You’ve built an app. Now you may think it’s going to just pick up overnight and be used, but that’s not true.
The reality is there’s a LOT of work you need to do to market your app effectively. After all, why design and develop a mobile app if no one will ever use it?
This is where mobile app marketing comes into place.
Mobile app marketing refers to the set of strategies and branding techniques deployed to attract, engage and retain mobile app users with the primary purpose of increasing a user’s overall lifetime value. Mobile App Marketing impacts the end to end mobile funnel from downloading to installing and using a mobile app.
Here’s what every company launching an app needs to do. You need to market your app aggressively, especially at the beginning. Here at ComboApp, we’ve helped almost 1,000 app owners successfully launch their products to market. We break down the top 20 actionable tips you can leverage to get the word out about your app.
For your convenience, we have chunked down these tips into two broader categories:
1. Marketing tips for before you launch your mobile app
2. Marketing tips for the first 90 days after you launch your app
First Things First: Why Market your Mobile App?
Building an awesome mobile app for your business is half the battle.
Yes, more than 70 percent of the people around the globe own a smartphone, and the future of marketing is certainly mobile apps.
But, get this: over 65 percent of small businesses (including your rivals) and almost all big brand companies have already developed a mobile app. In fact, the global app development spend hit $25.1 billion in 2018, with the figure projected to reach nearly $30 billion in 2019.
That’s some serious competition in a market that is increasingly becoming saturated.
Depending on your app’s niche, you will face tough competition from over 18 million similar apps. And, as if that’s not bad enough, you only have a measly 8 seconds to the grab the attention of an online user in order to encourage them to download your app.
So, how can you market your mobile app when users have a sea of choice? Keep on reading; you’ll be glad you did.
(I) BEFORE You Launch Your App
Many, if not MOST, app owners in the world make this mistake.
They wait till the last (i)responsible moment before thinking about their mobile app marketing efforts. However, any marketer that has even a modicum of experience will tell you this is absolutely wrong.
A mobile app marketing plan doesn’t just happen overnight.
The reality is that to have a successful launch at the exact moment your app hits the App Store or GooglePlay, you need to start executing on your marketing initiatives at least 60 days before the launch date.
This first section of the article covers the main activities that should be completed before you even know the exact date of your app deployment.
So let’s start with the obvious ones:
1. Build a Great Site and a Comprehensive Landing Page for your App
Having an informative site for your app is the first key step in the user acquisition process for any mobile app. And literally 99% of app makers don’t even think about it.
But here’s the deal: without a website, how else will potential users find out about your mobile app organically and download it? A well designed site is crucial for SEO purposes, and it’s best to make sure that it is up even before you write the first line of code. Also, we’ll talk about how to get found in the App Store/ Google Play later in this article as well.
No matter how amazing you think your app might be, if no one has heard about it, cannot get found online, or you aren’t reaching its target users, then it will probably flop.
That’s why you need to build a website that will engage your app target audience right from the outset. You might want to include run-of-the-mill features like a blog, live chat, etc.
However, if you think your app doesn’t warrant a fully-fledged website, a comprehensive landing page can do just fine. Use the landing page to tell your app story, and explain to prospective users what it brings to the table. Use cheap/ free tools like Wix, Unbounce or Leadpages to get off the ground quickly.
When it comes to creating a sound landing page, remember that the value of relevant keywords is critical to the overall success of your web efforts. Additionally, take advantage of website analytics tools (Google Analytics will do just fine for this purpose) to track the overall performance of the app to better inform your future marketing strategies and tactics.
When all’s said and done, however, it’s a no-brainer that your app website should be simple, easy to navigate, and optimized for mobile browsing.
Last but not least, your mobile app website should load in a snap.
2. Create a Robust SEO Strategy
You can’t do SEO for a native mobile app – that is understandable. But you can do SEO like a pro for your website that is designed to promote your app.
Creating a rock-hard SEO strategy starts with zeroing in on the right keywords. After all, how can you market a mobile app effectively without understanding the keywords that matter the most for your target audience?
In the app space, the ideal keywords would be terms often used by potential users to recognize what your app does. For some apps, the keywords might come to you naturally, but for others, they might not be as obvious. Either way, top-down keyword research is a must-do.
Not sure where to start? It’s easy – head over to Neil Patel’s FREE UberSuggest Tool and start typing in keywords that you think are most related to your app. The tool will give you traffic volume, difficulty levels to rank against specific keywords and derivative keywords (aka keywords you may not have thought about).
One more thing you need to know about SEO: It’s absolutely critical that you start your SEO efforts at least 60 days before the app launch date because it usually takes 60 to 90 days until Google picks up your website and content. So the gold rule is to already rank for some keywords when you launch the app – and then you continue with this strategy during the growth phase too.
In the world of SEO, it’s no secret that content is king. As such, you need to generate attention-grabbing, original content that resonates well with your potential app users. Make sure to leverage your content and rank for relevant keywords to get long term traffic to your app site. Also, don’t forget to do link building and cross-promotions; they are the best way to build organic buzz for your up-and-coming mobile app.
3. Recruit Influencers to Promote Your App
Influencer marketing is all the rage right now, and it can surely help ramp up your app downloads and visibility.
In fact, 33 percent of users say they downloaded an app because it was recommended by people they trust or follow online. So, it pays to recruit a league of social media and direct influencers to get people talking about your app online.
Perhaps the first step is to learn how to pitch to effectively influencers:
– Make sure that the influencer is a good fit for your niche.
– It’s all about engagement, so make sure that the influencer has a ton of active followers, most of whom are your target users.
– Offer value to the influencers and their followers, including exclusive access to your app, discounts, and other enticing rewards.
– Commission credible influencers to provide a sneak peek to your app, and perhaps review it.
With that said, you need to find trustworthy influencers from across many digital channels, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Pinterest, high-authority blogs, Medium, and YouTube, just to mention the top few. More importantly, you want to have a list of influencers ready the day you launch and then increase the engagement after launch.
4. Create a Demo Video
Chances are that your potential users don’t have a clue on how your app works and therefore can’t tell if it will benefit them. That’s why you need to create a 30-50 second demo video which clearly and concisely highlights the value prop for your app.
When you get down to it, we are visual creatures. In fact, the human brain processes visuals 60,000x faster than it does text.
That said, it’s not enough to post the video inside the app.
Go ahead and upload it to YouTube, cross-promo sites, and other video sharing platforms across the web. Needless to say, the video should be on your site and ready for when the app goes live.
How do you make your demo video stand out?
– You can count on cute animated characters to capture the attention of your viewers
– Keep it experiential, or make it look like a review of your app.
– Try a live recording of your app in action
– Make sure the overall look and feel of the video is sleek, modern and simply cool.
5. Create a Kickass Press Release to boost your mobile app marketing efforts
Press releases are needed to send pitches to journalists who may be interested in covering your app (aka free publicity). Because of that, working on an awesome press release is absolutely key to your app launch success.
Here’s are some tips for how to create an amazing press kit before you launch your app:
– Use tools like Cision to find a list of journalists likely to cover your app.
– Send your press release 2-3 weeks BEFORE you launch the app to journalists.
– Include a review guide, preferably a PDF file that outlines your app idea, how it works, features, and anything important in between (keep it visual!).
– Incorporate high-quality screenshots of your app in action into the PR kit so you can make a great first impression and for readers to get a feel for it.
– Follow and interact with relevant journalists and tech bloggers on social media to get the conversation rolling.
– The subject line of the press release should spell out in black-and-white the value of your app.
– Get straight to the facts, and avoid blowing your own trumpet
6. Post on Q&A and Social Platforms
Social media platforms can do wonders for any marketing strategy because you’re taking your campaigns to where your target app users spend an average of 134 minutes every day.
So, it pays to post frequent blogs, videos, articles, case studies, white papers, links, and press releases about your app on social media platforms, most notably Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Posting on Q&A platforms can also do the trick. On Quora, for instance, find threads that your app can be relevant to. However, don’t spam, but rather post informative and relevant comments for those online users seeking answers to a specific problem that your app can help solve.
When it comes to Reddit, it’s very important to find the right communities so you can engage and build rapport with your target audience. The same goes for Pinterest.
Last but not least, don’t forget that Slideshare can do wonders for app recognition and brand awareness. Make sure to create a short 5-6 slide prezzo and share it with the world on Slideshare.
If your app site is already up and running, make sure to link all your posts to it to drive traffic, build buzz for your mobile app, and eventually boost downloads.
7. Join Linkedin and Facebook Groups Relevant to Your App
Creating credibility and awareness for your upcoming app online can be daunting. That’s where LinkedIn and Facebook groups come into play. Join a number of these groups and communities that are relevant to your app.
Stay off by posting relevant content that’ll resonate well with group members. Here, think about tips, tutorials, industry insights, expert opinion, and other stuff that will help you build authority on the group. Also, post about your yet-to-be-launched app every so often to help build buzz before its actual launch.
The idea here is to become a valuable member of these groups BEFORE you launch your app. So then you don’t come off as spammy when you launch your product and post about it. And given that millions of useless apps are launched every day, you don’t want yours to fall down the cracks.
Here are a few clever ways to leverage the power of Facebook and LinkedIn groups:
– Discuss or contribute to hot, current events and topics in the industry. This way, you’ll establish yourself as an authority in your niche. Ultimately, the community will also attach the same respect and authority to your app once it goes live.
– Provide value for members
– Communicate with influencers, industry leaders, and brand advocates directly on the groups.
– Keep your conversations brief, lively, and to the point.
8. Create Social Media Profiles for Your App
Again, social media is the easiest and the most convenient way to get found online. And, consequently, one of the most valuable mobile app marketing strategies you can deploy for your digital product.
Unlike SEO, the springboard is already set for you: the platform itself. So, don’t slack off – be very active on your social media profiles. But, more crucially, create profiles across popular social media sites, including a Facebook page, Twitter handle, Instagram account, and YouTube channel.
Once the profiles are set up, make sure to invite everyone you know (including micro influencers) to like them. It’s worth noting that these social profiles should be live and buzzing with activity at least one month before the app is launched. This will give you plenty of time to build a community, generate pizzazz, and get people talking about your app before it hits the stores.
– Plan ahead, especially when it comes to the content topic, type and style – what posts do your target audience want to read?
– Leverage user-generated content to make your fans part of your app launch journey.
– Use a human tone on your posts, comments, and other pieces of content.
– Offer incentives for users who share your posts, visit your app site, etc.
9. Make it Easy for People to Share And/or Refer Your App
Numbers don’t lie: 33 percent of app downloads usually come from referrals. Word-of-mouth marketing has always proven to work like a charm. After all, 92 percent of people say they trust recommendations from their friends and family. As such, you need to stay on top of your referral program long before your app goes live.
But how can you incentivize users to invite their friends to download your app? First and foremost, make it super easy for them to share. Oftentimes that means making the sharing functionality embedded right in your app. Also, integrate with services that allow you to send the app over text messages/ social platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts etc.
Another amazing way to gain referrals is to ask for reviews from current users
– Use clear Call-To-Actions (CTAs) in your posts, app landing pages, and social media profiles
– Give value-based incentives
– Make sure your app easy to use
– Use personalized links in your email & social referral campaigns
If you actually build your app with user referral techniques in mind, you are bound to set your mobile app marketing initiatives for success early on.
10. App Store Optimization is the foundational brick for your mobile app marketing efforts
Start off your app store optimization by explaining what it is: a short, sweet but comprehensive app description. Optimizing for the right keywords is also really key. So, make sure that you know what category to file your app under, and do a little keyword research to ensure that it gets found through search.
– Understand your target user: the success of your App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy hinges on having a deeper understanding of your typical customer. How would they describe your app?
– Maximize your keywords: When it comes to Apple App Store, make sure to use all of the allotted 100 characters to maximize use of keywords. For Google Play, you can use keywords liberally given that the character limit is 4000. Don’t forget to use the right keywords in the title because it can boost your app ranking by around 10.3 percent.
– Put your best foot forward with a unique, stand-out icon.
– Include Videos and Screenshots: The app screenshots in the App Store/ Google Play are the most important marketing tool you have. Make sure the images are stunning, self-explanatory and with catchy captions.
– Make sure your app listing is localized as appropriate.
(II) AFTER You Launch Your App
So you’ve gotten so far. The launch day that you’ve been waiting for, for so long. This is super exciting. Naturally, the first priority is to make sure your app is released without any issues or bugs. But once you’ve launched it and tested your new and amazing app, you need to focus on your mobile app marketing efforts. Of course, if you’ve implemented all the tips and tricks above during the last two months before the app launch, now you’re in an amazing shape to really scale your app. Let’s see how!
11. Get Cracking with your App-Install Campaigns
Now that your app is live, it’s time to find a fix for the empty room problem (no one has downloaded your app) with app-install campaigns. At this juncture, you might want to break out your big mobile app marketing guns, sort of speak.
Budget: Spend $500-$1000 on Facebook/ Twitter/ Adwords to get your first users. It’s like a hockey stick. In the beginning, you want at least 200-300 users which are the easiest to get via paid social media campaigns. After that, you can grow organically. Also, if you get a lot of downloads within a week of launching your app, you have the chance to be featured in the app store which will get you tons more users.
Tracking: Determine which ad channels drive the most app installs. This way, you can focus your efforts and advertising dollars on them. Nonetheless, don’t forget about the little networks that have bigger potential for increasing your install.
Organic growth: Before you spend oodles of money on ads to boost installs, you might want to stay on top of organic growth first.
Use Creatives: try animate graphics, infographics, static photos, and videos to boost app installs. We usually start our PPC campaigns with 30-40 different images for app install. Then we check within 72 hours which images perform best (aka cost per install) and optimize the campaign accordingly.
12. Reach Out to Blog Owners That Rank High in Google
If you own a website or an online store, then you probably have a love-hate relationship with Google. But search remains the best way to get heard and found online (hands down). That’s why you need to work with people who’ve been there and done that.
With that in mind, reach out to blog owners that rank high in SERPs (search engine result pages), preferably one of the top three on the 1st page. Pitch them your app and send them your press release. Links for blogs that are already ranking for your desired keywords, or list of comparable apps is super valuable.
Tactically, just look up “app reviews in X” where X is your industry. Then write a personal email to everyone you see in top 10 search results introducing your app and giving them reasons on why they should check out your product.
13. Get App Reviews
App reviews can make or break your app install campaigns. In fact, having fewer app reviews can do more harm than not-so-sterling reviews. Generally, you can get app reviews on two fronts:
1) Make sure you build a pop-up encouraging people downloading the app to review it. Most people hate these pop-ups but they’re super effective. 15% of people seeing them end up giving you a review.
2) Make sure you have marketing campaigns for users to persuade them to review your app (emails, personal outreach etc).
Of course, there are a ton of other things you can do to get more and better app reviews in no time:
– Go ahead and ask users plainly and explicitly to review within the app. This is where a handy app review plugin can be especially useful.
– Get a handle on your customer support. If you help and answer user queries in a breeze, they’ll definitely leave a good review.
– Give users an incentive to review your app. If you have a game app, for instance; provide players with additional points or rewards for reviewing the app.
– Organize contests across several different forums, channels, and social platforms to encourage your fans to leave reviews for your app.
– Rectify issues that most users are complaining about (and tell them about them in the comments section for your app listing store!). This will provide a platform where you can interact and eventually press the user to leave a positive review.
– Take advantage of updates, and release notes to boost reviews.
14. Submit Your App to App Reviewer Sites
Whereas # 13 is about organic reviews from people who use your app, you should also consider doing the same with websites that review apps. While there are myriads of app reviewer sites, the following 8 are the creme de la creme:
TechCrunch – This site is a darling for techies, and listing your app on this site can do wonders for installs. It’s an ideal site for standout brands and apps.
ProductHunt – If your app ends up being reviewed at ProductHunt, you’ll put it in front of millions of tech enthusiasts across the globe. Just make sure to go over their best practices before submitting your app for review.
Mashable – Here’s another amazing review site that can build buzz for your app. With a huge audience, Mashable provides you with a great platform to showcase what your app can offer the user.
AppAdvice – If you’ve built an iOS app, AppAdvice is a great place to get it reviewed professionally.
FeedMyApp – Your app gets reviewed and tagged. The review platform caters to all app genres and OS.
AppStorm – This review platform covers the entire OS gamut, including the not-so-popular Windows
148Apps – Please note that 148Apps caters to only iPad and iPhone app reviews.
PreApps – at PreApps, you can get just about any kind of app reviewed, from productivity to games and every app in between.
15. Apply for Awards
How can users trust your app enough to download it? Turns out, the best way is to get recognition. The good news is that there are lots of sites accept applications for design/ feature awards. Check out the following awards to build reputation, credibility, and trust for your app:
Appy Awards – Organized by MediaPost, Appy Awards is an annual event that recognizes the best of the best apps for the year. Given that MediaPost has many publicity channels, you can easily get your app in front of millions of potential users.
Best App Ever Awards – This Award honors the best mobile games and apps in two categories: Best Android Apps and Best iOS Apps. It has proven quite effective for apps like Minecraft. Even better, this is an award organized by 148Apps.
Apple Design Awards – If you build iOS apps, you might want to enlist for Apple Design Awards. If nominated, your app will be light ahead of other apps in your niche. Make sure that the creativity of your app is up to Apple’s scratch.
Appsters Awards – The app review site also recognizes over 5000 app developers across many categories. So, if you think you did a bang-up job with your app, Appster Awards is for you.
The Webby Awards – Webby Awards is all about honoring the best of developers doing great things in the internet age. If you believe you’re a Webby material, your app will get a new lease on life.
Best Mobile App Awards – This award finds and recognizes people that make apps great. It’s sponsored and starred by big brands like NBC, Yahoo!, CNET, and ABC.
The bigger question is: why to apply for app awards. It’s simple. When you get awarded, you’ll build awareness & credibility for your app, and you’ll ultimately boost your app installs. Awareness is king for mobile app marketing purposes.
First off, it’s free publicity – and who doesn’t like that?
S, if you get any awards, go back to your app description and website and update both accordingly. Street Cred and public recognition are very powerful strategies to go viral!
16. Sponsor a Contest
Find websites that sell complementary products to your app, whether t-shirts, caps, mugs, subscriptions, vouchers, gift cards, and so on. Offer to give some awards for your contest.
In other words, the participants will need to download your app and complete some tasks in order to qualify. You can literally just offer free high quality T-Shirts. Your options when it comes to running a contest/raffle are simply unlimited. For example, we’ve run multiple campaigns in the past with custom apparel from ScreenPrintThis in the past for our clients. These are very affordable, quick and the quality is amazing. The simple act of giving out free shirts can lead to not just more downloads but also a lot more engagement with your brand.
17. Post your app on Product Hunt / HackerNews
Product Hunt is one of the most influential platforms for new apps, software, and techs.
This online community is certainly one of the best sites to show off your app’s best features and appeal to tech enthusiasts. If your app is stellar enough, ProductHunt can be a great place to get noticed by potential investors, developers, and users alike. HackerNews is yet another incredible website that can take your app recognition to a whole new level.
Once your app is live, reach out to these sites to list your app. If you get lots of upvotes, it will be amazing for downloads. Of more importance is that websites like Product Hunt have strict product curation algorithms, which is why you need to read their best practices before you consider submitting your app to them.
Once listed, go harass your influencers, online fans on social media and friends to upvote you on these platforms. That’s a free mobile app marketing tactic which works every time!
18. Leverage Affiliate Marketing Programs
Whether you’re looking to increase app installs or boost revenue from your mobile app, affiliate marketing can be what the doctor prescribed.
Like influencer marketing, affiliate marketing makes use of external partners or collaborators to drive potential leads to action. In return, you will offer a commission to them for every install they encourage. It’s a win-win mobile app marketing model that has proven to be effective in the digital age.
You can offer rewards or free credit to affiliates when their referrals download your app. You can use a unique referral code to facilitate the whole process and ensure that your affiliates are satisfied with your reward system. You might also want to take advantage of tools and networks like Apple App Store Affiliates.
19. Make Sure To Use Push Notifications to Engage With Users
Push notifications are huge and are opened way more often than emails( almost 3x higher open rates). So make sure you leverage this as part of your mobile app marketing mix so you can engage with your users at length when the app is live.
– Generate new content frequently to keep users using the app for long. Consider creating a captivating video, audio, blog posts, white papers, and other exciting finds to keep users engaged
– Don’t go overboard with push notifications, otherwise, users will turn off the feature. If your app is heavily used, keep notifications to one or twice a day. For other apps, twice a week can paint your app is good and not considered as spammy.
– Segment your users and tailor your notifications to make sure that the right message reaches the right person.
– Point notifications to messages that are easy to find and read.
20. Check the App Analytics/ User Feedback to Improve Your Mobile App Over Time
An app is not a one and done deal. Once it is up and running, it is your duty as a developer to keep it fresh, relevant, and continuously engaging. So, make sure you use feedback from users and improve it over time. And for that, make sure you implement analytics. According to Kyros Insights, using analytics like a pro and acting on insights is one of the best ways to improve your app loyalty metrics. And of course, as soon as you fix issues, leverage the mobile app marketing techniques above to inform your current customers of the improvements you’ve made over time.
Pre-launch and post-launch mobile app marketing is no picnic given that you’re going up against cut-throat competition from millions of other worthy apps. Leverage the 20 handy tips to get the word around about your app, boost downloads, and make sure to stay ahead of the competition and to have a successful launch.
Not sure you can do all this by yourself? No worries.
ComboApp has been helping app developments and companies successfully market their mobile apps since 2009.
Simply call us at 773.305.0886 or click on the Contact Us button in the header of this site. We look forward to helping you become the next unicorn!