How to promote an app? Guide for Startups and Corporations.đź™­

Team Moburst

With over 5 million apps on the app stores, learning how to promote an app and doing app marketing are a must for any newly added app.

Users churn through apps really fast and increasing app store ranking is a process that takes time, without a dedicated marketing campaign, the chances of growing your userbase is close to none.

In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know if you want to promote an app. From pre-launch tasks, to complete checklists, free marketing ideas, and FAQs.

You’ll also learn what not to do. Not all marketing is great.

Do your pre-launch tasks first

Before pressing the big red launch button, you need to work on the following:

  • Market research
  • Define brand and message
  • App marketing budget
  • Devise an app marketing strategy
  • Create your landing page and graphics

Without these, you’ll be wasting money on ads that are not targeted. Your purpose is to bring as many people in the app as possible, without wasting money or having a high churn rate.

Paying for $1.000 for 100 installs with a 50% uninstall rate is something that may happen if you don’t think things through in advance.

Do market research before you promote the app.

Promote an app marketing research

Before promoting an app, you need to understand 2 sets of information:

  • Who is your user?
  • What keywords are you targeting?

For the first question, your company needs to decide on a user persona.

Think about the types of users that will use your app on a day to day basis. There are a set of traits or characteristics that will be relevant to a plethora of people.

You can set multiple user personas as long as you are able to create a custom marketing message for each of them.

Your message to a gen X should be totally different than the message to a millenial for example.

In terms of keywords, it’s a little more simple than a user persona.

You can do an app store keyword research and decide on what keyword sets you’ll optimize your app for.

App Store Keyword research can be done through the following methods:

  • Use ASO tools to find out what keywords bring the most searches
  • Analyze your competitors for keyword ideas and marketing strategies
  • Analyze reviews to better understand how users are describing an app
  • Brainstorm keyword ideas based on your app’s features.

Choosing the best keywords is one of the most important tasks!

Ranking on a query that only has 50 searches a month will result in extreme budget losses.

Define your brand and message

One of the most important aspects of marketing is communication with the customer. The tone, message, and ideas communicated are part of your brand and will influence the user’s decision to install an app or not, based on how they interact with the brand.

For example, Social media apps communicate in a personal and cheerful way with users. In their marketing copy, it’s all about the user. He is the center of the experience and everything the app does is to enrich the user’s experience and allow him to share it with others.

Another example we can offer is Calm, a guided meditation app that Moburst optimized for the app store.

Calm App Store Screenshots
Calm App Store Screenshots

Calm’s purpose is to help people relax. Everything revolving around their brand identity and marketing communication is tranquil.

  • A handwritten logo
  • Images of nature
  • Icons that “breath” in order to help a user control their own breathing
  • Relaxing blue tones meant to relax the user

With their entire social media presence, they do everything they can to help the user relax.

Calm App Social Media

For example, the majority of their social media posts have 1 specific goal:

Give your user a reminder to:

  • breath
  • be present
  • relax
  • slow down

By taking care of their user’s well being, they keep them close, increase brand awareness and build upon the relationship between the brand and the user.

Tweak your app promotion budgets

It doesn’t matter if you’re starting at $10.000 a month or $1.000.000 a month, a clear budget is needed to make sure that you are not wasting money.

Even a 2% decreases in costs can be beneficial. Out of 1 million, that’s $20.000. It’s better for that money to stay in your company’s pocket.

Split your budgets into multiple niches. A percentage for ASO services, another for PPC and so on.

A quick tip that we recommend is defining your profit margins and the maximum CPI that you can afford.

App marketing budget

By doing this, you enable your mobile marketing agency to have a nearly unlimited marketing budget.

The app promotion budget should not be set in stone forever. Your agency should be allowed to raise the budgets as much as possible as long as you’re still making a good profit.

To explain this in detail:

CPI= Cost per install

  1. You have a budget of $10.000 per month for media buying
  2. The Maximum CPI that allows you to make a profit is $10.
  3. The company manages to deliver a CPI of $6.
  4. Being that your CPI is still under the maximum limit, you should allow the agency to push your budget many times over $10.000 per month and only stop if they get close to the $10 limit.

By going with this approach, you are creating a scalable system that will skyrocket your earnings.

Define your overall app marketing strategy

You’ve already defined who should use your app and decided on how big your budget is.

Now, it’s time to decide how you’ll push your app towards your potential users. It can be anything from social media, paid media or app store optimization.

We strongly recommend doing a marketing mix!

Your marketing channels should not compete with each other. Instead, they should work together towards the same goal: more app downloads and a high ROI.

Your app marketing strategy is only complete if you:

  • Measure everything
  • Create a strategy that can be scaled
  • The channels work together
  • Continuously tweak and improve

Without measuring everything, you will have no data to base your decisions on. You can’t go with your gut when pushing a $10k budget on an ad. Data needs to approve of your idea.

There are tons of app analytics tools that you can use. Facebook pixels can be integrated and even Google Analytics.

If it’s not scalable, chances are you are doing it wrong. Your goal is to get millions of downloads. Because of this, your ads need to reach tens of millions of people.

Without a scalable strategy, you won’t be able to do that. Make sure you are creating ad strategies that can be easily replicated and changed in order to boost your app installs.

A user can search on google for “how to lose weight” and reach your guide. He reads it and leaves. He is still not lost!

You can use Facebook Remarketing to get him back. Guide him to a landing page and convince him to download the free version of the app.

After that, you can start integrating push notifications and emails as well into your “sports app”. Use his data and remind him that he forgot to go to the gym or that he managed to achieve his goal in order to boost his motivation.

After he uses the app enough, you can start using all your channels to push for the conversion, turning the user into a paying customer.

This process is not set in stone. People are different. Because of this, you need to continuously work on your processes and strategy.

Create your landing pages and needed graphics

Even if you’re selling or promoting an app, you’ll still need a website. You can showcase a better presentation on a web page than you’ll be able on the app store page.

And, because you’ve installed your pixel and analytics tools on both the website and on the app, you’ll still be able to see the source of the install, no matter where you drive the user first.

Some businesses actually start the marketing years before the app launch, thinking in the long term.

If your app is in the wellness industry, you can create a wellness blog and start doing both SEO and email marketing in advance.

By doing SEO, you’re increasing your organic traffic in time. When the app launches, you’ll already have a website that gets new traffic daily. You just need to integrate pop-ups and banners and you’ll get free organic installs in no time.

As for the email marketing part. By creating a newsletter database, you’re building yourself a useful app launch tool.

A list with over 10.000 users can be used for:

  • Email Newsletters announcing the app launch + special promos
  • Lookalike audiences for better targeted Fb Ads.

How to market your app after launch?

So, you’ve created an app and pushed the big button to launch it on the app store?

Good for you. Now, it’s time to market it and make sure that people know about it.

You can market an app by combining multiple mobile marketing strategies:

  • ASO (app store optimization)
  • PPC (pay per click ads – Fb ads and Google Ads)
  • Social Media Platforms
  • A couple of extra smaller mediums

Optimize your app for the app store

App store optimization (ASO) is the process of improving the information present on the app store and tweaking the marketing campaigns in order to push an app higher in the search results.

The main goal of ASO is to provide organic downloads, without the need of paying per install or click.

App Stores also take into consideration the number of downloads you have, the number of app reviews and the quality of them. It’s a complex algorithm that can make or break your organic efforts.

Don’t forget to talk with your app developers to continue updating your app with new features (app freshness and updates are ranking factors) and with your Marketing company to tweak your app description.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, app store optimization is done around certain main keywords that people will search on the app store.

We have a complete guide on what app store optimization is. Feel free to check it out in order to learn more about this topic. Also, we can help you out with it, ASO being the main breadwinner at Moburst.

Work on your PPC campaign

For the first few months, the main source of app installs is your PPC marketing strategy.

There are multiple tools for PPC campaigns:

  • Facebook Ads
  • Google Ads
  • Youtube Videos
  • Ad networks inside apps

There is no “best network”. It all depends on the type of app you’re promoting and on the customer persona.

Find out where your users are spending more time and target them there.

PRO tip: Remarketing is on the of the best types of PPC marketing. Targeting people that visited your site already will greatly increase the Conversion rate and ROI.

Also, don’t forget about optimizing your campaign and A/B testing.

Create multiple ad sets on all platforms with small changes between them.

An Ad set can use black and white images, while another can use brightly colored ones. Leave them to run for a week and eliminate the bad one. Rinse and repeat until you find the best ad format and channel for your app.

Promote app on social media

First of all, understand that social media isn’t just Facebook.

Social media contains all of the platforms where the user generates content, share it and discuss topics. Other websites that can be considered Social Media:

  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Youtube
  • DeviantArt
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok

And many, many, many more.

Doing social media right is one of the hardest and costly tasks a company will have. You need deeply know your users and create content that they will resonate with and that they are willing to share.

Also, what works on Facebook will not work on Snapchat or TikTok. And what works on TikTok will for sure not work on LinkedIn or Reddit.

Because of this, your company will need to either decide on a few main social media channels or create personalized content for each platform.

Encourage users to participate in your social media campaign. If you’re working on promoting fitness apps, your best bet is to encourage users to share their before and after stories.

If you have an awesome recipe app, ask users to photograph their foods and share them via a special # you created for your brand. This is the cheapest and most effective marketing you can do on social media.

If you are a global company, it will pay off to go a little smaller on social media. Hire small social media companies in each country and localize your app‘s social media campaign.

Netflix does this really well. If you have a social media campaign in a certain country, they can link your content and app to the main events, customs and social norms specific to that country, resulting in increased conversions and better brand awareness.

New Girlfriend: What’s your Netflix password?
You knowing your ex still uses your Netflix.
Translated from Netflix Facebook Page in Romania.

Mobile marketing channels that you shouldn’t forget about

Of course, there are tens of other channels that you can use in order to promote your app.

You can hire PR firms to push you or one of your company members in front of media companies. TV interviews, podcasts and newspaper articles will still get your app well known.

StumbleUpon is also a great tool to promote your app, as they have a paid package. Yet, I only recommend this platform for apps that have a really wide user persona. Video Games work great here.

Many businesses also transform their users into microniche influencers. Give out a commission for every sale and people will flock to help you out while cashing in something for themselves as well.

Revolut Affiliate page

Revolut, one of the largest banking apps in Europe is giving away commissions to anyone bringing in users inside their app via custom code.

Talking about influencers, you can also go a little bigger. Find athletes, stars or scientists that are well known and ask them to promote your app.

Image association is one of the simplest forms of marketing.

How to Market Your App to Mobile Users’ Attention Span

The mobile world moves fast. It seems like every time we blink a new app is either born or gone. App marketing pros know how tough it is to get users to install a product and actually use it, and even after achieving this goal – it still has to compete with at least one more screen.

Mobile presents unique and difficult challenges that require unique and different solutions, as well as a solid mobile strategy so here are a few tips to help you get started:

Get to the Point

Every mobile expert knows that users are firm believers in TL; DD – Too Long; Didn’t Download.

Don’t waste their time with unnecessary explanations and lengthy stories. Whether it’s your app page description, notifications you send out, or the onboarding tutorial – your message must be straightforward, on point, and clear as day.

Make sure to include a strong call to action to let users know exactly what you need them to do, and be your own worst editor with every word you choose to include.

Luckily for you, the character limit on most content forms will keep you in check, but just because you can write relatively long text, it doesn’t mean you should. Keep it short and sweet.

Take Action

One of app marketing’s strong suits is its ability to present users with an actionable message. After realizing you have only a few seconds to get things moving, taking advantage of the medium’s technical abilities is the only smart way to go.

Present users with actionable ads that allow them to click and immediately put the app to use (by booking a cab, for instance), and use interactive push notifications to not only show users a call to action but to have them execute it right then and there.

For mobile experts, this is one of those magical cases where on the one hand you have very little time to impress users, but on the other hand, you have the best tools to do the work for you.

Keep it Simple

When it comes to your mobile strategy, less is most definitely more. I know your mind must be bursting with ideas for features and content you’d like to share with users, but narrowing it down will serve them better in many cases.

An overwhelming interface creates a bad UX that will scare users away, so opt for a clean and intuitive flow instead. It’s important to adopt this logic when crafting your app’s onboarding process and fight the urge to exhaust users by showing them every corner of our app.

Practice a little restraint and your users will without a doubt keep coming back for more.

Be Different

Is your app a “Tinder for whatever” or the next “Airbnb of something?” Great. I’m sure users will  be completely captivated by how innovative and groundbreaking it is.

Remember: when it comes to app marketing, you’re dealing with an audience that has seen and done it all, so the best thing you can do is give them something truly interesting.

The same goes for the content of your mobile ads and how you choose to interact with users – sending original notifications can work wonders for your retention rate.

Instead of riding the latest trends, try to come up with a creative message of your own. Remember, life is too short to be ordinary.

Go Deep

Deep linking is the perfect solution for mobile ADHD. It allows you to get users’ attention by indexing your app more effectively and sending users exactly where they need to go within the app.

If you haven’t embraced this technology as part of your mobile strategy up until now, reality is about to make that decision for you. Soon users tapping an ad will expect to be immediately directed to the relevant screen as opposed to the apps main page.

Providing the user with a counter-intuitive result will make them jump ship. With a little technical help from mobile experts, deep links are a tool you can use to turn a short term experience into a productive one.

Mobile technology might be at least partially responsible for society’s lack of focus, but it can also save the day. Implementing new tools and techniques can help you set yourself apart and reach users’ hearts and minds for more than a few seconds.

Follow the list above and you just might be among the lucky few to capture the mythical creature known as “users’ attention.”

How to Promote an App by Building Relationships

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.

You’d be surprised 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.

Best ways to market an app for free

Sometimes, the budget is short or close to 0. Because of this, we’ve also created a list of methods you can use to promote your app for free. (or almost free)

How to promote an app for free?

  1. Do guest posting

    You can publish articles on different blogs for free, as long as you’re writing something useful. Just contact bloggers and website owners in your niche, tell them about your app and ask if you can write something for them.

  2. Publish your app on other app stores

    Google Play and Apple’s App Store aren’t the only app stores you can use. Feel Free to publish your app on Get Jar, SlideMe, Opera Mobile Store, App Brain, and the Amazon Appstore.

  3. Get your app noticed

    You can always pitch your app to app reviewers, app associations or critiques. The worst that can happen is you get ignored. The best scenario is you get a prize and some awesome PR alongside it.

  4. Join Facebook groups in your niche

    Start interacting with the users and push your app as a solution for their problems.

  5. Do a press release for your app

    The press is always on the lookout for the next big thing. Create a press kit with relevant information and images that they can use. Make sure to add info about the business as well, not only about the app.

  6. Use your social network

    You have friends and friends have friends, don’t they? Also, posting on your own social accounts is free. If you are already well known in your niche, you’re sure to grab a few hundred installs by doing this.

  7. Use QR codes.

    You can promote an app for free by adding QR codes on your business cards or even on your shirt. People scan them and download the app instantly.

  8. Become an expert

    Speak at conferences and events. Tell people about your experiences and promote the app in the process. If you’re an expert in a certain niche, you may also get paid for speaking. Win-Win.

  9. Help people on the forums

    There are tons of people that have problems. If your app is the solution, feel free to tell them how the app can help them and leave a link.

  10. Go old school

    You can always print out flyers for localized apps and share them across the city to promote an app offline.

  11. Do a cross-promotion with someone else.

    There are tons of ad platforms that allow you to promote another app in exchange for credits instead of ad revenue. You can then use those credits to promote your app for free in other apps.

How not to market your app!

Of course, there are also methods you shouldn’t use to promote an app.

Some people say that there is no negative marketing, only marketing. Yet, we do recommend staying on the good side of the customer.

Make sure that in your marketing efforts you don’t do the following:

  • Share false information
  • Spam Groups, Forums and emails
  • Promote your app without giving any value to the users

App promotion FAQs

Do we really need a Landing Page for an App Download Campaign?

You can promote an app without a landing page. Yet, we strongly recommend having one as it will increase your conversion rate.

What are the best blogs/sites for promoting an app?

We recommend websites like Product Hunt, Beta List, the Startup Pitch, Hacker news, App Gratis, and the Reddit Startup Section.

What are the best ways to promote an app in the local area?

You can do targeted ads in a geographic area, use street banners, share flyers and business cards.

How much does it cost to promote an app?

App promotion can go from 0 to a few hundred thousand dollars per month. As a rule of thumb, a cost per install in the US is around $2.

Conclusions

There are many ways to target an audience and get more potential customers.

We hope that we’ve managed to provide at least one relevant insight for you and your business.

Have you managed to do any interesting marketing campaigns for your app?

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