The Beginner’s Guide to Inbound App Marketing

You’ve finally written the last line of code and submitted your app to the app store. Countless hours of staring at a screen two feet in front of your face have left you temporarily nearsighted.

As you look out the window, your neighbor’s dog slowly comes into focus as it streaks across the yard chasing a squirrel. You feel lighter as you stand up, as if a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders… And then everything comes crashing back down as you realize that the hardest part is still ahead.

You need to figure out how you’re going to get people to download your app.

The thousands of lines of code make sense to you. It might have been a lot of work, but it’s structured and concrete. However, the abstractness of finding the right people to download your app is out of your element and leaves you with a daunting task ahead.

Don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place. Maybe you’re in the exact situation described above, or maybe you reached that point months ago. Either way, your app could use more downloads, and this post is here to guide you along the journey of inbound app marketing.

This post will go over all of the major inbound app marketing tactics and strategies you can implement outside the app store. The goal of these strategies is to generate leads and downloads for your app. We’ll cover 5 main categories: a website, earned media, social, content marketing, and engagement.

Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

The Website: An information hub

When it comes to organic marketing, exposure is king. If you can target people in the right place at the right time, that’s even better. In the end, it all comes down to getting your app in front of as many qualified potential users as possible.

I’m still surprised by how few apps have their own website. The web is one of the top places people go to for information, advice, and products. If you don’t have a website for your app, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to increase your app’s exposure and organic downloads.

Websites Expand an App’s Reach

How exactly will a website help your app get downloads? First, it will get your app in front of potential users who are using traditional search engines if you utilize SEO strategies to target specific keywords and search terms. Think of it as an extension of app store search.

For example, if you have a note taking app, why limit yourself to the people searching for terms related to “note taking” in the app store when you also could reach the thousands of users searching for that on Google, Bing, or Yahoo. (In case you’re wondering, according to the Google Keyword Planner, “note taking” and “note taking app” have 3,600 and 1,900 average monthly searches, respectively.)

Second, a website can create exposure to, and resources for, bloggers or journalists. We’ll get into more detail on this later in the post, but, basically, you want information about your app to be readily available to any and all media that may be writing a piece relevant to your app.

The site can help journalists discover your app (by coming up in Google search results), and it can be a valuable source of detailed information. One well-made landing page can give writers everything they need to know about your app. If you can decrease points of friction and save authors the step of having to download your app, it will increase the chance that they will write about it.

Covering the Basics

Hopefully, you already have a website for your app, or are convinced you need to make one. So, what are some important aspects to include when creating a website for your app? We’ve mentioned a few above, such as making sure you implement standard SEO practices and providing useful information about your app, but here are a few more things to keep in-mind when creating a website:

Mobile Optimization: Although the point of creating a website is to get your app in front of more people, and the majority of people still browse the web on non-mobile devices, make sure you have either a site with responsive design or a separate mobile-optimized site. Both have their upsides. Responsive sites are preferred by search engines, but mobile-optimized sites tend to perform better. If you’re torn on which one to go with, check out this comparison:

responsive vs. mobile optimized

Image credit to BlueTrainMobile

One negative aspect of people browsing on a non-mobile device is that they tend to prefer downloading apps directly to their phone or tablet (rather than transferring them to their mobile device from a computer). Therefore, creating a mobile-optimized site will lead to a higher conversion rate, helping you maximize signups for the people who are browsing on a mobile device.

CTAs: It’s a proven fact that having smarter (and more) calls-to-action improves your conversion rates. What exactly is a “smart” call to action? You can find a comprehensive explanation and list of tips here, but essentially you want your CTA to have actionable language that provides a clear value proposition and creates a sense of urgency. Too many app websites have generic download buttons that look like these:

google play apple app store

Instead of the boring overused button people are used to, create one that stands out and grabs the user’s attention. Don’t make it feel like a download button. Make it seem like a transition to something actionable.

If you do have the generic download buttons shown above, supplement them with some actionable copy. For example, the 7 Minute Workout Challenge, one of the top paid apps in the Apple app store, could have copy that says “Start Getting Fit Today in Just 7 Minutes!”

The point of these CTAs is to get users thinking about downloading your app. Again, because they prefer to download apps directly to their phone, these will be especially important on your mobile sites. However, even for people browsing on non-mobile devices, the CTA reinforces the thought and reminder to download your app.

Videos and Screenshots: Videos and screenshots are a great way to sell people on your app prior to downloading it. They are perfect for providing a sense of what it feels like to use your app, and they are helpful for journalists who want to know what your app can do without actually downloading it. We’ll touch more on video specifics below.

Testimonials: Testimonials from existing users are hugely helpful for converting people who are on the edge of downloading, but aren’t quite convinced yet. For the most part, unless they come from a recognized and trusted source (e.g., a celebrity endorsement), testimonials will not be enough to provide the sole reason for someone to install your app.

If you have a few quotes or social media posts from users who are happy with your app, it can’t hurt to put them up on your site. Don’t give them prime real estate, but don’t hide them, either. Adding a few just below the fold with a nearby CTA is a good spot for them. Diversify the quotes as much as possible, and find ones that highlight specific reasons users love your app rather than just the generic “This app is great!”

Creative Product Extensions: A lot of apps are extensions of, or complements to, products that are primarily web based. However, if your product started with and is focused around an app, see if you can make the website an extension of your application.

Transferring all or some of the features of your app to your website, like the messaging app GroupMe, is one way you can make this transition. Get creative and make something fun or goofy that will help users remember your brand later when they might be more primed to download it.

In general, the main job of your website is to get users to download your app. Whatever your app is, find some way to make users think “I need that app right away.” Or, create a strong and memorable enough impression that, when users are presented with a situation where your app could be useful, they think “Oh, yeah, I remember [insert your app name]. I’ll download that now.”

It’s not easy, but if you succeed in making a great website, you could see a huge increase in your organic downloads.

Earned Media: Your app’s spinach

Getting featured in media publications is a great way to add a short spike to your organic downloads. Unlike a website, media coverage does not provide a long-term, steady flow of downloads. However, that does not mean it can’t be very helpful. Media coverage is extremely useful in providing short, high velocity bursts of downloads, which helps your app by providing direct downloads and a higher rank in the app store.

Media coverage acts as a form of validation. Not only can it lead to a large bump in downloads, but it also can provide a spike in your Top Charts and keyword rankings.

One of the most influential factors determining your ranking for keywords and the Top Charts is download velocity (how many downloads your app receives in a short period of time – usually 48-72 hours). Earned media can provide the boost you need to rise in the app store rankings, which then can provide another source of increased organic downloads.

An example of how earned media can help improve your rankings and downloads is Snapchat. You might remember a few months ago, in November, when Snapchat turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook. This received a lot of press coverage, which, in turn, led to an increase in downloads.

You can see below how this influenced their ranking in the Top Charts for free iPhone apps. In the beginning of November they were ranked 13th. Just a few weeks later, after the story hit the press, they shot up over 10 spots to number 2. This is especially impressive because, as your ranking gets better, it becomes harder to keep rising in the charts.

snap chat rank in top free iphone apps

What Will Get You Media Coverage?

techcrunch article

Getting covered by a major publication is no easy feat, but there are a few topics related to apps that seem to get written about more than others. Rather than let them come to you, approach writers with information and ideas for stories they might be interested in.

The first topic commonly covered is raising money. The media loves to talk about apps (and companies in general) raising a new round of funding because it catches the eye and adds a level of validation to the app. At the time of writing this post, the front page of TechCrunch had six articles about companies raising money.

Another topic they love to cover is industry disruptors. Does your app turn a traditional industry on its head? Are you changing the status quo and altering the way people usually perform a traditional task? Companies like Uber, that revolutionized the taxi industry, are huge hits because, again, they grab the user’s attention and provide value through a new way of doing things.

Any insights you can provide on your users is also very valuable. No, I’m not talking about NSA style information. I mean providing insights into users’ behaviors and motivations. Your app provides a great opportunity to collect and analyze user data. What makes your users tick? What’s behind the popularity of your app?

You should be looking into this already to help improve your product, so don’t be shy, share it. It’s obviously important not to give away your secret formula, but at the same time, giving away bits and pieces can sometimes help more than it could potentially hurt.

The last major topic that gets covered frequently is novelty. Novelty doesn’t always have to come in the form of a completely new product. There might be something proprietary about the way you do something that you can try to publicize.

Although not an app, this article in Forbes about the new HBO show True Detective provides a great example. While a TV show is far from a novel product, the way the show was written and directed is. It gives the writer of the article a chance to provide a different take on something normal. Try and find an angle like this within your app and start approaching writers with the story.

Here’s a guide from Mashable on how to get your startup covered by top publications. Some of the important tips to note include: a concise pitch, not already being covered to death elsewhere, and attending events. Keep these in mind as you begin approaching different media sources.

Who Should You Target?

Don’t limit yourself when looking for people to cover your app. Of course, you should set a high bar and reach out to sources like Mashable, TechCrunch, Forbes, etc. (Scour your contacts to look for anyone who might be able to introduce you to someone there, which will increase your chances.)

Also, don’t shy away from smaller publications and bloggers. These can be just as valuable because you can really nail down a target audience. By finding blogs or publications focused on the general app ecosystem or on your specific vertical, you likely will have a higher conversion rate.

Remember, earned media is to your app what spinach is to Popeye. It can be extremely helpful and give you a quick boost, but it won’t make you strong forever. Continually think about different takes on your app and ways you can spin a story. Although you might view a change as a simple update to your app, there always are ways to spin it into something newsworthy.

Social: Expand your reach

Having a social presence has become a standard for almost any business. As it pertains to apps and organic downloads, social has two main roles: (1) getting users to share your app, and (2) building a brand and relationship with users.

1. Sharing Is Caring

Getting users to share your app is the first priority. Again, this plays into the main goal of organic marketing, which is to get your app in front of people. Social networks allow you to leverage the connections of other people, exponentially increasing your reach. This is how the app, Bitstrips, a comic and avatar creation app you’ve probably seen somewhere on Facebook, acquired 10 million users in 7 months.

Very few apps have a product that naturally creates a desire to share. The exception to this is apps with high visual appeal where users are either creating or editing images they believe their friends will enjoy. For apps like Instagram, Pic Stitch, and Bitstrips, it’s easy. Their product has a sharing element built into it. However, if you’re not an app like this, there are a few things you can do to help promote social sharing.

The first, and probably most obvious, is to include sharing buttons wherever you can. Let users know that they have the ability to share. Make these buttons obvious, but not prominent. By that I mean don’t hide them in a corner where they could be easy for users to miss, but also don’t make them so big that it’s hard to notice anything else. Think of it like this: If the buttons could talk, they would say, “Hey, buddy, I’m here if you need me, but don’t feel bad if you don’t want to use me.”

Another effective way to promote sharing is to have users sign up with their social media account. Even if you think signing up is not completely necessary, you should, in most cases, have users create some sort of account with you before they begin using your app. This gives you access to them beyond the app and provides you with information about the user. If someone has taken the initiative to download your app, they are interested enough that they won’t mind also creating an account.

Connecting with their social media provides a quick and easy way for them to sign up and also promotes seamless sharing once they are using your app. You then can decide if you want to automatically post to someone’s account like Spotify or if you want to be less intrusive and allow them to decide when to post. I would recommend the latter. Very few apps can get away with auto-posting without losing a user’s trust. It’s also very important to provide a way to sign up without using social media.

The most popular social media account to log in with is Facebook. However, you want to provide a variety of options for the user. Using Google accounts is quickly gaining popularity, and different types of businesses should push certain social media options. For example, Yahoo is the third most popular social login for consumer brands, and LinkedIn is the second most popular for B2B companies. You can find more detailed information about social login popularity for specific verticals here.

Creating Incentives for Sharing

As with most incentives, there are two main tactics to get users to share via social media: you can dangle a carrot in front of them or hit them with a stick. A lot of apps and companies reward people for sharing; for example, giving discounts for getting friends to sign up. This would be the carrot method. Incentivize users to share by rewarding them with something like limited-access to a premium version of your product.

If you don’t have any incentives you can offer within your actual product, try partnering with a company to offer discounts or coupons for their product. Chances are the majority of your users fall into a specific demographic that a company would love access to. If you’re an app pertaining to women’s fitness, for example, explore talks with Lululemon (or better yet one of their smaller competitors) to give your users some sort of compensation.

There’s also what’s known as the stick method. Normally, this would entail punishment or threat of punishment as motivation. However, in any situation involving a customer or user, you definitely don’t want to “punish” them. Instead, let the opportunity to share something be an alternative to an option that might be perceived as worse, rather than threatening a “punishment.”

Although risky, this method can be extremely effective. This is what Candy Crush Saga, the top-grossing app in the app store, does. Once someone runs out of lives, they either have to ask friends for more lives, or buy them with real money. For Candy Crush, it’s a win-win situation. They either get money, or they get their game shared out in the social world. For users, they simply pick the lesser of two evils, which they determine themselves.

You have to be very careful if you decide to go with the stick method. The reason Candy Crush Saga can pull this off is that they have a very addictive and relatively unique product. They don’t present the stick until the user is already hooked and invested in the app. And, although there are similar games out there, a user cannot go out and replace Candy Crush with a game exactly like it.

If your app has an addictive or competitive element to it, you might want to try this method. However, don’t come out of the gate with the stick. Give the user time to become attached, and then hit them with the option to share (no pun intended).

If your app is easily replaced by a similar product, the carrot method is the way to go. For example, if Uber were to try to “punish” users for not sharing their rides, a lot of their customers would switch to Lyft. However, if they offer free coupons for sharing via social, not only is the user more likely to share, but the coupons will help build loyalty and repeat business.

uber facebook convert

What Kind of Content Should You Share?

You have to remember that each social network is an extension of the person who owns it. This creates a challenge because there is not a universal type of content everyone will be willing to share.

If your app has some element built into it that naturally promotes sharing, your job is done. You don’t need to think of what to share because you’ve already done it. All you need to do is make sharing accessible and easy through proper CTAs.

Remember, the end goal is to acquire high quality downloads. Keep this in mind when thinking about what to have your users send to their social networks. Here are a few types of content you can share which can lead to downloads:

“Value Added” Content: This type of messaging will let people know the exact value your application adds. Although all of the following types of content do that in a way, in this instance, I am referring to how you can save them money, time, or pain. Though effective, this often is viewed by the user as posting an advertisement, which means they probably are not itching to share it.

It is most effective to apply this content in conjunction with a carrot or a stick. Although the number of people who share this type of content might not be as high, it has the potential to lead to more downloads because you are creating a clear and quantifiable incentive for anyone who sees the message. Viewing something like “You can save $50 on X by using our app today!” creates a concrete value for any potential users.

“Revealing” Content: This type of message is great for apps that might be more niche or abstract. Here, you want to share a more general overview or function of your app. For example, let’s say you have a niche app called Antiqueify that finds all of the antique shops within a certain city. Chances are, if you have people using such a specific and niche app, they probably have friends in their network who share their love for antiques.

People will be more willing to post this information because sharing a useful app to their network increases their perceived value. If you get those users to share something like “I just found this great 19th century table using Antiqueify,” friends of that user who share that same passion might see it and think “I didn’t know there was an app for that! How cool!” And there you go, another user downloads your app.

“Me-too” Content: This is similar to “revealing” content, but is more specific to features of your app. It also can be applied to non-niche apps. When shared, this type of messaging leads a user to think “Oh, I like that, too!” This is a good type of content to share if a user has connected their social network to your app, and you have decided to automatically post content for them (unless they opt-out).

Take, for example, a music app like Spotify. Instead of a user sharing that they just listened to music on Spotify, they share the specific songs that the existing user listened to. When people see that John just listened to “Roar” by Katy Perry, they might say “John likes that song? Me, too! I can listen to it on Spotify!”

Ok, maybe that was a bad choice for a song, and maybe people won’t think exactly like that. But you get the point. Find something specific your users can share, such that anyone in their network who might be interested in doing so as well, will know where they can.

“Motivational” Content: This type of content leads to friends of users becoming motivated to complete a task or action, hopefully using your app. One great way to do this is through competition. Posting someone’s achievement or high score can spur on other people to try and beat them.

You also can test out the motivational guilt trip. This is messaging where people see something one of your users did on your app, like completing a workout or cooking a healthy meal, which the viewer knows they should be doing themselves. Most of your users will be willing to share this information because it signifies a success or achievement on their part. Therefore, a carrot or a stick is not necessarily needed for content like this. A simple CTA will work just fine.

“Ooh-aah” Content: You also could call this “envious” content. You want to make the potential user desire to participate in a task or complete an action that can be done using your app. This is especially effective in games.

Take the app Heads Up, for example. This is a game created by Ellen DeGeneres where one person holds their phone up to their forehead with a word on the screen. Other people then give that user clues and try to get him or her to guess the word, and they see how many keywords they can get as a team in a certain amount of time. While they are playing the game, the app records a video, which users can share. When a potential user sees this, they might think “Ooh-aah, that looks like fun! I’ll download the app so I can do that!”

2. Building a Rapport

The second big use of social media is to develop relationships and rapport with your customers. Use mediums like Facebook or Twitter to answer users’ questions and help solve their problems. Even if you are just a small one-or-two-person team, you should consistently monitor your social networks for potential problems users might be having.

This also is a great way for you to share users’ content. You can use your app’s social network in the same way you use testimonials on your website. Look for instances of people praising your app or sharing cool things they have done using it, and “like” or share these with your account. This will not only provide your existing followers with helpful and fun uses of your app, it will reinforce the behavior of the original user.

You also should share big industry news that might be related to your app. The main focus of your account obviously should be your app, but if you can share relevant information that your followers enjoy, it will help to keep their attention because your posts won’t be predictable.

I’ll wrap up social with one last tip. If you are using Android, definitely ask users to +1 your app in Google Play. Getting +1s for your app can help influence your rank in the Google Play store. Other than that, you can pick and choose the networks you are active on. Twitter and Facebook are the most popular, but Vine and Instagram can be viable options depending on what type of content you are posting.

Content Marketing: Creating the bait

Content marketing is all about spreading the word of your app and convincing people to download it. You want your content to be convincing, sharable, and intriguing. The content will weave itself into other aspects of your marketing like your website and social strategies, so it is a very important piece to focus on.

Blog

When it comes to content marketing, blogging is generally thought of as the most effective way to drive inbound downloads. However, for an app, blogging takes on a slightly different role than it does for a website. If you have a website, blogs are important because they help drive traffic to your site, which is the desired final destination.

However for an app, the app store, not the website, is the desired final destination (again, because people prefer to download apps directly from the app store on their mobile devices). You want to remember this when writing your content. Make sure to cover topics about different uses for your app, or the overall pain your app helps solve.

Does every app need a blog? No, not necessarily. If your vertical is not conducive to producing a lot of content, don’t force it.

Guest posts are important and should be used to spread the word about your app. Leverage the existing users of other blogs to your advantage. You can approach other blogs with similar types of content that I mentioned in the earned media and social sections. However, since blogs tend to be specific to a niche, you should tailor your content to the particular blog. Find popular articles and topics on the site and write posts that tie those themes and your app together.

For example, let’s say you have a cooking app that not only gives great recipes, but also can suggest the best and cheapest local places to buy the ingredients. Let’s also say you happen to be looking at cooking blogs and forums one day and notice that there seems to be a number of posts about how overpriced the best quality ingredients are.

You could use your knowledge and insight and write about how that’s actually not true and that people can find very high quality ingredients for a cheap price if they just know the right place to look. Oh, by the way, there’s an app for that.

Your posts should not seem like blatant advertisements for your app, but rather should address the general problem you’re trying to solve (while also presenting your app as a possible solution). It can be helpful to suggest other ways of solving the problem as well, especially if your app is the best and easiest choice of the bunch.

Videos

You’ve heard the saying “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” With that logic, you can get 24,000 words out of one second of a video (assuming you are filming at 24 frames/second). Videos and trailers for your app can be a fantastic source of content. They’re easy to share, more engaging than text, and can give you an opportunity to provide a demo and an elevator pitch all in one.

The two most important things to remember when making videos are to keep them short (between 1-2 minutes) and make sure to show the user experience in action. Include all the essentials of your app and show how it can help solve problems. Beyond that, the creative process is up to you. Here are a few types of videos you can make:

Demo: The simplest video to make is a straight demonstration of your product. Take the potential user through the main features of your app. It’s also helpful to add a narrative to these videos to really make sure the user understands the full value beyond just what they can see. Highlight the intrinsic value your app adds to their life.

Here’s an example of a good demo video our friends at Apptamin made for Wine Enthusiast.

Real Life Application: This is another popular type of video. It also provides a demo of the app, but frames it in a real-life situation. These videos typically show what it might look like for a person in the real world to use the app. Although sometimes it’s hard to show off each and every feature, these are great for providing a picture of the overall value your app can add, along with a few of the main features.

Here’s a video Snapchat made to highlight a specific new feature of their app called Stories.

Guide: Interestingly enough, one of the most viewed types of video can be help guides to your app. These apply almost exclusively to games; however, you can get creative and apply it to other types of apps. For example, a cooking app could make a walkthrough video of how to make a recipe found in the app.

A great thing about these is that users often make the videos themselves, taking a huge amount of work off your hands. This doesn’t mean you can’t make them, but that you can find ones other people have made already, and use the content for yourself. Post them on social media or on your website. This will encourage other users to make them, and, at the same time, will be great for helping to solve users’ pain points if they can’t complete a certain task.

This guide for Clash of Clans has over 200,000 views.

Story: Another style of video is a story that concludes with the presentation of your app. This type of video doesn’t highlight the specific features of your app, or even go into much detail about what the app does. Rather, it tells a compelling and intriguing story that hooks the user on an emotional level. Once the story is finished, you introduce your app. This adds an element of mystique along with an emotional connection, and can lead to a user wanting to learn more about your app.

Chipotle was hugely successful applying this method to a game they made. They released it along with a video that ended up going viral. They show only about 5 seconds of the actual app at the very end, but the video has over 11 million views on YouTube. Their app immediately shot up into the Top 10 in the Games category and the Top 25 of all free iPhone apps.

Content is a great way to use your creativity to drive demand for your app. There really are no limits or hard rules as to what will or won’t work. The above tips are a few suggestions, but there’s a ton of room for freedom, creativity, and innovation when it comes to content marketing.

If you are going to do a video, I recommend getting it professionally done unless you have experience. It will pay for itself in months. Besides, creating a poor quality video can hurt more than it can help. If you are looking for someone, our friends at Apptamin have a lot of experience making great videos.

Engagement: Indirectly boosting your downloads

Although it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about organic marketing, engagement is very important. Though not one of the most important factors in determining your rank in the app store, it does play a role. Engagement is similar to link building in SEO; the more users open and interact with your app, the more credible and reliable it is, and the higher it will rank.

Beyond directly influencing your rank in the app store, engagement can have indirect impacts. It can help increase your ratings and reviews (which also helps increase your rank in the app store), it can increase the number of users that share your app on social, and it can increase your downloads coming from word-of-mouth.

App Indexing

App indexing, a feature for Android Kit Kat, allows you to retarget in an awesome new way. App indexing is a game changer and allows your app to show up in a Google search (on a mobile device) with a deep link to a specific part of your app. The average person (in the U.S.) has 41 apps installed, and many times they have multiple apps that perform the same function.

Going back to the cooking app example, if a user has your app installed and searches for “pasta recipe” in Google (traditional search engines still are the first place people go when looking for something on the web), you could deep link to a specific pasta recipe, and drive the user back to your app. Brilliant!

If you have an app on Android, you should be taking 100% full advantage of app indexing. Apple’s Spotlight feature can be used in a similar way, although not to the same extent…yet.

Push Notifications

Push notifications are another great way to be proactive in keeping your users engaged. One of the first things almost any app you download does is ask for permission to send you notifications. As I’m writing this, I just received one from Cut The Rope reminding me I still have more games to play.

You can use push notifications to keep users up to date on your app, notify them when something has changed, when a friend has joined the app, and much more. Anything you think the user would find interesting enough to go back into your app can be pushed out.

Three of the most important things to keep in mind when creating and sending push notifications are relevance, value, and control. You want every notification to be relevant to the user so it isn’t viewed as spam.

Although push notifications can be extremely useful, if they are done wrong or too frequently, they can lead to negative sentiments toward your app. Look for times you can add value in the notifications. Are you running a special deal or offering a discount? This would be a great time to use a notification. The user will appreciate being informed of the value your app can bring.

Also, make editing notifications extremely easy to find and use. Provide the ability to customize the information you can share with them and how often you can share it. It is better to send someone fewer notifications that they actually care about then to overwhelm them with spammy pushes.

If you’re looking for a service to help you get the most out of push notifications, or just want some more great information, check out Urban Airship.

Get Old Fashioned with Email

Don’t overlook the power of email marketing for your app. This can be used in similar ways to push notifications, but it allows you to reach users through channels other than the home screen or notification center of their phone.

Make sure to design your emails to look good on mobile and send people relevant and useful information that will incentivize them to use your app. Have a call-to-action, and prompt the user to complete a specific task. For example, if you have a sports app, have the email update them on that day’s scores and prompt them to see game highlights and specific stats within your app.

Engagement is a central part of creating a good app. The more engaged your customers are, the happier they are with your product. You might have a fantastic app and already have really active users, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Use a few of the methods above to improve your engagement and increase organic downloads in the process.

The Foundation Is Set

It’s not going to be an easy road, but at least now you have a map. These organic measures are the bedrock for your organic app marketing. There are a lot of additional marketing campaigns and tactics you can try, organic or paid, but this is your foundation for generating inbound leads. Just remember to put one foot in front of the other, and watch as downloads start to pour in.

About the Author: Alex is in charge of marketing at MobileDevHQ, a Seattle-based app store optimization company focused on providing marketers with data-driven insights to help them manage their app store presence and drive more downloads. Working together with mobile marketing teams and product teams, we ensure they have the search ranking, competitive intelligence, and keyword data they need to measure and optimize their apps’ visibility. You can contact him on Twitter (@aoklein).

  1. Hello
    I beginner, thank you for beginner guide

  2. This is excellent. I have to try app indexing.

    I wrote a bit about ASO here — http://brandonpindulic.co/app-store-optimization/

    It’s a constant battle for downloads in every app store so anything helps

    • Thanks, glad you like it! I decided to cover everything outside the app store, so ASO is the one thing I left out. It’s extremely important as well though, so I encourage people to read up on it and implement it.

  3. I was wondering the same thing – why some apps do not have their own website to showcase their features and answer faqs. App websites are crucial in today’s age when potential customers turn to Google for more information about pretty much everything. App developers should take advantage of such an opportunity to reach out more potential customers. After all, more equates to a higher likelihood for increased profitability.

  4. Great guide Alex! And thanks for the mention, much appreciated.

    Small thing that came to mind when reading the intro: I would strongly encourage an app developer that is considering content marketing as part of his promotion efforts not to wait the app is ready and released. I believe it’s never too late to start, but having a few weeks/months of interesting content before the app is released will probably be more powerful (and when trying to get attention from press/bloggers, it could also provide credibility).

    Regarding the CTA, while I like the idea of the smart call to action I also believe that people recognize the app store badges quickly now and both Apple and Google have made some changes in the wording so now they are actual CTAs (“Download on”, “Get it on”). Even if a “smart” call to action is used, I think it’s good to keep the app store badges as well. When creating a “smart” button, devs should not try to alter the official Apple badge as this would be a violation of their (quite strict but not enforced so much) marketing guidelines. Probably better to create a whole different button (the Hubspot tips are good!).

  5. I have noticed that Google Play store is using different algorithms to rank apps rather than the one which is being used by Apple App Store. Apple is ranking apps from historical data of app downloads for past few hours, whereas its really difficult to rank with same trick in Google play store. Do you have special tip for new android startups to beat their competitors?

    • The Google ranking algorithm is a lot more complicated than Apple (no surprise here, search is what they do). It’s hard to pick out any one thing that you can do for Android – but some of the major differences are +1s, putting keywords in your description rather than a keyword field, app indexing, and being able to put a demo video.

      Getting people to +1 your app can play a big factor – it is similar to SEO link building and signifies popularity and validity. I also encourage people to make a great video trailer for their apps as these can be great selling points and provide an advantage over your competitor if you have a great one and they don’t.

      I hope this helps!

  6. 10x for this guide!

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