iPhone App Marketing Case Study #1 on Strategy

by Brook Lenox on March 26, 2010

I try to share what I’m learning about iPhone app marketing. But I’m only one person.

The more data you have to work from the better.

I’m pleasantly surprised by how many iPhone app developers have shared about what’s worked for them and what hasn’t.  Over the next few weeks I’m going to share some of my own learnings, but even more importantly what other app developers have experienced and learned.

My first set of case studies today is on overall strategy.

Is there any good high level information out there?
What should I include in my marketing plan?
Any definite dos or don’ts?

High Level Strategy

Case Study: Start by reading App Cubby – Selling Out Gracefully

In this blog post David Barnard shares a lot about the progression of his business over the past 2 years. He’s had some ups and downs, but also quite a bit of success.

What I learned:

  • He worked long days and nights to make App Cubby successful
  • His “role” is (creative lead & CEO)
  • His success was a combination of a great app and strong marketing
  • Sponsorships can be a potential source of revenue
  • Possible impact of getting promoted by Apple ($30k in one month)
  • He’s smart and I should read all his posts

What I liked:

  • He’s been effective ($250k in revenue in 17 months)
  • He’s honest about the ups and downs he’s faced
  • He shares real numbers

I wish:

  • He shared even more data. I’m a #’s guy, so the more the better. I realize he can’t share too much and give away all his secrets
  • I’d like him to write everyday (OK this isn’t realistic either)
  • I had Honeywell paying me!

Hope you find this case study helpful. I’d follow David on Twitter if I were you. Let’s move on to the next one.

Marketing Plan

Case Study: Next read Tapity’s post on The Plan

In this post Jeremy of Tapity shares about what he did to market his Grades app that just launched this month.

His five points are:

  1. Finished a solid preview version
  2. Blogged and guest blogged
  3. Did press previews
  4. Contacted local press
  5. Shares some things he’ll do at launch

What I like:

  • So far his app’s 4 1/2 star rated. Looks like a quality app
  • He shares specifics of what he’s done to prepare for launch
  • His grass roots, low budget local approach
  • Connecting with influencers over social media

What I wish he had in his plan:

  • Results. It’s too early, but I’d love to know how his plan is working
  • Mobile ad testing. Has he thought about that? Why isn’t that included?
  • What about approaching other educational type apps?
  • How about partnering with high schools, colleges, and universities?

Dos and Don’ts

As long as we are on the topic of overall strategy I want to end with some of my own do’s and don’ts.

Case Study: Pinger Phone

This app is no longer in the app store, but at Pinger we learned invaluable things from launching Pinger Phone. It was a combination of social media feeds and instant messenger. It launched in December of 2009 and was in the top 100 free apps for 15 days.


When it comes to strategy:

  • Think about what users need or want and build that
  • Keep your concept simple (Pinger Phone was a bit too complex)
  • Be willing to make mistakes and learn (Pinger Phone was not a success, but led to other apps successes)
  • Scrap an app if it’s not working and move on


  • Don’t spend a year to build an app (1-3 months is ideal)
  • Don’t submit your app and then think about marketing
  • Don’t spend all your money on development, leaving nothing for marketing
  • Don’t have just one revenue source if possible (Pinger Phone was 100% ad revenue)

In Conclusion

Hope that gives you some food for thought about your overall strategy!

Have you seen any other good case studies on strategy? Add them in the comments.

Photo credit: alicejamieson

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy Olson March 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Hey Brook, thanks for posting.

Results — will be posting later, once I have more data.

I’ve been testing some mobile ads, will share what I learn.

“Approaching other educational type apps”? Not quite sure what you mean by that.

Partnering with schools—this kind of partnership is a bit difficult due to the beauracracies involved but I have been able to get some free advertising opportunities at my own school. My school’s Facebook page (with 9k fans) posted about it, an email went out to the CCI department about the beta, and they will be posting video and print ads at our student Mac store.

Mark Taber March 26, 2010 at 6:29 pm

As usual, invaluable information, Brook. This article I found especially useful, since a group I’m in is in the early stages of developing an iPad app. Thanks.

Brook Lenox March 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

@ Jeremy…looking forward to results. Good luck!

Brook Lenox March 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm

@Mark – your welcome. Want to share what the apps about or is it a “big” secret at this point?

Lp June 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for writing such a great blog. we learned a lot here. Yesterday morning, we launched a marketing campaign for our BA Financial Calculator iPhone app and got a wow. in just a few hours, it jumped to TOP 7 in Finance in US app store and within TOP 10 in many other countries.http://bit.ly/ bfEszF…


Brook Lenox June 10, 2010 at 1:02 pm

@Liping – congrats on your early success!

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