How to Make Your App Go Viral in China

An iOS app marketing guide for indie app developers

YiChing
YiChing
Aug 5 · 7 min read
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Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Without a doubt, the app ecosystem in China is so different from the rest of the world. However, at the same time, the market in China is so huge that no one can ignore it. If you succeed in making your app go viral in China, that means you’ll definitely earn a lot of money, either through ad income or in-app purchases.

This article will help make your own app go viral in China, proven by the experiment I did for one year. There is a quick and effective way to help you reach your goal. The following method is only shared for indie apps that are not social, shopping, or any platform-related apps. The ideal categories of the apps are tools and games, such as videos and photography editors.

First, we have to understand why it works.


Shopping Culture in China

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Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Bargaining is a common activity in Chinese shopping culture, especially at the market or independent stores. Vendors near the street usually expect customers to bargain. The bargain culture not only helps the consumer save money but also have a lot of fun during shopping.

It is important to keep this in mind. To help the Chinese find that downloading your app is an interesting activity, you have to offer them a special price.


Make Your App Go Free for a Limited Time

The discount sale makes people feel like finding a windfall, let alone the free price for a limited time. If your app costs $3.00 normally, for Chinese, they will feel like they earned $3.00 the day after downloading the app for free. Who doesn’t like to earn money, right?

But you may ask…


How to Spread My Discount News?

That’s a good question. According to my observation over the past year, there is a large number of people operating fan pages for app discount news on WeChat, which is the most popular messaging app in China, you may see it as Facebook.

The editors are good at collecting limited free apps and sharing them with their fans. By doing so, the page attracts more and more followers, and it leads to the growth of the ad revenue of the page.

Due to this reason, all fan page editors are willing to find as many new free apps on the App Store as possible. If your app is worth being shared, please take the free sale activity as one of your marketing strategies.

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Fan pages which share the limited free sale news of HyggeCam apps.

If you do it right, then your app will be shared and go viral.

Now you know why it works and which group of people will help you. Next, we are going to discuss how to make it work.


How to Do It in the Right Way?

There are five rules as listed below.

Rule 1: Translate your description into Chinese

First and foremost, the Chinese description is crucial for app exposure. After a lot of observation, I discovered that most editors tend to copy the app description directly from the App Store and paste it to their articles posted on the fan page. The reader, on the other hand, the potential app user, will decide if he or she is interested in downloading the app according to the description on the fan page. In other words, your app description on the App Store will directly affect the user’s desire to download the app.

You have to think about how to write a good Chinese description for the editor and help them recommend the app to their reader. It is better to put a brief introduction on the first paragraph of the description. For some editors, they might just copy the first paragraph, considering that some readers don’t like to read.

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Some editors only copy the first paragraph of the description.

You might ask why you have to write in Chinese? Because no editor will help you to translate it. They prefer apps with a Chinese description.

Bonus Tip: One day ahead of you changing the price to free, announce the date of the coming sale in the Promotional Text block on App Store Connect. Some editors will take it as a reference.

Rule 2: Change the app price to free once every three months

I usually set it to free for one day every three months. Each time, the sale news is reported by more than 30 fan pages. It is a surprisingly huge amount of exposure!

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The downloads of Instant Noodles: Original[1] grew significantly every time I set it to free.

Limited stuff is precious, and so is the free price. Don’t change the price too often. If you do so, the free price will no longer be special.

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The downloads of Instant Noodles: Original app dropped time after time when I set it free every month

However, I didn’t try to adjust the frequency too much in the past experiments. You may try it out yourself. There might be a better frequency for you to change the price to free.

If your app is new, wait three months first, and then you can hold the limited free sale. This helps editors make sure your app charge price normally and seriously.

Instant Noodles is a photo editing app. It costs $4.99 USD normally. The free version of the app gets five downloads in China every day.

Rule 3: Free for one day is enough

As you can see in the pictures below. Typee is the app I tried to set to free for two days each time. I found out that the downloads on the second day were always incomparable with the downloads on the first day. The number decreased 2/3 every time. Therefore, in my opinion, one day is enough for the exposure.

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The downloads of Typee app from May 18 to Jun 17, 2019.
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The downloads of Typee app from Oct 14 to Nov 13, 2019.

Typee is a photo editing app. It costs $9.99 USD normally.

Rule 4: “If my app is originally free…”

Don’t worry about it, there is still a tip for you. If your free app has IAP for users to unlock pro features. I would suggest you create another charging app with all pro features unlocked.

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Two versions of the app. One for charge and the other for free.

After that, you can follow Rules 1-3, and both of the apps will get a lot of downloads during the sale period.

Rule 5: Advanced promotion

To continue with the bonus tip mentioned in Rule 1, promotional text is much more powerful than you think. If you have any creative ideas to design a sale activity, please grab the chance to make good use of this block. Don’t forget to promote it in Chinese.

For example, I once held an “Apps Gone Free Marathon” activity with my four charging apps. These four apps were photography apps with ten unique filter effects inside each one. They could easily help the user to edit their photos into different tones. Each one cost $0.99 USD.

During the four-day sale period, I changed the price of each app to free day after day. This kind of sale was so rare and special that it attracted 30 fan pages reporting it. It also became a highlight throughout every article while other apps on the same page didn’t have their own sale topic. In the end, these four apps got more than 7700 downloads in total.

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The daily sale result of my HyggeCam apps.

It’s Easy, Isn’t It?

If you follow the rule, I am sure it will bring you a lot of downloads and fortune. Moreover, if you are lucky enough, you’ll definitely find out that the downloads become more and more every time you set it free. Personally, my best record happened on the Instant Noodles app, it had 10K downloads a day on its seventh limited free sale, although it only got 400 on its first. So, if you fail on the first time, please don’t give up, just wait three months and try it again. I am sure you’ll do it one day and I am looking forward to your good news.

Better Marketing

Marketing advice & case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and efficiently.

Thanks to Niklas Göke

YiChing

Written by

YiChing

WRITING CONSULTANT with service of helping my customer reach the writing goal | iOS APP DEVELOPER with 15+ apps selling on App Store | yichingbusiness@gmail.com

Better Marketing

Marketing advice & case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and efficiently.

YiChing

Written by

YiChing

WRITING CONSULTANT with service of helping my customer reach the writing goal | iOS APP DEVELOPER with 15+ apps selling on App Store | yichingbusiness@gmail.com

Better Marketing

Marketing advice & case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and efficiently.

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