As mobile apps get more popular, it can be very difficult to get exposure for your new product. These days, apps almost never go viral without a significant amount of marketing and promotion. It is however, still possible to attract users without spending very much on advertising. This article discusses 10 highly effective tips for marketing mobile apps without spending too much.
Building a mobile app is a tricky process in itself but getting the app noticed can even be more difficult. The “build it and they will come” model is now very out-dated. According to this 2013 report, the Apple app store alone adds more than 20,000 new apps per month. This is 2015. That rate has exploded. And Android is now the king when it comes to mobile applications. So a poorly marketed app has very little chances of flourishing.
True, great mobile app marketing strategies are usually carried out by teams of highly trained marketers. And this often involves a huge budget. Fortunately, we live in a digital age when a free (or real cheap) marketing strategy can be a feasible plan of action. If you created your app purely out of passion and are now exploring such low budget marketing options, read on. It may be hard work (this is not a magic guide to conquer the mobile world), but it can be done!
1. Generate Interest With Social Media.
Social media is a great channel for promoting your app for free. So start by building a relevant social media presence. If you have only 200 Facebook friends or Twitter followers for that matter, you’ll find it harder to get attention from social media. To a huge extent, social media is a game of numbers. The larger your immediate audience, the easier it is to spread word about your fancy new app.
Whether you have tons of Facebook friends or not, go ahead and ask your friends to like the Facebook page associated with your app. This can give you a little bit of initial traction. Also consider offering your existing app users some kind of reward for spreading the word about your app. Post regularly in different social media outlets like Twitter, StumbleUpon, Google+, Reddit and maybe even LinkedIn.
While one-way messages (on Twitter for example, are good), you’re likely to get more attention by starting or joining conversations and then promoting your app naturally in such conversations without appearing spammy. You can get a lot of retweets like this as well. Keep the spotlight on your app. Tell your app’s story: challenges, development process, milestones, etc. This will keep your users engaged.
On social media especially, first impressions matter. So have a catchy name and a unique logo.
It may be tempting (and not a totally terrible idea) to post random content (jokes, memes, etc) that fit somehow into the scope of your app’s industry. You should note though, that while such content might get a lot of attention, they’re usually not original and since they contain no call to action that points to your app, you will be gaining almost nothing by doing this. If you make this a habit, the best case is that your account might be seen as “interesting”. But you also run the risk of being seen as unprofessional. Joke with caution!
Twitter has proven itself an awesome marketing tool. Arguably the best free marketing tool available to indie app developers. Do not take it lightly. Use it to search for and connect with your target audience.
2. Build A Website. Then Do Active Content Marketing.
While most mobile app developers disregard this, it is always recommended that you build a website (or at least a micro site) for your app. It can just be a simple website with a few pages that will say something about your app. In the website you can explain fully what your app is all about and what your customers can get from downloading it. You can also include a feedback box here and encourage your customers to subscribe to your page to receive further announcements. In this way, your website serves as your personal space with your customers.
You can take this a step further by creating a blog (integrated within your website) around your app. Write articles that talk about your app and the exciting features it has. The more content about your app you create, the better. If your blog posts have a clear call to action that tells readers how your app can help them, you can generate a lot of downloads that way. Implement sharing features within your blog posts. If necessary, include an FAQ section about your app and make sure users are able to find answers real quick. Content marketing works. That’s why it has survived for so long.
3. Encourage User Reviews. Leverage App Review And App Of The Day Sites.
Ask your users to rate and review your app. I’m willing to bet you’ve decided to skip an app download because the app had too few ratings.
The higher the rating your app gets, the higher chance it has to be downloaded. People are always looking for social proof. Many mobile users first check what others who have downloaded an app already said about the app’s performance and then, they decide whether they’ll download the app or not based on the reviews. More positive ratings and reviews equals more popularity. The better the reviews, the higher the chance of your app getting included in the top downloaded section (or any other “top” section) of the app store. Users seeking apps cannot browse all the apps. Getting listed in a top section of the app store is every mobile app developer’s dream.
Highlight your app reviews on your app page (see point #2). Perhaps have them scrolling across your page above the fold (if that sort of UX design is fine with you).
You can also just do a Google search for app review and app of the day sites. You will find a long list. Many of these app review sites offer their services for free and some for a small fee. App of the day websites are usually highly trafficked websites with lots of potential for spreading the word about your new app. App users hold such services in high regard.
4. Make It Free (Or Give Something For Free).
True, you want to make money from your mobile app. But for a new app especially, you should consider giving it out for free (or making a free version with limited features at least). Most people don’t buy apps that haven’t had time to prove themselves in the marketplace. But if the app was free, they just might give it a try. They say the best things in life are free after all 😉
5. Promote Pre-Launch.
A key to building momentum for your app is to start promoting it before launch. If you start marketing after your app has been released, the chances of success will be much less because there will only be a slow drip-feed of users. By promoting pre-launch, you build buzz and anticipation around your app and a large number of people will start using it at the same time.
Beta testing by actual app users (early adopters), is a great way to promote your app pre-launch.
Early adopters who post reviews and ratings are your strongest assets. You may be able to get a number of early adopters by just inviting your Facebook friends. A less graceful option would be to spam forums. The good thing is, these days, many people are not that scared of being early adopters. They instead often want early, exclusive access to digital stuff. Make that work in your favor.
One great tool for getting early adopters is Erlibird. The platform offers the chance for early adopters to get free access to the beta version of your app and in return provide feedback. It’s a great way to drum up early support and some new email subscribers. If you play your cards right, you might manage to make an evangelist or two out of your early users.
6. Network With Bloggers And Journalists.
Quality blogs in your app’s niche would have spent years building a strong relationship with their readers. If you can reach out to these blog owners and get in an article or two about your app, you would be able to reach the large audience the blogs serves. Even if you don’t get articles about your app posted on the blogs, simply networking with the blog owners and getting them to know you and your new app could help a great deal. You never know where your app could get a mention – maybe in a reply to a readers comment/question, maybe a link to your app while discussing related topics, maybe in a tweet to their many followers, etc. The key is to get the blog owners to appreciate your app.
It is also a great idea to mingle with journalists, writers and other tech professionals and luminaries. If a journalist is impressed with your app, it could get featured in a high end magazine or site.
7. Optimize For App Stores.
To maximize chances of your app rising to the top on Apple’s App Store or Google Play, you should follow these app store optimization and visibility tips:
- Select the right keywords to describe and name your app. App stores use name, keywords and company name in their search engines. So you should target similar keywords that your competitors are using as well as niche keywords that may not have been used.
- For an international or multilingual app, try adding some keywords in other target languages.
- People will often judge the quality of an app based on its icon. Make sure you have an eye-catching icon.
- Choose your app category wisely. If you rank for say “Productivity”, you’d get more downloads than if you ranked for “Navigation”. This is a two-edged sword however, because ranking highly is easier in a category with less competition.
8. Create A Video Demo.
Add catchy videos of people using your app in real life situations. Video’s are more powerful than text because they do more than tell. They show! Ensure that your app videos are clear and of high resolution. The audio in your video should be clear and crisp, so that the user understands exactly what is happening.
9. Sponsor A Podcast Or Website.
With a small amount of money, you can achieve results by sponsoring a website or a podcast. The podcast(s) or website(s) should be very carefully selected and must be in your app niche. Ensure that they are highly targeted and have a good rapport with their audience. Even if you don’t reach a large group of people, this audience could form the core of your app user base.
10. Meet Real People. Speak At Conferences.
The best thing in business are contacts. Conferences are probably the best place to start meeting real people. Look for conferences where you can share your knowledge and establish yourself as an authority in your space. Your app will get traction naturally as a result.
You should not be discouraged if you don’t have enough money to hire a marketing consultant or team. You can still push your app a long way by exploring the options discussed here. To be very effective, you should stay up to date with app marketing news and attend workshops on mobile app marketing. We live in an age when self-learning and self-promotion is producing amazing results when done right.
To share your opinion on strategies for mobile app marketing that I might have missed, please use the comments section.