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The 2019 Mobile App Marketing Guide with 25 Pro Tips
Mobile App Marketing refers to a variety of marketing activities which are leveraged to drive app downloads, engage mobile users and retain those users who have already downloaded an app.
This article will show what every company or entrepreneur launching an app needs to do at the various stages of developing launching and growing the audience of a mobile app. We have divided this article into the chronological phases associated with building and launching an app. Each of these mobile app marketing activities can more or less be done sequentially at the following four stage:
- App Development;
- 1-2 months before launching your mobile app;
- Mobile App Launch week;
- Post launch activities
Here are Digital Authority’s tried-and-true 25 mobile app marketing tips. We do them with our customers every day - and they work. And you should consider these strategies as well.
Before we go into details, here's an infographic to summarize what we'll cover in this article:
How to prepare for mobile app marketing during the development phase
Most of, if not all your efforts during this phase will be centered around building the app itself. However, there are things you can add to your app to help market it by itself once it launches. These specific features can be added to your mobile app regardless of the industry you’re in and the type of app you’ve created.
1. Make it easy for people to share your app and refer their friends to your app
Social selling is one of the most powerful marketing tools in your arsenal.
In fact, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association reports that in the United States, there are approximately 2.4 billion brand-related conversations every single day. People frequently talk about the products and services they enjoy, and the companies who offer them.
Furthermore, according to Nielsen, 77% of people are more likely to buy a product when they learn about it from their friends and family.
These data points make it essential to incorporate referral programs into your mobile app development process. Incentivize your users to invite their friends, family, work colleagues and other associates to use the app.
In terms of development, this functionality should be embedded in your app natively. Integrate it with services that allow you to send the app over text messages and social platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Gchat, etc.
Ibotta is a great example of an app that rewards their users with a built-in referral program. It is a smartphone app that earns users cash back on in-store and mobile purchases by scanning the receipt.
For every person you refer to their app, you earn $5. You’ll receive the bonus payment when your referral scans their first receipt from their cash back purchase. Plus, your referrals also earn $10 for signing up.
2. Implement the right mobile app analytics to measure user behavior after launch
You should sort this from the get-go. Integrate with standard analytics software development kits (SDKs) such as Google Analytics and AppsFlyer or even our partners at Mixpanel. You need to have the analytics framework in place to know how your app performs.
Analytics allows you to personalize the user’s experience and service. You can see how they interact with your app and react to their tendencies, such as screen retention and interaction with a certain feature.
Understand your customer attitudes and make them feel valued. This is also key to keeping customers loyal.
3. Make sure you enable push notifications to engage with users after launch
Push notifications are huge and are opened way more often than emails so make sure you leverage this to engage with your users at length when the app is live.
E-goi published some really interesting statistics about the effectiveness of push notifications:
- 90% of push notifications are opened by users, compared to only 68.9% of recipients viewing marketing emails on their phone;
- 70% of people opening a push notification find them useful;
- 40% of people interact with a push notification within an hour of receiving them.
But for this to work, you need to make sure you have a push notification service enabled on your app. To add notifications to your app:
- Register with the operating system push notification service (iOS or Android);
- The OS service provides an API, which enables your app to communicate with the service;
- Add the SDK to the app. It is a code library specific to the OS' push notification service.
4. Enable an app feedback mechanism and make sure users can easily locate it within the app
People are more likely to pitch to you or provide feedback if they know there’s an easy and convenient feedback option in place and know how to find it. As an app owner, you want to know what’s happening, therefore, you need to build a feedback option in the app.
Ask the user if they like the app before asking for constructive feedback. Give them two choices in the form of a Yes/No answer.
If they like it, guide them to the review section in the App Store for iOS users or Android app downloads in the Play Store. This enables users to share their positive feedback to new customers and encouraging more downloads. If they say they don’t like it, show them a simple and general feedback form in the app that allows users to send information to the designated back-end for internal processing - and tell them how you plan to use the feedback collected, aka to make improvements to the app.
Alternatively, create a classic questionnaire where users pick answers from a series of multiple-choice answers. There are multiple benefits to this: users are very willing to answer them and the answers themselves are far more easier to analyze.
In terms of app development, integrate a webpage-like form to reduce the costs for front and back-end development.
5. Have a full page pop-up deployed to announce future app updates (and force users to update)
This is one of the biggest mistakes app owners make. The reality is that after an app goes live, and you start your mobile app marketing efforts, you’ll get user feedback, you’ll discover bugs and you’ll want to change things based on what your analytics is telling you.
That said, very few mobile app owners think of actually creating an in-app pop-up that forces users to update the app when a new version comes up. This messes up the ability for you to have everyone on the latest version and engaged within the app.
So for example, let’s say you have a bug within the app and you push a new build. If you don’t have a pop-up forcing people to update, users may never actually update. The same pop-up, which should be customizable, should be used to introduce new features for users and showing how you listened to them. Also - you basically accrue technology debt and are forced to continue supporting older versions of the app.
The bottom line - every app should have this feature.
6. Automatically encourage customer ratings through an in-app pop-up
Have built-in pop-ups to encourage your most active users to rate the app. You must proactively create experiences within the app which will make people rate you.
Remember - the more ratings you get, the higher you rank in App and Play Store - which is the most amazing way to get free publicity and marketing.
1-2 Months before launching the app
This is a busy time for most app development companies and entrepreneurs; on the product side you’ll be integrating final tweaks to the software and checking for bugs, etc, while on the marketing side you’ll be trying to generate interest to get downloads early on.
There are plenty of mobile app companies that believe this old saying: Build the app and the users will come.
This is a myth. In reality, build the app, go after the users and MAYBE, they’ll come. Here are a few things that you can do to encourage mobile app downloads.
7. Create a branding style guide for your app
Branding is all about consistency; you must be conveying the same message across the board. Do this by using a brand style guide that tells the world exactly what your app is all about.
The two most important factors to consider for brand styles are your story and your logo.
First, have a strong brand story that tells everyone what you care about most and how your app fixes a specific problem users have. This communicates to potential users what you value and helps to convince them your app is something they want to be associated with and use because it auto-magically solves a problem they’re facing.
You must also use guidelines when creating your brand’s logo to keep it consistent. Along with your brand story, the logo is the most important part of your brand. In order for it to be recognizable, everything - from the color scheme to the font - must be consistent.
Think about WhatsApp, one of the most recognizable app logos in the world - does this ever use any other color apart from the ‘WhatsApp green?’ Of course not!
8. Create a website for your app and landing page explaining the value of the app
App landing pages are needed to explain your app idea and tracking the overall performance of the app. All the information collected from your landing page should be used to increase app conversions; in this case, it is to increase the number of downloads from app stores but also engagements over time (by leveraging email marketing when you have an active user-base).
Include plenty of calls to action that direct users down the marketing funnel; the brand’s story page works really well at this.
Websites dedicated to specific apps are also important for boosting the SEO for the app. Google’s aim is to provide users with relevant content. Landing pages with informative and relevant content will boost your rankings in search engines.
Take a look at AIVA’s landing page as an example. It shows all the benefits of using the app, how and where it can be used, and why users should care about the app.
Start collecting emails from the website you launch too just before your app goes live to get people excited. Feed them with regular content and by the time you launch, they’ll be hyped and ready to download.
9. Create a demo video to make future users excited about your app
Humans are visual creatures. Take advantage of this by creating a demo video that shows how to use it and the benefits of doing so. According to Buffer, visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared via social networks.
Create a short 30-60 second video for the app that explains how it works and the benefits of using it. Just like all content on the app/landing page, it must provide value to the user.
Post this online on your landing page and also in the app. It should be on your site ready for when the app goes live. And when you launch the app, add the video to your App Store page as well.
10. Create a kickass press release to convince journalists to cover your app
Press releases are needed to send pitches to journalists who may be interested in covering your app aka free publicity. Doing a press release is absolutely key to your success.
Every press release must include:
- An eye-catching headline;
- A press contact;
- A summary of your points;
- Paragraphs of relevant and valuable information, explaining the bullets in more detail;
- Quote from lead designer/CEO/etc;
- Closing statement;
- Boilerplate of your brand.
It’s important you use a journalist that has developed a following in your business area. For example, if you are creating in the healthcare app development space, it makes sense to get in contact with someone that has established themselves as a trusted source of information in the the healthcare industry.
Send your press release 2-3 weeks BEFORE you launch the app to journalists. Use tools like Cision to find a list of journalists likely to cover your app.
11. Create a media list with journalists in your niche
When creating your media list, you must know the audience you are targeting and the media they consume. This varies based on whether your story is business-based or consumer-based. For example, business-related stories may be better suited for trade publications while consumer-based stories would target blogs.
Just like the press release, you need to use tools like Cision and NinjaOutreach to help with planning your outreach strategy. Create different email templates depending on the things these journalists cover and are interested in.
Additionally, to be effective with this strategy you must write a personalized pitch. Anyone can write a generic template to follow - these are so easily noticed that you’ll be just another company looking for some media attention. Personalized approaches show the journalist that you understand their work and what they would be looking for.
Make notes of how you connect with them and save them to be used in a few weeks time as part of your email marketing campaigns.
12. Create a social media / blogging influencer list
An influencer is different than a journalist. An online influencer is someone that has established an engaged following due to their knowledge, talent and expertise in a certain area. They tend to be very active on social media and post regular content on their channels.
We have written an entire article dedicated to influencer marketing. It covers the benefits, how to find the right partners and much more. Click here to read it.
13. Create your social media profiles and start posting regularly
This should be done one month BEFORE you launch your app.
Start by literally inviting all the people you know to like and follow your page. Ask a few close friends and family to do the same.
Your goal should be to get at least 500 followers and 20-30 posts so that when the app is live and anyone new comes to your pages, they won’t know that the app has only just launched.
14. Start executing on a robust SEO strategy to drive traffic to your app
We have included this tip 1-2 months before you launch because it takes Google between 60-90 days to pick anything up. It’s far better to be ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) before the app is live than having to lose 2 months of potential downloads due to lag time.
You cannot do native SEO for a mobile app but you can do SEO for your website promoting the app.
Find keywords that you want your app to rank for in the SERPs. The Google Keyword Planner is a great free tool to help find keywords based on search volume, competitiveness and price to promote on AdWords.
Alternatively, Ahrefs is a paid tool that allows you to see what your competitors are ranking for organically and where they are getting links from. This will enable you to come up with some keywords of your own and plan link building strategies.
Also, create original content to post on your website and share through your social media channels. These can become linkable assets, which are great for link building purposes in themselves.
2 Weeks before launching your app and executing your mobile app marketing strategy
The following mobile app marketing tips should be done around 2 weeks before the app is available for download.
15. Reach out to journalists and influencers
Bring back your media and influencer list and start communicating with them via social media and emails.
For social media, like and comment on their posts. This shows to them (and their audience who you’d like to have download your app) that you are an active member of the community. Also be sure to respond to any messages and comments of your own on social media posts.
For email outreach, send 2 emails a week to your list of journalists and influencers who have agreed to give a shout out to your app. You want to have influencers ready to post the day of your launch and drive traffic to your app.
16. Do app store optimization
We mentioned earlier how you can’t do SEO for your app listing. However, what you can do is ASO (app store optimization).
Write a short, sweet but comprehensive app description, including your app’s and brand’s keywords so it can be filed in the correct category. When people browse app stores, they don’t read through huge blocks of text. It only takes a few well-constructed sentences to convince someone to download.
Think of Amazon products. Do you ever get overwhelmed by never-ending bullet points when looking at product bullet points? The same logic applies here. You don’t want to put people off your app if you can help it.
You must also have clear screenshots to market the app. They should be self-explanatory and have catchy captions to lure consumers in and encourage downloads.
Remember, humans are visual creatures. If it looks easy to use and the benefits resonate with the consumer, expect to see your mobile app downloaded!
17. Start an online community or participate actively in established ones
The overall idea is to become a valuable member BEFORE the app has launched, avoiding being seen as spammy. This includes both online and offline communities.
In terms of online, respond to questions on Quora and Reddit threads to answer questions that are relevant to your app. However, don’t spam answers; be informative and link to your product where it makes sense
Slideshare is also great. Create a short presentation and share it on your social media pages. Link to your website and again, take them down the marketing funnel.
In-person connections are still key to success. Create a meetup or join one that your app could be useful to. Get in front of people that will care about your app and become its supporters. Websites like Meetup can help you set up or find an event where you can talk about your product.
Use your website and social media pages to share with your followers that you are hosting or attending said event. Send them a link that they can sign up to attend themselves.
18. Create and give out swag with your app's logo & tagline
What do people love more than anything? Free stuff. A couple of weeks before the app goes live, start making products you can give away as part of a promotion, such as mugs and hats.
T-shirts also work well but only if they are high-quality. If they aren’t, you give consumers the impression that your brand is cheap and poor-quality, which doesn’t reflect well when launching a new product. Digital Authority Partners uses ScreenPrintThis to create great custom t-shirts. They’re awesome and super affordable.
Include your product with your brand’s logo and motto on your shirts. Give them out to your team and friends to wear on launch day to help get you some downloads.
After You Launch Your Mobile App And Begin Your Official Mobile App Marketing Campaign
There is still a lot of work to do once your app goes live. Here are things you should consider using as part of your mobile app campaigns.
19. Host a launch party for your mobile app
Invite your friends, family, associates and all other contacts to attend. This includes all the journalists and influencers you have contacted over the last couple of months to generate some hype.
The offer of free food and drink will often be a key selling point so people will attend, but people will also download your app! They’ll tell other people to do it as well. Plus, by having influencers and media at your event, they can help spread the positive experience with the app on the channel once the event has finished!
If you need some external help with planning the event, get in touch with a party planner that can help you get all the necessary arrangements in place.
20. Try out app-install ad campaigns
Running app-install ad campaigns boosts organic growth in a competitive landscape.
Organic downloads come either from searches or general browsing. This means that your keywords are central to people discovering the app. On the other hand, inorganic downloads come from paid promotions.
The overall number of installs is a major factor in ASO.
Spend $500-$1,000 on Facebook/Twitter/Adwords to get your first users. It’s like a hockey stick. At the beginning, you want at least 200-300 users which are easiest to get via paid social media campaigns. After that, you can grow organically.
After a lot of installs, you have the chance to be featured in the app store which will get you tons more users.
21. Create business cards with QR codes and hand them out to strangers
When app creators launch their app, they often go online and either blast social media and contacts announcing the new app or they run ads for it. And there’s nothing wrong with this approach. But the reality is that you can easily get lots of downloads by simply staying in front of the subway station and convincing people to take a card and download the app. Business cards with QR codes are super cheap. With Vista Print, you can get 5,000 of them or so for 100 bucks.
QR codes can give people the product they want there and then. There’s no lag time, no follow-ups needed; just scan and get. Plus, business cards that include QR codes create a positive impression of your brand - you’re up to date with current tech and you care about the customer’s experience.
22. Update all your touch points (email signature, voicemail, social media profiles)
Your personalizations are great ways to further encourage customers to download your app.
Add the App Store links to your email signature. Also, change your business voicemail to encourage callers to check out the app. For your social media pages, update your cover and background images to something creative with the app in use.
Whether you see them or not, you know a lot more people than you think so make sure that the second your mobile app goes live, everyone knows about it.
23. Submit your app to app reviewer sites
App review sites help people discover cool and useful mobile apps. They produce good organic traffic and can even get your app featured on several websites, generating more downloads.
Just visit the site and submit your app to the admin teams for review. If you can’t submit your app, contact the support team with personalized emails using the techniques we described earlier.
For example, ProductHunt is one of the most influential platforms for new apps and software. After your app is live, reach out to them to list your app. If you get lots of upvotes, it will be amazing for downloads. To get the ball rolling, ask your network to up-vote your app.
Click here for a list of 10 other app reviewer sites.
24. Apply for app awards
More awards equal more downloads. They are a sign of quality apps that outperform competitors; why would anyone download someone else’s app when yours has been recognized to be amazing?
Here are some sites that accept applications for app design and feature awards:
- Appy Awards;
- Best App Ever Awards;
- Apple Design Awards;
- Appsters Awards;
- The Webby Awards;
- Best Mobile App Awards.
25. Check your app analytics/feedback and improve over time
Finally, an app is not a one and done deal. Make sure you use feedback from users and improve it over time. And for that, make sure you implement analytics.
Listening to consumer feedback and implementing changes creates customer loyalty. They’ll see that you listen and once again, you care about the customer experience.
These 25 tips will help you market your mobile app in a crowded and competitive market. There are so many apps out there that you need to get yours to stand out.
We have covered how to market your app:
- While it’s being developed with feedback, notifications and updates;
- Months before launch with brand styles, contact lists and SEO;
- Weeks before launch with ASO, outreach and giveaways;
- After the launch with review sites, award and analytics-based changes.
If you have any queries about this article or any other matter, feel free to contact us at [email protected] or by calling us at (312) 600-5433.