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A Winning Formula for App Store Promotion

How Was Our App Promoted in the App Store For 2 Categories?

Every dream originates from humble beginnings. In 2017, amidst deep contemplation of maritime and oceanic governance, an idea surfaced from the depths of the sea. Initially, we envisioned a small experiment evolving into a digital seedling. We started with a simple app providing seafarers with crucial information to navigate the capricious seas confidently.

The app’s functionality remained steadfast, generating continuous weather insights. However, its success exceeded our initial expectations. It garnered a user base, resonated with users, and became an indispensable companion.

Despite its effectiveness, the app’s initial form lacked the aesthetic appeal to elevate user experience. We acknowledged that improvements in both functionality and design were necessary. With a renewed sense of purpose, we set sail to refine our creation and enhance the user experience design.

In this article, we'll tell the story of our app, NOAA Marine Weather, which has gone from zero to a paid user base of 4000+ and has been promoted to two Apple Featured categories. We’ll answer these four questions: 

  1. How Did We Move Our App to a Freemium Model?
  2. How Did We Move Our App to a Premium Subscription Plan?
  3. How Did We Get Our App Promoted in The App Store?
  4. Was Our Success A Coincidence?

How Did We Move Our App to a Freemium Model?

The tides came about two years after launching our app, and we embarked on a journey to develop the app into a user-centric and data-driven application. Reaching a groundbreaking new version took us six months of relentless innovation. We meticulously analyzed user feedback, poring every suggestion and concern to enhance the user interface.

We invested heavily in data quality and accuracy initiatives. We recognized that providing users with reliable and up-to-date information would be the cornerstone of our redesign. To ensure the integrity of the information, we implemented robust data cleansing and validation processes. The redesigned app replaced text-heavy displays with charts and graphs and expanded the scope of data available. The app boasted a sleek interface, vibrant visualizations, and strategically placed widgets throughout the app. We substituted an ad-supported monetization model for a freemium model, offering a subscription tier for users.

“The transformation of NOAA Marine Weather from a functional tool to an App Store standout is a result of strategic decisions backed by data.”

Vardan Abrahamyan, Chief Executive Officer at NextStack

We had faith in our app and were confident that users would recognize the benefits of a premium experience and would be willing to unlock the app’s full potential. The freemium model proved to be a success, and we reached new levels of popularity and profitability. 

The redesigned app was just the beginning of our ongoing quest to evolve. In our pursuit of excellence, we were steadfast in creating a user experience that is both intuitive and insightful. We were committed to delivering data-driven solutions that empower users to make informed decisions and achieve their maritime goals.

How Did We Move Our App to a Premium Subscription Plan?

Launching the revamped version marked a significant turning point in our journey, as we witnessed a notable surge in users switching from the free to the premium subscription plan. This positive shift was a testament to our understanding, commitment to user feedback, and dedication to continuously upgrading our application. We recognized the significance of incorporating user feedback into our development process, ensuring that the app features and functionalities aligned with their needs, expectations, and preferences.

With this newfound understanding of our subscribers’ needs, we set a new goal of a rigorous release cycle, delivering enhanced versions of our application every two weeks. Our weekly program of enhanced updates allowed us to swiftly address any lingering issues and bug issues while incorporating valuable user feedback and maintaining a seamless user experience.

As a result, we listed an impressive number of downloads, surpassing 20,000 across both platforms. Moreover, our premium subscription base rocketed to over 2,000 subscribers, ensuring our position as a leading app in the domain.

NOAA Marine Weather Subscribers 

  • 2020: 0 subscriptions sold
  • 2021: 785 subscriptions sold
  • 2022: 2690 subscriptions sold
  • 2023: 4360 subscriptions sold

“Transitioning from a freemium model to a premium subscription plan was not just a revenue model shift; it was a calculated move based on user preferences and market trends.”

Sergey Charchoglyan, Chief Technology Officer at NextStack

This remarkable growth was a direct result of our commitment to user satisfaction. We implemented the rapid release cycle by prioritizing user feedback and insights and achieved our goal. Our efforts cultivated a loyal user base recognizing our value to digital experiences.

Timeline of Our Success

  1. 2017: We released the first version of the app.
  2. 2020: We completely redesigned the app and switched to a freemium model, both iOS/Swift and Android/Java.
  3. 2021:  We added widgets to give users the ability to access critical data without the need to open the app.
  4. 2023: We developed the website to expand the audience and gain more users from the web.

How Did We Get Our App Promoted in The App Store?

Finally, the hard work paid off; after two years of dedication and improvement, our dream began to reach beyond the stars, and we found ourselves in a situation every app developer wishes for.

For nearly two years, the team had worked tirelessly, meticulously developing their app, fixing bug issues, optimizing performance, and striving to enhance the user experience. A shared passion fueled Their dedication to creating something exceptional, and we received an email from the Apple management team.

The journey to the App Store’s featured category was long and challenging, with countless development hours, testing, and alterations. However, our path to success was finally possible with an unexpected twist – an email from Apple content management staff inviting us to apply for an app promotion.

When the email from Apple arrived, its subject line filled us with anticipation and curiosity. The Apple content management staff requested a conference call. What could this be about? Was it a request for further app development? A recommendation for additional features?

Our team was at ease as the call commenced, as it was reassuring. The Apple staff recognized our app’s potential and encouraged our team to apply for a promotion to the Featured category. It was a dream come true and an Apple recognition of their hard work and commitment.

The team prepared the application with renewed vigor, highlighting the distinct features and stimulating user experience that set our app apart. Our wait for a response from Apple was one of excitement and nervousness, but our perseverance finally paid off.

A month later, our team received the news that we were all waiting for – Apple had selected and approved our app for promotion, not just in one but two Featured categories! The news was a monumental achievement for our development team.

“The success of our app is not just navigating user preferences; it's about engineering an immersive user experience that propelled us to the Featured categories on the App Store, proving the impact of thoughtful UI/UX on user engagement and app promotion metrics.”

Tiruhi Ivanyan, UI/UX Designer at NextStack

The promotion grew exponentially; our downloads increased, reaching levels we had never reached. The team saw numbers they had only witnessed in the monthly reports in a single day. The app reached its full potential, captivated users, and gained recognition.

NOAA Marine Weather Downloads

  • 2017: 5,000 Downloads
  • 2018: 8,000 Downloads
  • 2019: 20,000 Downloads
  • 2020: 25,000 Downloads
  • 2021: 28,000 Downloads
  • 2022: 30,000 Downloads
  • 2023: 45,000 Downloads

The evolution of our NOAA Marine Weather app, from a fundamental tool for seafarers to a sophisticated, data-driven application with a robust freemium model, marked a significant turning point.

Was Our Success A Coincidence?

Reflecting on our journey, can we attribute it all to mere coincidence? Certainly not. Developing a successful app was a direct outcome of our dedicated efforts. To underscore this point, our commitment extended beyond creating a singular app; we forged ahead, venturing into diverse industry fields, with each subsequent app yielding noteworthy accomplishments. We launched these successful apps:

“Success is not just a stroke of luck; it's the result of strategic planning, meticulous execution, and a team united by a common goal. Every achievement is a milestone, earned through dedication, adaptability, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. In the dynamic landscape of projects, we shape our destiny through careful planning and unwavering commitment.”

Mane Gasparyan, Project Manager at NextStack

Ready to turn your app ideas into reality? Partner with NextStack. Our track record speaks for itself – from transforming a simple maritime app into an App Store sensation to creating successful applications across diverse industries.

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