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March 21, 2011

Mobile App Marketing 101

Let’s be clear, marketing a mobile app is not the same as marketing anything else. In order to make people aware of your product you must rise above an estimated 350,000 iPhone and 140,000 Android apps – and that is without the consumer even having a good idea of what it can do. There are hundreds of apps that all claim to do what yours can, so why shouldn’t they choose the one at the top of the list? How can you get your app to be one of those ‘recommended by users’? The ways to successfully market a smartphone app are simple, even logical. Unfortunately developers often overlook these easy steps to successful mobile app marketing.


Make your app shine. Listen to what smartphone users want and cater to it. Anybody can be unique if they try hard enough, after all, isn’t that why we have silly apps like Shotgun and Angry Birds? For example, the biggest feature smartphone users want is security. They want to know the information they store, transfer and send on their phone is safe from hackers. If you are building a business related app, go out of your way to make it secure. Then tell everyone. A business app that functions efficiently and is secure will out shine all the others.

Be Diverse

If you develop an app that only services Androids, then you are shutting out a huge portion of the smartphone market. When we were launching our mobile apps we did launch our Android application first but followed that just a couple months later with the launch of our iPhone version. This will broaden it’s success and allow for marketing to a much larger audience.

Spread the Joy

You know your app is great. Your co-workers know your app is great. Even your family knows your app is great. They are all tweeting, blogging and Facebooking about its greatness, yet there are still not as many hits at the app store as you would like. Unless your app is simply an add-on for your current services it needs to be marketed on the web and while the app stores are great, you need your own web presence where you control the message.

Does your app have a dedicated website or a dedicated page on your business site? Is it just as great as your app or did you build it at 2 am the night before the launch? Your app’s website is just as important as your app. It shows just how serious you are about development, and in turn how good the app will be. If the app site is less than great, then perhaps the perception will be that your app is full of bugs and not very usable? Yes, people do judge a book by its cover, so spread the joy of your app to your business website and the site dedicated to the app itself. Offer as much information as possible, even as an extension of the app.

Launch Like NASA

When NASA is going to launch a shuttle into space they begin a countdown 43 hours before liftoff. The launch team is saddled with a specific set of tasks to complete before the shuttle can launch. Take a cue from NASA and schedule the launch of your app in much the same way, with a concise set of tasks to occur in a certain order and at a specific time.

Post some teaser tweets or blog posts that incite interest, but don’t give away the secret of your app. Canvas review sites for a cover story on your app. Don’t be upset if they don’t have time to review right away, a little publicity down the road is good too. If possible, coincide the launch of your app with a popular event or conference, especially if it relates to your category. For example, if your app is related to global business why not launch it during the Asia Business Conference 2011 (ABC 2011) at Harvard Business School? Having a large presence at the conference will not only draw in those attending, but also those watching what goes on there. At the same time, hold a live online event to showcase the app. Having it all centered around an event like the ABC 2011 will bring together many respected
industry icons, so why not try to get their attention? Also have your team begin posting tweets with promotional keys for your app. Launch a contest related to your app and give away prizes your users would find useful. Highlight ‘new additions’ to your website that include links to your app and its site.

The key to any successful product launch is word of mouth (even if that takes place via the social web). If you can get people talking about your app before, during and after its arrival on the market, well then you have it made. Create interest with hints on social media sites, even start a few rumors. People will always be interested in rumors, even if it is just to prove the rumor was wrong. To get people talking it takes creativity and interest. Make your app shine so that it becomes interesting. Make it diverse enough to appeal to everyone’s preferred methods of smartphone use. Spread the joy and greatness of your app. No one will know how great it is unless you tell them through your business website and the app site. Prepare your launch in a calculated manner with clear goals specific to a certain schedule of events. Incite excitement about your launch and your app. Get people talking.

Marketing your shiny new app doesn’t end at the launch, it just hits a point of climax before leveling out. Keep on talking, tweeting, blogging, promoting and sharing news about your app and its popularity will continue to grow exponentially.

Chris Haycox works for MetroFax Internet Fax as their head Network Administrator. MetroFax has just launched their iPhone app to enable their clients to more easily and securely access their faxes from anywhere.