Everything You Need To Know About Using Promo Codes

Promo codes can help you with your app marketing whether you have a paid or a free app. It’s a great way to have a key influencer or press contact try your app before its launch, and if you have a paid app it’s the best way to have them try it for free (you could use iTunes gifts too).

Unfortunately, so far there is no such things as promo codes on the Google Play Store. Let’s take a look at how they work and how to use them efficiently for iOS apps, starting with the basics then giving you some tips to make it easy for your contacts to try your app.

50 100 codes per release, 28 days per code

Apple gives you the possibility to use 100 promo codes per release. That means that you get 100 codes to use for your launch, but also with each update which can prove pretty useful. Each code, once you redeem it, has a lifespan of 28 days. So don’t get all crazy redeeming them all at the same time unless you know you’re going to use them. Unless it is explicitly specified on their site, I would also advise against sending a promo code directly to a blogger or journalist: pitch them your app and offer them to send a promo code if they are interested. That way, you won’t be losing any of these precious codes.

Start marketing before launch with promo codes

It’s pretty obvious why promo codes are useful for a paid app: your contact can try the app for free. That’s why many blogs require you send them a promo code before they post a review. But promo codes can also be a great way to promote your free app, because they allow you to have your identified key contacts try the application before it launches. That’s possible because the codes are available as soon as your app is approved by Apple, so you just have to set a release date in the future. That way, if they decide to talk about your app, they can do so on launch day (or the day of your v2).

100 codes for your launch

You did the math…By redeeming all the promo codes once your app is approved and submitting an update of your app within the first days of your app launch you can get up to 100 codes. That should be enough!

How to generate promocodes with iTunes Connect?

Generating promo codes is done within iTunes Connect. Log in, go to the detailed view of your app then click promo codes on the top right and follow instructions. For detailed steps and screenshots, check out this post.

Make it easy for your contacts to redeem promo codes

Promo codes are great, but they can be kind of a pain to redeem for someone that has never done it. The good news is, you can make that task easier.

The “regular way”

A promo code looks like this: TA6FWX69RJ9A. If your contact is an iPhone blog and knows all about promo codes, you can probably just send it like that. If he/she doesn’t, at least think about including a sentence explaining how to redeem them.

The “special link”

The above way of doing things can be problematic in that it just forces you to put additional text in your email or have your contact go to a webpage. An alternative way of doing things is to send the following link, where you just change the code at the end:


This link will open iTunes on your contact’s desktop or the App Store on his iOS device, simply asking for its iTunes password in order to download your app. If you still want to explicitly give the code, you can write something like this:

Here is a link to go and download the app (with the promo code TA6FWX69RJ9A) : https://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/freeProductCodeWizard?code=TA6FWX69RJ9A

You can use bit.ly to have a shorter link, although that might be a lot of work for each code.

The promo codes dispenser / redeemer

AppCod.es – dispenser
Since Apple doesn’t seem to have put much thought in an elegant way to redeem promo codes, some tools have been created. I talked about Appcod.es before for their App Store Optimization tool, and they also happen to have a promo code dispenser for apps on the US Store. You redeem your codes, import them in Appcod.es and it creates a unique link you can send to your contacts, like this one: http://appcod.es/your-app-name

Promo code dispenser

Importing promo codes in the Appcod.es dispenser

This link will bring your contacts to a page like the one below, where they can redeem the code. Once they click the “redeem your code” button, the next available code of the ones you imported appears and iTunes opens. If there is no available code left, visitors are offered to provide an email address so you can get in touch with them.

Promo code dispenser

This is what your contacts will see when they want to redeem a code

Redeem-now – redeemer
Redeem now allows you (for free) to create links for each promo code. You can create several links at a time, and for each code you will get a different address that looks like this: http://redeem-now.com/219d4187c4f3

One your contact goes to this address, he will see a webpage like the one below and iTunes (or the App Store on an iOS device) will automatically open. Much like the “special link”, except there are also instructions on the webpage on how to download the app (in case something goes wrong).

This is what your contact will see when going to the redeem-now link

This is what your contact will see when going to the redeem-now link

Some other ways to use promo codes

Contests on app review sites

There was a time, not so long ago, when offering a review site to give away 20 codes to their readers was a great way to have them talk about your app. It seems that it’s getting very rare, probably because Apple didn’t like that much.

Contests/Giveaways on your social media accounts

Once you’re close from doing an update, why not give away a few codes to your followers on Twitter or your Facebook fans? Chances are they will be thankful, and if they already have your app they might just pass the word around. If you have a creative idea you could also organize a small contest where the winners get a promo code.

So here you go, the basics about promo codes and a few tips and tools to make it easy for your blog/newspaper/influencer contacts to try your app.

Think we forgot to mention anything important about promo codes? Got another tip to share? Leave us a message in the comments!

9 June,2014

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