionality to your app that utilizes Apple’s latest technology will seriously improve your chances of being featured.

For example, Apple announced SharePlay at WDDC 2021. This framework makes it easier for developers to sync the playback of content between two different devices. It’s mainly made for watch parties, and viewing presentations while working at home.

If your app is about video, adding SharePlay as a feature will significantly increase your chances of being featured on the App Store. The same applies to many other Apple technologies.

7. Localize Your App

As we mentioned earlier, there are 175 versions of the App Store around the world. While getting featured in the U.S. App Store is pretty huge, other regions also attract massive audiences.

Since each App Store editorial team is looking for the best apps specifically for their local users, they’re more likely to choose ones that have been optimized for the local language and culture.

If your app is fully localized, it’s going to give you a huge advantage.

In fact, a lot of non-English app stores even have a special section dedicated to awesome apps available in their own language.

There are plenty of case studies that point to success. Blue Tea Games is a prime example. This development studio decided to localize their card strategy game, Mavenfall.

Immediately after global release, the game was featured in the Best New Games collection across 120 countries. It was also highlighted in an editorial feature in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Localize Your App

Steven Zhao, CEO and founder of the company, commented on the success: “Localization is an important step for any game looking to grow beyond its national borders, and reach a global audience. It certainly explains why Apple featured us.”

Want to know more about how to get started on app localization? Check out our free 53-page ebook, The Essential Guide to App Localization. It’s packed with useful advice!

8. Update Your App Frequently

In an interview with Business Insider, Henry Kang — the founder and CEO of fashion app, StyleIt — revealed what it’s like to get an app featured by Apple.

While he acknowledged that luck is part of the selection process, he also noted that “constantly updating your product to add new features probably helps.”

Obviously, adding new features means your app becomes ever more powerful. Apple’s editors may even pick up on major new versions.

Pushing out frequent updates also allows you to respond to user feedback and squash bugs. As a consequence, your user rating will probably improve. In turn, this usually helps your search rankings while signalling to Apple editors that your app meets their high standards.

9. Utilize Festive Updates

On gift-giving holidays, people get new devices. And when people set up new devices, they want new apps. So, it’s no surprise that holiday seasons are a bonanza for app downloads.

In fact, Flurry shows that Christmas Day chalks up the highest number of app downloads for any 24-hour period.

App Stores get into the festive spirit too: many create new, holiday-specific feature categories. If you produce seasonal content or dress your game up with a holiday theme, there is every chance you can make it onto one of these lists.

Utilize Festive Updates

10. Target Holidays Around the World

While Christmas and Thanksgiving are the biggest holidays in the U.S. market, there are many other gift-giving holidays around the world.

A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, Chinese users will be celebrating Singles Day, with romance and lots of shopping in early November. Towards the end of the month, the Jewish community will be celebrating Hanukkah. And Indian users begin November with Diwali festivities.

By localizing your app and pushing out themed updates for such holidays, you have the chance to impress App Store editors around the world.

Need to brush up your world celebrations? Here’s a quick guide to popular holidays worldwide.

Our research shows that apps in several categories should be localized in order to stay competitive. To learn more, download our free data report, Why Localization Matters to Growth.

Target Holidays Around the World

11. ASO: Optimize Your App Store Listing

One key point to remember is that having your app featured is really a means to an end. What you, and Apple, really want is for more people to buy your app.

So, let’s say you get featured (nice!). People rush to your app listing, and they find a horrible, disorganized page. They’re not going to click the “get” button, and Apple knows this.

In order to earn Apple’s attention, you’re going to need to brush up your listing page. Optimize your description, attach some nice screenshots, and use your promo wisely (see our next tip). Make your app listing one that Apple would be happy to promote.

As a pleasant side effect, App Store Optimization (ASO) is likely to improve your organic search traffic as well. Check out this blog post to learn more.

12. Show an Apple Device in Your Promo

While the App Store makes Apple a lot of money, the Cupertino-based tech giant also sells devices.

If you choose to feature those devices somewhere on your App Store page, you are more likely to find favor with the editors.

This tactic can be especially effective if your app supports Apple’s latest technology, and you can showcase it.

13. Invest in PR

What you do within the App Store obviously affects your chances of being featured. But what you do outside the App Store has some bearing, too.

For instance, strong media coverage could lead to a feature. Try to get your app mentioned in some of the tech blogs that Apple editors follow, such as TechCrunch, Mashable, and local tech sites for each region. You can start by sending out press releases, and following up via email.

If the App Store editors like what they read, they’re more likely to look for your app in the crowd of submissions.

To learn more about scoring media coverage, read this very helpful guide by Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer.

14. Highlight Where Your App Is Made (for Non-U.S. Developers)

Local people usually like to use local apps. We don’t just mean the ones in their native language — people love to hear that a certain app was developed or at least conceptualized by someone in their area.

Apple editors are aware of this tendency, and they often build features around it. For example, the Hong Kong App Store previously curated a “Made in Hong Kong” section that included dozens of popular, locally-founded apps, such as GoGoVan, OpenRice, and 9GAG.

So, if you are a non-American developer, don’t hide your origins. In fact, you should highlight them. Reach out to local tech media (see previous tip) and tell them about your story.

15. Build a Relationship with Apple

As we established near the beginning of this post, it is humans who make the decisions about which apps that get featured.

So make friends with them.

Or at least, connect with someone at Apple. Every company has an internal system for sharing knowledge, and contacts at Apple — even if they’re not the ones directly choosing features — can help you out. If they’re familiar with your company, they might think of your product at the right moment, and give you a shout-out: “Oh, this one is made by someone I know. Cool stuff.”

To build this kind of relationship, you usually have to meet people. That can be a little tricky (particularly in the current climate), but here are a couple of ways you can build a relationship:

  • Send a developer to WDDC — At any Apple-organized event, you will find plenty of people who work in Cupertino. Send your developer and tell them to make connections.
  • Connect via social media — A much cheaper alternative is visiting LinkedIn and searching for “app store editor.” Once you have filtered by location, you’ll be able to see the people who are responsible for your target App Stores. Connect with them, or try to get their email addresses through Rapportive or FullContact.

Build a Relationship with Apple

Feeling shy? Read this blog post from CIO to learn how to get the conversation started.

16. Pitch to Apple

Of course, there is a much more direct way to boost your chances of being featured. You could simply pitch your app to Apple.

All you have to do is visit AppStore.com/promote, log in with your Apple ID, and submit your message.

Here are some tips for your pitch:

  • Apple receives a lot of these pitches — keep yours concise.
  • To stand out from the crowd, tell the story behind your app
  • Attach a video of your app in action
  • Be sure to highlight any Apple-specific features
  • Don’t be afraid to show some personality
  • Ask for any feedback they might have about your app, so you can get a sense of their benchmarks for the future.

17. Release Your App on a Tuesday or Wednesday

Now we’re really getting into the insider secrets.

For any new release, we recommend choosing a Tuesday or Wednesday. Not because it’s hump day; it’s because App Stores post new curated lists every Thursday.

If you release your app right before then, it won’t have time to get buried in the pile. A Friday release means you have to wait almost a week, and you risk disappearing among the thousands that will come in before they choose again. So, mark midweek in your calendar.

18. Keep Your Ratings and Downloads up

Apple considers a lot of performance metrics when choosing apps for features. Unsurprisingly, user rating is one of them.

In App Store analysis, Appbot found that over half of featured apps have high user ratings (4.5 stars or higher). So, keeping your user ratings in good shape should be a top priority.

The main point behind chasing a feature is to earn more app downloads. Unfortunately, another metric that Apple uses for deciding which apps to feature is…downloads.

In other words, you may need to work on improving your monthly downloads by other means before you can expect to be featured.

Keep Your Ratings and Downloads up

19. Follow Apple to Get Inspired

Apple is very open about their selection process. So, follow Apple on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest curation strategies.

The company has a lot of different Twitter accounts, but we recommend @AppStore and @AppStoreGames.

20. Appeal to a Niche Audience

Apple often curates for specific topics, like school and movies. If you can nail a niche topic beautifully, you will be at the top of the list for inclusion when that topic comes around.

Finding your niche might seem like a daunting challenge, but it’s actually easier than you think. For inspiration, check out this post by iOS developer Trevor McKendrick, who found success with a Spanish-language Bible app.

21. Avoid Trying to Get Featured Too Early

There is a good reason why Apple takes notice of downloads when selecting apps to feature.

Aside from popularity, this metric shows which apps are well established and which are still finding their feet. Going back to the topic of quality, Apple does not want to be featuring apps that still have teething problems.

As such, it’s a good idea to wait a while after initial launch before chasing that App Store feature. Even if your product is bug free (which is unlikely for a fresh-faced app), it might not actually be mature enough to keep users interested.

Rather than trying to attract a large audience from the beginning, it’s a lot better to start with a small group of users — preferably, personal contacts or loyal users. That way, you can get a manageable amount of highly specific feedback, which you can use to make your app better and better.

In contrast, being featured right at the start of your journey will open the floodgates. There is a good chance you will be overwhelmed by user feedback.

You’re also going to lose users who aren’t patient enough to stick with your app throughout this growing period. Once users are gone, they’re not going to come back.

So, don’t start lobbying for a feature right at the beginning. Instead, iterate your product with a small batch of users, and aim for the Featured tab once you’ve honed your app.

Using Localization to Improve Your Downloads

So, there we have it — a complete list of tactics for getting featured. Apply multiple points from the list, and your chances of receiving exposure are going to increase ten-fold.

One of the most important items mentioned above is localization. This process will improve the quality of your app, attracting more downloads and better reviews. These are all key points that App Store editors look at.

Using Localization to Improve Your Downloads

OneSky provides a complete end-to-end solution for localizing any iOS app or game. Our platform plugs into your development workflow, allowing you to import and export content via our API.

You can order machine or professional translation directly through the platform, with over 1,000 experienced translators on hand. In the same workflow, you can add content review and on-device testing — all for a very affordable price.

Want to learn more? Sign up free to give OneSky a test drive, and download our free ebook, The Essential Guide to App Localization, for a complete walkthrough.

Patrick Yip

Patrick Yip is the former Head of Marketing at OneSky. Heavily attracted to any brilliant growth strategy, well-crafted content and the idea of making the Internet globally accessible.

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45 Responses

  1. Ron Packard says:

    Hey Patrick. This is a pretty terrific list – thanks a ton! I’m going to give it a shot. Wish me luck!!!

  2. Andrea Adre Pelati says:

    Thank you Patrick, my game has been featured in 147 countries 🙂 https://itunes.apple.com/app/the-dark-matter/id1149537392

  3. Marcus Kay says:

    Great post!

    This is one of the best articles that talk about getting your app featured.

    Point 8, 11 and 15 are particularly interesting. I’m sure they come from OneSky’s localization experience in these areas.

    On point 12, the app store optimization blog post from Kissmetrics is good, but it is a bit dated (2013).

    I actually set out to make something more up to date and comprehensive:

    https://www.meatti.com/blog/app-store-optimization-in-3-steps/

    I figured, maybe you might find this article useful in the future.

    Either way, keep up the great work!

  4. Purba Roy Das says:

    Great

  5. Paul Cook says:

    Wow, what a wonderful read. I am really glad you shared this. I have come across this article which may interest you. https://goo.gl/xZS76K

  6. Krist Duro says:

    We followed all of these steps especially #15 and our app got featured on the front page of the App Store https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/moneycoach-personal-finance/id989642198?mt=8

  7. @RebyJones says:

    Great post thanks, I’m marketing an app that is about to be launched so this has been really useful!

  8. Neha Sharma says:

    Nice Post…But I think there is no certain formula to get
    featured in the app

  9. Luis Muñiz says:

    Great post! I sent an email to appstorepromotion@apple.com and they replied to me this: “Thank you for contacting the App Store Team. This email is no longer in use, but we’d love to hear more about your apps and games. Please go to “AppStore.com/Promote” to tell us more”. Is it the new way to contact apple to ask for a feature? it seems pretty bad comparing it to a more personal pitch email…

    • Thank you for letting us know, Luis! We’re investigating but it looks like this is the one sure way to get their attention. To answer your question, it might not necessarily be “bad” compared to a more personal pitch email—just looks like they’re formalizing the pitch process more by asking pointed questions, but I’m sure there’s still someone at the other end looking through the responses. We’ll update the blog post shortly 🙂

  10. Peter Olafson says:

    I wish this were true in the iMessage store. Yes, there’s an iMessage store. There’s only one trick to being featured there: be Disney, or coke, or burger king, or a major movie studio, or Apples own tech conference, etc etc.

  11. Zoe Young says:

    If your app get featured on the App Store, you can expect tens of thousands of unique users to hit your app download page, and the conversion is very high, because most people give much more trust to the App Store. Learn more to get featured on the App Store.http://www.asotop1.com/blog/

  12. MattP says:

    Useful information. I would like to note that App Store Optimization (ASO) is the key of success in App Store after you have received approval from Apple.

  13. Rosy says:

    Hi Patrick,

    Thank you for the amazing post! I’m wondering if I could translate the post into Chinese and share it on my blog? I’ll definitely mark the source and let the readers know this terrific article comes from your website. As a marketer in Taiwan, I find that we really have little Chinese information and knowledge shared on internet (about app/game marketing), this article will help a lot!

  14. Thanks for sharing such a grate, very informative and useful article to app store marketing tips.
    Keep it up.

  15. Sun Zhennan says:

    Hi, Patrick, thank you so much for the comprehensive wrap-up. Well done. I learnt a lot. I’d like to read more articles from you, especially the same topic but more one iOS 11 App Store’s “Today”, it’s kinda different than the old “feature” section.

  16. Ashutosh says:

    Thanks Patrick for the awesome article. This is really helpful and i was looking for it. I am soon going to upload a new game on Appstore.

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  19. Slam says:

    Point #4 should be rephrased, because it sounds like Mac OS X (or macOS, if you prefer) is not important. Wait, WTF, the App Store is not only for iOS. What dumbass wrote that? Certainly not a developer.

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  1. September 19, 2016

    […] know if they were featured before or after they broke into the top 100. So just to be safe, here are 3 guides to getting featured in the app […]

  2. September 30, 2016

    […] Get featured in the App Store (Guide 1 or Guide 2 or Guide 3) […]

  3. July 15, 2017

    […] great start but with 1,600 apps a day getting published, you may need to make efforts to stand in. Click here for some hints that will help you app get featured and alert millions of potential leads to your […]

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