Stories about successful apps are everywhere — Mint, Flipboard, Uber and many others. The companies behind these successes built apps that quickly rose to stardom, and along with that notability came large amounts of revenue. But many apps, even the most /creative, innovative and well built, don’t experience this type of success. Why?
App stores are inundated with applications. Android users have over 1.6 million apps to choose from, and Apple’s App Store users can select from 1.5 million. The competition is fierce. Understanding how to promote and market your app places you ahead of the competition, as you gain the ability to reach users on a much larger scale.
How to Promote Your App
Before taking any steps to promote your app and start wondering how to market an app, there is one decision that you need to make. You must be clear about your target audience. Who will download your application? Who will you serve? Are there several different segments or only one?
Once this decision is made, all other marketing efforts can be tightly focused, and as a result they will be more efficient. Here’s a few methods for growing your app’s user base more effectively.
Build a teaser website. This will be your hub for spreading information and capturing email addresses for people who are interested in your application. Your site should be simple and effective, and it should also include a place to blog.
Start blogging. Using basic SEO principles, write content that will draw people to your website and encourage readers to subscribe to your blog. Once subscribed, you can offer valuable content, but you should also share information when your app launches. Social sharing, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, can also be leveraged to share content and connect with potential users.
Generate a plan for blogger outreach. Who is blogging in the niche that your app targets? You need to find these people, because they are influencers who can launch your app to stardom. Ask for an opportunity to guest blog to get in front of their audiences. Typically, you will include a biography at the end of the post, where you can place a link to your app.
Make the app free at the launch. Don’t create another barrier to download, especially when you’re building up reviews of the app. Any blogs discussing the app can promote it as free.
Create a podcast. In addition to your blog, you can create a podcast that is focused on your app niche. Publish on your site and also on iTunes. Or better yet, repurpose your podcasts into blog posts, or guest blog posts, to leverage your resources and reach more people.
Develop a product video. When developing your app website, create a product video that tells the story of your app’s development. Stories are powerful marketing tools and help you capture the attention of the visitor.
Create an interest-driven Facebook group. What niche does your app target? Created a targeted Facebook group, where people with common interests related to the app can get together and socialize regularly. You will build authority in the niche as the group owner and gain traction for your app.
Consider using Facebook ads. Target your specific niche, with the ability to leverage demographics and interests. When you drill down and focus on a highly targeted group of people, overall advertising costs will be lower and your ROI will be higher.
Leverage social media marketing. Host a Twitter chat to engage with people who may use your application. Take for example RunKeeper, an app that has a great blog with lots of content, including tips for runners and success stories. They share the content on Twitter, but also host a chat, where they can bring together people with common interests and build authority and meaningful connections.
Capture ratings. A higher rating in the app store translates into more downloads. So if your users love the app, ask them to spread the word. For example, Localytics uses segmentation to identify people who frequently use your application. You can then target that group with in-app messaging asking them to rate your app.
Regardless of which marketing strategy you select, it’s important to synchronize your promotions. Attempt to have almost everything appear at the same time before your app launches. This results in your target market seeing your app in several different places and thinking, “Gosh, I really need to check that app out — it’s everywhere!”
Marketing an App: What to Avoid
Some app developers make the mistake of opting for email marketing. And in general, email marketing can be effective when it’s highly targeted and integrated with your other marketing efforts. But trouble can occur when blanket or form emails are sent out with information about their applications.
You can also skip press releases when promoting your app. This method may have been effective several years ago, but today, there are millions of apps available. As a result, press releases about new apps are often discarded, resulting in wasted money, energy and time.
And finally, skip the “for pay” review sites. They often get less traffic than expected and, equally important, it’s unlikely that your target market is using those sites to make purchasing decisions.
The Next Steps
Every app developer has a different strategy, and a different budget. But the most important aspect of marketing your new app is the willingness to try many different tactics. A “one size fits all” marketing approach doesn’t exist because of the variety of preferences and review processes of your target audience. There is no one-size solution to how to promote an app; you have to consider your target audience and how to best reach them.
A willingness, however, to attempt different marketing tactics and measure those results will create a winning strategy that will result in more users downloading your app, as word spreads quickly.