A Step-By-Step Guide to Marketing Your Mobile App

With the number of available apps for download from the world’s leading app stores totaling over four million, enterprises know all too well that a meticulous marketing strategy is the only way to stand out in today’s app market. While focusing on mobile app development and building an app that functions properly is a central factor for success, if users’ don’t know the product exists, your hard work is worthless.


Mobile app marketing covers every user interaction from the moment they first learn about the product to when they become a loyal user. Marketing a mobile app effectively involves defining a target audience, learning how to reach them, how to communicate with them, and analyzing their in-app behavior to make continuous improvements as users move through the acquisition funnel. Ultimately, the goal of a mobile app marketing strategy should be to acquire users that will not only drive repeat engagement but will also become loyal advocates for the product.

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The Awareness, Or Pre-Launch Stage

The awareness stage of a mobile app marketing strategy occurs before the product is launched. This stage is meant for building brand awareness and product visibility. Specifically, how will your target users discover your mobile app? Before beginning with the awareness stage, it is important to already have a thorough understanding of your brand messaging and positioning. A brand resonates with customers through its values and purpose, not through individual product features. Defining a brand position gives users the chance to connect with your product on a deeper level. Below is a list of steps and strategies to follow during the awareness stage of your marketing plan.

1. Determine A Release Date

Compared to Google, Apple has a strict review process that may delay your release, or you may encounter a setback you didn’t anticipate. Planning far in advance will give you adequate time to prepare for your product’s hard launch and allows you to foresee and contingencies that may occur.

2. Conduct Market Research To Understand Your Customers

One of the most common pre-launch mistakes is not doing market research properly. Before you begin any development work, you need to identify the key players in your specific app category. It doesn’t matter how thorough your marketing efforts are – if your app doesn’t address a user pain-point or addresses a pain-point that already has a thriving app solution in the market, then your product will simply not succeed. App Annie provides a substantial amount of useful app market data.

3. Create User Personas

A core objective throughout the awareness stage is discovering who your target user is, what they value, and the central pain point they experience that your product will address. There can be multiple user groups for a mobile app and each user persona will have its unique user journey.

A user persona is a partially fictitious depiction of your ideal user. User personas include everything about a user’s demographics, background, mobile preferences, interests, and unique identifiers. User personas also address the central goals of the user and the challenges they currently face. In-depth user personas create the foundation for user journey design and help you customize every aspect of your mobile product to each of your users’ preferences and needs. Everything from branding and in-app content to functionality, features, platform choice and monetization strategy need to resonate with your target user.

4. Conduct A Competitive Analysis

Your app will have competition. Make a list of your top 5 competitors, their current price, monetization model, app store ranking, user experience (UX) pros and cons, and notable reviews. You could even go so far as to make a competitive matrix to determine how your app compares. Make sure your app doesn’t repeat any poorly made features or UX elements that users have negatively reviewed. Think about what would make your app stand out in contrast to your competitors. These are important considerations that should influence your entire app marketing approach.

5. Create A Website, Or Landing Page

Mobile websites are the number one source of app installs. Creating a pre-launch landing page or at the very least a teaser video for your product has become standard practice. Once you have a video for your website, you can recycle the content by putting it in the app stores, on social platforms, or even use it in paid ads. In addition to building a hype around your app, having a pre-launch website is also a great way to do some early search engine optimization (SEO) by starting to build your domain authority. When you set up your website, collect emails so you can keep your followers updated and let them know when your mobile app launches, and when you have new updates and features. It is also beneficial to showcase 5-star reviews on the site; make sure reviews are authentic, or else your brand will seem insincere.

6. Outreach Initiatives

One of the most overlooked aspects of marketing a new mobile product is outreach initiatives by contacting influencers, publications, and bloggers to secure backlinks and provide honest reviews. Make a list of contacts that are relevant to your industry or niche that might be interested in writing about, and reviewing your app. Keep your pitch concise with a link to your press kit or landing page. That way, if they’re interested in writing about your app, they’ll have all of the information they need.

7. Promote On Social

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other social platforms let you expand your web presence and allow you to directly communicate with your target audience. If your app targets specific age groups, identify the social platforms that are most popular with people in this demographic and focus on them. Make sure you consider the following:

  • Is it clear that you have an app from the first glance of your social profile?
  • Is the purpose of the app obvious?
  • Is there a link to download it?

Post company updates, and features that will get followers excited about the launch. Create a hashtag and use it in posts when appropriate. Post and share not only promotional but entertaining and engaging content related to your app in order to build a community behind it.

8. Create A Content Marketing Strategy

Start writing a blog months in advance of launching. When it’s time to launch, you’ll already be an authority in your niche with followers. Start simple and write a launch post, boast about the app’s features, showcase screenshots, and videos. Here are several benefits of content marketing for your app:

  • Drive traffic, conversions, and brand awareness with content
  • Create a brand around your app by being an expert in your niche
  • Build trust with users through content
  • Blog content can be used for email marketing to re-engage contacts or for social media

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Steps For Continued Success

1. Ask Users For Feedback

If people are using your app constantly, it is a sign that have made a connection with the product. Give them the opportunity to express their opinions with a popup invitation to leave a review, but remember that user experience should not be sacrificed by this tactic. Think about when and how you want to ask for a review and make sure it flows well with the user experience so it won’t frustrate users. The more strategically the popup is placed, the better the chances are for a positive review.

2. Consider A Burst Campaign

A “burst campaign” is one of the most popular techniques used by mobile app marketers who want to climb the app store ranks. 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 – usually between 24 and 72 hours, depending on budget.

The goal is to get as many paid installs as possible, boosting your ranking. All this with the hope of increasing the volume of quality organic installs – that should follow when the app is finally ranked high enough to be discovered. While you should attract more organic downloads from a successful burst campaign, continued paid advertising will maintain steady downloads. You need to keep the momentum going.

3. Offer A Referral Bonus

Offering your users a bonus or benefit 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. The company had just 1,00,000 registered users in 2008, which climbed to a staggering 4,000,000 registered users within a mere 15 month period as a result of their referral program. This post from Localytics explains how Dropbox used referrals to exponentially increase their user base.

Set Goals And Track Key Metrics

The only way to know if your marketing strategy is working is to set goals and track the increase in your app store ratings over a given period of time. There will also be numerous analytical elements that you’ll need to keep track of throughout the acquisition, engagement, conversion and retention stages of the user journey which is why measurement should be an ongoing process.

Some key metrics you’ll want to track include: churn rate, daily active users (DAUs), session length, time in-app, session interval, and cost per acquisition. For more info on these metrics click here. From these metrics, you need to determine what worked and what didn’t. Focus your efforts and resources on high-value tactics and you’ll be sure to see your app’s downloads skyrocket.

Don’t Over Promise

An important part of every marketing strategy is to not oversell. Word of mouth is by far the most effective strategy for marketing any mobile app. This means that you cannot falsely advertise or overpromise. You need to make sure your messaging remains consistent or it will inevitably result in frustrated users and high uninstall rates.

When it comes to setting a broad app marketing strategy, it is essential to diversify your marketing strategy. Some people will connect with video, others with images or text. Create diversified content and make sure app reviewers have easy access to it at all times. Remember that your strategy should be dynamic with iterations and continual optimization will be the key to finding the perfect balance of different approaches.