iPhone App Launch Strategies

by Brook Lenox on February 26, 2010

There are a many, many different iPhone app launch strategies.

But there are a limited number of strategies that will explode you into the top rankings. If that is your goal, you may want to consider FreeAppADay.

What is FreeAppADay?

FreeAppaDay is a service created by the folks at ICS Mobile, OpenFeint, and TapJoy to give away one free app every day.

They’ve currently got 60k users coming to their website daily to find free apps.

Here is how it works:

  1. You need a quality paid app in order to be included.
  2. Contact FreeAppADay to promote your app.
  3. You pay $1,200-$2,000 depending on the day and type of app.
  4. They promote it to their over 60k users for one day.

That’s Crazy

$1,200…that’s madness!!! Well it might be if you have no “method to your madness”. You need a strategy to go with that level of spend.

I suggest you make sure you have:

  • A solid app that people like
  • Strong retention rates (high % of users continuing to use your app days after initial download)
  • Ways to reach back to those users later

It’s crazy not to spend the money if you could do as well as Face Fighter. Read on.


Appy Entertainment just used FreeAppADay to promote their FaceFighter app on 2/18.  They kept FaceFighter free for a total of 6 days and had 1M downloads.

Their results:

  • FaceFighter was 150 in its paid category before 2/18 and shot up to 50th after it went back to paid
  • They cross promoted another app called Tune Runner in FaceFighter during this time generating 100k downloads for that app
  • Tune Runner reached category #1 or overall #1 in these countries: Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden

Read more about App Entertainment’s experience with FaceFighter on FreeAppADay.


What are the pros to this strategy?

  • Generating a million downloads gives you a user base
  • You might, like FaceFighter, raise your ranking after you go back to paid
  • Being creative you can cross promote other apps


What are the potentional cons to this strategy?

  • You will lose revenue every day your app is free
  • 1M downloads still = $0 revenue
  • Your app may not have that level of success

In Conclusion

I think FreeAppADay gives smaller app companies a solid option for launching apps.  Just make sure if you go down this road, that you have a plan to turn these users into revenue.

Photo credit: Alan Vernon

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Lehman December 10, 2010 at 11:15 am

Would you recommend this approach for non-game apps? Looks like freeappaday is all games.

Brook Lenox December 10, 2010 at 8:15 pm

@Michael – it’s a lot of game, BUT NOT all games. We’ve promoted Doodle Buddy and Textfree there and had great success.

Simon April 3, 2011 at 4:58 am

Hi Brook
I have an idea for an app which requires a large user base to be successful. It utilizes the GPS function of the iPhone. How would you suggest I best “launch” the app?

Brook Lenox April 15, 2011 at 3:51 pm

@ Simon – if you need a large user base you’ll need to spend money. Simple as that. Do you have money? If so my various articles talk about testing Admob, Tapjoy, etc. Good luck!!!

direct mail April 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I have a couple of questions about this marketing approach. When you pay and agree to let your app be given away for a day, what do you get in return. At the end of the day, are you given a list of all the people who downloaded your app? Does this list include email addresses so you can do follow-up marketing? I also wonder if you can provide them with a limited functionality app, or does it have to include all the bells and whistles of the paid version? I like this idea, just wondering out loud what you get in return.

Brook Lenox April 29, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Patcamack – great questions. The “things” you are given when you offer your app for free for a day are: 1) a ranking boost and 2) a much larger user base that you can hopefully later monetize. I’d ask the providers directly if you can provide an app with limited functionality. I’m guessing that’s ok, but just make sure the users don’t feel cheated.

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