App Marketing: the Ultimate Guide to Promoting Your App

App Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

If you want to create a successful app, it’s not enough to build a great product. You also need an effective mobile app marketing strategy.

This guide will look at 19 practical mobile app marketing strategies you can use. It’s a comprehensive guide, but if there is a particular strategy you need help with you can jump to it using the contents below.

What Is Mobile App Marketing?

Mobile app marketing is the process of promoting your app to potential users. An app marketing strategy starts well before you release your app and continues once you have published it. The process ultimately helps people find your app and then download it.

There are plenty of mobile marketing strategies you can use. The best one for you will depend on your skills, audience, and budget. Just choose strategies you think will be effective from the list below.

19 App Marketing Strategies for Before, During, and After Launch

Content Marketing

Content marketing is an established mobile app marketing strategy. It helps you build an audience and then promote your product to this group. Estimates suggest that 53 percent of businesses spend money or time on producing content.

Creating content has several benefits. You can build authority in your industry, improve visibility on social media sites, and help potential customers find you on search engines.

The content strategy you use for mobile app marketing depends on your business’s existing platforms. If you already have a well-ranked site and some time to invest, it could be worth following a dedicated SEO strategy.

Alternatively, if you have a strong presence on social media, you could create content optimized for these platforms.

If you are starting from scratch and don’t have any following, you could create a mixture of content to see which one is the most effective.

When you create content, make sure it is high-quality and offers value. Even promotional posts should market your product in a way that focuses on benefits to the customer.

Money-saving app Acorns is a good example. The website has a ton of content that teaches users about different ways to save money and invest. You can see some of the articles below.

Search Engine Optimization

Implementing an SEO strategy will help your website show up on Google when people search for relevant keywords.

It’s an effective mobile app marketing strategy if you choose the right terms to target. You need ones that are relevant to your app, but not too competitive.

For example, if your mobile app is an exercise tool aimed at women, you could write articles on “best bodyweight bicep workout for women.”

By choosing highly specific keywords, you have more of a chance of ranking on Google than if you chose the more general, “best bicep exercises.”

We have a more in-depth article on keyword research you can check out here.

Video editor Wondershare Filmora has done a good job of creating content targeting long-tail keywords related to editing video on Android devices.

Check out the post below targeting the phrase “How to make a slow-motion video on Android.” It currently ranks at number three on Google for the term.

Writing Articles for Other Sites

It can take a long time for an SEO strategy to pay off. A faster way to put your product in front of potential users is to get your mobile app featured on websites that already have an audience.

Here are two ways you can do this:

  • Guest post:Writing posts for other websites is a good way to put your app in front of an existing website’s audience. By linking to your website you’ll also improve its authority, which can help with SEO.
  • Post on Medium: Medium is a good place to write blogs if you don’t have a website of your own. It’s free to use and the platform promotes posts to users. Look for relevant Medium publications to increase reach. Medium posts also rank on Google and can be shared among your social media accounts.

Answer Questions on Quora

Answering questions on Quora is another good mobile app marketing strategy.

The way it works is that you answer questions relating to your app and link to your product when relevant. People discover your app when they read your answers.

Here is a good example of marketing via Quora. This answer about the best way to transfer money abroad promotes banking app TransferWise.

The key is to ensure that your answer offers value and isn’t just promotional. Otherwise it is unlikely to become the question’s top answer, meaning less people will see it.

Create YouTube Videos

Creating videos is an effective form of marketing. Explainer videos show viewers what is great about your product, and creating an active YouTube channel can result in significant user acquisition as you build followers.

Here are some ways that video can help your marketing:

  • Promote benefits: A video is a great way to show off how great your app is. By visually displaying features you can quickly show how it can benefit users.
  • Use the video on your listing: Many developers choose to include a video on their app listing. This makes it easy for users to get an in-depth look at what your app is about before downloading.
  • Branding: Videos can be a great way to build your brand. Using consistent colors, fonts, and imagery will help.
  • YouTube Search:When videos rank for relevant keywords, people who search for these terms will discover your app.

Headspace’s promotional video is a great example. It is instantly recognizable as a Headspace video. It does a great job of explaining to the viewer what the benefits of the platform are. Additionally, anyone searching for “What is Headspace” will find the video at the top of YouTube.

Headspace’s YouTube channel is an all around excellent example of how mobile app developers can use videos for marketing. The app’s channel includes a mix of videos including ones that:

  • Inform the viewer about the benefits of the app.
  • Answer questions they may have about meditation.
  • Provide social proof using case studies showing how people have benefited from your product.

Build a High-Converting Landing Page

A landing page is an effective way to encourage downloads. It promotes the benefits of your app and tells visitors why they should use it.

Page builders make it easy to create landing page. Some excellent options are Instapage, Unbounce, Leadpages, and Pagewiz.

How to Create a Good Landing Page

High-performing pages typically have the following elements:

  • Headline: The headline will be the focus of your landing page. It should succinctly spell out the main benefit of your mobile app.
  • Images: These not only make your page look more attractive, but they are also a great way to show off your app’s features. Make sure your images are high-quality.
  • Subheading or introduction: These can explain the benefits of your app in a little more detail.
  • Benefits and features: Many pages have a section dedicated to explaining the features and benefits of the product. In this section, potential customers get more in-depth information about how the app can help them.
  • Testimonial: Developers can use testimonials to offer social proof that their app works as it says it does. You’ll obviously have to give this section a miss if you haven’t published your app yet.
  • Call-to-action: You can use your call-to-action to either direct customers to your marketplace links or ask them to sign up for pre-registration.

For reference, look at how the above example by Autodesk Sketchbook uses all the elements in its mobile app landing page.

Collect Pre-Registrations

Collecting pre-registrations before you launch your mobile app is a great way to gauge interest in your app. It also ensures you have a ready-made audience when you are ready to go live.

The easiest way to let people pre-register for your app is to collect email addresses. You can then keep these people updated about development progress and email the download link to them when it is ready.

You can also encourage pre-registrations directly through the two main app distribution platforms.

Collect Pre-Registrations on an App Marketplace

Both the Apple App Store and Android Play Store allow developers to make their app available for pre-order.

There are some restrictions. For example, developers need to upload an APK when offering pre-orders on the Play Store, and they must be able to release the app within 90 days on both platforms.

Once your mobile app is available for pre-registration, users can sign up through their favored marketplace. They will be notified when you release the app.

Tip: Use Offers to Encourage Pre-orders

Developers can use offers to encourage people to sign up for pre-registration. These can include:

  • Discounts.
  • Subscription free trials.
  • In-app freebies.
  • The chance for access to a beta version of your product.

App Store Optimization

Before launching a mobile app, create optimized listings on both the Android and Apple marketplaces.

App store optimization does two things:

  • It increases the visibility of your app when people search for it.
  • It increases the number of people who download your mobile app after seeing the listing.

Think about the types of keywords people will use when looking for your mobile app.

For example, a video editing app could choose to target the keyword “video editor” or “video editors for vloggers.”

Once you have decided on your search terms, place your keyword in the title, subtitle, and description. The App Store allows you to choose specific keywords for your listing.

Check out the listing for PowerDirector below.

Also list your mobile app in the relevant categories. Choose the ones that best represent your tool. You can also choose multiple categories on both app stores if your application fits.

Unfortunately, keyword optimization on its own isn’t enough to make your app show up on either marketplace. Other factors are used by both Apple and Google to determine the rank of your app include:

  • Your app’s rating and user feedback.
  • How you respond to user issues.
  • How often you update your software.
  • How people who download your product use it.

We’ll go into detail about how to encourage reviews and respond to user issues later in this article. Arguably the most important thing you can do is ensure people who download your product love using it.

How to Optimize Your Listing for Conversion

When people find your listing, you want to ensure it encourages them to download your mobile app.

The most important parts of the listing are:

  • Your title.
  • Images and/or video.
  • The first line of your description or the subtitle.

You can see how listings are displayed on the Play Store in the image below.

The other important parts of your listing are the star rating, number of app downloads, and call-to-action. You can’t edit any of these things yourself so we won’t focus on them in this guide.

Here are some notes about the things you can change.


Your listing headline should contain the name of your mobile app and make it clear what it does. Some great examples from Google Play include:

  1. Uber Eats: Local food delivery
  2. Six Pack in 30 Days – Abs Workout
  3. Learn Python
  4. Snow – Beauty and makeup camera
  5. hotel reservations

Not only does an optimized headline help with SEO, it also lets the user know exactly what your product does. This can help them make the decision about whether to install it.

Choose Great Images

Your images need to be of great quality. Here is a look at some common types of images.

  1. Most listings use benefit-driven screenshots. These show a screenshot of the app with the benefit of that particular feature written on the image. The image is in portrait orientation. If you need a tool to help you make beautiful app screenshots, then give App Institute’s screenshot maker a try
  2. Some mobile apps do something similar but instead of using a screenshot to illustrate the feature, they use an illustration or photo. These images can be landscape or portrait.
  3. Additionally, some mobile apps just use plain screenshots, although they will often include at least one descriptive image (or video) at the start of the gallery.

Use a Video

Both main app stores allow developers to include a video on their listing.

However, there is a major difference in the way the video is displayed in each store. On the App Store, the video auto-plays while on the Play Store users who click on a video will be taken to the YouTube app. This means many more people view the video on iPhones than they do on Google Play.

Your video should be short. It should also contain captions that explain to the user what is happening as people often watch videos on their phones without sound.

As with images, the video should focus on explaining the benefit of your mobile app to the user.

Also ensure your video has an attractive thumbnail. This is especially important on Google Play as the lack of Autoplay means that unless someone chooses to play the video, it is essentially just another image in the gallery.

Subtitle or Description

The final part you should focus on is the subtitle (App Store) or the first sentence of the description (Play Store).

Both these sections have the same aim: tell the user a little more about the app. As you can see in the screenshots above, the best descriptions tell the user the benefit of downloading the app.

Developers can use up to 80 characters for their description on the Play Store but only 30 characters on the App Store.

Don’t Forget the Description

As well as the main landing page, you should spend some time ensuring the description is well optimized. Users will see this if they ask to read more on the app listing.

In the description, you’ll want to convey to the reader how installing and using the app will benefit them. Your description should be error-free and easy to read. If you aren’t confident about your writing ability you can outsource the writing using a freelancer.

Release a Beta Version of Your App

Many app developers choose to release a beta version of their app before releasing the full version. Releasing the app to a small number of testers can help you work out any faults with your app before unveiling it to the general public.

Releasing an app to beta testers is also a way to build anticipation for your app. You could use the opportunity to get early access as a way to drive pre-registrations. Additionally, the people who use your app may be inclined to talk about it on social media, or their blogs—making it useful for mobile app marketing.

Remember that the main reason for beta testing is to make your app better.

You’ll have to have a system set up that makes it easy for beta testers to let you know what works and what doesn’t. You should also be ready to take their opinions into consideration and improve your app based on these suggestions.

Run Social Media Contests

When you release your app, you want to get it in front of as many people as possible. One way to do this is via social media contests.

When done properly, they can increase your customer base, spread the word about your upcoming product, and grow your social media followers or email list.

First, you’ll have to come up with an interesting prize and a budget. When Snapchat launched, it held a marketing contest that gave away $10,000 dollars’ worth of camera equipment. While you may not have such a large budget, you’ll nonetheless have to find a way to provide something that people will find enticing enough to enter the competition.

Once you have a prize, you’ll need to decide how people will enter the contest. The method you choose should be the one that best aligns with your goals. Here are some contest examples:

  • Share or retweet the post: These contests are simple to run. The entrant just needs to share the post to be in with a chance of winning. This will spread your post throughout social media, although it is quite a passive way of entering a contest and may not provide much impact.
  • Tag a friend: These posts work because the person entering the competition is choosing a specific person to share the contest with. While this means it might not end up with as many total views as a share this post contest, it creates a more personal bond.
  • Photo contest: Photo contents, or video, essay, caption contest, etc. require a large amount of effort on behalf of the entrant. While this may result in fewer entrants overall, it does mean you know the people who enter are really passionate about your product (or your prize).
  • Sign up to the email list: Choosing a winner from a list of people who sign up to your email list has the obvious benefit of being an effective way to build your email list. However, people have no reason to interact with the post on social media which means you may struggle to gain an overall increase in your audience.

Run an Influencer Marketing Campaign

Influencer marketing is another useful social media-related mobile app marketing strategy. These people will share your app with their audience. There are several ways you can do this.

  • Pay influencers to promote your app: This is perhaps the simplest way to use influencers, with the obvious downside of it costing money. While costs vary, estimates by Digiday suggest a good place to start is to budget $10 per thousand followers. When choosing an influencer, be sure to choose one that has a similar audience to the one you want to target.
  • Utilize micro-influencers. If you don’t want to pay for influencers to share your product, you may have some success using micro-influencers within your existing audience. If there are people you know who love your business, you could provide them with advanced previews in the hope that they will talk about your product on their platform. While these influencers may not have as many followers, if you can get your product in front of a few of them you may be able to build a decent size audience.

Social Media Audience Swaps

Another free social media marketing strategy is to promote another company’s product to your audience if they do the same for yours.

When choosing an account to cross-promote with, look for one with a similar number of followers to your account. Ideally, the product will be related, but not competing.

This is a good strategy to use if you don’t have a large budget for mobile app marketing.

Send Out a Press Release

Creating a press release for your app can be a good way to get some media coverage. When creating a press release, focus on something that makes your app exciting or unique.

In this news story, the article focuses on how the app helps young people with mental health issues.

You should ensure your press release is well written. If you aren’t confident about doing this yourself, you could use a service like Upwork or Fiverr to find a professional who can write the release for you.

You also want to make sure the publications you send the release to have everything they need to write an article. You should include:

  • High-resolution images and screenshots.
  • Videos or video embed links.
  • Links to your site and your app marketplace download pages.
  • Information about your company.
  • Relevant quotes from people at your company.
  • Contact information.

Create a shareable folder on Google Docs or a similar service and include the above resources.

Attract Reviews on Popular Websites and Blogs

Reviews on websites that share an audience with your app’s target audience can be a great way to get your app in front of other people.

The first step is identifying sites your target audience is likely to visit. A smaller site with a targeted audience may be a better option than a larger site with a broad audience. You may also find that smaller sites and blogs will be more likely to review your product.

Once you have your list of sites, you’ll have to write a short message selling your mobile app. Most sites don’t want to be used for free advertising so you’ll have to tailor your pitch to make it about why a review for your app would be interesting to the site’s audience.

You’ll also want to make it as easy as possible for sites to check out your app, so provide direct links to the download page. If your app is paid or subscription-based you may find that providing a way for reviewers to gain free access to the app can increase your chances of getting a review.

Some sites may ask for payment in order to publish a review. If this is the case and you have the budget available, it may be worth it.

Ask for information about the number of visitors a site has as well as the number of people likely to visit the specific page with the app review. You could also ask for viewer analytics figures to ensure the site’s audience is similar to your target audience.

A final note regarding reviews is that there is no guarantee your product will gain a positive review, so you should be willing to take this risk. If you are confident your app provides a useful function and a user-friendly experience, there is no reason to think you will get a bad review.

Run Google Ads

Paid ads are a good way to increase user acquisition. The way ads work on sites like Google and Facebook means it can be affordable to get your ad in front of a small yet highly targeted group of people.

You can create a Google marketing campaign for your app via Google Search Ads. It’s easy to set up budgets using this service as well as select who you want to target your app at. By placing your search ads on the Google Play homepage or within specific search listings, you’ll be able to put your app in front of people who are actively looking for an app like yours.

Run Social Media Ads

Social media ads are another good form of mobile marketing. It’s possible to not only target your exact buyer persona, but you also only target people using social media on their mobile devices. This means they are just one step away from downloading your product.

In the above advert, you can see that Blinkist’s Facebook ad contains a simple image, an introduction, and title that make it obvious what the product is. It also includes an install button that takes the viewer straight to the Play Store where they can download the app. Super effective!

Request User Reviews

Anyone who has ever used mobile apps will likely be familiar with push notifications or pop ups that ask “Have you enjoyed using our app?”

As annoying as this can be, it is widely used because it is an effective way for developers to get existing customers to review the app. This is something that can make a big difference in app store rankings.

To request that mobile app users review your product, you’ll have to build the functionality into your app itself. This can be done by your developer or through the use of a plugin. When requesting reviews, you want to:

Ensure the Request is Done at a Good Time

You don’t want to ask for a review straight away because the user won’t have had a chance to use the app.

Instead, a good time to ask for a review could be when the user has accomplished something. For example, a game could ask for a review once the user has completed the first level, or a podcast app could ask for a review once the user has added a certain number of feeds.

Make it Easy for the User to Leave a Review

Many apps allow the user to select a star rating without ever leaving the app. This could increase the chances of a user leaving a review. Additionally, many apps will continue to ask for reviews until the user either leaves one or asks the app not to show the message again.

Encourage Positive Reviews

Many apps encourage positive reviews by asking a question along the lines of “Have you enjoyed using our app?”

If the user says yes, they are given the chance to leave a review. If they say no, they are given the chance to talk to the app’s customer service team. This has the dual benefit of decreasing the chances of users leaving negative reviews while allowing developers to be notified of and fix potential issues.

Engage with Customer Reviews

Reviews are useful not just because they are used in the algorithm, but also because users look at a review rating before downloading an app.

Research by Apptentive found that only 15 percent of people would consider downloading an app with a two-star review, while 96 percent would consider downloading a four-star app.

This is made even more important by the fact that your app’s overall rating has a prominent position on its listing. Any negative reviews could, therefore, have a real effect on how many people download your app.

If you receive a negative review, don’t despair. By reading negative reviews you can find out if there are things people don’t like about your app. While you may not like what they have to say, if a lot of people are saying the same thing, it could indicate a problem.

Additionally, users can edit their reviews. If a mobile app user has posted a negative review, you could offer help or fix the issue in an update. If you do this, the user may upgrade their rating.

Use a Referral Scheme

Once you have a solid base of app users that love your app, you can encourage them to spread the word about it by creating a referral scheme. The referral scheme will usually work by offering the referrer a benefit for recommending the app to a friend, and offer the person receiving the referral a benefit for signing up.

There are a ton of different types of benefits you could offer, here is a look at some of them:

  • A discount or money off can be a powerful referral incentive: In 2015, Amazon introduced an offer where referrers receive $5 for every person they refer who also makes a purchase. Additionally, the app users who receive the referral also got $5 off their first purchase. Uber has also aggressively used a similar referral system to drive signups for both its car-sharing and food delivery services
  • Freebie-based referrals: Some apps offer users freebies for recommendations. This can come in the form of free trials (Evernote) or increased storage (Dropbox).
  • Invite friend button: Some apps don’t even bother with an incentive. Instead, they ask app users to invite their friends. This can be particularly effective if your app improves when more people use the service. Examples of this include social networks, PayPal, and multiplayer games like Pokémon Go.

You can use push notifications to alert people to these features. The great thing about this type of mobile marketing is that it only costs you when you get a new customer. This makes it a great way to get a positive ROI.

Try Cross Promotion

While ads are a great way to get your mobile app in front of a large number of users, they can be costly. This might not be ideal for indie developers with small budgets.

One way around this is to sign up for an ad cross-promotion platform. With these services, you show ads on your app which give you credits you can use to spend on advertising on other apps.

Platforms like Tappx make it easy for the user to sign up for their service. The biggest benefit is that developers don’t have to spend a thing. Of course, the downside is that if you don’t already have at least some people using your product, you may struggle to build up credits.

Additionally, you’ll have to decide whether the disruption brought by the ads you place on your own site is worth it for the number of app downloads you get.

A Good Mobile App Marketing Strategy Can Drive Success

Creating a great mobile app is just a small part of a successful launch. Your mobile app marketing strategy should begin long before you plan to release the app to ensure you are in a great position when you release it. They should then continue once the app has been released to ensure a steady stream of app downloads.

By following the tips in this guide, we hope you will have a successful launch.

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