It’s only a matter of time before the total number of mobile applications in Apple App Store and Google Play store (combined) touches the 5 million mark. At the start of the year, the former already had 2.2+ million apps, while there were more than 2.6 million Android apps available for download. With the rapidly escalating competition in the app marketplace, it is no longer enough for developers to simply come up with ‘good’ apps. Discoverability/Visibility remains a big issue, there are plenty of ‘zombie apps’ in the stores – and researches have shown that, only 4 out of every 10 people actually bother to search for apps in the stores. The onus is on the app makers to market their products well on the digital platform after launch, to generate awareness and maintain steady download figures. Let us here take a look at some useful mobile app marketing strategies:
Use press releases and news articles
You need to, obviously, explain how your app works in the store description, using relevant keywords. However, people would see that description only AFTER they have arrived on the app’s download page. You can increase the chances of that happening, by publishing informative press releases (on both free and paid channels) – each highlighting one or two core functionalities or benefits of the application. If you release an update of an existing app, make it a point to publish a news article regarding that. The focus should always be on letting as many people as possible find out about your app.
Have a website
There was a time – sometime around the mid-90s, when a product could be successful without the support of a dedicated website. Things have moved on radically since then – and at present, an app simply must have its very own website. Mobile app developers can collaborate with web developers to create nicely-designed, responsive, user-friendly websites – with all the relevant information about the concerned app present in it (often, a single-page website is enough). Include the app store link(s) of your software in the website, and make it easily visible. Users, once intrigued, should be able to check it out.
Call them trailers or demo videos – they are extremely useful ‘first-look’ tools for your mobile application. You can create a series of short (45 seconds to 1 minute, maximum) videos of your app – explaining the signup process, the in-app navigation, the UI/UX, the settings and other key features. Ideally, you should also include audio – to make it easier for viewers to ‘understand’ your app. Consider creating videos with a host (or a couple of them) discussing the various nitty-gritties of your app. From Youtube and Snapchat, to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even WhatsApp – there are so many social media channels where you can share these app demo videos.
Note: Twitter’s Vine was fairly popular among app developers to showcase their software (with 6-second videos). It was, however, discontinued last October.
Pay attention to initial reviews
The first 7-10 days after your app becomes available for download at the store(s) are crucial. This is the time when the first set of users will leave their ratings and reviews – and you need to consider them very carefully. If the early reviews are unfavourable, consider that as a red herring – and try to find out about the thing(s) that the users are not liking. Make the necessary modifications and release an update as quickly as possible. You can do all the internal testing and bug-fixing you like prior to launch – but it is, at the end of the day, the final users who can say whether your app is any good or not.
Note: Good reviews and high-ratings also work as great word-of-mouth publicity for your app. If that translates into high initial downloads, the chances of your app getting featured at the store(s) go up.
Blog about your app
Leading mobile app companies typically have a blog section in their company websites – and they typically publish post(s) about newly-released applications. In addition, you can also consider pitching ‘guest posts’ about your app on other well-known, high-traffic tech blogs (that’s the trick here, to choose other blogs that belong to the same domain). Avoid adopting a strong promotional tone in your post – and instead, keep your write-ups informative, easily formatted, and easy to read. At the end of the post, don’t forget to put in the download link of your app!
Ask for reviews
People who download your app out of their own accord will – in most likelihood – leave their reviews. However, you need to be more proactive, and ask around for reviews on the social media space. Both Facebook and Google Plus have plenty of pages/groups/communities for review exchanges (for iOS apps as well as Android apps) – where you can post your app, and request reviews from fellow-members. Keep in mind that you have to review others’ apps to in return. Otherwise, your review requests might start getting ignored.
Note: Phase out this review exchange strategy gradually, as your app captures a steady target audience, and authentic reviews – from final users – start coming in.
Review through social media
Ah, social media integration – that must-have feature of practically every mobile application. Android and iPhone developers should make sure that users can post reviews directly through the app – instead of having to go to the app store again for doing so. The app website should also have social media tabs, through which ratings and reviews can be posted. The benefit of this is two-fold: first, people can easily interact with friends (Facebook connections, Twitter followers, etc.) directly through the app. Secondly, sharing opinion about the app itself becomes a lot more straightforward.
Have social media pages
On Facebook in particular, create a dedicated page for your new app – and start posting little tidbits (including screenshots) about it. Promote your app’s FB page extensively, so that you have a high number of ‘page likes’/followers – that will, in turn, mean you have a large enough digital audience to interact with. After launch, keep posting interesting details about your app (with or without images) on a daily basis. Developers should also actively ask for reviews, suggestions and feedback from the users. Under no consequences should people feel that your app has ‘gone static’, and there is not much happening about it. It’s all about creating, and maintaining, a good buzz about your app.
Note: Try to come up with engaging post ideas. The more the number of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on your posts, the better will it be.
- Get in touch with app review sites – There are many reliable sites – large and small – that publish app reviews on a regular basis. Pitch your software to such sites, and request for a review (note that, these review requests are different from the social media review exchanges explained earlier). Once the review is live on their website, you can share it on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the others. One note of caution though: don’t try to spam by posing as a third-party reviewer!
- Participate in competitions – In 2014, an airport dating app called ‘Stopover’ created a big splash right after it was released. The app – which was available for both Android and iOS – helped its owner bag the ‘Rising Star’ prize at the Talent Unleashed Awards (with none other than Steve Wozniak speaking good things about the app). Similarly, if you are confident about the quality and performance about your product – you should push it out to as many app competitions and contests as possible. If the app indeed manages to bag a couple of prestigious awards, the news will spread.
Note: You should also try to get your app included in the ‘top-XX…’ lists, published by several leading e-magazines and tech journals. That will give a further thrust to the overall digital marketing endeavours.
11. Implement and monitor app analytics
The total number of downloads is not the only metric that you need to monitor about your just-launched application. According to reports, close to 30% of new apps are launched/used only once after download (many of these are soon uninstalled). That. in turn, brings to light the importance of high-quality app analytics tools that would help you monitor detailed app engagement and stickiness figures. Knowing the analytics will also help you stay aware of the user-distribution and the device-distribution of your application. You will be able to customize your marketing strategies accordingly. If you find that the app is indeed being discarded soon by users – find out the underlying problem(s), and sort things out.
12. Start paid ad campaigns
There is Facebook Ads, there is Google AdWords, and there are paid advertising options in LinkedIn as well. For the first few weeks after your app has been launched – run simultaneous ad campaigns on multiple platforms, to quickly bolster the visibility, traffic and (hopefully) the download stats. Make sure that the ad groups and ads are optimally planned, and the bids are chosen carefully (choose ‘negative keywords’ to minimize chances of unwanted clicks). You can even consider collaborating with other developers to advertise related apps together. The expenses will be shared, and there will still be chances of conversions.
13. Go for newsletters and email marketing
Bulk SMS campaigns might not be as effective as they once were, but email marketing is something you should definitely consider for your new mobile app. Create newsletters to highlight the main talking points about your software, and send it to a focused audience group (email platforms like MailChimp makes this extremely easy). Avoid sending mails too frequently though (that would irritate readers) and track the engagement/clickthrough rates of these e-newsletters. Do not make your emails seem too generic or overtly promotional. Once again, the communication has to be personalized and mostly informative.
14. Hire a digital marketing partner
For a full-fledged, ongoing digital marketing campaign for your mobile app, you should ideally avail the services of a professional online marketing company. Many of the top app companies across the world double up as app-marketers (for their clients) as well. Do some research on the web, create a shortlist of the best digital marketing companies, check out their plans and packages (and of course, rates!) and hire the one that seems the best.
There are close to 3.575 billion internet users in the globe (nearly 47% of the world’s population). Not having a digital marketing plan in place would be akin to losing a large chunk of this audience – many of whom are smartphone-owners. Follow the strategies we have discussed over here, and help your app gain a nice early momentum (and sustain it too) among users.