This Holiday Season started with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and as we’re diving deeper into December, it’s time to take final actions to make sure your app will shine in the peak of the Holiday Season.
Regardless of your favorite December holiday, whether is it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus, you will not be able to update or publish your app in the App Store due to Holiday Shutdown. If you’re not aware, from December 22-29, annual Holiday Shutdown will hit iTunes Connect so be sure to make any changes on your app before December 18.
What does Annual Holiday Shutdown mean for YOU?
As an App Publisher, once the iTunes Connect closes its doors, you will not be able to send an update or publish your app. Complete app update submission and app submission processes will be put on hold – bug fixes, new app versions, price changes or any similar changes cannot be applied to your app.
To prevent any potential damage, like bad reviews and bugs, we strongly advise you to contact our support team before December 18, so we can update or submit your app on time.
What’s the reason behind the Annual Holiday Shutdown?
There’re few reasons why Apple shuts down iTunes Connect during the holiday.
Download numbers are highest during the holidays
Let’s face it, holidays are the perfect time to buy a new gadget, either for yourself or to someone you care about – iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch. And what’s the first thing you’ll do once the new favorite gadget is turned on? Download a bunch of apps. In the last quarter of 2014, Apple sold 74.5 million smartphones, so it’s easy to spot why holiday season aggregates most downloads. Also, the iTunes Gift Card adds a significant number of downloads.
Not so white hat (fair) promo strategies
We all want our app to hit the Top Charts in the App Store and to be installed on millions of devices worldwide, but to achieve that, you need to invest a lot of time, hard work, preparation and marketing efforts.
Some developers will try to use “sneaky” tactics to end up in the Top Charts. One of the best examples is a huge price drop – during the holiday season, a price would drop massively, but after the holidays are gone, the price would go back to regular price. Apple doesn’t allow this type of “gaming” App Store charts and any price changes cannot be done until the Shutdown is over.
Apple’s review team deserves holidays too
Ever wondered why it takes 4 – 7 days for Apple to review your app, and why your Android app reviews last just a few hours? That’s because Apple review team reviews manually every single app submitted in the App Store. Manual review of every app generates tons of work and Shutdown is a perfect time to give a much-needed holiday break to the Review Team. On the other hand, Google Play Store has automated app update and submission process, although, Google announced manual review for submission process in March, so maybe we’ll see a similar lockdown in the near future.
Why you NEED to update your app before the Shutdown:
As we mentioned before, Apple sales always explode in the last quarter and holidays are the perfect time to onboard new users.
Just imagine a scenario where your app is outdated and new updates weren’t applied before the shutdown, or you simply haven’t prepared a new update. Instead of skyrocketing the number of downloads and ratings, you’re taking the risk of having a buggy app in the store. Don’t forget that the app, in the best scenario, will be updated in 2+ weeks once iTunes Connect starts accepting app for an update or submission – it’s a lot of time to lose app installs, and consequences could be devastating.
High bounce rate
Millions of new users will explore App Store and test different apps to find a perfect one just for them, and that could be your app. But, what happens when a user opens the app affected by bugs? 71% of users will uninstall the app immediately if the app crashes or hangs. 48% of users will uninstall the app if they are unsatisfied with UI and UX. Chances for getting users to reinstall your app and to give it another shot are very low. That’s what we call a poor bet.
A buggy app will not only lead to a high bounce rates, but it will also drive users to leave a negative app review. Before the users check written reviews, App Store displays a “star rank” of your app, from 1-5. A low rated app will repel users from downloading it, plus the app will have lower rankings in Top Charts and App Store searches. In case users still want to give it a shot, first thing to check why the app is so low rated will be reviews written by others. And even if your app doesn’t have a bad rating, negative reviews could be the last nail in the coffin for your app this holiday season. Would you download the app with only 2 stars and with 20 negative reviews? Of course you wouldn’t.
Lower rankings in Top Charts and App Store searches will lead to less visibility, which will drive fewer downloads and the perfect opportunity to monetize your app in the most profitable part of the year will vanish.
Plan your strategy in time and enjoy peaceful holidays
If you don’t want to be caught in the Holiday Shutdown ambush, we’ve prepared a few steps that will secure happy and pleasant holidays.
Update your app regularly
Shipping a new app version in the app stores should be a developers habit. It’s much easier to identify bugs, fix and deploy new app version in every month, then to resolve them all successfully once they’ve piled up. Pushing regular updates will also engage customers and give them a sign that you’re always working on improvements and bug fixes, keeping in mind better customer experience with each update. Also, be transparent about your new version releases, don’t go full stand up comedian.
Plan, plan, plan
“A goal without a plan is just a wish”, said Antoine de Saint-Exupery a long time ago. Whether it’s a to-do list, activity planner or any third option, that fits your preferences is a must-have. Identify critical time periods, threats, opportunities and act accordingly – you’re not the only one who forgot to update the app. With increased app update and submission request, a review period before the Shutdown can take more than regular 4 – 7 days. If it’s possible, start the review process in the first few days of December.
Join the holiday joy
We all love holidays, regardless is it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus, and app users aren’t an exception. If you’ve managed to publish a new app version on time and evade a possible holiday disaster, bring some holiday cheer into the app. Design a holiday theme, create a Christmassy app icon, give a few “special holiday” loyalty points to users and notify them with push message, be creative and provide something special.