I'm Andreas Kambanis and I'm the founder of Nibble Apps. This blog is all about creating and launching successful apps.

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What you should use App Store promo codes for

Last week I spoke with Paul, from the AppGuy podcast which I thoroughly recommend subscribing to if you are a developer or entrepreneur.

One of the items that came up in discussion is how we use Promo Codes to spread the word on our app before the launch and get more downloads.

App Store promo codes

This is something that we used in our recent launch where we got in to the Top 16 paid apps in the whole of the US store.

It struck me during the discussion that this isn’t well known in the developer community.

First of all let’s clear up some misconceptions and then I’ll get down to clever promotional tactics for your app, that I think should be part of all developers launches.

  • Anyone who uses a promo code to download your app, can not leave a review
  • Promo codes now work in all countries, previously it was only for USA App Store users
  • You get a total of 100 Promo Codes per app release
  • All codes expire after 4 weeks if not used
  • Your app must be approved but doesn’t have to be live in the store, for you to use Promo Codes

The last one on this list is the most important.

Let’s say I’m about to launch a very popular 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge app, I’ve had the app approved, but I’m not quite ready to launch yet.

During that time, I want to be building up excitement amongst the users that can’t wait for this app to launch.

I can request 3 promo codes through the iTunes Connect dashboard, and say to the audience on Facebook:

Free download from app store

This works on many levels:

  • Rewards our loyal followers
  • Gets the excitement building
  • Spreads the word through social media
  • Has social proof showing how many people are interested in this

We also use promo codes to reward people who’ve helped us work on the app, to have a copy of the app before every else.

We could also use it to send to journalists, a week or more before the app launches to give them time to take a look and write a review around the launch date.

We could also use it to build excitement after the launch or contact sites to do promotions where we give away free copies of the app.

To hear more of the launch tactics we use to achieve those top positions in the App Store, have a listen to Paul’s excellent podcast.

If this post was useful for you, please share it or leave a comment!

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4 Discussion to this post

  1. Sebastian says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about promo codes.

    There is just one issue: My App Lückenfüller (german only yet) http://dropr.com/der_lueckenfueller is currently “Waiting For Review” and I started to get excited to send out promo codes after reading your blog post, but I don’t see the button “Promo Codes”. I have checked the Developer Guidelines and there it says: “…the version’s status must be “Ready for Sale” or Pending Developer Release.”

    • andreas says:

      Thanks Sebastien – you are 100% correct, the app needs to be approved by Apple before you distribute your promo codes. I have updated the post thanks to your comment.

  2. Steve says:

    Good article. Thanks.

  3. Jackie Bryla says:

    I redeemed a promo code from a developer today and it shows in my itunes account under the history as purchased with FREE (due to promo code). But it doesn’t show anywhere else….not in the cloud or purchased on my ipad, I redeemed the code via my desktop on itunes thinking that I could just get it later out of the cloud in purchased on my ipad….but it’s nowhere… Can you help?

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