This is the second post in my new short series about launching ClusterCards 2, a complete redesign and huge update to my business card scanner app. If you haven't already read the first post about launch week and how it went, you can find it here.
In this blog post, I'm going to talk about some of the different strategies I tried to market ClusterCards and whether or not they were successful.
Please note that any thoughts or views in this post are purely based on my opinion and experience, and may not apply to other apps or launches.
Initial Development & Beta
I started working on ClusterCards 2 seriously around the time when WWDC19 finished, because I knew I wanted to launch it around September/October, and at WWDC Apple announced tons of new features I could implement to make ClusterCards even better.
I was planning to launch an initial beta to close friends and family, but due to version 2 requiring iOS 13, many of my beta testers were not able to test it. For this reason, I launched the first public beta earlier than I expected on August 26th, but limited it to existing beta testers. I opened up beta signups and started adding new testers a short while later.
I believe my beta was incredibly valuable to get feedback and bug reports on ClusterCards 2, and like version 1, I think it was a great success. Not only did the beta allow me to get more feedback, but as Charlie Chapman said in his first month marketing blog post, it also gave me a (small) base of loyal customers that downloaded the final version on launch day.
I launched ClusterCards 2 on October 3 via App Store Connect's scheduled launch feature. However, I did set it to release a few hours before I publicly announced it, which helped ensuring it was indexed on the App Store and available worldwide.
ClusterCards 2, my redesigned business card scanner app with QuickScan, suggested actions, advanced Siri Shortcuts, iCloud sync, iOS 13 support and more is now available! 🚀https://t.co/iOPX4qevWj pic.twitter.com/LVBRMFDNuR— Julian Schiavo (@_julianschiavo) October 3, 2019
I have always loved to use Twitter for networking with other developers and found it incredibly valuable both this year and last year with Cards version 1.
One thing I did find interesting is that I tweeted much more heavily about the development this year, and I think it really helped with engagement from my followers and fellow developers. For example, I frequently tweeted a feature or screen I had just built, asking for feedback, and I received a lot of useful feedback as well as shares.
On launch day, I tweeted about the launch and got quite a good amount of likes and retweets, which really helped with getting the app seen. However, I do believe that the giveaway had a far bigger impact, as I'll talk about now.
I’m running a ClusterCards+ Lifetime giveaway over the next day or so! Be quick to redeem the codes before someone else gets to them first! If you catch a code or enjoy the app, please share/RT and leave a review—it’d be greatly appreciated! 😊 https://t.co/yI5HqD3KnH— Julian Schiavo (@_julianschiavo) October 3, 2019
A short while after launching, I decided to run a "small" giveaway of ClusterCards+ Lifetime promo codes for fun and to build up some excitement in the app. I started tweeting out promo codes randomly, hoping to give back to followers and beta testers. However, the giveaway got way bigger than I could have ever imagined as it was retweeted and liked by tons of people, making me gain hundreds of followers and vastly increasing the number of downloads I received.
Some people asked me why my giveaway was so successful, and although I can't be sure, what I think made the giveaway unique was that I started removing letters from the codes and giving hints, which made people have to try and guess the missing letter. A few people were even actively following waiting for new promo codes to drop!
Overall, I am incredibly happy with how the promo code giveaway went. What I initially began as an experiment actually went on for over a day and tons of people had fun guessing codes and participating in the giveaway. As I'll go over in the next section, it also led to ClusterCards 2 getting a bit of attention from the press, which was an added bonus.
Product Hunt and Reddit
As well as tweeting about my launch, I posted to r/Apple on Reddit (during Self Promotion Saturday a few days after initial launch) and to Product Hunt (the day after launching).
Although Reddit had less traffic than Twitter, it still proved valuable and I received quite a few downloads from it. I also did a giveaway of some promo codes there (similar to the giveaway I ran on Twitter), which was popular.
I'm pretty happy with my Reddit and Product Hunt posts, as they did result in a number of downloads and more people seeing/sharing ClusterCards 2. One thing I would note is that unfortunately my Product Hunt post was slightly drowned out by very popular posts as happens sometimes, but it still received a number of upvotes.
In August, I created quite an extensive Press Kit and sent emails to some media outlets, but although I heard back from some and my launch tweet was retweeted by a few, no-one wrote about ClusterCards 2 on launch day, which was disappointing even if expected.
Although my press outreach was overall not too successful, the giveaway again helped out a lot, as it actually resulted in 4 press outlets writing articles about the giveaway, which helped with getting ClusterCards 2 noticed. For example, 9to5Mac shared the giveaway and I then worked with them to share more promo codes for their readers, which were enjoyed and taken very quickly.
After my launch, I contacted some of the press who shared ClusterCards asking them if they had any tips for developers who are launching soon.
Guilherme Rambo recommends avoiding the OS release rush and instead considering launching a week or so later when press is calmer so they aren't in the middle of posting about the new thing which could overshadow your launch. He also tweeted some tips for press emails:
Start with a short list of key features, then a small description of the company, include a link to the press kit and TF invite. It shouldn’t read like an ad and should be customized for each recipient. Avoid “read bait” in the subject such as starting it with “Re:”.
Ben Lovejoy shared some tips on getting straight to the point to improve the chances of press being interested:
KISS! Get the key benefit into the headline and opening sentence. Google Pyramid Structure for press releases. Have links to hi-res images.
Thanks to the members of the press who shared some tips-go check them out on Twitter!
As I discussed in the launch week post, I'm very happy with how ClusterCards 2 launch week went overall, with some better and worse aspects. I did try quite a number of varied marketing techniques and believe that my promo code giveaway and tweets especially paid off.
I hope this post was useful in seeing my experience in marketing my app launch and how it went. I actually really enjoyed writing this post as it let me reflect on what worked and didn't, which is very useful.
If you found this post useful or interesting, please stay tuned for the next blog post in this small series. I haven't decided quite what it'll be about so you'll have to wait and find out!