What is Mobile App Marketing?
Mobile app marketing is the practice of spreading awareness of your mobile application, acquiring users and nurturing users throughout their user journey. The aim is to identify and target the ideal users of your application, communicate the value of your app, then persuade them to download and continually engage with your app over time. To productively achieve this, you need to understand the psychographics of your potential users, where they gather, the value your app offers them, communicate that value in a way they are receptive to and anticipate the evolution of their needs over time.
Marketing an app is similar to traditional digital marketing in many ways, but there are some key differences that you need to be aware of. With mobile app specific marketing, you’re not necessarily looking for an individual sale. One of the most common monetization strategies for mobile apps is a SaaS model – essentially, a mobile application is free to use at first, but after a trial period, the user must pay for premium features or continued usage.
As you’re not looking for an upfront sale, your strategies need to be focussed on harbouring long-term relationships. Mobile intelligence company, Quettra, reports that the majority of apps lose 77% of their daily active users by day three, with that figure rising to 95% after 90 days. With those figures in mind, it’s clear that your focus should be on acquisition and retention. If users don’t stick around, your monetization strategy will be inadequate.
What if your mobile app doesn’t operate on a SaaS model? Do you need to bother with mobile app marketing?
Short answer is yes! If your mobile application creates income through in-app purchases (items, points etc), it’s highly valuable to build relationships with your users to create more opportunities to convert them into paying customers.
Even if your app operates on an upfront sales basis, it’s always a good idea to re-engage with your user. Once they have paid for your app upfront, they are more likely to spread the awareness and value of your app to their immediate and external networks. This could of course result in sustainable referred income.
Why is Mobile App Marketing Needed?
It’s predicted that an estimated 2.87 billion people around the world will own a smartphone by 2020. The mobile application market is thriving, but that doesn’t mean every mobile app will be successful; even if it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Back in 2015, during what was known as ‘the year of the mobile’, mobile surpassed desktop by approximately 200,000 users. This exponential growth shows no sign of slowing, and data from a 2017 survey shows that smartphones are trumping tablets, laptops, and desktops globally.
These figures demonstrate how huge the smartphone market is, and as more and more consumers turn to them for their everyday computing needs, the demand for automated and time-efficient solutions grow.
With so many mobile applications developed each year, what determines the success of an app? A fresh, robust and intuitive mobile app used to be enough to acquire thousands of users. But, the game has changed.
Almost every niche has multiple corresponding mobile apps which are viable solutions. Consumers must actively choose which app they’d like to download. Therefore, to successfully acquire users, appreneurs and businesses alike must fight for the attention, brand awareness and trust of potential users. That’s why mobile app marketing is now a necessity.
The Importance of Knowing Your Demographics
Your users are crucial to your business, and without them it would be impossible to have a profitable app. It’s imperative that you put the time and effort into getting to know your demographic. If you don’t, you’ll waste valuable resources and drastically reduce your app’s chances of success.
Some of the key things to consider for your demographic when you’re pulling together your marketing strategy are as follows:
- Interests and lifestyle
- Online Community/Web Presence.
In short, for a marketing strategy to work, it needs to be presented in the language your target audience understands. The communications of your app’s value and purpose need to command attention and inspire action. Finally, your marketing needs to be seen by your target audience right where they gather on and offline.
For example, Snapchat is a great place to target if your demographic is under 20, but you might find Facebook more effective if you want to aim for people in their thirties.
It’s always a good idea to check out who your competitors are talking to and how they’re doing it: chances are, those same tactics will also work well for you.
The best way of doing this is to build multiple user personas, as we discuss in further detail here. This process will ensure that you place as much thought as possible into your users, which will help you to better define the core users who have the highest probability of using your products.
The more time you spend drilling down into your target audience, the more likely you are to gain users, see a healthy return on your marketing budget, and make a profit.
It’s important to remember that your target audiences change over time, so it’s best to keep testing different variations of your ads, try out different social platforms, and mix up the mediums that you use for your content. As any marketer knows, sometimes a company’s greatest ROI will come from a demographic that they didn’t even know existed before starting their marketing campaign. So, when it comes to your app marketing strategy, stay flexible and keep your tactics nimble and agile: you need to be testing, learning, and implementing new strategies at all times.
Mobile App Marketing Strategies To Use in 2019
Here are the best and most effective mobile app marketing strategies for 2019:
1. Focus on One or Two Strategies at a Time
As you probably already realize, there are dozens of marketing techniques that can be applied to apps, and a fair few of them will be perfect for your particular offering. But, when your business is just starting out, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the bandwidth or funds to be able to try them all at once.
The best course of action is to start by focusing on one or two of the methods that seem to have the best chance at success. That way, you can put more effort into making those strategies work, and you’ll have the time to properly track them and analyze the metrics you learn along the way. Once you’ve completed your analysis you’ll be able to see which of the strategies, if any, are working, and ditch the ones that aren’t. For an in-depth article on effectively tracking your marketing efforts, read our Comprehensive App Marketing Guide here.
Once you have some strategies that are working well for you, you can start to add additional channels to your marketing strategy. But don’t do this too soon as you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and achieving half baked results from the channels you attempt.
It’s likely that 80% of your success will come from a single platform, so every channel you attempt deserves your full attention. It’s also important to plan accordingly and not to be surprised if several of your marketing techniques don’t work as well as you’d hoped. This is merely part of the learning process which you iterate over time.
2. Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing (SEO + SEM)
Search Engines index more than 130 trillion pages on the internet which are then matched to user search queries. The aim of search engines is to deliver the most appropriate, relevant, and useful content to the individuals searching for content. With SEO, your aim is to create the content that Google ranks the highest.
It’s a tricky business, though, as there will often be millions of other pages vying for the top ranking spot in your niche. To have a better chance at the top spot, you need to master the four pillars of SEO:
- Authority – this is a measure of trust, which is the most important thing when it comes to ranking. One of the best ways of establishing authority is by having links from quality sites pointing to your site. This tells the search engine that your site has quality resources that other quality websites trust. These links include social network shares.
- Relevance – this measures the quality of your content using natural language learning and artificial intelligence. Your content must be well-written, factual, creative, and utilize keywords in a natural way.
- User Experience – how easy to use is your site? Content needs to be responsive, easy to navigate, and easy to read to rank well in search engines.
- Site Health – does your site contain all required metadata such as page descriptions and image ALT tags? Make sure you’ve also set up permanent redirects and have eliminated broken links.
As explained in greater detail later in the ‘Content Marketing’ section of this article, a single successful article could generate thousands of qualified leads for your businesses for years. However, it’s also a lot of work to get to this point, especially if your business is still wet behind the ears.
Luckily, with Search Engine Marketing, you can opt in for advertisements to run at the top and bottom of search queries. With services like Google Adwords, you can bid on particular keywords such as ‘Cooking App’ which will then list your business as the top first, second or third search result for that keyword. This can be expensive depending on the competition in your industry, but it can reliably attract qualified leads and downloads to your app.
Note: It’s not a great idea to only focus on Google, as oversaturated keywords in their indexes could be more accessible in other search engines like Microsoft Bing. Considering alternative search engines can increase your ROI on SEM and improve profits depending on your monetization strategy.
3. ASO – App Store Optimisation
App store optimization works in a similar way as SEO as the aim is to increase the visibility of your product. App stores rank the most relevant and popular apps at the top of search queries, and your aim is to be one of those apps.
Forresters demonstrate that 63% of apps are discovered through app store searches, so it can make a huge difference to your download numbers if your app performs well and gets noticed by app store indexing.
When looking at ASO, consider the following things:
- Keywords – they work the same way in app stores as they do in search engines, so selecting the correct ones can make a huge difference in your ranking.
- App Page Optimization – does your app’s page contain quality images and videos? Is the description detailed and packed with keywords? All this can really help to bump up your apps rankings in relevant searches.
- Quality of Your App – is it small enough to download easily, and have you tested it to make sure everything works within it? Also, ensure that you’re updating and fixing bugs in your app regularly.
You can read our in-depth article on how to succeed at ASO here. It’s also worth noting that it’s possible to opt in for advertisements to highlight your app for particular keywords searched by users in the app store.
4. Social Media Advertisements
The main benefit of using social media ads is the sheer volume of qualified people you can target. Social sites have huge userships, and they’re willing to sell the possibility of reaching selected users so you can turn some of them into your own customers.
Most of the major social media platforms run advertising campaigns which they blend in with community content as ‘sponsored posts’. Facebook and Instagram add sponsored posts to newsfeeds, YouTube overlays advertisements on the sidebar and at the beginning of monetized videos, and even Pinterest runs featured pins which blend perfectly into users’ boards. Using social media advertising is a simple concept: you pay to get your content seen by more people, so there’s a higher chance of achieving downloads.
When using social sites to advertise, it’s very easy to identify people who match your target demographic. You can go into great detail with this. In additional to targeting specific ages and genders, you can also focus on people with certain interests, incomes or in specific locations. If you’re a UK-based food delivery service, for example, there’s no point in targeting people over 70 in the USA.
You can even retarget people who have previously visited your landing page, which can result in a higher conversion rate. Most sites also have built-in analytics that allows you to see exactly how your ads are performing. Facebook, in particular, does a great job of calculating your return on investment before you even book your ad.
To greater improve your chances of success with social media marketing, consider localizing your content. This includes translating text and changing references so that a specific geographical audience has a better chance of connecting with your content. A personal transport app may create ads which only run in Melbourne, appealing to locals who are having location specific problems such as trying to find a parking space in the CBD. Remember that 72.4% of global consumers prefer to use their native language, so localization can be a very powerful tool.
5. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. Thankfully, it’s also a technique which is compatible with mobile app marketing. Influencer marketing strategy plays on the relationship between a well-known authority in a particular niche and their respective community of followers. Having a trusted figure vouch for your business usually has a much stronger effect than a cold marketing campaign or social advertisement. In fact, in 2018 56% of consumers said that they are influenced by their friends and peers. That’s precisely what influencer marketing seeks to replicate, especially in the micro-scale.
Social media is the place for influencers to get talking about your app, and as discussed earlier in this article, it’s up to you to research which influencers connect with your ideal users. When choosing your influencer it might seem tempting to go for the person with the most subscribers or followers (macro influencers have upwards of 50,000 followers), but it can be much more authentic and effective for your ROI to go with a micro influencer with between 1,000 and 50,000 followers. A micro influencer usually interacts on a deeper personal level than a macro influencer, which can be better for persuading followers to download your app.
Depending on who you choose to work with, influencer marketing can be a fairly cheap way of advertising your product. Test out various influencers and keep an eye on their engagement and whether or not they run other sponsored posts. Getting these relationships right can bring you great success with your specific niche audience. And, marketers know it: 39% of professionals surveyed by Linqia said that they planned to increase their influencer marketing budget in 2018.
6. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the practice of providing valuable, interesting or helpful content which builds brand presence, authority and consumer trust.
To create a successful content marketing campaign you will need to determine what your audience searches for, what they’re interested in, and what information they might require.
Content marketing covers the following facets:
- Articles and blogs
- Videos, webinars, and web shows
- Free Guides and ebooks
- Statistic and industry reports
Content marketing, when done correctly, can produce fantastic results for your company, which is why 60% of marketers create at least one piece of content each day. Keeping up a constant level of engagement will strengthen your relationship with potential users and enhance your business’s trustworthiness.
This tactic can turn cold users with no prior knowledge of your product or company into potential customers. It’s also the best way to get your demographic into the awareness stage and then into the download stage quickly and efficiently.
When it works, content marketing is fast and cheap, and can organically deliver you thousands of leads without a large financial outlay. Remember, though, that you’ll probably need some help from an SEO strategist to create the right content and to be seen by the right people.
Content marketing is not a guaranteed win though, and sometimes you can invest a lot of time and effort only to find that your content isn’t getting noticed as much as you’d like. It can also sometimes take months or years for search engines to recognize the usefulness of your content and push it to the top of keyword search results. Despite all these potential setbacks, unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers, so it might well be worth the effort.
7. Viral Loops – AKA Turning Your Users into Your Marketing Team
It’s expected that you’ll pour a lot of money into your marketing strategies when you’re first starting out, but do you really want to be investing the same amount into converting your demographic in 10 years’ time? Instead, you should be looking towards implementing the strategy of turning your users into your marketing team. This will reduce your marketing spend and increase ‘word of mouth’ virality for long term sustainable growth.
Commonly, this is referred to as a Viral Loop, in that a user first becomes aware of your app, installs it, has the desire to share the app, and so they do. The cycle then continues, with each new user recommending the app to another person until the circle of users grows exponentially. Combined with the power of social media, this is a very powerful tool indeed.
Depending on the type of app that you’re creating, this Viral Loop can manifest in different ways. For a ride-sharing service, you might want to consider offering a discount for users that invite their friends to the app via social media, or for an exercise subscription you could offer a second bonus subscription for the user to share with a friend.
Viral Loops can also work by instilling FOMO (fear of missing out) into the social circles of app users. A recent example of FOMO was the social platform Vero which harnessed the technique to quickly gain hundreds of thousands of users by offering free usage to the first million to sign up. However, Vero didn’t offer the functionality and value that it promised, so it served as an important lesson that you can’t rely on clever marketing alone to win success.
There’s many ways to create a Viral Loop in your app – so brainstorm a couple of methods and experiment to find out which works the best.
8. Market Your App Pre-Launch
Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t wait to start marketing your app until after it’s launched. If you do that, you’re essentially launching your product into an empty room and it’ll take longer to gain traction.
Apple’s App Store gives you the option to pre-order apps, so if you’re planning on launching in six months’ time the user can still opt to download the app. Then, when you launch, the app will automatically be downloaded onto the user’s device. These pre-ordered downloads can give you some great opening week download figures and a handy boost in the app store’s rankings. It’s worth noting that this is a new offering from Apple and its success hasn’t yet been measured, so if you don’t have a big marketing budget it might be wise not to spend it on this channel until there’s more data to support it.
Any of the marketing channels we’ve listed in this article can be used pre-launch, so start testing out some ideas, compiling content, and contacting PR and influencers right away.
If you need some pre-launch marketing inspiration, just take a look at successful Kickstarter and Go Fund Me campaigns. Checking out what the other businesses have achieved on these sites can provide valuable insight into how they’re communicating value before the product is actually made.
9. PR and Events
So far we’ve only talked about mobile app marketing in its digital form, but let’s not forget about the power of human to human interactions. Traditional marketing techniques are by no means dead, so throwing a good old-fashioned launch party or media day could be pivotal to the success of your product.
If you’re going down this path, start by taking your product directly to a group of your intended users. For example, if you’re launching an app which teaches makeup techniques, approach a beauty studio or boutique about hosting your launch. You can then theme the event, giving out free makeovers or sample products.
This is a good method to use because not only will your product get initial traction, you’ll also spark a conversation and receive feedback on what your target audience like or don’t like about your product. You can then use this information to form and fuel your other marketing channels.
10. Stay Agile
It’s paramount to stay agile when you’re marketing a product, and you should never feel like you’re chained to a specific technique just because you originally invested time and money in it. Marketing is all about research, crafting a solution, experimenting and analysing the data.
If a platform or technique isn’t working for you, cut it out. Seriously, what’s the point in spending money on something you know isn’t working for you?
You and your team should always be researching to see what’s working, what’s trending, and where your audience is going next. The internet moves quickly and patterns can change in the blink of the eye, so make an effort to be one step ahead of the curve, otherwise, you risk getting left behind by your competitors.
We’re currently in the ‘stone age’ of social media and we have no idea what might be coming next, so don’t ignore any future potentials that could increase engagement and/or lower your spend.
11. Partner with a Mobile App Marketing Specialist
Successfully marketing your app can take up a lot of your time, and if you don’t have a marketing expert on your side it can be difficult to get right. The bottom line is that you have a business to run, so is your time really best spent testing out marketing strategies? Perhaps not.
Make better use of your time by outsourcing your marketing to an app specialist who can quickly get your marketing communications in place so you can start to see an ROI sooner than if you were managing your strategies yourself. If you need help growing your app, feel free to contact us to organize a chat with one of our expert growth hackers.
Priority number one is making an app which solves a problem for your users or brings great value to them. Priority number two is getting that app in front of them.
Remember the fundamental difference between traditional digital marketing and mobile app marketing: it’s not all about getting that first click, it’s about creating long-term sustainable relationships. It’s these relationships that will lead to profitability and longevity for your app, so you need to keep this fact in the back of your mind as you construct your mobile app marketing strategy.