If you were going to guess how many mobile apps are available right now, what would you say? 1 million? 2 million?
Well, according to statistics from July 2015 (the latest available), there were 1.5 million apps in the Apple store and 1.6 million in the Google Play store. In case you haven’t done the math yet, that’s 3.1 million apps that you can download onto your phone or tablet.
Here’s the next question: how many of those 3.1 million available apps would you say you use on a regular basis? According to a Forrester Research study on app usage from 2015, if you’re like the average smartphone user then that number is a lowly, little five. Those five can vary from user to user, but big-name apps like Facebook and Google still dominate the landscape.
With those kinds of odds, getting your app into the hands of users can be a daunting task. How do you cut through all the noise? How do you make your app stand out among the millions?
While there’s no magic bullet, we’ve compiled some tips to help you make your app as successful as possible.
Social media marketing: go big or go home
Social media marketing is becoming more and more important for all sorts of products, but when it comes to apps, this is one area in which you really want to invest.
Think about it: when you open up Facebook, chances are you see at least a few ads, likes, or shares for apps based on your interests. For me, for example, I see an ad for Poshmark, an app for selling your gently used clothes, and for Modcloth’s app (they’re a women’s clothing retailer – guess Facebook thinks I’m a fashion maven).
Facebook ads can be a relatively simple way to get the ball rolling, as you can create custom audiences to target your ads appropriately. This will not only increase your downloads, but also your customer retention, as hyper-targeting will allow you to engage with the people who are more likely to not only install, but keep the app and make in-app purchases.
It’s also important to invest time and effort into whichever social media profiles will optimize your app’s presence. For example, if you’ve got a retail app, the image-heavy Pinterest and/or Instagram are probably the ones you want to really invest in.
For mobile games, Twitter offers some great opportunities. Indie gamers can take advantage of #ScreenShotSaturday, which has developers post screenshots or videos of their games in development.
The important thing is to pick the profiles that are going to be most useful to you, and focus on those. If you try to build a robust presence on every single social media site out there, you’re either going to have a bunch of mediocre profiles, or no time left to actually develop your app.
Go after influencers
Influencer marketing can be huge for mobile apps, and one of the best ways to build your audience.
First, of course, you have to find the right influencers for your particular app – to learn more about that, you can read our blog post How to Find the Right Influencer for Your Brand. In addition to the research methods we discuss there, you can use a variety of online tools to find the top influencers in your niche: Klout, Klear, andInkybee are just a few, in addition to BuzzSumo and BuzzStream.
One smart thing to do to get influencers interested and build buzz is to give them a chance to use your app pre-release. For one thing, you’ll benefit from their honest feedback – if something doesn’t work well or a feature needs some tweaking, you’ll have time to work out those kinks before your wide release.
For another, if the influencer likes what you’re doing enough to tweet, post, or blog about your app, they’ll be helping you build anticipation for your wide release. This will give you a better chance at having users ready to hit “download” as soon as you make your app live.
Build in some exclusivity
This is another tactic that shares some similarities with letting influencers try your app before it’s released to the public at large. Lots of companies have experimented with the invitation-only method of allowing users to download an app. That’s how Google+ and Spotify first entered the market.
It seems silly, but hearing that a certain app is available by invitation only is the online equivalent of seeing someone jump the line at a fancy nightclub. Whether or not you were originally interested in the nightclub, now – be honest – you want to know what’s in there, and why that person was special enough to get in.
While this is a great way to help get your app off to a strong start, you can continue to capitalize on this method even after your app has been out for some time. By adding an “invite friends” link, you can encourage users to share your app with their friends. Adding some kind of incentive, like a discount or access to exclusive content, will make this an even more powerful tactic.
SEO for the app store
Whether your app is Android, iOS, or both, you want to make sure your language and keywords are optimized for the store (or stores) that it will live in.
It’s important to know that this is a different game from web SEO, by the way. For one thing, it’s a lot harder to see where your users are coming from – attribution is still murky in the mobile world, and there are no set measurement standards like there are for web.
However, there are certain familiar areas that you’ll still want to focus on in order to optimize your app for the App Store, Google Play Store, Amazon Store, etc.
- Title – not surprisingly, this is pretty vital. Put some thought into your app’s name, making sure it’s clear enough to tell users what the app is, while being catchy enough for people to remember.
- Description– Keep it short and concise, and include choice keywords if you can.
- Keywords– Make sure you’re optimizing your keywords here – don’t bother repeating ones that are already in your title or description. You don’t have much space in this field, so make the most of it.
Encourage users to rate your app
An app’s ratings affect where it appears in the app stores, so do your best to encourage users to rate the app once they’ve used it.
Since no one likes getting pop-ups or pushy reminders, you can use app analytics tools to develop a list of your most engaged users – the ones who are most likely to offer a rating.
You could also use in-app messaging to offer users the chance to take a survey. This will serve two purposes: it will give you valuable feedback for making your app better, while also allowing you to see which users you should target to request a rating.
Marketing your mobile app brings up different considerations than marketing a store, service, or tangible product. However, one thing is definitely the same: having the help of experts will make everything easier.