[Intermediate – 110] How to Promote Your App—Tools and Tips to Marketing a Mobile Application

You’ve done it—you’ve developed your dream app and uploaded it to the market, eager for the flood of downloads that you’re sure will ensue. Unfortunately, despite how wonderful your app is, and the fact that you’ve posted about it on Facebook and even received some positive reviews, you can’t seem to get past 45 downloads per day.
The truth is, the vast majority of apps get stuck in this same stage—ready to be downloaded by the masses, but not gaining the popularity they need to really make a splash. If you’ve designed the perfect mobile application and now just need to get it discovered, read on for tools and tips on how to promote your app:

Build a Mini-site

You should absolutely have a website for your mobile app, if not a mini-site at the very least. While the website should remain to function throughout the life of your app, building the mini-site before the app’s launch can be incredibly helpful. The website will serve as a great forum for you in which to collect potential downloaders’ email addresses before the app is even released, and gives you a great place to create and distribute content. The website should also have a blog that’s relevant to the app.

Additionally, make sure that the site is connected to your Google+ page, that the website contains all your most important keywords, and that you have plenty of pictures and videos.

Use the Media

There’s a pretty good chance that you’ve already plastered Facebook with the announcement of your app, but Facebook is far from the only media platform out there. In addition to Facebook, make sure you’re posting to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, WordPress, Flickr, and anything else you find relevant. However, don’t just limit yourself to social media; you can also get in contact with journalists or editors who cover your field and ask for a write-up. Be prepared with a “press kit” in advance—a collection of your app’s pictures, purpose, founders, logos, etc.

While the media is a fantastic tool for promoting your app, don’t expect the media to be a save-all. There are hundreds of apps released each day, and while a press release can certainly help, they’re not nearly as effective as they once were.

Pay for Promotions

Now that you’ve used all those social media sites to talk about your app, it’s time to start paying Facebook and others a little moolah to help promote it. Facebook has a great pay-per-click (PPC) option for users to advertise apps or a Facebook page, which can be fairly inexpensive and is an incredibly straightforward way to promote your app. You can also use PPC ads on other social media sites, too.

In addition to PPC, paying for banner ads can be a very effective tool when it comes to app promotion. To save a little money, consider buying banners directly from the site owners, which tends to be a less expensive option. While banners can be pricey, they’re one of the most important tools that lead to more app downloads.

Offer the App for Free

While your primary purpose with your app is to increase downloads and therefore increase profits, if you offer the app for free during its launch, you’ll be creating an awesome opportunity for people to get your app without any barriers. Put a price on the app, and let potential downloaders know that the free price tag is only promotional for the app’s launch. Another benefit of doing this is that free apps automatically receive some costless promotion from app stores just by the very virtue of being free, which can help your app to gain momentum.

On the same note, you can also do promotional weekends, days, or hours where you offer the app for free or for a significantly discounted price. These, when kept infrequent, can be another great way to promote your app.

Ask for Reviews

Reviews are one of the most convincing resources that users refer to before making a variety of decisions in life, ranging from where to go to dinner to what company they should hire for carpet cleaning. This trend of relying on user reviews is just as true in-app downloading as it is in other areas of life. As such, if you want to promote your app, it’s incredibly important that you ask for reviews of your app for it to be successful.

There are a few ways that you can approach the process of asking for a review. First, you can do it on the mobile app itself. In this instance, a little box will pop up on the user’s screen saying something to the effect of, “Enjoying this app? Rate Now.” While this can be effective, it can also be irritating to the user who just wants to listen to their music or find their favorite place for coffee.

The second way that you can ask users for a review is to do something very similar to the example above, only timing it better. For example, rather than having the “Review Now” text pop up randomly, design the app so that the review option appears only after something positive or rewarding concerning the app has happened, such as after the user has been consistently using the app for a few weeks.

Additionally, you can also ask for reviews from all the standard ways, too—post about it on Facebook, ask for reviews on the app’s website, or send out emails. Make sure you reply to both positive and negative reviews to keep user momentum flowing.

Make Some Changes

If you’ve done all of the above and your app still isn’t killing it, or if you’re worried that it won’t because of some inherent problem with the app, it’s time to make some changes. Here are some app rules to live by:
Always choose a catchy and memorable app name;

  • Design an app that’s doing something no other app is doing.
  • Include the most important keywords in both your app’s name and your app’s description;
  • Choose a great icon;
  • Design a great landing page; and
  • Make your app simple and user-friendly.

If your app doesn’t meet all of the criteria listed above, it may be time for a do-over.

How to Promote Your App: A Quick Summary

If you’ve been panicking about how to promote your app; don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it seems. By building a website or mini-site where you can promote and market your app, using media and social media, paying for promotions, offering the app for free, asking for reviews, and making any necessary changes to your app, you’ll be well on your way to a successful app before you can say “download.”

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