So what makes an app successful?
Having a clearly defined target market can count as one. Overall great product design, usability, and tangible user value can come as number two. Clean, neat code is number three. And efficient app marketing is the cherry on top.
You may build the best mobile app out there, but it won’t market itself sadly.
So you can guess what this guide is all about? Yes, we’ll show you how to create an effective app marketing strategy from scratch and without blowing your budgets.
Build up the anticipation and a solid fan base even before your product is completed. For startups, pre-launch app marketing is also a great way to validate the concept and gather additional market insights for an investor pitch.
Prepare Promo Materials
Now, before any app marketing magic begins, make sure you have a well-polished press kit, which includes the following:
- Crispy app screenshots and additional graphical materials e.g. logos, App Store/Google Play screenshots etc.
- Snappy product description outlining the key features.
- Key facts about your company and founders.
- Contact details and social media links the journos can use to outreach.
- Video walk-through/trailer/teaser (optional).
P.S. If you choose to partner with Alty developers, the promo pack comes as part of the app design deal 😉
Create A List of Outreach Contacts
Publicity will drive your app’s user base growth, that’s a no-brainer. But how do you get it without hiring a bunch of expensive PR reps? Here’s a smart growth hack for this:
- Head to Google News and look for people, who have previously covered your product niche and or similar products. Make sure that this wasn’t a one-off piece.
- Use Google News Downloader (courtesy of Customer Dev Labs) to convert those search results into a neat spreadsheet.
- Next, you can either hire a VA/Data Entry assistant to refine your list and find all the journos contact details or DIY this.
- In the meantime, prep your outreach email. It shouldn’t sound all so professional like the majority of corporate PRs, as journalists are sick and tired of those. Style it more like a short elevator pitch for your product clearly outlining its value, uniqueness, and key features.
- Finally, before the day X (aka your launch or pre-launch date), start pitching it to all the contacts.
Kendal Backer, journalist at the Hustle made a great list of tips on how to pitch the press. Some key don’ts:
- Don’t pitch multiple people within the same outlet.
- Don’t make it all about you and your product, but state the potential value for the publisher as well.
- Don’t send out crappy formatted, obviously recycled PRs to everyone.
- Don’t outreach before you’ve done your homework and clearly, know that the person is covering your niche.
Get Some Beta Testers on Board
Early adopters and beta testers can become your earliest product evangelist and word-of-mouth marketers.
You can put a call on your website for a start. In fact, you can build up the engagement and anticipation even further using the next app marketing strategy:
- Create a beta/early bird waitlist with an opt-in email form on your website.
- Send out a custom URL to everyone who signed up and ask them to share it with their friends.
- The URL should be tractable. Along with it set up a series of email autoresponders notifying the owner whenever anyone signs up through their invite as well.
- Once they lead the required amount of sign ups, grant them the access to your product beta version.
If you don’t want to experiment with this growth hack, you can always find eager app testers at Erli Bird community.
Mine Mo’ Feedback Through Online Communities
Great products quickly become popular products.
So, to kill two birds with one stone – aka gather first-hand user feedback and spread the word about your upcoming launch – get your app listed at the following app review sites:
- Launch Sky – if you’d like to validate your product idea or MVP and scope the audience interest.
- Pre Apps is a popular app testing and review community to list your product and receive instant feedback.
- TestFlight (acquired by Apple) makes it simple to invite users for testing your iOS product. HockeyApp is a similar app for Android user testing.
Additionally, you may draw attention to your product pre-launch and beta version by listing it on Product Hunt, in relevant Reddit Communities and on Hacker News (that’s where Dropbox famously took off). Or you can keep those in store for post-launch.
So the big day is finally here. You are opening your app to the world and releasing it both on your site and App Store/Google Play.
Quick checklist before you hit submit:
- Proofread all your copies.
- Mind the timing. For App Store the submission review process is currently 1-3 days. For Android apps on Google Play – less than a day.
- Gather and feature some testimonials from beta users to backup the key app features.
- Make sure you’ve claimed your name on various social media networks and have at least some activity there.
- If you’ve placed an embargo on your story, message the journos and notify them about the product release.
Here are some more post-launch app marketing strategies worth deploying:
App Store Optimization Tips
The latest research claims that roughly half the users discover apps through searching directly at the app stores:
Here’s how you can make sure that your app gets discovered:
Research and Use Relevant Keywords
- Here’s a nifty keyword tool to help you discover popular user searches in your niche. Or use Google Keyword Planner Tool.
- Apple allows you to include keywords for up to 100 characters total and up to 50 characters for the titles after the latest update.
- Google Play allows only 30 characters in app titles, yet up to 4,000 characters within the app description.
- Go descriptive as part of your iPhone app marketing strategy – list your app brand name, then the most highly searched keyword and afterwards additional description within your title.
For Instance: Cool App Name – Buy Plane Tickets for the most affordable prices and compare the best flight deals!
- Spice up your app descriptions with relevant keywords. It worth analyzing your competition as well to gather the best keyword ideas.
Secondary Ranking Factors:
- Number of downloads: the more – the higher the app ranks.
- Number of ratings and reviews – obviously the 5-star ones have more weight in this case.
P.S. We have a separate guide covering App Store Optimization best practices.
Email Marketing Strategies
So the second key app discovery factor – family and friends recommendations. And you can tap into this communication channel through email.
Here are some worthy email marketing strategies for mobile apps:
Email Your Waiting/Beta List Fans
Once the app is live, notify everyone on the list and ask them to leave a positive review in case they’ve already tried and enjoyed it or share their comments privately.
Send Out a Walk Through Email
For those, who didn’t have a chance to play with your app yet, send out an email explaining how to use your product and what are the key features. Bonus point if you make it as a video. (I’ll explain why in just a moment).
Include Links To Your Email Signature
Your email signature is a valuable piece of web real estate. Why shouldn’t you use it to promote your new app?
Try The Samuel L. Jackson Hack
This one’s courtesy of Noah Kagan.
Do the heavy lifting for your users and make recommending a product real’ simple. Include a Mail to: sharing link on your app landing page and write the email copy for them!
Now, the user will only have to add the recipient’s’ address and click send! The easier it is to take certain action – the more likely it will be taken.
Marketing Your App in Online Communities
Okay, so you’ve heard the rumors – Reddit and Hacker News make products go viral.
Yet, things aren’t as simple as just posting a link there. You see these communities have a somewhat closed ecosystem with a pre-defined etiquette. Rule number one – shameless self-promotion gets you banned.
So, what do you do instead?
- Ask an established member to submit your announcement (not the product page).
- Tell a story instead of pitching a sale. See what’s at the top at r/startup to get a better idea about the right type of content.
- Market your supporting materials (e.g. walk-through video, infographics or blog posts rather than the app directly)
Product Hunt is another popular place to score for free traffic and exposure. Some rules do apply here too:
- Ask a top PH user to share your product. Here’s a good place to hunt for those.
- You can’t ask people directly to upvote your submission (or it will get banned)
- Email as many people as possible about your post on PH
- To succeed it’s crucial to attract at least 50 upvotes within an hour after publishing your product.
- The timing matters a lot. Get hunted early in the day as that would mean more exposure till the PH algorithms are wiped clean at midnight.
Obviously, there are much more ways to market app and move your business further. This guide has covered the essentials to give your product a solid start.
And if you don’t have a product just yet, Alty team would be delighted to help you bring your idea to life!