Writing iTunes App Store Descriptions

Diary of an iKamaSutra Copywriter

When Naim Cesur, developer of the iKamasutra app, contacted me about doing some copywriting I was thrilled. It’s not every day that I am able to involve my girlfriend in “copywriting research.” After a good stretch, however, it was clear that Naim had an issue typical of all mobile developers: how do you write App Store descriptions?

Today’s App Store descriptions are not only the marketplace version of an eHarmony profile, they serve as the basis of user reviews and press articles; often they serve as the only user manual a customer will ever read.

Your App Store Descriptions shouldn't read like creepy online dating profiles.

App store descriptions might be the first words a person reads about your app and—if you do it wrong—it could be the last. They are very, very important.

For iKamasutra, the stakes were even higher. Because of the content, iKamasutra is age-restricted to 17+ in the App Store, which puts its app store descriptions under added scrutiny. Then there are the words. By Apple’s definition, extremely potty-mouth and racy words like “sexy” and “sexual,” which you might only hear in a shady underground sex dungeon or PG-rated movie, may be used solely at their discretion.

Triggers an automated Apple warning:

A very sexy app!

Won’t trigger an automated warning:

I wanna sex up your mom, pal!

Apple’s views on word choice make for insanely great reading.

App Store Copywriting Deconstructed

Since Apple has had *reasonable* success with their storefront, let’s agree they know a thing or two about selling these apps. Take a look at how they construct their App Store descriptions and you quickly see a common pattern:

Introduction about being the best at what it does.

Short, clever title about what it can do.
• Key feature detail one.
 Key feature detail two.

Second, clever title about what else it does.
 Key feature detail one.
 Key feature detail two.

That’s it. And it is true whether you look at Pages, iMovie or their simplest app, Remote. (If you look at Apple’s website product pages, ultimately it is an identical pattern with better design and photos.) Now have a look at other Top Grossing apps, like Angry Birds for instance, and you’ll see a similar structure. “It just works.”

Many third-party developers have put forth additional app description ideas that are worth considering, too. These include: Twitter and Facebook links, quotes from major press outlets, and awards (Best of 2011, Top Grossing, etc.). While Apple doesn’t do this, these are great inclusions for most app developers.

An App store description for iKamasutra

Let’s apply some of those lessons to iKamasutra.

iKamasutra App Store DescriptionsClick to read full description at iTunes

App Store Descriptions checklist

Here’s what works in this App Store description for iKamasutra. Bring some of these ideas to your own app description and see how many more satisfied buyers you can get.

  • The first line sells. 5 million users, great press, and a sense a humor. Of course you want this app! Don’t forget that you see just these first couple of lines above the “More…” button when viewing an app description in the iTunes store on your computer.
  • Stand-out features really stand out. Our second paragraph tells us all the best stuff we have to know about iKamasutra, including a highlight reel of key features and advantages over the competition, including exclusive Kama Sutra descriptions and Apple-approved sex images.
  • Intriguing titles describe and delight. Just by glancing at titles like “There’s a position for that” and “Email just got exciting again” you have an idea of what the app does with enough appeal to make you read the details. Just don’t call it “sexy,” because that word is an Apple no-no.
  • Details do sell. You’re interested by titles like “Shake it, baby” but when you learn the details of what it does, you’re really ready to hit BUY. Each essential feature is listed in precise and succinct detail. It’s part marketing and part Quick Start guide for the app, ensuring users take advantage of everything iKamasutra offers, so that they are fully satisfied with the purchase. Remember, no one reads help texts until they are already disgruntled.
  • Honesty pays—handsomely. iKamasutra offers an excellent feature set built in, with extra positions available for purchase if that’s what you want. If your app relies on in-app purchases for revenue, it is in your favor to be upfront with buyers. Tell them what is free and what isn’t. This avoids disappointment, angry reviews, and entices shoppers to become loyal customers.
  • Don’t take my word for it. Reviews, both from your users and from online and print sources, are incredible sales tools. iKamasutra has glowing reviews and we highlight them for potential buyers to see.
  • Show them how to push your buttons. Unfortunately, App Store reviews are anonymous and you can’t follow up with individual users. We give them Twitter and Facebook links where we can take the conversation to a personal level.

Your app descriptions need some love too

It has paid off to get the “positioning” of iKamasutra just right. But every app is different, and should be treated that way. The App Store descriptions you write shouldn’t be afterthoughts. They should be front and center in importance, since that is exactly how your customers are going to view them.

* Benjamin Zadik is a copywriting expert and iKamasutra novice. He wishes it were the other way around.

5 thoughts on “Writing iTunes App Store Descriptions

  1. Pingback: What are the languages iPhone supports for localization?

  2. Maddi Kent

    Thanks for this information! we are having great difficulty writing the sales description for our app. Are you able to help us?

  3. Pingback: Create localized screenshots for the App Store (iTunes & Google Play)

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