How to Build a Marketing Plan for Your Mobile App
There’s no shortage of apps on the market — around 5 million to date! Even so, most users access less than 20 apps a month, and they spend the majority of their time in just one favorite app.
Needless to say, for app owners and marketers, it’s tough out there…
In this guide, we are going to lay the foundation for a solid mobile marketing plan. With the six steps below, you’ll be on your way to generating more awareness and app downloads:
- Know Your Audience
- Build a Website
- App Store Optimization (ASO)
- Create a Content Marketing Strategy
- Go for Paid Ads
- Track and Test – Everything
1. Know Your Audience
Unless you are Facebook or Google (who claim 8 out of the 10 top apps), your app will be more suited to a niche market. Getting to know your audience, where to find them, and how to appeal to them is the first stop in the mobile marketing journey.
There are a few effective ways to get to the bottom of this, which don’t require tons of resources. In fact, they can be easily accomplished, even for sole app owners taking on all the marketing themselves.
Here are the most important ones to get you started:
Research your market: Monitor the app landscape by researching your competitors and industry. Search for apps in your category, download them, and see what they are like.
Read what users are saying about similar apps, explore app reviews, and scour social media. Subscribe to blogs in your industry and check out relevant case studies. If you don’t have the resources for focus groups or research reports, don’t worry.
Thankfully, the internet is an amazing window to your competitors and potential audience. In short, become an online sleuth!
Build personas: A popular technique to get to know your audience is creating “typical” profiles of your ideal customer. All it takes is a little imagination.
If you were to describe a typical user of your app, what would they be like?
Keep answering these kinds of questions until you have a fleshed-out ‘customer’ on the page in front of you. You may end up with a variety of different personas, and that’s fine. Building these characters will help you during the upcoming stages.
Create messaging: Once you’ve defined your audience, the next step is figuring out how to talk to them. Go back to your market research and personas in order to begin developing a suitable language for your messaging, content, and design.
For example, if your target audience is teenagers who love skateboarding, the messaging will be entirely different from an audience of middle-aged insurance professionals. It’s an extreme example, but you get the picture!
2. Build a Website
If you thought there were a lot of apps in the world, you may be shocked to discover there are 1.8 billion websites! No matter the number, if you are marketing a mobile app, then you indeed need a website.
Though, not one of the millions of static, inactive websites saturating the internet. To stand out, you need a dynamic, interesting website that actively drives people to your page in the app store.
Apart from a rocking design and irresistible CTAs, you can host a blog, provide special offers, or create a newsletter subscription.
These are great ways to build up an email list that you can use to market your app’s features directly to engaged customers. And with mobile users doing most of their surfing on their phones, don’t forget to create a killer mobile site to promote your app.
3. App Store Optimization (ASO)
With so many apps on the market, getting visibility for your app in the app store is very tough. However, just like you should be maximizing your SEO efforts to improve organic traffic, you can do the same for your app with App Store Optimization (ASO).
A few basic steps can go a long way to giving your app the best chance in an overstocked app store. Start by focusing on the name of your app, which is one of the key defining features and the first thing your potential customers will notice. You only get space for a short description of your app, so make every word count. Make sure to step up your visuals, including the thumbnail image that appears on the search page of the app store, and the screenshots in your description. Finally, make sure to choose the best category for your app so customers who are on the lookout will find you in the right place.
Check out this ASO guide for some more tips.
4. Create a Content Marketing Strategy
So you’ve got an app, a website, and an optimized listing in the app store. But your app isn’t going to download itself. Now, you need to develop a rich content strategy to create awareness and engagement of your app. This swirl of online interest is what will drive people to hit the download button.
For content marketing to be effective, there are two key things to remember:
First, good content marketing never rests. You need to create and promote content regularly. One blog post a month isn’t going to cut it. If you want to be seen and heard, you need to be consistent.
Second, your content needs to be of high quality, and it must give value to the audience. That means informative, entertaining, educational, and everything in between. Generic or boring content won’t get you traffic.
Short on content ideas?
It’s not just about blogging. In fact, there are tons of content types you can use to change up your activity:
- Demo videos
- Influencer articles
- Reviews and testimonials
- Promotions, giveaways, and contests
- Interactive content, like quizzes or surveys
- And many more…
5. Go for Paid Ads
Even with the best organic efforts, you won’t gain maximum exposure without spending on advertising. Fortunately, there are a lot of affordable and effective ways to advertise online.
Many platforms even provide advanced targeting tools so you can focus your budget on the most suitable audience.
Often, a mix of these different ad types and platforms will get you the best results:
- In-app ads: Promote your app with ads that appear in other apps. It’s one of the most popular forms of mobile advertising. That’s probably due to the vast majority of mobile users spending most of their time using apps, rather than surfing the mobile web.
- Social ads: Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin provide pretty advanced targeting options for sponsored or paid ads. With 2.5 billion social media users worldwide, discover good results that won’t break the bank.
- Search ads: Get your app listed at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) by paying for advertising on search engines. For niche industries, it can be a very effective way to get your name on the front page.
- Display ads: An old favorite, display ads have been plagued with notoriously low conversion rates. However, as a staple of the online advertising ecosystem, even beyond Google Ads, it’s a channel you will want to consider to increase visibility.
- Native ads: Native advertising recently surpassed display ads in advertising spend. A relative newcomer to online advertising, native ads are popular because they get results. Native ads are viewed 53% more than display, and they lift purchase intent by nearly 20%. You can promote native ads as ‘recommended content’ on networks such as Outbrain. And with robust targeting tools such as Lookalikes and interest targeting, the means to reach your best audience is right at your fingertips.
Read more about the differences between native and display ads here.
6. Track and Test – Everything
Once you are up and running with your marketing plan, the work is not over. Now comes the optimization stage. Actually, it’s less a stage than an ongoing process of refining your marketing activities over and over to continually achieve the best results.
This involves setting up tracking on all your online assets so you can see which campaigns or web pages are performing best. Then, you can tweak your assets to maximize the features that make the highest impact and drop the tactics that don’t seem to be working.
You can do this with Google Analytics or other software such as HotJar or Kissmetrics. For more tech-savvy performance marketers, you can focus on hacks and tips, like these, to manually tweak your campaigns.
Another tactic is to conduct A/B testing on your online assets. By running the same ad or content simultaneously with small variations to CTAs, headlines, images, and more, you can see which version drives better results. The data gleaned from A/B tests gives powerful insights into how to build your future campaigns, and which content resonates with what audience. Check out this great intro to A/B testing.
The end is just the beginning.
Developing an app is half the job. The other half is about taking it to market! But, you need a plan. Some aspects of building an app marketing plan are the same as marketing anything. For instance, “Know Your Audience” is a key principle, no matter what you are selling. Yet there are other elements, such as ASO, that are unique to mobile app marketing.
Follow the six broad steps outlined above to kick start your mobile app marketing plan. Then, your plan can keep growing and evolving, along with your amazing app results!