An Introduction to App Marketing
Marketing is just as important as the development of your product. Marketing your application helps build an audience, which in turn gives you the opportunity to generate revenue.
When speaking about marketing a mobile application, a product goes through three distinct phases, pre-release, release, and post-release. Let's take a closer look at each phase.
Build A Compelling Landing Page
An online presence is crucial. Building a landing page before your app is released is key to showcase the app's design and feature set. Your goal is to get visitors excited so they'll take action, like subscribing to a newsletter or tweeting about your app to get an invitation for the app's private beta.
A great landing page takes effort. Investing in a designer to help polish the app and its landing page is a wise decision if you're not confident about your own design skills. You want your app, and its icon and landing page to be well designed since it will impress potential customers and increase the desirability of your product.
Don't forget to include a download link for the press kit of your app on the landing page. In a press kit, you should include a handful of screenshots of your app and a document which briefly explains the app's features. Of course, don't forget to include your contact details so people can get in touch with you if they have any questions.
Build an Audience Through Blogging
A blog is the perfect complement to a landing page. However, the opinions about blogging are mixed. It can be a great strategy to improve your app's visibility, but maintaining a blog isn't always the best use of your time.
What are some of the deciding factors for maintaining a blog? Are you a good storyteller, for example? Do you have experience blogging? What will you write about? If you're creating a health app, for example, a blog about health and lifestyle could be useful to get potential customers interested in your product.
The ultimate goal of your blog is increasing the size of your audience. Whether blogging is the right strategy for you is an answer that only you can answer. If you believe it's worth your time, then, by all means, go for it. If you don't feel confident writing for an audience, then you're better off focusing your efforts on other aspects of marketing.
Work On Your Public Relations
Reach out to several technology reporters with your product and its story. Twitter is a great medium to help you find people and start a discussion. Even before the release of your product, it's perfectly possible to get attention from the press.
Shadow is a great example. The company behind Shadow used Kickstarter to test the assumptions they had about their product. It turned out to be an overwhelming success and it got the attention of the press as a result.
If you're having difficulties dealing with public relations, then consider hiring a company specialized in handling this aspect of marketing. This can be worthwhile investment if you're not afraid of spending money before your product is released.
It's a good idea to build a list of key contacts that you believe can be useful for marketing your product. You could offer a beta invitation to a befriended tech blogger or chat about an idea you have with someone you met on Twitter.
Managing Social Media
As much as social media is part of our daily lives, its effectiveness is questionable when it comes to marketing a product by leveraging social media. Companies flood social networks and try to get our attention all the time. Even though an online presence is mandatory these days, don't expect social media to be a powerful tool for getting traction for your product.
Consider social media as a tool to communicate instead of a channel to improve your product's conversion. You can use social media in clever ways, such as in-app sharing to improve the visibility of your application once it's released. You should only implement this when it makes sense and provides value to the user.
Don't forget to claim your social media profiles on time. When you're choosing a name for your application, check if you're able to register a name for the social networks you plan to use. Social networks like Twitter are useful to network with other designers, developers, and pioneers in the mobile industry.
Don't Forget App Store Optimization
The most crucial elements or App Store Optimization (ASO) are your product's name and keywords. The goal is to rank high for those keywords and convert potential users to users.
In 2012, Forrester conducted a survey on the discovery of mobile applications. They concluded that 63% of the people involved in the study found out about an app by browsing the App Store, while 50% did so by speaking with family or friends.
The App Store is the largest discovery channel available.
Try to include relevant keywords in the title of your application. For example, compare Weather App with Weather App - Weather Radar and Storm Alerts. The second choice is much better optimized for the App Store.
Research Users & Competitors
Every product caters to a specific group of people that you can define by answer the question "Who am I building this application for?" For example, a wine application is best marketed to people who enjoy wine. Focus your efforts on the group of users that are a good fit for your product.
Don't be blinded by your own product. Pay attention to what competing apps are doing. What are their marketing tactics? How do their actions compare to yours? How do users discover their app?
Learning about your competitors has two major advantages. First, you can draw inspiration from their efforts and do what they do—but better. Second, they're a rich source of information if you have little or no experience in the market you're entering. Watch and learn.
Even better advice is to build on what they do by diversifying. What are possibly better marketing strategies? How can you reach users differently and more efficiently?
Explore Growth Hacking
Growth hacking has become a popular phenomenon in the startup space. The concept of growth hacking is to focus on low-cost marketing mechanics to gain exposure. You accomplish this by viral marketing, the use of social media, and modern marketing strategies, such as SEO, A/B testing, and content marketing.
If you're interested in growth hacking, there are many resources available. With regards to marketing, growth hacking is certainly worth exploring.
The majority of your marketing efforts take place before the release of your product. When done right, your pre-release marketing efforts should have resulted in traction so you can welcome interested users when your product is released. This will improve downloads, which in turn are good for App Store Optimization.
Public Relations & Social Media, Once Again
Now would be a good time to take advantage of the network you've built during the pre-release phase. Revisit your list of key contacts and reach out to them.
It's best to start a conversation a few days before the actual release. Give them a chance to play with your product and see if they can help you with the marketing of your product. If they like your work, they could tweet how much they love it, for example.
The next step would be writing a press release. Don't forget to include your press kit and send it to technology journalists. Remember that it's always better to reach out to a specific person instead of using a catch-all address.
The key component of a good press release is the inclusion of a story with a title that draws attention. Journalists receive product pitches all the time. Stand out from the crowd. Discover the aspects that make your product unique and stand out.
Launch day means optimization. If you're marketing a paid application, then a launch promotion with a lower price is a smart choice. The goal of the first few days is to get as many downloads as possible and rise to the top of the charts.
Update your landing page to include a big download button and write a blog post about your release. Spread the message on social media that your product has finally launched.
Focus on User Retention
Your marketing efforts after the release of your product need to focus on retaining your users. You accomplish this by fixing bugs quickly, releasing updates, and keeping your users engaged.
Word of mouth is another powerful marketing tool if you have a great product. If you've built a blog or you're active on social media, then don't stop now. You should stay in touch with the users of your application, get feedback from them, and learn how you can improve your product.
Analyze your product's usage and draw conclusions from this data. Every release cycle is an opportunity to learn, it teaches you what went wrong and what can be better. Store data for future reference. As you build more apps, you get better at marketing them and your network will only grow if done right.
The hardest part of marketing is realizing that there's no secret sauce to success. As with most things, successfully marketing an application is a combination of skill and luck.
The most important lesson is that the majority of your marketing efforts take place before your product is released, not during or after the release. Do you have experience with running a marketing campaign? What are some of the tips and tricks you've learned along the way?