It’s Complicated: How to Promote an App by Building Relationships

Gilad Bechar

A couple hugging in the street

With millions of apps out there and users being extra picky about the ones they don’t immediately delete from their smartphones, the biggest app marketing challenge is more than attracting users, it’s succeeding in influencing them.

During our app consulting sessions, one thing our mobile marketing agency concentrates on is forming relationships with users. In a way, this type of relationship resembles how real-life relationships unfold and develop. This post discusses the parallels between real-life relationships and those between users and mobile apps. We’ll take a look at the different stages users go through and compare them to widely accepted relationship stages.

You’d be surprise at just how much can be learned from genuine, authentic real-life relationships, and how it can be applied to boosting your app marketing efforts.

Get a Phone Number

Getting a phone number from your crush is the first step, much like the sign-up stage in an app. The most common mistake app marketers make is using the sign-up stage (normally a four screen slideshow with pagination dots and a sign-up button) to give users a tutorial. Users that are not immediately introduced with the positive value of an app, lose patience and often decide to delete it.

If you have the slightest bit of “game,” you know that there’s no way your crush will give you their number if you talk too much about yourself and beat around the bush. But you might get their digits if you get to the point, put your best foot forward, and prove that you can be a fun dinner companion. A great mobile marketing agency knows how to apply this strategy to app development by making the sign-up stage about why the user could benefit from moving forward and registering.

The First Date

After the user has registered, the next app marketing move is to present a great tutorial. Marketers typically create a gamified tutorial with skipping options, which users are used to just, well, skipping. These normally point out every single feature of the app, making it only natural for users to lose their patience in the process.

So just so we’re clear, the first date ISN’T the time to discuss every single aspect of your life including your political stance and dysfunctional relationship with your extended family. Your date will simply lose patience and won’t feel the chemistry. A good first date conversation should be kept flowy and discuss light matters while staying away from controversial or overly intimate topics.

An app consulting tip: when it comes to tutorials – create one that walks users through major experiences their app has to offer, while refraining from irrelevant information. A tutorial also has to “force” the user to perform the action presented on the screen by not including a skipping option, so that the user actually gets to live through the experience.


The First Kiss

How annoying is it when permission requests (access to location or phonebook) pop up before you’ve even registered or gone through the tutorial? Marketers often ask for permissions before the user has had a chance to positively experience the app and without explaining why they need these permissions. If you try to go for the first kiss before your date has had a chance to figure out if he or she even likes you, you might just get slapped and pushed away.

The same logic applies to marketers, who should let the user experiment with the app before permission requests start popping up, and when these do come up, it has to be strategic. For example, if the user wants to see a list of nearby restaurants, this would be the right time to ask for access to their location. This would make sense to the user and let them know that it’s not only beneficial to the marketers, but would also provide them with added value.

The next step is the initial setup, where users are normally asked about their hobbies, interests, and other personal details in order for the app to offer them a personalized experience. Unfortunately, many users find this intrusive and as a result end up ditching the app. A frequent mistake made by marketers is introducing this stage before the sign-up or tutorial – basically jumping the gun and scaring users away.

If we go back to our relationship example – forming a genuine relationship will NEVER happen by getting in bed before the first date or even the first kiss. Be tactful and slowly form a relationship with their users by asking them personal questions only AFTER they’ve registered to the app and learned how to use it.

Meet the Folks

If all of the relationship stages leading up to this point felt natural and positive, our couple should be ready to introduce one another to their families. This is a major step and only happens if the couple sees a future for their relationship and are proud to show off their significant others to their loved ones.

Our mobile marketing agency often provides app consulting to marketers who underestimate the power of user onboarding and later interactions, such as push notifications and permission requests, in building a loyal and genuine relationship with users. So marketers, when you ask users to rate you or share your app to their social media profiles, make sure you do so once your app has become an integral part of your user’s mobile experience. No user would recommend a lousy app to their social media following.

Technology is often criticized for lacking emotion and being inhumane, but it’s pretty incredible how generating a loyal user-base resembles forming real-life relationships. If you master the above steps with guidance from a mobile marketing agency, you could make any user fall for your app.


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