How to market your new mobile app
Gone are the days when you could develop a shiny new mobile app, put it live on the app stores, and sit back and watch as the users roll in. With the number of available apps to download from the world’s leading app stores approaching 5 million, it’s unrealistic to expect that — no matter how good your app — users will simply stumble across it and hit download.
It’s clear, therefore, that executing a meticulous marketing plan is the only way to stand out from the crowd in today’s mobile app market. Afterall, if your sole focus is on the design and development of the app itself, but nobody ever sees the thing, then what was the point? Just another great-looking app hidden away in the proverbial warehouse.
Marketing your app effectively will require time and budget, so make sure you factor this in at the start of your project — during the Discovery Phase, for example. An extensive strategy should begin from pre-release all the way through to later versions of your app, and can be broadly split into 3 stages: awareness, acquisition, and retention.
The first stage of your mobile app marketing strategy can be rounded off before your app has even been finished. Essentially detailed research, the awareness stage is key for determining how your target audience will discover your app. Building brand awareness and product visibility is the main objective at this stage.
No matter how innovative your app, it will have competition. By conducting some simple competitor analysis, you can assess the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors, and use these findings to your benefit.
Research and make a list of your top five competitors, how they monetise (app download cost, referral schemes, subscription model, advertising etc.), their UX pros and cons, app store ranking, and any notable reviews. Now use this information to plan how your app will stand out from, and improve on, the competition.
Determine a release date
Unlike Google Play’s fairly standard app submission procedure, Apple’s App Store has a notoriously strict review process. This could easily throw a spanner in the works when it comes to planning a release date for your app, so make sure you allow enough time for any back and forth you or your development team might encounter during the submission process.
It’s also worth researching if any events in your space are due to take place on the same day as your launch. If there are any major clashes, consider altering your release date accordingly.
Build a promo website / landing page
According to mobile measurement platform, Branch, mobile sites are the top source of app installs, so creating an accompanying pre-release website or landing page is a no brainer. Not only is a website an accessible destination to showcase and share your new platform, it’s also a great tool for building an email subscriber list of potential users. Once you have a website for your app, you can begin building your domain authority, generating search engine traffic both organically and from paid ad campaigns. A promo website or landing page needn’t cost the earth, either. DIY website builders like Wix and Squarespace offer sleek, user-friendly solutions at a great price.
Writing blog posts is an excellent way to build a following and become a thought-leader in your space. Not only that, content marketing is an honest, organic way to promote your mobile app — users will be far more inclined to download your app off the back of reading a valuable piece of content.
You can also use a blog post to expand on some of the standout features of your app, a deeper dive than what’s presented on your promo website / landing page. You might feel intimidated at the thought of writing blog posts, but you needn’t be. Just keep it simple and informative, and talk about what you know. You’ll be amazed at the value this could bring. Alternatively, you can hire somebody to write content for you.
Your social media strategy will become a key component in your overall marketing efforts for your mobile app, and it can be launched during the awareness stage. The likes of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube offer free platforms to expand your online presence and, regardless of your vertical, your target audience will almost certainly be there.
However, before you go setting up profiles on every social media platform under the sun, think about who your app is targeting (think age groups, tone of voice, B2B or B2C etc.) and research which channels are worth pursuing. For example, if your app is an innovative solution for the utilities sector, then TikTok probably isn’t the place to be. Conversely, if your app targets fashion-conscious millennials, then devoting time to your Instagram account is a must.
When releasing anything for commercial consumption, it’s always a good idea to know who the authorities in that space are. Although an arduous task, making a list of bloggers, influencers, and relevant publications to reach out to with a professional pitch of your new app could be worth its weight in gold. These platforms often carry a lot of sway amongst your potential user base, so a good review or a favourable article feature will help achieve the buzz your app will need to succeed. This is the time to be strategic with who you’re planning on reaching out to and giving free access to your app.
Post-launch, we move into the acquisition stage of your marketing strategy. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, the possibilities really are endless. Because there are so many methods to consider — including what your competition is doing — it’s important to get creative and remain dynamic, refining your strategy where necessary. Don’t be afraid to test out different methods. Here are some strategies you can employ to acquire new users.
App Store optimisation
It’s imperative that your app ranks as high as possible when users search within Apple’s App Store. Whilst direct downloads may occur primarily from mobile sites, App Store search is where 65% of new apps are discovered. As Apple’s own landing page says, ‘Top of search. Top of mind.’ And it’s not wrong here. Once your app is ranking well for a certain keyword, it will remain near the top of search results for months.
So how do you optimise your App Store page? Things to consider include a strong title for your app, the correct keywords (include a relevant keyword in your title), and slick screenshots and videos of the app in action. Depending on your platform and target demographic, it might also be worth localising your app for international users.
Google Ads / paid social media
Once your app is launched, set up an ad campaign on Google Ads and/or begin rolling out ads across your social media channels. Where you choose to advertise will depend on your target demographic, which will hopefully have been established during the awareness stage. Be mindful that each social media platform has its own feel — which also applies to the type of ads that perform well — so don’t be tempted by a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Targeting a corporate, business-focused audience? LinkedIn is the answer. Trying to attract Gen Zers? TikTok could be an option.
All of the major social media platforms offer excellent advice when it comes to setting up campaigns, as does Google Ads. Remember, the key to getting the most out of your advertising investment is consistency and patience.
Pitch to editorial teams
New mobile apps are reviewed daily by App Store curators, who decide whether or not the app is worthy of a feature. If you manage to get featured, you’ll increase visibility and downloads, meaning lower acquisition costs, a greater number of users, and increased revenue. This is a big deal for new mobile apps in a crowded market. It really is worth devoting time to crafting a compelling, engaging pitch that will impress the curators and hopefully see your app featured front and centre.
A crucial stage of the mobile app marketing strategy, yet often overlooked, is retention. Most people will put time and effort into the awareness and acquisition stages — which is great, but if no one is actually using your app, then it ceases to be a functioning outlet for business. The goal of the retention stage is to convert customers into lifelong users, advocates of your app.
This is so important. User feedback is vital from the very early stages of your app’s development (user testing during a Discovery Phase etc.) all the way through to this point. If you have users consistently on your app, it’s a sign they’ve connected with the platform. Therefore, asking for feedback shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
Not only does it show your users that you value their opinion, their feedback could be invaluable for the continued success of your mobile app. Just make sure you consider UX (user experience) when deciding where/how to extract feedback — don’t keep asking!
Early adopter perks
Much like user feedback, taking the time to appreciate your early adopters (the very first users of your app) by offering perks, is an excellent method of retention. Think of these customers like loyal fans of a band who have been to every gig come rain or shine. Perks might include free merchandise or special in-app offers — whatever makes sense for your platform. If you can turn these early adopters into evangelists, their value to your business will be priceless.
Consider a user referral scheme
To give your users an incentive to spread the word, you could also try offering a referral bonus. Slightly broader than early adopter perks, a referral program should be offered to all new users. If they’re already active on social media and they love your app, then convincing them to endorse it (for something in return) should be a win-win.
You might wonder why apps ask for your permission to enable push notifications when you first download. Well, research shows that users who have opted in to receive push notifications show a whopping 88% increase in mobile app engagement compared to those who haven’t. Truly a game changer, offering push notifications will massively improve user retention, and keep your app ranking high in the app stores.
There we go. A concise, three-point plan to get you up and running with a mobile app marketing strategy. Don’t limit yourself to these suggestions, either. When it comes to telling the world about your fantastic new app, be as creative and courageous as possible!
If you would like to chat about how Gravitywell can help design and develop your mobile app, or to learn more about our process, get in touch.