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4 Effective Ways To Promote Your App

May 21, 2020
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written by Izaak Crook

There's never been a better time to promote an app. Read about the 4 top digital marketing channels you should be using in our guide.

The world is more digital-centric than ever. With over 30% of the world’s population using smartphones and 90% of people spending their time on their phones using apps, there’s never been a better time to promote your app.

Marketer Gary Vee says we are living in an “attention economy” so before you can sell anything you have to be able to get people’s attention, especially because the mobile app market is so competitive.

But help is at hand and with my guide, you can use the power of digital marketing to win the attention your app deserves.

So let’s break down 4 effective ways you can promote your app.

1. SEO

1 in 4 people discover apps from search engine results. That’s a sizable chunk of people and they can be accessed without large upfront costs if you get your search engine optimization (SEO) right.

Follow app discovery trends

The secret to understanding how to use SEO to promote your app is to understand user behaviour on search.

Effective SEO is about reverse engineering what users are searching for. To do that you need to stay on top of the latest trends in app discovery.

Google has a page of app discovery statistics such as:

  • 39% of smartphone users will use an app if it’s easier or faster to make purchases
  • Nearly 50% of smartphone users discover apps while browsing their phones’ app stores
  • 63% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps offer them relevant recommendations on products they may be interested in

In recent years there have been emerging trends in favour of productivity apps, learning apps, mind and body apps, and financial management apps.

Do your keyword research

If you know what keywords your prospective users are searching to discover apps, you can target them in your content.

You can use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner to look up search terms. For example, if you enter the keyword “food app” you get related terms like “just eat app”, “best food delivery app”, and “uber eats restaurant”.

If you enter in keywords relevant to your business you can then find results like these that you can integrate into your content and social media.

Update your existing content

When brands learn how to implement SEO to promote their business, they usually create loads of new, fully optimised content. And while it’s important to stay fresh and relevant, it’s crucial that you take care of your existing content as well.

Think about user intent when you look over old content and ask yourself if you’re answering the most common queries about your type of app. Think about the sentiment and the language you’re using – is it easy to understand? Does it convey positivity or negativity towards the app. Google has a natural language processing (NLP) API demo you can use to test it. You’ll be surprised at how search engines can interpret your content.

You’ll find that if you update your content and search engines will start to rank your old content in new ways.

Nail your technical SEO

Technical SEO relates to a range of on-page factors like page speed, security, and responsiveness and the impact they have on your search rankings. Speak to your dev team about any changes that need to be made, their priority, and the benefits of changing them.

2. PPC

Pay per click (PPC) ads are a great way to promote your app online. One study of smartphone users found that 50% had downloaded an app as a result of a search ad. SEO is a great way to get exposure over the long term, but PPC is a more immediate, intent-driven method.

Directly target your audience

PPC cuts out the middleman and targets search ads directly at users who are searching for apps. It also helps that they’re at the top of the search results page. Because it’s pay-per-click you only get charged when your ad converts; ie, when someone clicks on it. This means you only pay for results and those results are better when you take audience targeting into consideration.

Run app install campaigns

You can run dedicated app install campaigns through Google’s Universal App Campaign tool. Google has a set of ad campaign best practices to get the best results from your PPC campaigns. They include using conversion tracking to monitor where your installs are coming from and help refine your campaigns, and determining what goals your campaign hopes to achieve; such as maximising new installs or focusing on driving specific in-app actions such as making a purchase.

If done right PPC campaigns are a surefire way to get more app installs. There are also tools on the market that can help you get maximum ROI from your PPC ad campaigns.

3. Social media marketing

Google data insight into app discover

A lot of app discovery is driven by word of mouth recommendations. This makes social media a crucial place to market your app.

A lot of brands use social media simply to post standalone posts promoting their offerings. This is a surefire way to get ignored on social media.

Social media is a place people go to have genuine conversations, and share their interests and activities. It’s a social ecosystem that you have to understand and respect if you want to get anywhere.

Promote your app using paid social media campaigns

Social media isn’t just Facebook statuses, groups, and fan pages. Facebook Ads, for example, is an incredibly powerful advertising tool and you should consider paid social alongside organic social.

Facebook draws on its massive userbase to build audiences who will be receptive to your app. One feature that is really powerful is the ability to build ‘lookalike audiences’ based on your existing customers. You can upload an email list to Facebook and it will find similar users to target your app ads to.

Facebook also has a dedicated Mobile App Ad Campaign feature. After registering your mobile app with Facebook you can run ads optimised for driving app installs or generating in-app engaging.

Most social media platforms offer effective PPC campaign tools with which you can promote your app.

Discover your audience on social media

The first thing you need to do is find out where your audience hangs out online.

For formal, B2B style marketing, platforms like LinkedIn are essential.

If you have a leisure or lifestyle app to promote, Instagram is your friend.

Keep up with the kids on platforms like Tik Tok and Snapchat. Find millenials on Twitter, and older people on Facebook.

The simplest way to find a social media platform to promote your app on is to go to each platform and look for brands similar to yours. Look at how they relate to their audiences, and how effective they are. Then make a decision if it’s the right platform for you.

Optimise your profile

Take advantage of all the options you have to customise your social media profile.

If you look at effective brands on social media they take full advantage of branding their social media profiles.

Snapchat Twitter profile

Look at the Snapchat profile above. The cover photo has their slogan, and is brand-coherent with the logo in their profile pic. They have the name of their app as their handle, and another iteration of their slogan in their bio. They state their HQ location, and have a link to their site where you can download their app.

Get your profile branding right, make it instantly pop for your audience, and you will get more app downloads.

Find conversations on social media

There is of course more to marketing your app on social media than having a nice looking profile. You need to engage in the conversations that will bring your audience closer to you.

For example, if you go to Twitter and search for the keyword “food ordering app” and then select “recent” rather than most popular (this is more likely to show tweets from a potential customer than a popular brand) you can find out if people are talking about food apps. Look at this example below:

We’ve instantly found that someone is asking if anyone can recommend a food app with garlic bread available on the menu. Bingo! Next you can click through onto their profile and check their location. If they’re in your service area you could easily promote your food ordering app by replying to this question with details of your app. Offer them a discount as a good will gesture and you’re golden.

food ordering app tweet

There’s a lot more to promoting your app on social media than this but searching for conversations that are going on and replying to them, whilst taking time to do, is sure to start delivering results if you do it for long enough. Even taking half an hour every few days can get you results if you’re a small business looking to promote your app on social media.

4. Email marketing

Some people question whether email is still a viable way to promote your app. This doubt is blown out of the water when you consider that email can produce an ROI of 3,800%!

Leverage your existing email list

If you already have an email list for your business this is a great opportunity to promote your app. It’s much easier to sell to people who are already customers, so use email segmentation to write an email to your existing customers talking about how they can get an even better customer experience using your app. You can then write a seperate email to non-customers who are in your list. Use your app as a way to build a bridge between your audience and your products, like offering a first time buyer reward. People are highly driven by rewards and loyalty schemes so make you talk about what your customers will get out of using your app.

Build your email list

If you don’t have an email list already, or want to grow your existing list, you should make sure you have lead capture forms on your website that encourage people to sign up to your emails. Another way to get people on your email list is to run competitions or surveys on your social media platforms. You can also take out paid ads specifically designed to capture emails as their target.

Design your emails for maximum effect

Take a look at this email from Masterclass promoting their app.

"Explore the MasterClass App" email

It’s got a really simple yet effective design that fits their brand’s upmarket identity. It lists 3 benefits of using the app:

  • Discover daily lessons
  • Access exclusive content
  • Take classes anywhere

And it sprinkles in some visuals to give the app some personality. There are loads of examples of effective emails online so do your research into how brands like yours promote their products via email so that you can learn from the best.

Grow your business by promoting your app online

We’ve seen how these 4 ways to promote your app online can be really effective. Each channel has its own nuances and the best way to understand them is to immerse yourself in that world for a bit. All marketing takes trial and error so make sure you test what works for you and what doesn’t.

You may have been reading this article but you don’t already have an app, in that case, there are various ways to build an app, from hiring developers to using an online app builder. This is particularly important if you are in the food and drink business, or have an audience that lives on their smartphones and mobile devices.

Whatever reason you have for building an app, it’s only as effective as the effort you take to promoting it. And these 4 ways to promote your app are a great place to start.

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Author
Izaak Crook

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Izaak Crook is the Head of Marketing at AppInstitute, a SaaS App Builder platform that allows anyone to create their own iOS and Android app without writing a single line of code.
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