Guide to Marketing Your Mobile App

With over five billion unique users on mobile devices, creating an app opens up a whole new channel through which you can interact with your current and potential customers. But a large audience means even greater competition. 

Here's everything you need to know about marketing your mobile app and becoming visible in the crowded world of mobile apps.

cartoon hand playing with an app with charts in the background
Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Mobile App

What Is Mobile App Marketing?

Mobile app marketing is creating a strategy where your main goal is to attract targeted users to your app at every stage of the marketing funnel — from the moment they hear about your app to the time they become users and turn into loyal customers.

To do this well and effectively, your marketing content must be personalized and highly strategic.


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How Do You Market an App?

Marketing a mobile application is a complex process that entails many steps and covers multiple angles from which you generate demand for your application.

We’ll delve into more details in later sections, so for now familiarize yourself with the basic setup for how to market an app:

Define your target audience 

Having an idea of who your app is for is the best place to start. If you can't describe your target audience aka the user persona, it’ll be tough marketing your app to them. When you know your target audience, you can be precise and effective in your marketing efforts.

A user persona should paint a picture of your ideal target customer. This will help you craft the app marketing strategy so that it resonates best with your prospects.

The key characteristic of every user persona is the pain point and challenge the customer is facing. These two should be top of mind when creating your user persona.

Besides these two, try to answer these questions:

  • What platforms do your target customers use (Android, iOS, or both)?
  • What kind of content does your user persona consume and engage with online?
  • Can you leverage any influencers that are popular among your target app users?
  • Is your user persona likely to make in-app purchases for premium content/features? Or maybe your monetization will be more ads-based?
  • Which channels are most effective for marketing purposes? Consider both paid and organic (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin).
  • How should you communicate with your audience? What is their preferred tone of voice and style?

Remember, a lot of answers to these questions will initially be assumptions. As you experiment with your marketing strategy, these hypotheses will be verified.

Research your competitors 

App marketing is not just about knowing your audience. It's also about knowing what your competitors have been doing. Market research and competitor research will help you discover successful strategies and avoid costly failures.

Watching your competitors closely will give you plenty of insight about which channels to use and the type of messaging to draw inspiration from. Watch your competitors, make notes, and use this data to make your mobile app marketing efforts even more successful. 

The most successful apps in the stores are those that address the most common user needs. For example, Zoom or Google Meet — aka the most downloaded apps in 2020 during the pandemic — fulfilled the need for convenient remote communication for personal and professional purposes.

So you could orient your marketing message around a specific and current problem. Raise awareness through marketing content and then drive demand.

Colorful boards with apps icons sorted by worldwide downloads in 2020
Top non-game apps by downloads for 2020. Source: Sensor Tower 

Create a landing page

A landing page allows users to learn more about your app on mobile web and desktop. Use SEO and search intent keywords to attract your users and show them how the app solves their problem.

Landing pages are also a great way for initial app onboarding — you can create a video to let your prospects know what they can expect when they install your app. you can include screenshots on top of demo videos.

Use call-to-action buttons with links to your app in the App Store and Google Play Store.

Start a blog

This is another way to reach your target audience and use SEO to drive traffic to your app. Keep your blog updated and share valuable and unique content on your social media channels. Consider guest blogging to further increase reach.

A good practice is to start blogging and generating organic traffic long before app release. This will increase your app’s traction significantly once you launch.

You might wonder what content to publish. The best content is one that drives awareness about a problem — the problem your target audience is facing. These can be whitepapers, reports, videos, case studies, articles. Cover all verticals of the problem.

Optimize your mobile app’s product page

Optimizing your mobile app’s product page is a fundamental step in every app marketing strategy. Think about the title, design a catchy icon, and use screenshots that convey the app's selling points and benefits.

You never know what will trigger the customer to install your app, but doing the groundwork will give you extra points.

We’ll dive into a little bit more detail about product page optimization on app stores later.

Promote on social media

Social media marketing can have a huge impact on the popularity of your app. When you're thoughtful about what content you share on social media and distribute it to qualified prospects via both organic and a bit of targeted advertising, you can increase your traffic significantly.

Don’t go for all social media channels available, though. Start with three major ones (Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin) and verify which generate the most users for your app over time.

Contact influencers

Look for influencers that your target audience follows. Contact them for a possible partnership (e.g., by sponsoring their podcasts). An honest review from an influencer on their social media channels can give your app lots of traction.

How Do I Get More Users for My App?

App Store Optimization (ASO) is the key to making your app rank higher in the App Store and Google Play search results.

Search results on mobile application marketplaces work just like browsing web search results — keywords and relevance will drive traffic to your app's product page, helping move your mobile app up in your app’s category.

If your app is at the bottom of search results, very few people will try it.

Here’s how you should optimize your app store page for effective App Store 

Optimization results:

Craft appealing and relevant:

  1. App title — make it short and simple
  2. App subtitle — use it to explain what the app is for
  3. Description — focus on features and the unique offer your app brings to your users. Remember about keywords.
  4. Assign an appropriate category to improve discoverability

More on optimizing for the App Store.

Detailed instructions for optimization on Google Play.

Green and blue themed phones with App store and Google Play icons titled The impact of ASO
The Impact of ASO. Source: Store Maven

Beyond textual optimization, your ASO efforts should also include ensuring app users leave ratings and reviews. Whether positive or negative, always respond to reviews and be helpful whenever users experience any problems.

Last but definitely not least are app downloads. While all of your ASO efforts combined will download rates, including preview videos and high-quality screenshots are a great way to help convince the unconvinced to download your app.

Tip: Run A/B tests to figure out which ASO creatives have the best efficacy.

Don’t get discouraged when you won’t see results immediately. It takes time to increase the visibility of your mobile app.

Which Types of Marketing Strategies Work for Mobile App Marketing?

App marketing strategies can include a variety of tactics. The goal of every strategy is to chisel out what works and what doesn’t for your app and in your context. The competition is fierce, so stay vigilant and experiment. Don’t let complacency creep in because what works and generates users today doesn’t have to be effective tomorrow.

Interactive marketing

It’s the marketing strategy that encourages active participation between the consumer and marketers. It makes the customer feel that they are being treated as an individual rather than a number or part of an undefined demographic.

Personal marketing messaging is one of the key elements of interactive marketing. A good example of this is putting a customer’s name in all personalized marketing materials (e.g., emails).

Also, when a customer signs in to an e-commerce app, increase the personal touch by displaying their name on the main screen along with product recommendations.

Customer-centric marketing relies on data collection and analysis to personalize messaging and offer accurate product recommendations.

Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a collection of tactics designed to help you reach your customers through various channels and content types.

  1. Website content and design
  2. Content marketing
  3. Social media
  4. Blogging
  5. Video/podcasting
  6. Paid advertising
  7. Sponsorships

Account based marketing (ABM)

While most marketing strategies focus on building a wide net to bring in a large number of potential users, one of the most effective strategies in terms of getting quality customers that retain is account based marketing (ABM).

In an ABM strategy, you build a list of prospects that are most likely to convert into a buying customer. Once you have a list, you target these prospects with personalized campaigns and marketing materials.

The key is to craft content that is built based on an in-depth understanding of target customers (or accounts).

You can use tools such as Clearbit or Metadata to scrape data about your target audiences and build prospect lists. These tools also let you run campaign experiments and use analytics to check the efficacy of each effort.

Keep in mind that ABM isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution and might not be the best for marketing every mobile application. In fact, most marketers recommend doing ABM when you have an enterprise-grade product that goes over $150,000 per contract.

Undercover marketing

Also known as "stealth marketing," undercover marketing is a great alternative to traditional marketing. It uses creativity and original thinking, and it tends to be cheaper than the other marketing strategies.

It’s nothing more than advertising to a person without them realizing they are being advertised to. For example, by using a sticker or QR code on objects or in places where potential users are likely to experience a problem your app is solving.

Stealth marketing example. Source: Delnext

Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the most effective means of communication. You can build a mailing list to:

  • send out regular updates to users about new features
  • inform users about promotional offers
  • get in touch to keep prospects warm

Personalized email marketing helps increase retention and engagement. You can use email marketing to build relationships with all types of users, from prospects to leads and loyal customers. 

What makes email marketing stand out as a communication channel is that it’s an opt-in medium — your marketing message gets to people who have agreed to receive it.

How Can I Promote My Mobile App? Preparing the Marketing Strategy

App promotion is a weapon you can use to successfully stand out in the market. Open Google Play or Apple App Store or even Facebook and you will see why — there are millions of apps waiting to be downloaded.

To succeed in these crowded places, you need to create demand by raising awareness. And you have to convince your prospective users that your app can solve a problem they have. 

There are many different ways to promote your app both offline and online. You can increase awareness through marketing campaigns that include a mix of all these five marketing strategies:

  • Interactive marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Account based marketing
  • Undercover marketing
  • Email marketing

Promotion begins once you prepare a marketing strategy with processes that cover all the channels through which you can obtain users. Your marketing strategy should be a framework for future communication with your users. Based on that framework, you’ll be building marketing campaigns that help you achieve specific marketing goals.

An app campaign is just one building block in the marketing strategy of your product. So before you create a campaign, make sure you have a defined and thoughtful high-level plan regarding processes and decisions that cover your brand as a whole.

A marketing campaign is a targeted operation that helps you attain defined deliverables that fit in with the app marketing strategy. In other words, a marketing strategy will help you plan and execute app campaigns that bring expected results.

What Are the Things to Consider Before You Launch an App Campaign?

Once you have a high-level framework for your marketing strategy, it’s time to build and launch campaigns to promote your app.

Here are the things to consider before crafting mobile app marketing campaigns.

Define your goals

Every marketing campaign should be designed with specific goals in mind. All actions, decisions, and processes within will depend on what it is you want to achieve.

Examples of marketing goals for mobile apps:

  • Increase active and engaged users
  • Improve in-app sales
  • Gain brand advocates
  • Increase customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • Boost brand awareness

Do your research

Make sure to precede every app campaign with in-depth research. There are over a million apps in the app stores, so it's important to know as much as possible about your prospective customers and your competitors.

Campaigns should be targeted and specific, so it’s good to use recent insights about the industry to craft marketing messaging.

Most successful apps get new features every 3-6 weeks — you can build campaigns around those releases to attract more users. 

Analyze your KPIs and measure them

One of the best ways to measure the success of your marketing strategy and campaigns is to observe KPIs. KPIs will also be tied in with your app’s performance.

Here are the basic KPIs you should be measuring:

  • Retention rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per install
  • Daily, weekly, and monthly users
  • Active users
  • Stickiness rate
  • Churn ratio

If you see an increase in active users or an increase in downloads after campaigns, pair your findings with stats from different marketing channels and tools to figure out which elements were the most successful.

It takes time to refine your marketing efforts and tailor your campaigns so that they resonate with your target audience. You’ll need to sift out what works and eliminate what doesn’t with every subsequent campaign.

How Can I Promote My App for Free?

It's no secret that marketing your app can require a significant investment, both in time and money, but there are a few tricks you can follow to minimize your mobile app promotion expenses. 

Engage your users

It's important to understand what your users feel after launching your app. Ask them for feedback. Solicit app reviews (try to collect the positive ones but don’t shy away from responding to negative reviews). App reviews and your responses are a magnet for users — by replying and being helpful you show that you care and are engaged.

Support a cause

Then think about a cause you’d like to support. Use your channels to speak up — raise awareness about a problem. Consider pledging a percentage of sales to that cause.

Supporting a cause is a great way to do three things at the same time: help someone, build a strong brand based on values, and attract users. If your app is in a heavily competitive category, standing out by supporting a cause adds your brand an individual style and unique meaning.

Help others

Not everything you do needs to be monetized. Share your resources with those who need them most. Your activities might lend you better brand awareness and lead to higher app downloads.

Give discounts

Nothing works better than free or discounted stuff. Set up discounts on certain days to boost higher downloads. Give something to those who refer your app to others. Build strong loyalty programs to support retention. Include discount campaigns in your mobile app revenue strategy.

Interact with your social circle

Share your app on your Facebook profile, talk to your friends and family. Research shows that most people discover new apps from friends and family and app store browsing. So get the wheels rolling by simply being vocal about your product.

Blue themed board with methods of app discovery
Top methods of app discovery. Source: Think with Google

Browse online groups

Word of mouth marketing is becoming an effective channel for online promotion. For your product to generate good user acquisition through online groups, it needs to be able to solve a tangible problem.

People on Linkedin or Reddit groups often exchange information about valuable and useful tools for achieving specific goals. You can find groups that bring together users from your target demographic. Never spam these groups or try to be salesly — the key is to offer genuine help.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment and Refine Your App Marketing Strategy Based on Results

Everyone wants to make sure their app picks up on the market, but launching is just the beginning. Your marketing efforts should evolve alongside your app. As you launch more marketing campaigns, you’ll learn more and more about your target audience, which will help you become more effective over time. It's not easy and it requires commitment, but it's worth it.

For support and ideas about your product and marketing, you can join groups such as App Entrepreneurs and Marketers, Mobile Marketing Experts, App Business Entrepreneurs, or BluecloudSelect.

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