The 5-Step Plan to Promote Your Mobile App

Written by: on May 2, 2013

One of most repeated lines in mobile is the Field of Dreams analogy: "If you build it, they will come." There are many who still think mobile is in the midst of a gold-rush stage, that by merely making and launching an app, riches and success is guaranteed to come their way.

Unfortunately, people who think in that manner are about five years late to the party. Mobile can be, and still is, a potent revenue-generating opportunity, but with over 1 million apps created, one can no longer depend on success just by building an app. Launching your application is not the end of the game, it’s more like halftime. Now that your app is live and customer-facing, you need to make sure your community can easily discover, download and use it.

Promotion is a necessity in the mobile space as app stores were never designed as discovery vehicles.  With thousands upon thousands of apps hitting iTunes and Google Play every month, the process in which to discover these applications have failed to keep pace with the exponential amount of applications to choose from.

The reliance is on you and your team to push awareness of your mobile product.  While you will undoubtedly get SOME download traction by people stumbling on your app, this is not a recipe to generate much use, value, downloads or revenue.  Two-thirds of applications fail to reach 1,000 downloads in their first year, unless that sounds like a suitable goal, you really need to think above and beyond to get users to download and use your mobile product.

Over the past six years I have planned and executed many integrated mobile campaigns, and below is a method I’ve found to be most effective when wanting to generate awareness of your mobile application:

1.    First integrate into existing assets. Oftentimes your best marketing assets already exist elsewhere, in the form of websites, print material, video content, e-newsletters, etc.  Before you look at paid promotional routes, start here. Your existing assets should already be connecting with your audience. Look to your print, photo and video assets to integrate simple but eye-catching callouts of the app and location of app stores it can be found in.

2.   Seed the app to bloggers and Key Opinion Leaders (KOL’s). Many people look for social recommendations to download an app, and seeding your app as a pre-release to bloggers, journalists and other Key Opinion Leaders (KOL’s) can help push awareness via their portals to a targeted audience. Furthermore, allowing these KOL’s to have pre-release access to your app can provide a great foundation of feedback for your first application update.

3.   Look for ways to promote via mobile. Promoting in the space in which your product lives is an efficient way to generate conversions. Mobile, compared to desktop, is still cheap, effective, and productive when it comes to generating awareness and especially conversions (aka downloads). Oftentimes, you will find that the “one-click to download” proximity will generate upwards of 50% of your downloads, with over 30% of the people clicking on your mobile ads downloading your application. Large Mobile Ad networks like Google’s AdMob, Apple’s iAd, and ValueClick’s Greystripe can create full-screen Interstitials and target traditional mobile ads to a variety of mobile devices, platforms and carriers. Targeting in the space is improving, and using analytics services like Flurry can help you identify key behaviors and habits that might help one target more accurately on these mobile networks.

4.   Look for ways to promote via digital/social. Promoting via digital (and even social) routes can be another effective way to push awareness of your app. This route provides the most targeting options as everything from Nielsen profiling to re-targeting can be applied to push your apps’ availability to only your most targeted, high-indexed audience. While digital won’t get the conversions that mobile will, it is amongst the best ways to push awareness of your app. Over the decades, all marketing channels have shown a consistent premise: The more awareness you push, the more your product will be recognized and adopted by consumers.

Social is also another channel worth mentioning, as promoting your app’s availability via Facebook, Twitter and other networks can be a potent, targeted way to push downloads.  Caution should be used, however, as social media should NEVER be an extension of one’s marketing/advertising efforts, it should be used only as a channel to connect with customers, take their feedback, and inform them with the most valuable information.

5.   Don’t forget about print media. For all its sophistication, the best integrated marketing when it comes to mobile is often with traditional, “old-school” media. Print media, such as newspaper ads, posters, and brochures, is a great way to push awareness and visibility of your application. Unlike watching TV or listening to radio, reading commands a user’s full attention, so print ads can be very effective in pushing awareness in such a way that the consumer will retain the information for at least a short period of time. In a very controlled, thoughtful manner, print media can even use aspects like QR codes to help push conversions in the space as it allows a user to easily get the application on his/her phone.  While QR codes are not ideal mobile strategies in most areas, this approach is germane and proven.

Recent studies have shown that over 80% of apps in iTunes are considered “zombie apps,” meaning they aren’t downloaded, used, utilized nor rated. (See our recent article on this here) Make no mistake, failure to market and promote and app is one BIG reason why there are so many zombie apps.

The mobile space has become very competitive in recent years, and unlike 2008, one can’t make an app, put it in an app store, and just sit back and watch the downloads and revenue come in. Mobile today requires a good product AND a good plan to push awareness to your audience….it’s not an “either-or. “

Jason Ary

Jason Ary

Jason is the Director of Mobile Strategy for Double Encore, Inc., a leading mobile development company. Jason has been actively involved in the mobile product and marketing space since 2007, where his guidance and expertise has since earned him multiple #1-ranked iOS applications, Webby recognition and millions of downloads.

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