How to promote an app? Successful startups’ tips

So you have your great app idea for a service that will revolutionize the world. You’ve created a team of professionals that will do everything to succeed or you hired a software house to create the app. But what next?

Well, you already know that there is a boom for apps – that’s why you’ve decided to create your own one. But with the huge numbers of apps in app stores, creating an app is just the beginning. You have to promote it to increase downloads and finally start making money on your idea.

But how to do it right? The best idea is to follow somebody who was already there. That’s why I asked some successful startups to tell us how they managed to promote their own app. I must admitt they shared some really important insighrts! So without further delay – check how to promote your app with successful startups’ tips.

WHERE TO START? MARKETING STRATEGY

Convinced your app needs a strong marketing? That’s good – but where to start if you’re not an expert? Well, the best answer is: from the very beginning. So here are 5 basic steps to create and evaluate a perfect app marketing strategy.

#1 Know your market

Marketing is hard only if the company doesn’t know who their target market is. SignMyPad, which was a PDF signature app that came out June 2010, was well received by business like lawyers. Once that information was received by my company, we were able to exploit that. We reached out to EVERY lawyer we knew, friend or family, and gave them a free copy of the app. We could afford to lose the 3.99 to have them be our evangelists.

- Justin T. Esgar, Appitalize On Your Idea Consulting

#2 Know where you want to be

Once you know who is your target group, check where they usually are. For example, teenagers can be easily reached by Snapchat but if your target are mothers with two children, it is unlikely to reach them through this funny app. There are of course exceptions but you need to know where your target is.

#3 Don’t let your brand get lost in the crowd

To achieve a real success, you have to distinguish from the rest of products in your field. So even if developing “app just like Facebook” seems a good idea at the beginning, you need to keep in mind what makes you unique. Don’t just copy other apps’ marketing strategy – do something exceptional and let your app be remembered.

#4 Make data your daily routine

If it's mobile marketing in 2017, then it is data-driven. What you don't know can hurt you. Business intelligence about the app store landscape covers only one side of the equation. You also need competitive intelligence about your app rivals to keep tabs on and - ultimately - stay ahead of the pack.

- Jason Hill, Director of Sales at appScatter

#5 Test your assumptions

“Understanding your market and painpoints is vital. But you always need to be validating your assumptions in all these areas. We really love lean experiments approach for this – setting up different experiments to validate our assumptions.”

– Kaili Kleemeier, CEO at Deekit

TO HIRE AN EXPERT OR DO IT YOURSELF?

The time of all-mighty geeks who can do everything from programming an app to creating your home website and helping you set some PPC ads is over. Nowadays, the online promotion market has become so huge and specialized that you need at least one online marketing specialist, and better – a team of them – to fuel your app promotion.

Of course, your team can do it all in-house – after all, it’s you who know your brand best. That was the way Charles Cridland, Co-founder of YourParkingSpace, did their marketing: “We promote our app in-house but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as the best route, it does depend on your circumstances,“ they claim.

However, sometimes you want to complete a task so complex or specialized that you just have to ask for help outside. If not to a 360 agency, at least to some highly specialized professionals.

Marketing involves many aspects and one cannot know it all. Thus often it makes more sense to find an expert in different areas (SEO, video production, setting up ads are often the typical areas for example).

- Kaili Kleemeier, CEO at Deekit

“We collaborate often with different partners to create content (both templates in Deekit application, but also blogposts and more). We also have several super smart advisors who help us on daily basis,” she adds.
So how to find a right external marketing expert?

“If you choose to hire an external partner always ask to see client case studies, speak to those clients, and try to choose a partner that has expertise in promoting apps similar to yours. A company that’s delivered great results promoting a viral gaming app won’t necessarily be the best fit when it comes to promoting your local B2B app,” advises Charles Cridland.

Apart from portfolio and reviews, there are also other important characteristics.

“Creativity, speed and skill matter a lot when looking for an external partner. And obviously they need to get the product, the vision and dig into your target users and understanding their needs,” sums up Kaili Kleemeier.

BEST MARKETING TOOLS

What are the best ways to promote an app? Well, it certainly depends on what your app is all about and what is your target. But it won’t be bad to know which strategies succeed, will it? So here are some marketing tools you can choose from when advertising a mobile app.

WEBSITE/LANDING PAGE

First and most importantly, don’t see an app as a substitute for a website. The vast majority of traffic comes from search engines. Without a website you’ll receive very little search engine traffic, and with little to no free search engine traffic you’ll need a large marketing budget to create the awareness to generate app downloads.

- Charles Cridland, Co-founder of YourParkingSpace

CONTENT MARKETING

“Have a live updating blog. Having your blog provides content to your users. Whether it’s directly about the app you are selling, a highlight of a user, a use case for your app, or something – providing that rich content to your users will engage with them.”

– Justin T. Esgar, Appitalize On Your Idea Consulting

SOCIAL MEDIA

“We promote our app through social media and do quite a bit of content marketing. For us, visual platforms such as Instagram, Facebook etc make a lot of sense.”

– Kaili Kleemeier, CEO at Deekit

RECOMMENDATIONS

“Find evangelists. The worst thing a company can do is take a slimy car sales man of “Buy our app! Buy it now!” That never works, especially since you are the company selling the app. Finding evangelists to do that for you by them saying <> will net you better gains.”

– Justin T. Esgar, Appitalize On Your Idea Consulting

LOCAL FACEBOOK GROUPS

No matter your niche or vertical there is a FB group that you can participate in to contribute to the discussion, answer questions, and develop a presence to refer people to your business, often times when they are looking for exactly what you offer.</p> <p>FB just also launched a dedicated mobile app to support their groups' communities so now it's easier than ever to manage the groups that you participate in, monitor the conversations, and participate while on the go throughout your day.

- Bryan Clayton, CEO at GreenPal

PRESS RELEASES

“When our app was launched we released a press release which was covered by industry-specific media.”

– Charles Cridland, Co-founder of YourParkingSpace

PRODUCT HUNT

“Product Hunt is great platform to reach early adopters.”

– Kaili Kleemeier, CEO at Deekit

EMAIL FOOTERS

“All our email footers now include app download icons as we regularly communicate with customers via email.”

– Charles Cridland, Co-founder of YourParkingSpace

SCREENSHOTS

If I had to give my top tip for app promotion - I’d probably say this: Make sure your screenshots are good. Enhanced screenshots increase the likelihood of download by over 30% - and there are plenty of tools that you can use to create them.

- Ian Naylor, CEO & Founder of AppInstitute

PPC

“PPC is an important marketing channel for us, so we’ve added app mentions and app sitelinks throughout the campaign.”

– Charles Cridland, Co-founder of YourParkingSpace

PROMOTIONAL CODES

“We’ve found that app-only promotional codes have worked well to move customers over to the app and away from the desktop and mobile website.”

– Charles Cridland, Co-founder of YourParkingSpace

WHAT TO REMEMBER OF?

As you can see, there are plenty of strategies to choose from when promoting your app. All of them can be useful – of course, it depends on the app strategy you’ve learned to create at the beginning of this article.

There is, however, one general rule you, as a startup, should follow:
“When you are in a startup, you need to move quickly. Yet, you cannot focus on everything at the same time. Pick your focus area, set your goals and how you measure your progress. And run time-boxed experiments for all your activities,” says Kaili Kleemeier. Test your ideas and find out what’s right for you – do that and you’ll quickly find the best strategy for you.
 
 
Interested in founding a mobile startup? Want to build your own app? Check how we can help you! Fill in this form to get a free quote for your app idea.

OUR CONTRIBUTORS

Without our great contributors it wouldn’t be possible to prepare such an insightful article. Here are all the startups and companies who shared great thoughts in the alphabetical order.

AppinstituteAppInstitute – a tool which helps to build simple apps.
 
AppitalizeAppitalize On Your Idea Consulting – cunsulting services for app owners.
 
appScatterappScatter – a mobile strategy platform.
 
DeekitDeekit – the real time online whiteboard for teams – collaborate as if you were in the same room.
 
GreenPalGreenPal – Uber for Lawn Care – the app that connects people who need to have their lawn mowed with those who offer such services. You can find it here: www.yourgreenpal.com
 
yourparkingspaceYourParkingSpace – an app which helps to offer and find parking spaces in the UK.

Katarzyna Lorenc
Marketing Specialist

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