Whether you are making a traditional mobile app or an iOS / Android game, marketing strategy is a crucial step on the way to success. Read these ultimate tips and learn how to market your mobile applications.
With over 50 billion downloaded apps from the App Store, a perfect marketing strategy is a must. Your market competition is huge, promotion budgets are getting bigger and old fashioned banner ads are worth nothing.
Whether you are an indie developer or bigger publishing house, you need to get creative and use as many mobile app marketing channels as possible.
Let’s assume you have a clear idea of your upcoming mobile or tablet application. If you don’t, we have talked a bit about market research in a previous article called How to make an iPhone or Android mobile app. Successful marketing is a long-term process full of creativity and planning throughout whole development cycle from pre-production phase to post-release and every of these stages has its own specific channels and marketing tools which work in synergy.
1. Pre-production and production phase marketing
Big names in the mobile industry always start their marketing activities a few months prior to the official release. For example, Rovio started the Bad Piggies campaign six months before the game was launched.
You can watch Matt Wilson (Sr. Manager of Publishing in Rovio) talking about Bad Piggies mobile app marketing strategy in this video talk from the Casual Connect conference in Kyiv. But let’s talk about specific communication channels you can use during pre-production phase.
A well-designed microsite with basic information about your upcoming application is a must-have. I highly recommend to include also an email subscribe field with clearly explained benefits to your potential future users. For example, you can provide them with a discount or exclusive content for subscribing into your list. Email marketing is still one of the strongest communication tools and you can achieve a huge amount of initial installs just by notifying your subscribers.
If you have no real content which can be used on the microsite for now, just use a simple subscribe form. As your development continues, you can add screenshots, video trailer, press kit, forums, social media links, etc. Also, don’t forget to mention your release date and supported platforms. Below, you can see an example of a teasing microsite for our new game TrainStation. For more beautiful examples of mobile app landing pages, click here.
Rich blog content is useful for driving additional traffic to your microsite. Maybe you already have some kind of personal or corporate blog with regular articles. Don’t hesitate to use it and cover different aspects of your upcoming app – talk about a problem you want to solve or new game mechanics you are going to use.
You can easily set up a new blog on WordPress or Tumblr platform. It’s free, Here is a list of Free WordPress Hosting that you can create your blog easily!
Social media presence is not a question. In the mobile app business you simply need it. Set up a Facebook page and Twitter account for regular information stream to your future customers or players and place Like and Follow buttons on your microsite. Keep posting updates, new screenshots and other information related to your app.
Also, set up a YouTube channel where you are going to upload a video trailer or various behind-the-scenes videos.
Add your microsite’s URL into your video channel description to increase SEO link juice for your microsite. Be active on Reddit, answer questions on Quora or talk on LinkedIn. But don’t spam!
There are plenty of opportunities out there to join forum conversations and threads in your topic. Try Macworld or Ars Technica forums or TouchArcade for games. Many other websites from our list of mobile game review sites have forums too.
Press release and early buzz
If your upcoming app is interesting enough, don’t hesitate to publish an early press release. Maybe you have a unique solution for another first-world problem or your next game will create a whole new game concept. Don’t give up when journalists ignore you since they receive a truckload of new emails every day. Small things matter and next time your name will sound more familiar to them.
Screenshots and videotrailer
The picture is worth a thousand words. Shiny screenshots on your microsite and social media channels usually build a strong engagement rate with many shares and likes. Another option is to send exclusive screenshots to your email subscribers first. On social media, ask people to share your content.
You don’t need to be a huge game studio to produce a spectacular video trailer. All you need is a little bit of creativity, invention and time. Just look at the trailer below.
Also, in the production phase, you should be already getting ready for a big launch. Start contacting your future user acquisition and mobile app marketing partners. Two weeks or even one month before your planned release is too late. Don’t underestimate this step and be ready when the time comes.
2. App release marketing
In this phase, you are going to take steps with a direct impact on your application success. Burst install effect is very important during launch – the more installs you have, the higher your chart positions will be. For example, in the US App Store, you need almost 40k downloads per day to break into TOP25 overall free apps. But keep in mind this Distimo’s chart is over a year old!
Everything needs to be perfectly prepared and planned. Saving money on things as promotional graphics or copywriting is a failure. Your microsite is already running and full of detailed information about your awesome app and your social media channels are buzzing in expectations of spectacular release. So let’s move further!
App Store Optimization
Whether you are going to publish your mobile application on iOS App Store or Android Google Play, basics are the same. App Store Optimization (ASO) is basically SEO for mobile apps in a particular store.
The main goal of ASO is to increase your discoverability and install rate in mobile apps universe so your potential customers can find you easily.
The whole process is similar to standard SEO. You need to choose proper keywords, tags, description copywriting, language localization and so on.
However, allowing your customer to find you is just the first half of this process – you need to persuade him to install your application. So you better prepare a really shinning application icon, description, and screenshots.
App icon is the first thing your future customer sees, tho many developers still underestimate its importance. For illustration, a game called Trainz Driver increased the number of its install 20 times just by changing the icon.
You can also use tools like App Annie, Distimo or AppCodes to improve your search rankings.
Now let’s take advantage of your email database full of waiting customers. Prepare an exceptional newsletter template with a design similar to your mobile app graphic style.
Use service like Campaign Monitor, MailChimp or Aweber to A/B test your emails with different subject lines and choose the one with the best performance. Include native “Available on App Store” and “Android app on Google Play” buttons and be sure to optimize your email template for mobile and tablet devices.
Don’t forget to test your email before sending so it won’t end up in spam folders. Coordinate your sending with other communication channels as mobile ads or cross-promotion services to maximize the initial burst effect.
Free App Promotion Services
For a long time, services like Free App a Day, App O Day or App Gratis were able to provide a huge amount of initial burst downloads and boost your rankings.
However, Apple stepped against these companies and the biggest player App Gratis is already a history. Others will probably follow, as their business model is against Apple’s Terms of service.
There are various mobile advertising platforms for driving new installs to your fresh apps. Extraordinary well-performing recently is Facebook which provides really cheap user acquisition with its Mobile App Installs Ads placed in News feed. Other networks worth mentioning are iAds, AdMob or Mojiva.
These networks are based on performance advertising model so you only pay for real clicks or installs. Don’t worry and test all of them – it’s cheap and you can find a valuable source of new users. Advanced marketers will also try various retargeting and affiliate networks.
You can easily buy ads in other apps from the same industry. Don’t hesitate to contact other developers directly and ask them for in-app banner exchanges. In-game industry, there are even specialised services for such kind of deals – platforms as ChartBoost, PlayHaven or TapJoy are on the rise.
They work on similar bid performance model as traditional mobile ads but with much higher click through rates. See an example of Chartboost in-game banner below.
Cross-promotion also works as monetization mechanism – if your app or game has a decent amount of traffic you can easily earn some money by offering advertising space for others.
Creativity has no limits. You can negotiate special deals with various companies from your industry to get additional support. For example, if you are publishing a shopping application then try to partner with local supermarkets.
Offer them premium positions in exchange for your promotion in theirs stores. Or if you are developing a game on Adobe AIR platform don’t hesitate to contact Adobe directly and ask for support. Maybe they will mention you in their next press release as an example of a technology solution.
3. Post-release mobile app marketing
First days and weeks of your mobile app’s lifecycle will reveal many imperfections. Don’t give up! Keep updating it, add a new content regularly, get a decent monetization model and try to acquire new users. Keep blogging, tweeting, posting on social media. Do a special press release after you hit a 10k or 100k of downloads.