Well, no. The Apple and Google app stores are mature and crowded, with at least 1.3-million apps in each. While people are increasingly engaged with their mobile devices, standing out in the crowd isn’t as easy as securing approval for release into the app stores.
Marketing and cross-platform promotion are now incredibly important during all three marketing life stages for a mobile app:
- Pre launch
- Post launch
Your marketing objectives are to create brand awareness, acquire users, and build an audience for your app. You’ve spent time, effort, and money on conceptualizing and building your app; now you must refocus those efforts on marketing if your product is to succeed.
Building Pre-Launch Awareness
- Who is your target market?
- What outcome are you aiming for?
Refining your target audiences precisely for your marketing efforts is important: reaching a niche audience — one that will respond positively to your app — may be the most effective way to spark word of mouth.
Decide what your primary objective is. Do you want to achieve the widest possible reach? Build active users? Maximise revenue?
Your answer to this question will affect the marketing channel choices you should make: to buy reach or to encourage repeat visits.
Then, you can get a sense of likely budget and investment requirements. If your app is initially free and focusing on building the largest possible audience, you’ll need the funds — via investment or otherwise — to support such an approach as revenues will not be forthcoming.
Think carefully through this process; your conclusions will drive your marketing program. Your marketing plan must be closely aligned with a business plan that can fund it; both are crucial, and neither can be considered in isolation.
Your marketing plan should research and set out the following:
- Analysis of your current market
- Your business objectives
- Key marketing strategies
- Steps to achieving your objectives
- Proposed budget
Key marketing strategies to consider include public relations (PR), building an online presence through a website, building your emails list, engagement via social media, and the launch party.
Launch, Particularly Focusing on App Store Optimization
You need to fight hard for your place in the app store, especially as a new publisher. According to Distimo, only five of the top 250 publishers in Apple’s App Store are newcomers, and Google’s Play store for Android apps isn’t any less of a challenge.
When it comes to prioritizing milestones, your launch should top the list: getting it right is likely the single most important factor that can influence the success of your app. A close second is making sure your app is optimized for the app store.
What is app store optimization? It’s your positioning and how people will find your app post launch. Optimizing your app hinges on five main elements:
- The name of the app
- The app icon’s design
- The wording — choosing the right keywords/description and what’s new sections
- Useful screenshots
- App reviews.
In a white paper on mobile marketing, reported that “60% of downloads come from organic searches in the app store.” It’s important to get this right.
Friends and family can also play a big role in your big launch. Get 10-12 people involved to help you test and improve on the iterations of your app. As your launch date draws closer, encourage this group to openly discuss their involvement and excitement in the project to hopefully build interest in the launch.
Also try to include relevant influencers in your trial, ideally people you’ve built a relationship with; they can provide not just valuable feedback but also help maximize the social reach of your app’s launch.
Post Launch: Build and Maintain User Engagement
Once your app has been launched, your focus must shift to creating ongoing awareness and engagement.
If you’re really lucky, early adopters will talk about your app and spark the holy grail of marketing: word of mouth. Not only is word of mouth free, referrals are assigned a higher level of trust than promotions you might do directly.
Otherwise, monitor and maintain social media channels, mark milestones with public relations efforts, and engage your users. Look at what competitors are doing and consider how you may improve upon it.
Take note of any marketing you receive from other brands that you think is cool and think about how you could replicate it.
Finally, don’t forget to build your network — both to help promote your app and to learn more about the app development community.
Become known in professional groups whose members may have an interest in your app. Research and attend the most relevant industry networking events and meetups. This is a useful way to find support and feedback for your app.
But there’s also value in networking with other app developers, to learn from people who share the experience of launching their own apps.
The goal of marketing is to ensure your app becomes known to those most interested in using it. As experts say, “Marketing is not just another ingredient in an app’s success. It’s the main one.”