Free App Sales and AppsGoneFree

March 4, 2014

Every now and then, we will temporarily put one of our paid iOS apps on sale for free. This results in various social media outlets mentioning the giveaway, and I'm sure they help spread the word, but I'm always sceptical about these things. This blog post is about being featured by in their AppsGoneFree list, which, in our experience, has a particularly significant effect on free downloads in this scenario.

We have 3 apps that have been featured in AppsGoneFree:

With Runner's Log, we have had several free sales since the one in 2012, but none of them matched the magnitude of that sale, which resulted in about 5× the number of free downloads. None of the other free sales climbed the ranks like Runner's Log did that time—it made it to #3 in the Health & Fitness category on the iPad.

With Cyclist Log, I was keen to see if the AppsGoneFree feature would have the same effect. I returned the favor to and put a plug for them into the AppStore description for Cyclist Log. In the end, Cyclist Log also has about a 5× increase relative to other free sales and made it to the #7 rank in Health & Fitness on iPad.

In fact, at the time, I was chatting with the developer of RealiFit which was also featured on the same day, and their fitness app made it to #1. (Their app is absolutely amazing, IMHO, so they were able to make it to #1 based solely on the merits of their app once AppsGoneFree helped get them noticed.)

With Literacy Leveler, we set it to free on Sunday in preparation for the actual planned free sale on Monday. During the entire 24-hour period prior to the AppsGoneFree feature on Monday, the giveaway was turning out to be a flop compared to non-featured free giveaways of Runner's Log.

But precisely at noon Eastern time on Monday (17:00 GMT), which is when the AppsGoneFree list was pushed out, you can see a dramatic shift in the traffic for the server that handle's Literacy Leveler's back end services, after having been relatively quiet prior to then:

A similar dramatic increase in support emails started coming in at that time.

In the end, Literacy Leveler gave away more than 300× as many free copies as the previous day. It made it to #3 on iPhone in the Education and #1 on iPad. Here is a selfie on the iPad:

And, remarkably, across all apps it made it to #196 on iPhone and #26 on iPad. Here it is on the iPad overall ranks:

So, even though I'm skeptical about these things, I'm convinced that AppsGoneFree has a significant following. My advice would be that, if you receive an email from Tyler Tschida at letting you know they featured your app, take that one seriously. I'd suggest returning the favor to them by putting a plug into your description.

Tags: iOS