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Last update: August 2020

8 mins to read - 2020/08/28

The Mobile App Marketing Blueprint: 21 Strategies to Market Your App

Creating a mobile app may seem like a daunting task. And developing the code and pulling off a successful launch is only the beginning of the work. For an app to be impactful – and profitable – it needs users. And in order to attract and retain users, you will need a robust and long-term mobile app marketing strategy. As of the beginning of 2020, there are 8.9 million mobile apps worldwide, with over 1,000 new apps being added to the App Store daily. That’s a ton of competition.

If you want your app to reach users on the App Store and Google Play, you can’t expect to launch the working app and then kick back and watch the number of downloads rise. Instead, you will have to commit to regular updates to keep it relevant, and ongoing promotion for your app. Let your prospective users know how your app will change their life, and how it will do it better than all of your competitors.

A strong marketing strategy will exist on multiple different fronts, and will use various different tools to connect with prospective users. This means email, SMS, push notifications, customer reviews… marketing is an ever-changing industry, and marketers are always creating new ways to reach out to users. For those building a mobile app marketing strategy from scratch, here is a blueprint of must-have tactics.

mobile app marketing basics

#1 Develop a great app

This one may be a cop-out as a list item, but its importance can’t be understated. You can have the best mobile app marketing in the biz, but that’s all worthless if your app doesn’t grab people. So make sure your code is sound, with regular updates to work out bugs and glitches. Make sure the user interface is smooth and intuitive. Most of all, ensure that your users are having the best experience possible with your app, whether it’s a mobile game or a monthly budgeting app.

Word of mouth is the best marketing there is… and it’s free!

#2 App Store Optimization (ASO)

Just as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a strategy for helping your website rank higher on browser search engines like Google, App Store Optimization (ASO) helps your mobile app gain traction on the App Store and Google Play. There are plenty of tricks of the trade to inform how you optimize your app’s name, title icon, and screenshots. Metrics such as download rate, click-through rate, and uninstall rate all affect your app store ranking.

Make sure you choose a keyword to rank for that sums up the concept of your app, with a high search volume among your target user base. Then, make sure you share your app with app review websites so they can boost your ASO with backlinks to your app store page.

#3 Get Free Visibility by Guest Blogging

Speaking of SEO strategies, guest blogging is a surefire way to build interest in your app. It’s a simple strategy, in which you pitch a blog or website with an offer of a guest post you could write them which would mention your app and include a link to your app store page. It’s a win-win situation. You get word of your app out to the blog’s readers, and the blog gets free content.

However, it can be a bit trickier than that. Quality content takes time and skill to write. And hitting that sweet spot of pitching a blog with a domain authority and readership high enough to benefit you, but not so high that they will turn up their nose at your offer of free content, can be difficult.

mobile app marketing screenshots instagram spotify
Image Source: Screenshots from Instagram and Spotify mobile apps

#4 High-Quality App Screenshots

A picture is worth a thousand words. You may have strong, concise copy describing what your app does for its App Store listing, but nobody will download your app if the user interface doesn’t look sleek and professional.

Make sure you hire a professional designer for the layout of your app, someone who understands what aesthetic will offer the best UX for your target user.

#5 Get Online Review Websites to Cover Your App

Professional reviewing websites are the #1 resource people use when researching an app to download. This means it’s crucial that you get your app reviewed by one of these app authorities. Get some buzz going. And don’t think that getting a few reviews out just before your launch is enough. You want people to be talking and reading about your app long-term, so make sure you have a steady stream of reviews, keeping your app fresh in people’s minds.

#6 Have a Stellar Push Notification Campaign

This should go without saying, but we really aren’t exaggerating when we say push notifications are the heartsblood of your mobile app. They’re what keep users coming back again and again. Push notifications not only recommend your app to the user, but a good notification SDK has the ability to leverage user data from their mobile device to make sure you’re sending them the exact notification – and at the exact moment – that they’re most likely to click on.

When taking into account a user’s schedule and habits, push notifications sent at the right time can boost click-through rate up to 68% when compared to generic notifications.

For some tips on putting your push notifications to good use, check out our article: Top 30 Best Practices for Push Notifications in 2020

#7 Cross-App Installs

Another advantage of push notifications is that, since they send a message directly to your user’s device lockscreen, they’re the most direct way of recommending an app. OpenBack is the only push notification platform that offers a cross-app install feature. It allows you to check to see which apps your user has downloaded. You can them send them an invitation via push notification to download a particular app – perhaps another app you have recently launched, or the app of a partnering company.

To learn more about cross-app installs, read our blog post: OpenBack Enables Cross-App Installs for Your Mobile Ecosystem

#8 Apply for App Awards

Another great way to build hype and get your name out there is to apply for app awards. This can give both your app visibility and download rates a huge bump. Even if you don’t win, being able to brag that you were longlisted or in any way considered for a prize can earn you extra attention in reviews.

Check out the Best Mobile Apps Awards, to start off with.

#9 Appear as a Guest Speaker

People love to be able to put a face to a name. Sometimes giving live interviews about your vision or mission for your mobile app can be the most effective marketing strategy. And the best thing about live events is that you can field questions from the community in real time. So say yes to that podcast interview. Apply for a seat as a keynote speaker at a conference relevant to your industry. Offer to host an AMA on a platform of your choosing. Anything to reach out to your user base and build a good rapport.

#10 Streamline App Onboarding Process

Onboarding can be a pain point in terms of user retention. If the process is too involved, users may lose interest and churn. To keep this from happening, make sure it’s intuitive and has a positive flow. If there is any personal data a user needs to enter to use the app, allow them to import it from their saved caches of data.

Send new users a notification welcoming them to your app community. If your app is downloaded on an iOS device, send a personalized message inviting them to enable push notifications for your app. If you explain the reasoning behind why notifications will help improve the app experience, users are more likely to enable them.

marketing engagement feedback request

#11 Invite Users to Give Feedback

People love being asked for their opinion. And a lot of good reviews on the app store are integral to building a good rapport with prospective users. Most users won’t make the first move to leave a review (unless they absolutely hated your app), so the onus is on you to reach out.

Send them a push notification asking if they are enjoying the app: Yes or No? If they select Yes, a deep link will send them to the app store, where they can leave a positive review to boost your app’s ASO rankings. If they select No, that will direct them to a feedback service in-app, where they can privately air their grievances.

#12 Resolve Negative Feedback Issues Promptly

In many ways, negative feedback can be just as useful as positive feedback. If the user is offering legitimate criticism, that is effectively market research on how you can improve your app. Have a customer service agent address any public negative reviews of your app. Respond to them politely, thank them for their feedback, and assure them that their issue will be fixed.

#13 Real-World Rewards for App Usage

If you find users are lagging and you want to drum up some enthusiasm fast, try incentivizing users to download your app. Think strategies like sweepstakes, freebies, and more. New users can have their name entered into a raffle for a prize, with their entries boosted for every friend they get to download your app. Or mobile games can reward new users with a cache of in-game currency.

This only works if you have the budget and resources upfront for such a move. And obviously it’s not a long-term solution. But if you want a huge surge of users right off the bat, this can be a UA quick fix. Just make sure your app retains enough of these new users to justify the acquisition cost.

mobile app marketing strategies discounts

#14 Send Users In-App Discounts and Coupons

Along a similar line of thinking, reward users and draw them back into the app by sending thaem discounts and coupons via push notification. These can be customized to fit the purpose of any app that has an in-app retail page. If you have an eCommerce app, the use case is obvious. However, any product, service, or experience that you sell is fair game. Offer a 15% discount on cosmetic additions for your mobile game, or offer a coupon for a trial period of a higher-tier subscription.

Send this discount early on in the user lifecycle, to get your user in the habit of making purchases often.

#15 Take Advantage of Facebook Groups

Facebook is indispensable in any marketing campaign. However, most brands aren’t using the platform to its fullest potential. In addition to opting for paying for targeted ads, it’s also possible to join Facebook groups that relate to your app. Then, get in touch with the administrators of that group to ask if they will mention your app in shared posts. You could offer them various incentives (discounts for your app product, free downloads, etc.) to sweeten the deal.

#16 Validate Your App Distribution Channels

This means analyzing and assessing the platforms you use to spread awareness of your mobile app, as well as other marketing channels. Which channels are earning your app the most awareness and traffic? For example, Facebook and Twitter accounts for your mobile game may get you the most engagement with posts, while your Twitch account only has a fraction of the followers that these larger social media platforms do. However, your Twitch followers may be more likely to actually to follow through and download your app.

#17 Choose Your Revenue Model

In a world with nearly 9 million mobile apps, there are a variety of revenue models for you to choose from. Some apps require an upfront fee before download, but more an more apps – particularly mobile games – are going the “freemium” route and finding ways to monetize along the way.

Depending on the purpose of your mobile app, different monetization techniques may work best. For example, interrupting gameplay with ads is the primary tactic for hyper-casual games. Other types of mobile apps depend strongly on in-app purchases (IAPs). Others offer different tiers of subscriptions to offer a more premium app experience to users willing to pay for it. (Think Fortnite’s Battle Pass.) And of course, it’s possible to combine all of these monetization tactics, but you have to predict how much disruption of app usage your users will tolerate.

For more tips on mobile game monetization tactics, read our blog post: Monetization Strategies in F2P (Free-to-Play) Games

#18 Engage With Audience Manually on Social Media

Sometimes the best marketing can be a good rapport built organically over time with users. This means engaging with followers on your social media accounts – answer their questions and pose some of your own. Invite them to live events, AMAs with the developers, and post teasers for upcoming content.

And this is not just for official Facebook and Twitter accounts. Search out fan accounts on Reddit, Quora, and other digital forums where you community gather to talk about your app. Get chatting with prospective users and drum up some good press!

#19 Run a Competition or Contest

Words like “winner,” “winning,” and “contest” can create excitement among your app community, and that in itself can boost engagement. Contests can be a way of turbo-charging knock-on marketing, as it incentivizes followers to share your content on their own social media accounts, especially if they’re trying to get their friends to vote for them.

This combines word-of-mouth endorsements, viral marketing, and positive emotions associated with your brand. Just make sure you have a prize that’s worth the hype!

#20 Use a QR Code

QR codes are a great way of piquing someone’s curiosity in the meat-space and then translating that into an app open. Take out a newspaper or magazine ad that introduces your app. Include a QR code for the reader to scan that takes them directly into your app. This essentially takes the first step on the path to downloading for a prospective user. Plus, it can be a fun way to tease users with bonus content, Easter eggs, or upcoming news. If you want to get really involved, set up a series of QR codes and distribute them across various media as a treasure hunt!

#21 Try Alternative App Stores

Without a doubt, the App Store and Google Play are where your app will have the most visibility. In fact, iOS and Android users make up 97% of the mobile operating system market. However, with great market share, comes great competition.

However, alternative app stores are a growing market. And for smaller apps, they may offer a healthy amount of visibility to prospective users, without having to vie against larger competitors. A few alternatives to check out are Slide me and AppBrain.

With all the digital resources at our fingertips, the possibilities for promoting your mobile app and different marketing strategies are endless. Whichever methods you choose, push notifications will be a crucial pillar of your campaign. In a digital age where marketing must be real-time, personalized, and meaningful to the user, push notifications are the best way of achieving all that. They are a method of connecting with your user and keeping them updated on any changes, opportunities, or rewards that are coming their way.

To learn more about how to build a robust mobile engagement campaign, get in touch with one of our experts.

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For our definitive push notification best practices download the OpenBack Mobile Marketing Playbook 2020!

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