Are you in the app store? Well, not you personally – unless you’re a plant, zombie or angry bird – but rather your company, software or service. I want to know if your company makes software that runs on iPhones, iPads or Droid devices. If so, this blog’s for you. And even if you don’t make apps, read on anyway, because the apps and the devices that run them are quickly changing everything. You may soon be making or marketing an app in the not-so-distant future.

The Tablets Are (Still) Coming

It’s true. reports this week that Apple will sell 47 million tablets this year while other manufacturers will account for the rest of the 80 million worldwide. recently cited an RBC study estimating about 400 million smart phones shipping for 2011.

Apps Fuel the Frenzy

Google’s Admob surveyed tablet owners in March 2011. They found that 43% of users spend more time with their tablet than their traditional PCs. One in three tablet users are on their tablets more than watching TV. And are they emailing? Web-surfing? Facebooking? Um, yes. But those aren’t number one in usage. The number one activity is playing games… games that are apps.

Of course the activity isn’t limited to games. The app stores are bursting with worthwhile productivity, business, navigation, shopping and lifestyle apps. And people are buying them up fast. reports that Gartner, a research firm, estimates that total app sales for all mobile devices will top $15 billion for 2011. That’s a lot of word games, camera apps and auto-tune!

Billions of Dollars and One Email

Me? All my money that used to go to Tower Records (remember them?) now goes to apps too. My computer claims I have 158 of them at the moment. That might sound like a lot until you consider how many apps Apple says they sell: hundreds of thousands. But north of a hundred is a good if not unscientific personal research pool.

So, do you know how many of those 158 app developers email market to me? The answer is one. Last week it was zero. That’s a shame, too, because so many of those app developers sell multiple apps. Even more shameful, some of the apps on my phone and tablet are just extensions of major retail, service and financial companies. They really have a lot of non-app products they could promote to me if they had signed me up for emails through their apps.

If You’re Building a List with Your App

True, I can’t guarantee that I’ve never been asked but I honestly can’t recall ever seeing an email list offer while researching, installing or interacting with an app. I’m sure some company tried to get me on their list with an annoying nag screen, ill-timed pop-up or poorly placed request hidden in the bowels of some settings tab. Who knows? Like I said, I wasn’t on anyone’s list… until now.

There’s a Right Way to Do It

Endloop, the company that makes an app called iMockups, got it right. Not only did they recognize the value of building an email list of app users, but they found the right way to ask for the email address. If you’re building an app, take a clue from these clever developers:

Ask for the Email Address Immediately Upon First Opening the App

Look, I’m never going to be more excited about your app than the day I purchase it. I just spent the money. I’m yours. What’s an email address on top of the cost of actually buying the app?

Endloop is a smart bunch. There’s a time to be restrained and a time to be confident. Yes, I trust you because I just bought your app. Go ahead and be bold with the promises of “cool stuff.” I’m believing it because I’m in your hands… or is it you’re in my hands?

Use a Call to Action

I’m not the biggest fan of pointless, clichéd calls to action like “buy now” or “call in now.” But a call to action in an app is a different situation. I just bought the app and I’m going to follow the directions on the screen in order to learn the app or use it. Use that Jedi mind control and tell me to sign up. Say it twice even, like the example in the picture. Okay, all you Star Wars geeks join in with me, “These are not the droids we’re looking for.” Honestly, no pun intended there. Really.

Give Me Some Sugar

A few blogs back, I got sweet talked into the Corner Bakery email list with the temptation of a sweet, crispy treat. Now iMockups promises a single free template. Not quite as delicious, but good enough. Sign me up.

Prove It Where You Put It

What I liked about this email list request was that it was not isolated. It sits atop good information on a barely separated pane. All I have to do is look one line down and see that there was a recent update that made this app much better. This is important to me. Apps get updated all the time and it doesn’t happen “automagically.” I currently have over 60 apps that want updating and I don’t have time to do them all, nor do I know which apps need it and what content the updates deliver. So an email that lets me know that I need to update is a great thing. I honestly won’t mind if you tell me about other apps or products while you do this.

Finally, Do It in the App

Look, you or your developers are already doing a ton of coding. What’s one more day to figure out how to build your email list from within the app? Don’t tell me to manually type in a webpage address, don’t even hyperlink me to open a browser and visit a page. I’m not going to do it and you’ll lose my potential email subscription. Right now, I have the app open. If I’m going to sign up, it had better be now and easy.

Thanks, Endloop, for showing us all how it’s done and done right. May you spawn a thousand lists and a million emails.