App marketing is a type of digital marketing technique that is focused on connecting mobile apps with users, via a number of techniques. It requires proper budgeting, planning and execution. The goal of a mobile app marketing can be described as a funnel – Acquisition, Engagement and Retention. Each of these components is an important part of a mobile app life cycle and every well-thought app marketing strategy should contain them all.
Any app marketing strategy can be divided on stages – pre-launch, launch and post-launch. Each of these stages implies proper marketing techniques to achieve multiple goals, such as users acquiring, raising brand awareness, getting tech media attention to get a coverage, as well as retaining acquired users and keeping them engaged to generate an income from in-app purchases.
Every part of an app marketing funnel needs to be explained in-depth, let’s walk through each.
App User Acquisition
This is one of the initial steps for a mobile app marketing strategy. For any mobile app to succeed on a market, it’s vital to build a substantial user base. There are lots of ways how a mobile app can be downloaded, but they all are driven by either on-store, the App Store / Google Play, marketing activities or off-store app traffic generation techniques. The most widespread channels to acquire app users are the following:
App Install Generation
With both major mobile app stores – the App Store and Google Play app developers face an app discoverability challenge they need to meet to grow their user base. A high demand for app installs caused lots of different install generating channels to be launched on the market. Today there are hundreds advertising solutions to generate app downloads and they are based on two major models – incentivized and non-incentivized. Essentially with the latter, app developers pay for their apps to be downloaded by mobile users who are rewarded for those downloads.
App Store Optimization (ASO)
ASO is the bread and butter of the on-store app marketing techniques and it implies developing a set of keywords a specific app should be ranked high on the App Store / Google Play to acquire its targeted audience. It also implies optimization of the whole mobile app marketing copy – an icon, screenshots and description. Such optimization is aimed at making sure an app does stand out of its competition and does communicate its value proposition clearly.
App Marketing Agencies
For many app developers marketing of their apps is something that is behind their expertise and hence they need help of professionals. Such app marketing professionals either operate individually as freelancers or as an app marketing agency.
The range of their services may include App Store Optimization, PR, market analysis, focus group testing, beta testing, consulting and more. Usually these companies outsource many of their services to third parties, providing their expertise with packaging multiple services to meet app developers marketing goals. Some agencies are solely focused on using top social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, app install generating solutions to build an app user base. Geographically, app marketing agencies either provide services for a global market or specialize on local markets.
App PR / Press
One of the channels for mobile app users to discover new apps to try is tech media that covers novel, interesting apps with various publications. To reach out journalists and writers that write about apps, app marketing companies, such as app PR ones, provide press release writing and distribution service. When an app gets coverage in a popular online publication it generates an interest to a specific app and brings certain number of app downloads.
Similar to movie and music celebrities, other the course of the last decade many YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter users have become online influencers. These people have managed to build hundreds of thousand and more fan bases that are engaged with their content. Eventually app marketing companies figured that this enormous influential power can be tapped to allow them to drive traffic to an app and grow its user base. Usually influencers may either write a review for an app or simply encourage their fans to try a new app they personally like.
Automation is a part and parcel of a digital marketing in general, it is what allows marketers to manage product-user relationships in scale. To address the need of keeping mobile app users engaged and to decrease a churn rate, app marketing companies provide mobile marketing automation services that allow app developers to track mobile users actions inside an app, send them targeted messages, monitor their reaction to reach accordingly. Nowadays, it’s practically impossible to build and grow mobile brand without marketing automation.
One of the core parts of the mobile marketing automation are Push notifications. This is the best channel for app developers to be connected with their app users. There are a number of occasions when developers can send such notifications to app users, such as to greet them after an app install and provide assistance with an app functions, to inform about new features available, to introduce a promo offer and so on. The key of an efficient utilizing of the push notifications technology is to know an app audience well and choose the right timing for sending them out.
App Marketing FAQ
What are the ways to promote an app?
There are many app marketing techniques that can be used to promote a mobile app. The choice of particular ones is dictated by multiple factors, such as – type of app, marketing budget limitations, specific goals marketers need to achieve, specific local market peculiarities. The most common ways are:
PR campaigns in media to secure coverage
App Store Optimization
App install generation campaigns to boost app ratings on the App Store / Google play marketplace
User acquisition campaigns via Social Media, ad networks, affiliate networks
Ads on TV, radio, print ads
What stages are there in an app marketing campaign?
A mobile app marketing strategy has three major stages – pre-launch, launch and post-launch.
The pre-launch stage implies writing a general marketing plan, beta testing & focus group testing, budget allocation, as well as creating an app marketing copy – text, graphic and video materials that will be used to present an app on the App Store / Google Play, as well as in the app’s promotion in various marketing channels – tech media publications, review sites, to drive downloads via social media platforms and so on.
The launch stage covers the immediate time period when an app is released on an app store. The crucial goal of this stage is to achieve an app’s visibility the App Store / Google Play, the desired outcome to be featured on the Top Charts, to stand out the competition.
The post-launch stage is dedicated to supporting the app’s level of discoverability for its target users and growing its loyal customers use base. Because of the well-known problem virtually all app developers face at one point, which is a high app user churn rate, all marketing activities on this stage are focused on retaining users and increasing revenue an app generates. ROI or Return-Of-Investment as important for mobile app business as for any other business. Therefore during this third stage app marketers aim to achieve a positive ROI and make their app business profitable.
The first part of the funnel covers app exposure and discoverability. It includes app marketing techniques to drive native, with App Store Optimization, and paid traffic, with paid solutions to drive traffic on the app stores, affiliate networks and social platform. The important aspect of this stage is mobile users consideration, for an app be preferred to other competitive apps it needs to get influencer referrals, 5-star ratings and positive reviews, as well as media and blog coverage.
Conversion is a crucial part of the funnel, it defines how well people, who discovered a particular app, become its users. To achieve a high level of such conversion, a mobile app should be optimized to provide a smooth, easy-to-get-started user experience.
Customer Relationship & Retention is the next part of the app marketing funnel, it incompasses personalized communication with app users, product updates, rewards to encourage app users loyalty.
How much does it cost to promote an app?
A typical mobile app marketing campaign price comprised of a marketing budget allocated on user acquisition, brand awareness raising, advertising campaigns creatives (text, graphics, video) producing. Given that different mobile apps have different users and the price of reaching these users does varies as well, it’s not feasible to calculate a specific price tag for a mobile app marketing campaign in general.
Essentially the better app targeted audience defined, meaning app marketers has lots of information about how are these people, their interests and so on, the cheaper it is to reach these people and engage them with an app.
How do you launch an app?
A proper marketing plan is the starting point of a successful app launch. Such plan should cover the following aspects – target user profile building, budget allocation, marketing creatives development, setting goals to achieve on different stages of an app life cycle.
The crucial component of a good app launching strategy is to create an anticipation of an app release on a market, so once an app is released, people who are genuinely interested in app download it and it creates a critical mass of downloads for an app to be ranked high on app stores Top Charts.
App discoverability is issue that app marketers should tackle from the day one. For a mobile app to be discovered by its targeted audience in a short term, it’s crucial to get an app featured by Apple or to get it ranked high on the Top Charts. Ad networks that provide app installs generation service play a crucial role in securing enough downloads for an app to be ranked high. There are many steps app marketers can take to increase their app chances to be featured by Apple, some of these steps are described here.
In a long run App Store Optimization is essential for an app to grow its user base over time and preferably to acquire loyal users who will continue to use an app long after they downloaded it.