Marketing Mobile Apps

Photo by mikecogh/Flickr
Photo by mikecogh/Flickr

Most marketers and business owners can identify with the shift from web to apps based on their own mobile use. There is a trend for many users to consider an Apps Only world, This requires some adaption by businesses and investment in making your apps better and marketing them more.

You can start by asking yourself two very simple questions:

  1. How many apps have you installed on your device? How many do you really use?
  2. If you already have the app, how often do you use their app instead of their website?

Smartphone use grows to 1.91 billion users in 2015 (28% of the population) making apps a key part in any digital strategy. But are you ready for an apps only world?

It’s not enough to just build an app and launch it into the app store, you need to make sure people actually download the app. That means you have to cut through the noise to reach your target audience.

Over 1 million apps available. How do get people to download & use yours?
During Apple’s 2014 WWDC they announced iTunes has over 1.2 million iOS apps available. The Google Play Store has an estimated 1.55 million Android apps according to AppBrain. Remember when I asked you how many apps you have installed on your device and how many do you really use?

Free Or Paid App?

A big consideration is whether you market a free, freemium, or paid app. While technically the paid market is not dead and can still produce reasonable success, users taste preferences are changing. Hybrid models of in-app purchases, in-app advertising, or even subscription models can be much more lucrative for publishers if they get it right.

If you have developed a premium paid app you better ensure it’s amazing if you want user to buy it no matter if it’s $0.99 or more. According to eMarketer research only 35.8% of US smartphone users will purchase an app. Do you still want to go premium?
Evaluate how the app fits into your business model, review the competitive landscape, and don’t be afraid to experiment with pricing or promotions until you find the sweet spot. Remember that most people love free stuff even if later they have to make in-app purchases to attain that upgrade for the next level…

Can Your App Win Their Love?

The big question you need to answer is: will your users place your app on their home screen — and if not, it will they ever open it again if it’s hidden away in a folder. There are only a handful of apps or companies that can win the prized placement of a user’s home screen (Facebook owns 4 of them).

You recall the question at the start about how many apps that you have downloaded you really use? I assume you probably have 2-3 alternative apps for most common apps so you can now see how much choice your audience has.

There are now three points you should be able to easily answer:

  1. Does your app belong on the user’s home screen? Do they use or value it that much?
  2. If you are not on the home screen, do you have a plan to recapture the user’s attention?
  3. Is your app is good enough that the user won’t un-install it to make space on their device for more selfies or another app?

App Marketing Considerations?

There are 5 core areas you need to consider when you market your app. Some of these considerations can be done at a minimal level but they all need to be done for your app to be effective.

It’s easy to throw money at Apps and hope it works but with some planning you can attain far better campaign results by looking at the following areas:

  • Measurement:
    How do you measure your app installs? How do you measure engagement within your app?

At the basic level you should have some web analytics installed in your app. There are plenty of options: Piwik, Countly, Flurry and obviously Google Analytics.

If you spend a lot on paid promotion, want better ROI tracking or attribution analysis then I’d also suggest including a tracking SDK such as Adjust, Tune, AppsFlyer, Kochava, or Localytics.

  • Re-Engagement:
    It’s not enough for your users to just install the app, you need them to be using the app; how do you encourage users back into your app? Daily bonuses, retargeting, Deep Linking, App-Indexing, Push Notifications?
  • Feedback Loop:
    There should be a continuous feedback loop. Listen to what your users are saying. Listen for improvement feedback and feature requests. Pay attention to reports about bugs and other problems with your app.

Places to get feedback include App Store reviews, listening on social media, but also platforms such as Crashlytics or Apptentive.

  • Organic Promotion:
    It’s great that you have an app but are you actively promoting it? Are you linking to your app page from your website, social media or emails? Are you optimizing your App Store listing to get the most visibility in the App Stores?

There are hundreds of platforms you can use. To name a few: AppAnnie, AppData, AppFigures, and SensorTower. Most require a paid account for the full feature set.

  • Paid Promotion:
    Paid promotion can help you reach a new audience, allows for very targeted campaigns, and offers great insights into your potential market.

There are plenty of paid promotional channels, Bing Ads, Facebook App Ads, Twitter App Ads, Apple iAd, Yahoo, and even Google AdWords has a few app specific products.

Google Pushing For Apps…

Google is playing a bit of catch-up on apps. It lags Facebook in the quest for mobile app users. But now apps are clearly the focus for Google. Others will follow their lead or risk being left behind.

Google sees desktop traffic stalling out and is doubling down on apps. They push to make apps more central and improve app discover by rolling out App-Indexing. The general idea of app-indexing is that when you allow your app to be crawled and indexed by Google mobile searches can be presented with results that can be opened within your app.

Google has also gone one step further by actually rolling out a specific mobile algorithm with a ranking benefit to websites with indexed app for signed-in users who already have your app installed. This is important; as Google starts to shift users directly into apps instead of websites, Google also provides an advantage to websites that build a quality app to complement their website experience.

With App-Indexing Google offers an SEO incentive to websites that integrate their mobile, desktop, and app experience.

The Growing App Ecosystem

There is a lot of focus on app marketing. Your digital marketing needs to be perfect for your Apps; they can be make or break your business.

Apple saw a 50% increase in revenue in 2014 from iOS apps with over $10 billion in revenue for developers: proof that there is money in apps. Google Play Store distributed more than $7 billion to app developers.

This highlights the huge potential audience and revenues you can attract. But understand that you also face incredible competition. You need to have your game plan in place.

A few questions you need to answer when you think of launching an app:

  • Do we need an app? Can we use a white-labelled app or do we build from scratch?
  • Are most of our audience on iOS, Android, Blackberry, or WindowsPhone?
  • What is our time frame for building and launching the app?
  • Who is our competition? How pro-active or established are they?
  • What is the total potential audience or revenue we can generate?
  • How much can we invest in an app?
  • How much do we have to spend promoting the app?

So good luck and don’t worry if you trip up along the way as long as you keep moving forward and learn from the experience you will succeed if you invest enough resources and energy into your app project.

Editors Note: This was previously published this post on Search Engine People on the 17th June 2015.