Cutting Through the Noise: Marketing Your App

Someone once said that if you build it, they will come, but that person clearly didn't anticipate how saturated app stores would become! With over 4 million apps available for download in app stores across the world, the market has never been more competitive than it is today. Despite this rather daunting statistic, many apps without substantial backing or resources are still climbing their way to the top of the search results. But how are they accomplishing this feat, and furthermore, how can you replicate their success with your own app?

The answer lies in your pre-launch marketing strategy! There’s no denying that creating a beautiful, user-friendly mobile app is important, but in today’s highly competitive tech-driven landscape, businesses and individuals alike would do well to prioritize the development of an effective marketing strategy to go hand-in-hand with their app launch as well. With the right approach, anyone can rank highly in the app store without dropping thousands on ad spend, and it's your answer to cutting through the noise.

In this article, we'll break down everything you need to create a solid foundation for your marketing strategy—from creating user personas and competitive matrices to retaining users long after download, we've got you covered!

Get to Know Your Audience

Before you embark on any kind of marketing campaign, it's vital to have intimate knowledge and understanding of the group of people you're speaking to. What are their wants and needs? Where do they spend their time, and which social media platforms do they visit frequently? How should you go about contacting them, and when is the best time to do so?

Create an Avatar or User Persona

To help you answer these questions, put together an ideal user persona, or avatar, and be as specific as possible. To get a complete picture of your audience, include things like demographics, interests, mobile or device preferences, and any unique identifiers. Consider giving them a name, and perhaps even put together a little backstory for them. Silly though it may seem, this exercise is really helpful when it comes to zeroing in on your customer, understanding their needs and the challenges they face, from a more personal perspective.

In-depth user personas can help you create the foundation for the user journey design for your app and help you customize every aspect of it to each of your users’ preferences and needs. Everything from branding and in-app content to functionality, features, platform choice, and even the monetization strategy you ultimately choose need to resonate with this target user.

Here are some additional questions you should consider asking:

  • What is the central pain point my audience collectively experiences, and how can I go about alleviating it?
  • Does my audience primarily use one operating system more than the other, or should I cater to both iOS and Android?
  • What types of content does my audience engage with online? Are they present on one social media platform more than another? Where do they get information, and what sources do they trust? Does my audience follow any reputable influencers within my app’s vertical on social media?
  • What kind of a tone, voice, and content style resonates well with my audience?
  • When surveying their online activity, are there any visual patterns to the branding of the companies and brands that they gravitate towards? Are there opportunities to mimic or draw on this branding style in order to present them with something more familiar?
  • Based on what I know about where my audience spends their time, what platforms would be best to leverage for paid advertising purposes?
  • Are these kinds of users known to pay app subscriptions, or would they prefer to make a one-time purchase or purchases in-app?

Photo by Leon on Unsplash

Conduct Market Research

A typical pre-launch blunder is failing to conduct adequate market research, which can effectively kill an app before it even gets off the ground. Before you start working on your app, you need to figure out who are the major players in your industry.

It doesn't matter how thorough your marketing efforts are if your app doesn't solve a consumer pain point or address a pain point for which there already is a successful app in the market.

During this research period, take a moment to located which blogs, organizations, forums, and websites your target audience frequents and any social media influencers they follow. These outlets can assist you in attracting and retaining new users!

Analyze the Competition

Now that you've taken some time to survey the landscape, it's time to shift your attention to the top contenders. To start, make a list of the top 5-7 competitors that your app would come up against and be sure to note things like their price, monetization model, and app store ranking. Next, pay attention to the reviews and what users are saying about the user experience (UX)—what are the pros and cons for using their app, and do you note any gaps that you can use to better position yourself in this market?

You could stop here, but if you'd really like to dig deeper, download 3-5 of the most competitive of the batch and create a competitive matrix to see how your app will compare.

A competitive matrix is an incredibly useful industry analysis tool that allows you to make side-by-side comparisons of multiple products, brands, or in our case, apps, in order to identify their differences, strengths, and weaknesses. The information gleaned from a competitive matrix can not only help you uncover your own competitive advantage and identify opportunities to grow your business, it can also help you discover niche opportunities and unique features you can offer than nobody else does. To learn more about competitive matrices and how to create your own, check out this article by SEMRush.

Nail Down Your Goals & Metrics

Now that you've surveyed the market and have your ideal user mapped out, it's time to shift gears and focus on your marketing goals and the metrics that you'll be using to measure success.

To start, create your objective—an objective defines the purpose of your app and helps you set expectations for what your end user will end up getting from the experience of using your app.

Next, make a list of the goals you'd like to achieve and then work backwards to determine how you can go about achieving them. For example, if your goal is to get "x" number of downloads within a six-month period, ask yourself what steps you would need to take in order to reach that number. How are you going to get the word out? Do you have a large or loyal audience that will provide you with organic word of mouth, or can you incentivize them in some way? Should you invest in ad spend, and if so, where will your efforts be most fruitful? Were you able to identify any influencers in the previous step that might be willing to offer an honest (and ideally, favorable) review to their audience, bringing you new users?

In the beginning, it may be in your best interest to test out a few different avenues to see what drives traction and refine your strategy to focus in on the winners.

Whatever goals you ultimately decide to pursue, make sure that they're measurable. Measurable goals and objectives allow you to measure the success of your app and observe how people are using it. This is especially important because apps evolve over time and will ultimately require updates. If you're keeping a close eye on your metrics for success, you can determine what improvements would be most beneficial and make updates accordingly. In this way, you can insure that you're providing value to your users that they'll be willing to pay for.

Build a Landing Page or Website

Believe it or not, mobile websites or landing pages are one of the biggest sources of app installs! These days, creating a pre-launch landing page, or at the very least a teaser video, for your product has become standard practice, and the app development world is no different. When you're looking to drum up hype leading up to the release of your app, you need to be able to send prospective users somewhere, and a landing page or website fits the bill.

If you have a website or landing page, users can learn more about the app you're building and submit their contact information to join your mailing list and be notified when your app has been released (vital for boosting initial downloads!). It also provides you with an opportunity to begin SEO and start ranking for your desired keywords on SERPs.

Speaking of keywords, this is also a good time to start determining what keywords you might be able to rank for—look for high search volume and low competition, or plan on creating a lot of referral domains and optimized content. Not quite sure how to get started? HubSpot has a great guide that can take you through the basics of keyword targeting.

Plan Outreach & Put Together a PR Strategy

This is by far one of the most overlooked aspects of marketing a new app. It's important to have a strong outreach initiative in place—contact influencers, publications, and bloggers willing to secure backlinks for you and provide honest reviews.

To get the ball rolling, create a list of contacts relevant to your industry or niche that might be interested in writing about and reviewing your app and start following them and engaging with their content. It's generally considered bad form to jump in out of the blue and ask someone for something, so find ways to make yourself known. Comment on their posts and engage in discussions!

It's important to keep in mind that these influencers likely get an abundance of requests just like yours on a weekly basis, so make it as easy as possible for them to say "yes". Put together a press kit with promotional copy, plenty of relevant and useful details they can add to their write up, and assets they can use to round out whatever they put together. With that in place, all that's left to do is craft a concise pitch containing a link to your new press kit and landing page and hit "send"!

Here are some additional tips to ensure that you get the best result for your efforts:

  1. Don’t limit yourself by reaching out to only the biggest players. You may be able to get one or two to respond, but you might have better luck if you locate influencers that are just a little bit below them.
  2. Be sure to send the right message. Build a relationship with the influencers you work with, and find ways to provide value to them in return. Is there a discount or freebie you can offer to their audience?
  3. Use the right approach. A little flattery can go a long way, but don't overdo it! Be polite and courteous—compliment them, show you care, and use an email that appeals to their priorities and values.

Create a Social Media Calendar

Now that you've created 1) a list of goals and the metrics by which you'll use to measure success, 2) an in-depth avatar of your ideal customer, 3) a landing page or website, and 4) your outreach and PR strategy, it's time to focus on social media.

Social media platforms are a great way to drum up a little excitement leading to the launch of your app, and you should lean on organic traffic as much as possible. Stay top of mind with your followers by keeping them in the loop on company updates—pull back the curtain on your development process, and share a bit about your story and how you came up with your idea. Create a hashtag that you and your users can use in posts, and try and find new ways to share content that is not only promotional, but entertaining and engaging as well. Go as far as to build a community!

Also, consider the following when you're considering your social media strategy: Is it clear that you have an app when someone glances at your social media profiles? Is the purpose of your app obvious, and if not, what can you do to make it more so? Have you included a link to download it, or if you haven't launched yet, a link that your followers can use to sign up for your mailing list that way you can let them know when it does go live?

Create a Content Marketing Strategy

Start out with a launch post boasting about all of the features and functionality of your app. From there, you can craft more content based on your niche and what your audience will find relevant and useful. Content marketing is important because it can help you:

  • Drive traffic and conversions and increase your brand awareness with content, and the best part is that it's free.
  • You can use content marketing to establish yourself as an expert in your niche and effectively build a brand around your app.
  • Build trust with users and potential users by providing useful content.
  • Blog content can also be used for email marketing and social media and can help you re-engage contacts.

Develop a User Acquisition Strategy

It's important to get as many downloads as possible within your first week in the app stores. Why? If your app is being downloaded frequently from the moment it hits the app store, it's likely to rank higher in the search results. This brings more visibility to your app and helps new audiences discover it more readily. Here are some things that should absolutely find their way into your user acquisition strategy:

  • Paid Ads - Use social media channels that your users are on to roll out a paid ad strategy. Target your demographic using their interests, location, etc., and keep whatever message you have short and sweet. Cater to those short attention spans!
  • Get Featured by Apple - If your app can be used on iOS, it may be a good idea to pitch your app (using that press kit!) to the App Store's editorial team. Being featured brings more visibility to your app and can lead to more downloads. This in turn results in lower acquisition costs, more engaged users, and increased revenue.
  • App Store Optimization (ASO) - Did you know that over 65% of apps are discovered from a search in the App Store directly? Use this!! ASO starts with a good title and is improved on with an abundance of keyword research. Once your app is ranked highly in search for a certain keyword, it can continue to rank for months after. The higher your app ranks, the more visible it is to potential users.

As downloads start rolling in, it's also important for you to track where your downloads are originating from. If you haven't already, create a Google Analytics account and install tracking for your mobile app. This way, you can see where the bulk of your traffic is coming from and shift your paid strategy accordingly.

Increase Your Retention Rate

Many will put a lot of thought into acquisition marketing, but your app isn't really yielding a sustainable business for you if those acquired users aren't sticking around. To combat this, you need to develop a plan of attack to convert your new users into lifelong users.

  • Implement Push Notifications - Believe it or not, push notifications have been shown to increase user retention drastically, with statistics showing anywhere from a 56% to a 180% improvement. Additionally, users that opt in to receiving push notifications typically exhibit 88% higher app engagement than those that do not. The higher your retention rate is, the better your app will rank in the app store—find ways to add value for your users and get them to stick around!
  • Establish Communication - Brands using in-app messages to communicate with users will see user retention within 28 days of receiving a message range from 61 percent to 74 percent. Stay in communication with your users and encourage them to use your app regularly.
  • Ask for Feedback - If people are using your app consistently, it's a good sign that you have made a connection with the product. Give them the opportunity to express their opinions with a pop-up invitation to leave a review. And if you observe any trends in the feedback you receive, use that to help you determine what updates and/or features you should prioritize next.
  • Incentivize Sharing with a Referral Bonus - Offering your users a bonus or benefit of some kind when they promote your app online is a surefire way to get them to spread the word. With a staggering 3900% growth rate, Dropbox is an excellent example of how powerful referrals can be.
  • Consider a Burst Campaign - The idea of a burst campaign is to provide a “burst” of exposure for your app in which you aggressively purchase paid media exposure over a short period of time—generally between 24 and 72 hours, depending on your budget.

Build with Crowdbotics

A great launch strategy begins with a great app—Crowdbotics can help! Our dedicated team of expert PMs, designers, developers, and engineers are here to help you bring your big ideas to life and support you at every point of the development journey. Using modular development practices, we can get your app to market 3x faster than manual development, and unlike other low-code solutions, you own your code and can access it at any time.

Interested in learning more? Get in touch with us today for a detailed quote and timeline!

Originally published:

October 27, 2021

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