The mobile application market is gaining traction consistently. Two of the most popular application stores in the world, the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store each have millions of different applications now. As of September 2018, the Google Play Store has over 2.6 Million different applications. (Source)
On the other hand, the number of applications on the Apple App store is at nearly 2 million applications. Some of the other less popular app stores also have several thousand applications. (Source)
So, as the competition on the app stores increase we can safely assume that the demand for application is increasing as well. Today, both mobile and desktop applications are gaining popularity because they are easy to use and have an easier interface compared to conventional web-based applications. If you are planning on developing your own application, you need to compete with these pre-existing applications. You need to adopt strategies that will rank your application higher on the popularity charts. Here are some of the most popular mobile app marketing strategies that you can leverage to do so.
1. Show Your App on the App Store
The lack of visibility of your application is possibly the number one reason why it has so less number of downloads. Create a super useful and free application might not do the trick on the app stores due to the heavy competition. App stores have a mechanism that works in a way similar to that of a search engine. With search engines, we have SEO (Search Engine Optimization) while with app stores we have App Store Optimization.
If you look closely, each application on the different app stores has a short description and a couple of screenshots/videos. These details showcase the different functionalities of the application to the user. The App Store search engine picks up keywords from this description to showcase the multiple applications on the search results. If your app description does not contain the right type and quantity of keywords, it will not show up in the search results.
Here are a few ways in which you can optimize your application’s description for the App store search engine.
- Include Relevant Keywords: Increasing the density of keywords will do no good if you are unable to increase their quality as well. As a part of best practice, you should hire a content developer to right relevant keywords for the description of your application.
- Categorize the Application Correctly: Most app developers fail to categorize their applications correctly on the app stores. When you first launch your application on the app store, make sure that it falls under the relevant category. It is not necessary that your application falls exclusively under one category. For example, if your application may fall under the entertainment, gaming and music categories simultaneously.
- Use Meta-Tags for Description of Screenshots: The app stores’ search engine won’t identify pictures or screenshots. Instead, they will just pick up keywords from the description. To make sure that your screenshots give you the necessary value on the SEO front, use meta-tags and description for each screenshot.
- Test the Application: The best form of marketing is publicity. If you develop a great application, people will commend it in the long run. Both customer acquisition, as well as retention, becomes easy on a well-tested bug-free application.
2. Add Video Content to the App Description
Adding the screenshots may not provide enough value to you on the app store. To showcase the application’s true functions, you may need to add a small video that goes great with the screenshots and images. Some of the most popular applications like Clash of Clans invest heavily in video marketing both on the Apple as well as Google app stores. Clash of Clans has also launched multiple ads on TV to grab the attention of the audience. As a beginner, you might not have the funds to launch ads on TV. However, in the long run, make sure that you reinvest your earnings from the application into marketing.
The video content may not specifically be the recording of the application. You can also launch purely promotional video content. Doing this is extremely easy for gaming applications. If you are launching promotional ad campaigns, do it with a mascot for the application. The mascot makes it extremely easy for people to relate to the application. It also helps you create a reliable brand identity for the long-term success of the application. A mascot may not necessarily be a personality figure. It may just be a small graphics animation. Some of the most popular applications like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and WhatsApp have established their identity just through the logos. Today, their logos are enough for people to recognize them at the 10,000-foot level.
3. Progress Slowly
Some application developers are great at adding new functionality to their applications. However, they do it at a rapid pace and do not focus on the user experience aspect at all. Instead of making an all-rounder application, you must focus on developing and marketing one-key feature in the initial stages. When you do so, you establish a unique identity that gives your application an edge over the competition.
Let’s take the example of WhatsApp here. WhatsApp hit a 1.5 billion user mark back in December 2017. (Source)
Over the years, the popularity for WhatsApp has grown exponentially. Now, WhatsApp does not offer a lot of features. In fact, it offered extremely limited functionality in the initial stages. WhatsApp offered only the chat feature for several years before introducing the audio call and later the video call features. Also, WhatsApp does not have a tonne of stickers or bloated features. In fact, it has very limited functionality and has seen a handful of design changes in the last few years. The only reason why WhatsApp is so popular is that it focused on its strengths for a long period before adding other functionalities.
As a part of its marketing strategy, WhatsApp kept it very simple and focused only on developing the core functionality. Also, WhatsApp never ran any ads. This allowed WhatsApp to grabbed the attention of people who wanted an ad-free minimalistic application for chatting. Recently WhatsApp was bought by Facebook for a whopping sum of 19 billion dollars! (Source)
4. Focus on Both User Acquisition and Retention
Digital marketers are often accused of focusing explicitly on user acquisition. The top digital marketers know that this is not enough. They know that focusing on user retention holds nearly the same amount of importance in the long run. Let’s take a simple example of Clash of Clans again.
Clash of Clans reported over 100 million daily active users back in March 2016, when the mobile app gaming industry was on the rise. (Source)
It gained traction in a very small period because the app developers constantly added new features to the game while marketing them simultaneously. While the new videos helped them in acquiring new users, the added features helped them retaining the existing ones.
Clash of Clans heavily marketed the new updates within the application interface. They pushed the new features through application notifications as well as ads within the application. The best part about user retention marketing is that you can leverage your own application to do so. You do not need to invest heavily in other sources of marketing. However, if you do not leverage this benefit correctly, you might interfere with the overall user experience and lose users instead.
Another quick way to retain users for a long time is to limit their app usage time. This practice works only on a limited scope of applications like the gaming ones. While this sounds counter-productive, it helps the application developers engage the users for a longer period. A simple gaming application like Sniper 3D Assassin recently gained traction on the app stores because it embedded the limited use feature into its interface. This gaming application could be used only for a few minutes before blocking the access for a longer period.
5. Reply to Customer Queries/Suggestions
The best way you can understand your audience is when you listen to them. Respond promptly to the queries and suggestions of your app’s users to gain their trust. The most popular applications have great ratings because the app developers actually listen to their users. They make the necessary modifications and upgrade the overall performance of these applications based on the suggestions.
You might not want to listen to every suggestion. However, listening to the most common ones is a good way to start your marketing strategy. When you do so, your audience feels valued and participates in voluntary publicity activities. If you do not get enough data from the comments, start a data collection venture on the app interface. Ask your audience for their valuable opinions and ratings from time to time.
6. Leverage Social Media Marketing Techniques
Social media marketing is underrated today. One of the most popular digital marketers in the world Gary Vaynerchuk says that you should go all-in on social media marketing techniques today. (Source) You can easily capture the attention of the young audience on social media applications. Create a special Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page to grab the attention of potential app users.
You can easily hook your campaigns up with similar applications. For example, if you are hosting an application that allows the users to edit images, establish a partnership with a developer that has a popular camera application. You can then run ads for both the applications as part of one wholesome suite.
7. Create an App Forum
As your application gains more and more traction, it gets difficult for you to respond to each and every query. To effectively handle all the queries, you can easily create an application forum wherein the app users can talk to each other. The forum will also help you market the new features in an effective manner. In the long run, the forum will reach a stage where it is self-sustainable and requires nearly zero maintenance from your end.
8. Invest in Market Research
If you want your application to beat the competition, you should know the competition first. You can identify their strengths and weaknesses with ample market research. The market research will also help you identify the most effective ways of marketing for an application in your niche.
Competitive research is quite different from user-intent research. The best marketers do not sell features of the application. Instead, they focus on the problems and provide a solution for those problems. For example, if you have developed a gaming application, showcase how it can help users have some fun during the boring office hours.
The best mobile app marketing strategies feel organic instead of forced. Make sure that any strategy that you use feels naturally interesting. Also if you are using in-app marketing strategy, make sure that it does not hamper the overall user experience in any way.