Christmas isn’t just the most wonderful time of the year for snow-days and lit-up trees. It is a magical time for businesses to boom, especially app-related ones. eMarketer estimates that this December (of 2013) the mobile industry, alone, will make up an impressive 16 percent of all e-commerce revenue. Why? December is the month of giving, and many people receive smartphones as gifts. What do you think is the first thing people do upon receiving their polished and shiny device? They download cool apps and start experimenting! This experimentation period is more fruitful than most because it’s longer. People are in the comfort of their own homes, enjoying their holidays and their finally-doing-nothing time. More time to search and download apps they love and investigate the ones they want to try.

If there ever was a time to come up with a winning app, or optimize the one you already have, it is now. A winning app in December might mean something different from a winning app during the rest of the year. Holiday minded apps require some real planning and thinking. Although there is no single formula for creating a blockbuster holiday app, you should make sure your product is sufficiently unique and carries a message capable of generating buzz.

Of course, you can always choose to look at the holidays for ideas and create your app from scratch. Many companies map out their marketing calendar to focus on specific holidays when creating their apps – taking into consideration how these can become promotional opportunities to increase their overall sales. The only problem with seasonal apps is, well, they are seasonal. You’ll see a burst of sales for apps tied to a particular holiday or season and then sales will drop off dramatically after it has passed.

Therefore if creating a brand new app to match the color red and the jingle of carols is not in your plans, make sure you are putting your best screen forward to the ever-hungry customer this month and optimize! Here’s how you do that:

Step 1. Clean up your app

  • Brand new features. Design team, this one’s on you! Think of a new design, one that will help people tie you in with the holidays. Special graphics, a special type of messaging or a more enticing visual storyline… you know the drill. Everything to make sure your producs stands out from the crowd and draws people in immediately.
  • Update your app description. When people are searching the app store for a new download they will look at three things: your icon, your name and your description. Your icon and your name is your brand so those are out of the question, but your app description can be updated fairly easily and that is crucial to sealing the download deal with customers. Talk about your new features for the new year and any special promotions or deals your running… which leads to the next point.
  • Treat your customer. They don’t call it the season of giving for nothing! Use your app to promote a special offer, a discount or a contest. These days, your customers are behaving like crazed holiday shoppers, so don’t deny them the joy of finding one more precious offer to indulge in. Regardless, always give your user the gift of simplicity. Christmas is wonderful but oftentimes overwhelming, so a simplified product will be just what people need right now. If the process of engaging with your app is as streamlined and uncomplicated as possible, the user will silently thank you for minimizing the fuss and, of course, come back for seconds.
  • Cash in on interaction. What’s your customer up to these days? It’s the holidays! There are parties to be attended, shopping to do and dinners to prepare.  Spare time is spent interacting! In 2013, we saw a boom in mobile technology that helps marketers appeal to customers at the point of purchase. This is key! You won’t see users staying put for a second! That’s why their phone is their best friend in December. People are taking pictures, searching for information on the products they wish to buy, and keeping in touch with the people that are lost in the same cheer-craze. So making your app as interactive as possible should be a no brainer for everyone in this business. When you customize your app to be useful and social, your customer will gladly over-use it. Share, share, share. They more you encourage people to share their interactions, the more free publicity you gain.
  • Make it the cool toy everyone wants to play with. There’s no time like the “present” Make sure that the new technology appearing on the market is included, one way or another. New features for the mobile realm are appearing daily, so be smart about it and take your pick. QR Codes, augmented reality, location-based advertising, the cooler and newer the technology, the more drawn to it your customers will be.

Step 2. Better “sell” your newly polished app

  • Market your way to number one. Make your app as desirable as possible by either offering users updates and new features (holiday-themed?) for free or decreasing your app price for a limited period of time. This is especially beneficial if what you want is user retention. Another trick of the trade is to continue pushing your app forward after the holiday craze dies down. This way your user’s interest is maintained and they get to continue their engagement for a longer period of time. Offer a post-holiday coupon or New Year special to stand out against the rest.
  • Advertise yourself smarter. Now is the time to look in detail at your monetization strategy. What ads are giving you the best ROI? Are users clicking on them as often as you wish? If not, what can you do about it? The profit you get out of advertising during the holidays may very well triple, but it’s all in your hands. Also, make sure you cash in on your close media relations. Ask those buddy bloggers of yours to feature your app within their lists. “Best… of 2013!” is a winner this time of year and you want to appear in as many as possible.

If you fail to prepare a solid strategy for app optimization this holiday season, you’ll be missing out big time. There is no opportunity quite like this one all throughout the year. At Webonise, we plan in advance for this fruitful period, and the beginning of the New Year always finds us reaping the benefits. If there’s one lesson we like to pass on to startups or app entrepreneurs it’s this one: don’t let Christmas pass unnoticed! It comes bearing some surprisingly great gifts.