The Ultimate Guide To Mobile App Marketing: 20 Actionable Tips in 2020
Mobile app marketing refers to the set of strategies and branding techniques deployed to attract, engage, and retain users with the primary purpose of increasing a user’s overall lifetime value.
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 promote 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. It impacts the end to end mobile funnel from downloading to installing and using a mobile app.
Every company launching a mobile product needs to have an app marketing strategy. Marketing an app needs to be aggressive, 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 on how to market an app successfully.
For your convenience, we have chunked down these tips into two broader categories:
1. Marketing tips for before you launch your mobile application
2. Marketing tips for the first 90 days after you launch your application
First Things First: Why Marketing an App is Crucial?
Building an awesome mobile product 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 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 product’s niche, you will face tough competition from hundreds and thousands of similarly positioned apps. And, as if that’s not bad enough, you only have a measly 8 seconds to grab the attention of an online user in order to encourage them to download your app.
So, how to promote your 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, product 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 mobile product hits the App Store or Google Play, you need to develop mobile app marketing strategy and 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 release date.
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 product is the first key step in any mobile app marketing plan. And literally 99% of developers 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 market an app on the App Store/ Google Play later in this article as well.
No matter how amazing you think your application might be, if no one has heard about it, cannot find it 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 product’s 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 product doesn’t warrant a fully-fledged website, a comprehensive landing page can do just fine. Use the landing page to tell your app’s story, and explain to potential 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 its performance and adjust your mobile app marketing strategy and tactics accordingly.
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 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 product 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 when developing any mobile app marketing strategy.
Not sure where to start? It’s easy – head over to Neil Patel’s FREE UberSuggest Tool and type in keywords that you think are most related to your application. 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 launch date because it usually takes 60 to 90 days until Google picks up your website and content. So the golden 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 the potential 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 product.
3. Recruit Influencers to Promote Your App
Influencer marketing is all the rage right now, and it can surely help ramp up downloads and visibility.
In fact, 33 percent of users say they downloaded an application because it was recommended by people they trust or follow online. So, it pays to make social media and direct influencers part of your app marketing plan.
Perhaps the first step is to learn how to effectively pitch influencers:
– Pick the right influencer: Make sure that the influencer is a good fit for your niche. Influencer marketing is all about engagement, so pick an influencer with a ton of active followers, most of whom are your target users. You should be familiar with the influencer’s personality and understand what makes them unique and why their followers like them. Brands sometimes make the mistake of partnering with a popular influencer whose personality is fundamentally incompatible with their brand voice, which causes their message to fall flat.
– Make your offer attractive: Popular influencers constantly receive offers from brands that would like to partner with them. To make your offer stand out, provide value to the influencers and their followers, including exclusive access to your product, discounts, and other enticing rewards. If your application is already generating a lot of buzz, you may consider commissioning credible influencers to provide a sneak peek to your application in exchange for the exposure and traffic they’ll receive.
– Personalize your pitch: Partnerships with influencers are fundamentally different from partnerships with businesses. When pitching to influencers, personalize your pitch as much as possible to show that you haven’t simply copy-pasted the same message for the 100th time. Most influencers want to work with people and not brands, so it’s a good idea to provide a personal email address instead of some generic address like firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Create a sense of urgency: Providing influencers with a concrete timeframe is important for two chief reasons. First, it encourages influencers to respond to your pitch as soon as possible. Second, it sets expectations for the future. Many businesses have made the mistake of giving an influencer money for promotion without discussing a specific timeframe only to see their investment go to waste because the influencer took too long to deliver their part of the deal.
– Keep it simple: Your initial pitch should be short and sweet. After a brief introduction, tell the influencer why you would like to work with them and explain your goal. Don’t include too many details just yet—there will be time for that later. If you manage to keep the entire message under 200 words, the chance that the influencer will read it in its entirety will be high.
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 to promote your app 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 digital product works and therefore can’t tell if it will benefit them. That’s why your mobile app marketing plan needs to include a 30-50 second demo video, which clearly and concisely highlights the value prop for your application.
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 your product 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.
– Try a live recording of your application 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 application (aka free publicity). Because of that, working on an awesome PR kit is absolutely key to marketing an app.
Here are some tips for how to create an amazing press kit before the app launch:
– Use tools like Cision to find a list of journalists likely to cover your product.
– Send your press release to journalists 2-3 weeks BEFORE the launch date.
– 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 application 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 product.
– 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 app marketing strategy because you’re taking your campaigns to where your target 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 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 application 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 product 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 promotion and brand awareness. Make sure to create a short 5-6 slide presentation 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 product, and eventually boost downloads.
7. Join Linkedin and Facebook Groups Relevant to Your App
Creating credibility and awareness for your upcoming product online can be daunting, but important part of the app promotion. That’s where LinkedIn and Facebook groups come into play. Join a number of these groups and communities that are relevant to your application.
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 product 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 tens of thousands of apps are released every day, you don’t want yours to fall through 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 application 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
When deciding on how to market an app, consider that 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 importantly, 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 release date. This will give you plenty of time to build a community, generate pizzazz, and get people talking about your product before it hits the mobile app market.
– Plan ahead, especially when it comes to the content topic, type and style – what posts does your target audience wants to read?
– Leverage user-generated content to make your fans part of your mobile app promotion.
– Use a human tone in your posts, comments, and other pieces of content.
– Offer incentives to users who share your posts, visit your website, 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, a referral program should be a consideration when deciding on how to market an app.
But how can you incentivize users to invite their friends to download your application? First and foremost, make it super easy for them to share. Oftentimes that means making the sharing functionality embedded right in your product. Also, integrate with services that allow you to send the app over text messages: social platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, etc.
Another great 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 application is easy to use.
– Use personalized links in your email & social referral campaigns.
If you actually build your product 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 (ASO) with a short, but comprehensive app description. Optimizing for the right keywords is also important. Selecting the right category to file your product under, and doing a little keyword research to ensure that it gets discovered through search might seem like something trivial but nonetheless fundamental part of “how to market your app”.
– Understand your target user: the success of your ASO strategy hinges on having a deeper understanding of your typical customer. How would they describe your application?
– Maximize your keywords: When it comes to Apple’s App Store, make sure to use all of the allotted 100 characters to maximize the use of keywords. For Google Play, you can use keywords liberally, given that the character limit is set to 4000. Don’t forget to use the right keywords in the title because it can boost rankings by over 10 percent.
– Put your best foot forward with a unique, stand-out icon.
– Include Videos and Screenshots: The screenshots in the App Store/ Google Play are one of the most important mobile app promotion tools 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 so long has come. Naturally, the first priority is to make sure your app is released without any issues or bugs. Once you’ve tested and launched it, you need to focus on your mobile application marketing efforts. Of course, if you’ve implemented all the recommended above tips and tricks during the previous 2-3 months before the launch date, now you’re in an amazing shape and position scale up quickly. Let’s see how!
11. Get Busy with your App-Install Campaigns
Now that your product is live, it’s time to find a fix for the empty room problem (no one has downloaded your application) with app-install campaigns. At this juncture, you might want to break out your big mobile app marketing guns, so to speak.
Spend on Facebook/ Twitter/ Adwords to get your first users. In the beginning, your app promotion should focus on getting at least a few hundred users, which are the easiest to get via paid social media campaigns. After that, you can expect some organic growth. Also, if you get a lot of downloads within a week of launching your product, it has a chance to get featured, which will get you a lot more installs. We wouldn’t recommend making getting featured a cornerstone of your mobile app marketing plan but look at it rather as a possible, and desirable, “bonus side effect” of your app promotion activities.
Tracking: Determine which ad channels drive the most installs. This way, you can focus your app promotion efforts and advertising dollars on them. Nonetheless, don’t forget about the little networks that have bigger potential for increasing your installs.
Organic growth: Before you spend a lot of money on ads to boost downloads, you might want to consider, observe and calculate the potential of organic growth first.
Use Creatives: Mobile app promotion should include the use of static and animated graphics, infographics, and videos. We usually start our user acquisition campaigns with 20-30 different creatives to test their effectiveness. In 72 hours we evaluate which images perform best 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 hands down the best way to get heard and found online. That’s why you need to work with people who’ve been there and done that.
Marketing an app should involve reaching 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 sending your PR kit.
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 application and giving them reasons on why they should check out your product.
13. Get App Reviews
Quantity and tone of reviews can make or break your app marketing campaign. In fact, having fewer user reviews can do more harm than not-so-sterling feedback. Generally, you can get app reviews in the following ways:
1) Create pop-up messages encouraging people to review the app. Most people do not like these pop-ups but they’re effective, 15% of people seeing them end up giving you a review.
2) A mobile app marketing plan should include activities tasked to persuade users to review the 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:
– Ask users plainly and explicitly to review within the app. This is where a handy 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 feedback.
– Give users an incentive to review your application. If you have a game, for instance; provide players with additional points or rewards for reviewing.
– Organize contests across several different forums, channels, and social platforms to encourage your fans to leave reviews.
– Rectify issues that most users are complaining about (and tell them about it in the comments section of your app listing). This will provide a platform where you can interact and eventually motivate the user to leave a positive feedback.
– Take advantage of updates, and release notes to boost reviews.
14. Submit Your Mobile App to Review Sites
Whereas # 13 is about organic reviews from people who use your product, marketing an app should also involve soliciting reviews from websites that review apps professionally. While there are myriads of app review websites, the following 8 are considered to be the creme de la creme:
TechCrunch – This site is a darling for techies, and listing your product on this site can do wonders for installs. It’s an ideal site for standout brands and apps.
ProductHunt – If your application ends up being reviewed on 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 it for review.
Mashable – Here’s another amazing site that can build buzz for your product. With a huge audience, Mashable provides you with a great platform to showcase what value your application can offer its users.
AppAdvice – If you’ve built an iOS application, AppAdvice is a great place to get it reviewed professionally.
FeedMyApp – Your app gets reviewed and tagged. This platform caters to all app genres and OSs.
AppStorm – This review platform covers the entire OS gamut, including the not-so-popular Windows.
148Apps – Please note that 148Apps does 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 application in between.
15. Apply for Awards
How can users trust your application enough to download it? Turns out, the best way is to get recognition. The good news is that there are lots of sites that accept applications for design/ feature awards. Marketing an app can be made easier by applying for the following awards to build reputation, credibility, and trust for your product:
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 application 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 applications 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 product will be light ahead of other applications 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 application, 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 product 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 application, and you’ll ultimately see an increase in the number of installs. Awareness is king for mobile app marketing purposes.
First, it’s free publicity – and who doesn’t like that?
Second, 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
Mobile app promotion, depending on a type of an app and its intended target audience, can be augmented by a sponsored contest.
Find websites that sell complementary products to your application, whether its t-shirts, caps, mugs, subscriptions, vouchers, gift cards, and so on. Offer awards for your contest, for example, high quality t-shirts. The participants will need to download your application and complete specific tasks in order to qualify. Your options when it comes to running a contest/raffle are simply unlimited. For example, we’ve run multiple campaigns for our clients with custom apparel from ScreenPrintThis.
17. Post your app on Product Hunt / HackerNews
Product Hunt is one of the most influential platforms for new applications, software, and techs.
This online community is certainly one of the best sites to show off your product’s best features and appeal to tech enthusiasts. If your application 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 application is live, your app marketing plan should include reaching 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 solution 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 tactic on how to market an app 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 application. You can use a unique referral code to facilitate the whole process and ensure that your affiliates are satisfied with your reward system. Your mobile application marketing campaign 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 a big part of mobile app promotion and are opened way more often than emails (almost 3x higher open rates). Make sure you leverage this tool as part of your mobile app marketing mix so you can engage with your users at length when the product 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 creative content to keep users engaged.
– Don’t go overboard with push notifications, otherwise, users will turn off the feature. If your application is heavily used, limit notifications to one or two per day. In other cases, your mobile app marketing strategy should call for push notifications twice a week.
– 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 released on a mobile app market, keep it fresh, relevant, engaging and continuously evolving. Make sure you use feedback from users and improve the product over time. Successful mobile app marketing strategies make heavy use of 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.
Pre-launch and post-launch mobile application 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 on how to market your app to improve its visibility, increase downloads, and stay ahead of the competition.
Not sure how to market your app? Don’t have time or resources to do all this by yourself? No worries.
ComboApp has been helping app developers 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!