The 2016 iTunes Connect Holiday Shutdown: What You Need to Know
The holidays are upon us, which means that, along with snowy weather and copious amounts of baked goods, the annual iTunes Connect holiday shutdown is right around the corner.
The 2016 holiday shutdown is expected to place a week-long code freeze on iOS apps. During this time, no new app submissions or app update submissions will be processed. This allows Apple’s manual submission reviewers to take some much-deserved time off around the holidays. The shutdown also means that no bug fixes, price changes, new SDK integrations, and significant app store landing page tweaks can occur during the time the submissions team is out.
The official 2016 shutdown dates will be released shortly, although based on the 2015 holiday shutdown dates, app publishers can expect the freeze to go into effect sometime around December 22-29.
To help prepare you for this year’s shutdown, we’ve compiled a list of ways to prep your app and your team. The tips below will help you prep for—and even get ahead of your competition—during this year’s freeze!
How can I prepare for the 2016 holiday shutdown?
You still have the opportunity to plan ahead for the 2016 holiday shutdown, but it’s time to get started! Here are five tips to help you prep:
1. Plan ahead
While an app ratings “freeze” hasn’t been a concern for years, app publishers should still be aware of—and plan around—the iTunes Connect shut down. As mentioned above, the shutdown means that no new apps or updates can be added to the App Store, and prices and descriptions for existing apps cannot be changed. However, front-end functionalities (like app rankings, ratings, and reviews) will be unaffected.
To prepare for the shutdown, we recommend submitting your app updates, new versions, and pricing changes by the first week of December for plenty time to review. Don’t get caught submitting late updates, or they might not make it through Apple’s queue in time for the holidays!
2. Consider holiday specials, but don’t sacrifice value for rank
Everyone loves a deal, but make sure your holiday pricing aligns with your business goals. When the App Store freeze was still a major factor, app publishers would discount their app’s price to boost its value (and its ratings) before the top charts were frozen. Because this freeze no longer applies, these types of gimmicks are much less effective, and app publishers should be wary of pricing their app below their true cost of acquisition.
Before heading into the holidays, we recommend revisiting your acquisition costs and taking a thorough look at how much revenue you generate from each engaged user. Once you are sure of these metrics, you can create a holiday strategy that maximizes either new user volume or increasing your average revenue per user, depending on your goals.
While you’re revisiting your goals, take a peek at our latest research around what mobile shoppers value most:
3. Make a good first impression
Customer service departments are notoriously overworked during the holiday season, and with 65% of consumers planning on using retail apps for some of their holiday shopping this year, it’s equally important to beef up your in-app customer service before the holiday rush begins. Publishers can set themselves apart by delivering an exceptional in-app customer experience before the holidays begin, which will inevitably result in more holidays sales and higher retention post-holiday madness.
A big part of providing excellent in-app customer service is to empower customers with a direct line of communication to your team to share their experiences, questions, and frustrations. If your don’t have the ability to send two-way messages to your customers directly from your app, now’s the time to consider adding the functionality. Two-way in-app messaging will not only create more satisfied customers, but it will help calm the craziness your customer service department experiences throughout the holidays.
4. Protect your ratings
True during any time of the year, app ratings are a huge trigger for app store success. But high app store ratings don’t happen overnight! If your ratings could use some improvement, it’s time to start focusing on boosting them well before the holiday rush.
Check out the opportunity cost of a star from our recent research:
(Shameless plug: Apptentive can handle the heavy lifting in this area with ease! Now’s the time to encourage five-star ratings, intercept negative reviews, and set yourself up for a happy new year with our intelligently-timed Ratings Prompts.)
5. Let Apptentive help make your holiday season stress-free
We’re here to ensure your apps are ready for the holiday season, and our product can help give you the competitive advantage you need to get ahead quickly. All you need to do to claim your stake of the all-important holiday rush is:
- Integrate our SDK in less than 20 minutes.
- Segment your customers and only guide those who love your app to the App Store to leave ratings. Engage unsatisfied customers in a conversation rather than pushing them to leave negative ratings about their experience.
- Enjoy a leg up on your competition and celebrate the holidays!
With the right plan in place, you can make this holiday season one for the books. If you have additional tips for getting in front of the iTunes Connect holiday shutdown, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Happy holidays, and best of luck!