Create the perfect Apple App Store video introduction for your app

With over 2 million mobile apps in the major app stores, getting your app discovered is one of the biggest issues facing mobile app publishers today.

Preview videos are one of the first visual representations of your app that users will see when searching in the app stores.

Create a 30-second App Store preview video

Be compliant to Apple guidelines in order to have it accepted.

Convert app store visitors to app downloads

Apple App Store videos are strictly limited to 30 seconds, so your entire message needs to fit into that. So many things to show, in almost no time.

Best approach I would suggest is diving your 30 secs in blocks or video segments. timeline of the key messages we wanted to make, and how long to devote to each:

A user’s attention span is typically 3–5 seconds when scanning an app listing, and only 5–10 seconds when viewing the preview video. Make sure the preview video has a solid call to action with high-volume keywords to encourage more decisive users to convert.

App Store Optimization best practices suggest that the still image should be an image that engages well with the audience and makes a good first impression.

Capturing video from your iPhone doesn’t require any particular software, simply plug your iPhone into your computer, run QuickTime, click File > New Screen recording and then tick the little arrow close to the rec button to select your phone. Or simply: pull down the control center on your phone and just click the record button.

I personally use Adobe After Effects to create blocks and Final Cut Pro to edit the video.

Music or audio background are optional since the default option for user is on mute. They have to manually turn the audio on to listen. If you want to add some audio, make sure you own the rights of the music you are going to use. Use SoundCloud, limit your search to royalty-free tracks or Youtube, Facebook Sound Collection or the most recent Music8 huge library.

The App Store is very particular about validating video uploads, one pixel out, or use of non-square pixels, and your video will be rejected for upload with no reason given. This alone drove us crazy enough to write this post.

It’s also at this point you’ll spot the fact that you need to upload your video in at least two different formats:

Don’t forget to ensure your App Previews are up to Apple’s basic video specifications.

There is a big chance that if you try to upload videos to the App Store from a PC (or even from Chrome on a Mac) you get an error message saying that you need to use Safari.

It turns out that’s not necessary at all, there is a workaround: if you use Chrome, simply change your user agent (get the free User Agent Switcher plugin) and set your user agent to:

Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_10) AppleWebKit/538.34.48 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/8.0 Safari/538.35.8

Importance of the Poster Frame

A common mistake developers make with their preview video is choosing a random place for the video to stop.

The preview video takes the place of a screenshot and should be treated like one.

The still image, otherwise known as the poster frame (App Store) or feature graphic (Google Play Store), is incredibly important to an app’s conversion. In screenshots, developers use high-volume keywords to explain the app’s core features.

If the poster frame does not deliver the app’s message, it is less likely to improve conversion.

What should I say with my App Preview?

What’s in the video is up to you as the developer: Choose what you want your users to see and experience! It’s important that the content you do choose to use shows the user how the app looks and works.

Apple also requires developers to disclose In-App Purchases in the preview, either through the video itself or as text superimposed on the video.

Screenshots do provide some sense of how your app works, but App Preview could entice the user into their next download or purchase.

As with screenshots, be sure your App Preview is honest to the app’s features or gameplay.

What shouldn’t go in an App Preview?

Everything featured or seen in your App Preview should be your own content or things you have the rights to.

Again: be careful not to use music or footage from other apps or videos that do not belong to you.

There are also some basic things you shouldn’t do for your videos:

  • Only use touch hotspots (not animated hands) to demonstrate touch gestures if necessary
  • Avoid objectionable content, violence, adult themes and profanity
  • Previews may not contain ads, platform logos, pricing or timelines.
  • Stay within the app! You don’t have to show people interacting with the app, or show over-the-shoulder angles or fingers tapping the screen.

App Previews you upload for your app are seen across all region iTunes stores. It’s recommended that you avoid voiceovers and including a lot of text in App Previews so that other users from other territories aren’t deterred.

Unlike apps in the “Games” category, which can have action and art packed in every second, text-heavy categories like “lifestyle” will be under a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to creating an exciting preview video. Don’t fear though, as long as your video is informative, engaging and educational, you can create a great App Preview.

What does a good App Preview look like?

A good example of a great App Preview is the preview used for Inkstinct. Instead of animated hands floating around the screen everywhere to show you where things are, the preview quickly goes through the basic functions of the app with a single touch hot spot for the user to follow.

Most importantly, these videos contain the necessary information to get a user excited about the app- they aren’t too fast and they don’t drag on too long.

What does a bad App Preview look like?

One of the App Store’s more popular games, Blek, released a trailer through YouTube that uses a real hand to show the user how the app works and also does not disclose In-App Purchases.

Apple wants to keep all of the App Previews uniform. It’s important to show how your app works, but without other distracting factors like having animated hands or real hands use the app for you in the video.

Keep in mind- if you lose a user’s attention for even a second, they may turn off your preview video and leave without downloading your app.

What else should I keep in mind?

App Previews could be the final factor that pushes a user to tap “GET” on their mobile devices.

Just as how your app’s description and screenshots play a huge part in how your app is seen in the App Store, the App Preview could be what pushes possible users to download your app.

For better insight into how users feel about your App Preview, try showing it to some testers. I highly recommend having it tested on UserTesting before its final release. Whether it’s A/B testing a few videos you have in mind or simply gaining insight into the video currently live, users may have some insightful feedback about how to improve your video.

I hope this little guide saves you time making your next App Store video!

Emanuele Pagani is a design leader with two decades of experience in helping organizations build a vision, scale it across brand and marketing.