Marketing your app is something that needs to be considered as early into the development process as possible. Yes you probably do have a great idea for your app, but unless you get the promotion of it right, it may never get the audience and uptake that it deserves.
Ten Crucial Steps In Creating & Executing A Mobile App Marketing Campaign
Contrary to popular belief, developing and executing successful marketing campaigns for a mobile application begins long before you put your idea into development. Since leaving SEO.com in February, I’ve become quite infatuated with mobile app development and creating demand and downloads for apps. The problem is, many apps are created with “just an idea” so they aren’t nearly as successful as they could be. So in today’s post, I want to discuss the ten steps of creating and executing a killer mobile app marketing campaign.
Once you have your idea for an app fleshed out, the very first thing you should do is create some basic user personas. Very similar to buyer personas, user personas are the individuals who will be potentially using your mobile application. You can’t just put a great idea into an app without thinking through who your users are and how they will use it. Well… you can, but it probably won’t end very well for you 🙂
In defining your user personas, the most important thing you will need to do is identify who they are, what problem your app solves for them, and how they will interact with your app to solve that problem. This will ensure you’ve thought through the process and that you are developing an app that gets used and shared with others.
Now that you have a pretty good idea of how your users will interact with your app to solve their problem, you can officially launch into development. Since this isn’t a community of developers, nor do you likely care about app development, we won’t get into many details, other than this…
When choosing an individual or a company to develop your app for you, know that they need to be the best. You might be tempted to send your development to India or the Philippines to reduce the cost, but don’t. The finished product will most likely not work the way you and your users want/need it to. Do your research, ask to call their clients, and spend the money necessary to create an app that kills it!
Before taking your app to market, you will want to identify and perform outreach to individuals who can beta test your app for you. These individuals should be in line with those you outlined in the user persona process, since they are those who will use your app.
To perform an effective beta test, you will want a few hundred individuals using your app and providing feedback. Because a few hundred people are hard to get, you will likely need to provide an incentive to them to test the app and an additional incentive to provide quality feedback.
You’re probably thinking… I get it… beta test… we all know this. Well, here’s the kicker, once you have a few hundred beta testers (and invested in them), when it’s time to release your app to the general public you will need to leverage these individuals to help promote it and be your advocates. If you’ve produced something of quality that truly solves a problem, you should have no problem getting them to share your app socially, write reviews on their blogs, etc.
Alright, you are through your beta test and dying to take this sucker to market. Don’t; you need to spend some time developing joint venture relationships. This is a critical piece of being able to get massive exposure right when you take your app to market.
For those who are unfamiliar with joint ventures, a joint venture is when you team up with other individuals (website owners, app developers, email list owners, etc) that share a similar user base and leverage their relationships to accelerate growth. If you want to learn more about joint ventures, you should start following Jeff Walker, he is the king of product launches and developing joint ventures.
The one thing you should know about joint ventures is, they are going to cost you money. If you are selling an app say, for $0.99 per install, be ready to give up some of that revenue to your partners. If you are not selling, be ready to pay a pretty penny to gain access to their relationships.
Go To Market
Alright, at this point, I think you’re ready to go to market. Taking your app to market is actually quite simple. First, you’ll need to submit your app to the app store that it was built for (if you have multiple versions, submit to each relevant app store… Apple, Blackberry, Android, etc). The actual optimization of your submission will be covered in the next section. You will also want to make sure you have an optimized landing page on your website making the app available for download. Landing page optimization will also be covered in another section.
App Store Submission & Optimization
App Store Optimization (ASO) can be its own post in and of itself. In fact, there are several authoritative resources online that you can read all about it. I’d recommend reading this post from KISS Metrics and this post from another member of the Moz community.
This is a critical piece of the puzzle because many individuals use app stores to find new apps to meet their unique needs. You need to be found. You should also know that even if you don’t see immediate visibility from your submission, the other methods of generating visibility will only enhance your listing in the app store, so don’t forget this step!
Direct To Consumer Press Release
Despite all of the buzz in the industry about press releases and how they are a waste of time and money, I still believe in them. When written and optimized properly, press releases can rank well for long tail search queries, drive targeted traffic back to your website or your app in the app store and result in more installs.
If you don’t know where to start when writing a press release, the most important thing is that you address the problem at hand and how your app helps consumers solve that problem. Outside of that, here and here are a few good resources to help you maximize the effectiveness of your releases.
App Discovery Publisher Programs
A very powerful tool that I’ve become quite familiar with, as of late, is app discovery also referred to as app recommendation. Did you know there are networks of mobile content and app publishers who want to promote or “recommend” your app to their user base?
With app recommendation, these publishers promote your app within their mobile content and receive a commission (kind of like an affiliate program) when your app is installed on a mobile device. The really cool thing about this is that most of the networks have extremely advanced algorithms that track user behavior and the content they consume and serve up apps related to their interests. This is powerful because it increases the likelihood of your app not only being downloaded, but being used regularly.
Landing Page SEO
Don’t roll your eyes at me people… Believe it or not, we (the human race) still use the search engines to find relevant apps. For example, we took our family to Disneyland a few weeks ago and I used the EVIL Google to find the best app to give us updates on ride wait times. For some reason (I don’t know why), I went to the search engines before I went to the app store. I found the app I wanted to download and then went to the iTunes App Store to download it.
So landing page SEO, I’m not going to rehash it, here is a landing page optimization post by Rand. The one thing I would stress is making sure to clearly define the features, advantages, and benefits of using your particular application and write to your user personas needs.
Ask For Referrals & Make It Easy To Share
Pretty obvious, but not obvious enough for most developers to actually build it into the app, asking for referrals and making it easy to share the app with others from within the application is a fantastic way to fuel growth.
There is nothing wrong to to popup a small banner at the bottom of the app asking if your users like the app and if they’d share it with others. The trick is, make it easy to share from that small popup.
Also, if you’ve been able to capture names and email addresses of your users, you could put together a small email campaign asking them for feedback and to share with others. Remember, if you have a killer app that solves your users problems you should be able to get a high percentage of them to share it with others.
So there’s your ten. Yes, there are other ways to successful market and fuel distribution of a mobile application, but these are some of the most powerful methods I’ve come across as of late.
Greg Shuey is a Digital Strategist who regularly contributes to Moz.com. You can read more of his articles here.