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How To Market Mobile Applications

Note: This is a guest post by Artyom Diogtev, Head of Social Media at ComboApp. ComboApp specializes in delivering custom app publicity solutions. Their BuySellAds directory listing can be found here.

Every service and product on a market has one key component in its life cycle—marketing. Look around you: pretty much any product you can point your finger at requires marketing. Pull out your iPhone or Android phone and you’ll find dozens or hundreds of apps(depending, of course, on your appetite for apps), and each of these mobile apps requires some degree of marketing.

A little fish in the big sea

This summer, the iTunes App Store celebrated its third birthday. The Apple store for mobile apps launched June 2008; they became overnight pioneers of the space by providing an application store for mobile devices. What a grand ole’ time it was at the very beginning—during the first several months, app developers could be confident that once they come up with an solid idea for an app and developed it, the product would bring in a cash flow. Bingo: almost no marketing efforts required!

Fast forward: in October 2011, more than 500,000 iOS apps later, any iPhone or iPad app requires serious marketing! There are many fish in the sea now, so it’s more important than ever that potential customers see how shiny your app’s scales are.

Perspective, perspective

You can look at the App Store from a user perspective or an iOS app developer perspective. A user may experience difficulties finding the best app for his purposes, which will often send him off to look for outside perspective. He may Google up an app review site and get some hints from there. He may ask his friends or just dump the search altogether. After all, choice can be utterly overwhelming. Heavens won’t fall for the user if he has to forego downloading this particular app.

It’s totally different case when it comes to app developer. If your app is sitting in limbo, it probably goes without saying that your users will know nothing about it. All your development efforts just fly right out the window. Those five-to-ten months of hard work are over and nothing happens. You’ve published your app and see a miserable number of downloads (read: profit). I’ve heard this sad story far too many times.

ComboApp as a mobile app marketing agency was born out of necessity, after we’d seen from our own iPhone app development and marketing experience that we couldn’t really find the right company to help us with apps marketing. We’d gained pretty valuable experience we decided to leverage as an app marketing agency. And over the years, we’ve tried lots of different marketing techniques and, quite frankly, this process of refinement is never-ending.

But with that never-ending refinement comes ever-growing expertise. I would now like to present you with the three most important steps of your app marketing plan:

Marketing copy

Developing solid and, most importantly, coherent app marketing copy means (for one) having a well designed icon that speaks for itself and gives your app a unique identity. Remember that app users will skim through tons of apps on the App Store, and his purchasing decision may very well be triggered by an app’s icon.

Then comes the app’s description: it’s all about striking a balance between exposing the app’s best features and not overloading users with too much information. With feature-spec overload, he’ll either fall asleep while reading or just move on.

Finally, the app’s screenshots should tell a small story about the app. What is this product about? And of course, like with the icon, the app’s title and keywords set should be well thought through from both a user perspective and an app’s ranking on the App store point-of-view. This in the final key in solidifying an app’s identity, in telling its story.

Launch Day

An app’s launch on the App Store shouldn’t happen in a vacuum. You need to have a professionally written press release and a list of app review sites you know will publish an app review. The app should have its own website, Twitter account and Facebook Fan Page. All these things should already exist pre-launch, and you need to have ready a strategy that attacks how you’re going to engage with your followers and fans.

Banner ads and mass Twitter outreach

Despite what you may have read, banner ads aren’t dead. Does their efficacy vary? Sure…but you’re reading this article on the publication of one of the best banner ads one-stop-shopping platforms out there. I wouldn’t say this so blatantly if we hadn’t used the BuySellAds service for about a year; I can really speak from experience. The same goes for blasting promotional tweets about an app.

BuySellAds has a great number of vendors who will help to spread the word about your app to thousands of iOS app users. You can (and should) use both venues for app promotion from the beginning, and then through the period that interest in your app starts to decline.

The bottom line is that mobile app development is just another business and serious marketing, like with almost all other businesses, should go hand in hand with your new product.

13 Responses to “How To Market Mobile Applications”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us, Artyom!

  2. Kristina December 7, 2011

    So wait – Apple doesn’t devote tons of resources to market my app? That’s totally lame. I’m boycotting.

    Just kidding, of course. Nice work, Artyom. This is awesome advice, as I think a lot of app-makers probably have minimal marketing background. <—based on no research. Thanks!

  3. Well if Apple tried to help market all those 500,000+ apps I’m not sure that even Large Hadron Collider would be big and powerful enough to help them out with it:-)

    Thanks Kristina! :-)

    • Kristina December 8, 2011

      And like the LHC, surely there would be time travelers trying to foil its every move. So this is better for everyone, all around.

      MORAL OF THE STORY: Everyone should know how to market their own apps. And they should listen to the likes of you :)

  4. A good read artyom. Despite what others have said – I agree with your take on banner ads, they do help. I too use buy sell ads every month to promote my apps (as well as a couple other sites). Although the results are nothing too spectacular, it does consistently help sales. The determining factor really depends on the site, the cost of ad, and what your offering.
    As for marketing copy and press release, these are my findings too. They give me the biggest bang for the buck. In fact – I schedule out tiered updates so that I have a reason to do them! Also, let me mention that you’re writing team has been super helpful in this department, they’ve come through with great app store page copy and were very easy to work with.

  5. great article, thanks you for sharing your thoughts here…

  6. Incisive! I really appreciate it.

  7. Thanks so much for discussing your practical exposure to us, Artyom!

  8. Thanks for sharing great articles. Very useful articles for mobile web developers. I will share with my friends….

  9. Hi there, just turned into aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s truly informative. I’m gonna be careful for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you proceed this in future. A lot of other people will probably be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

  10. Try AppCrazi Social,

    Great Post

  11. Nice article you have shared with us here. I think this article will be very useful for mobile web developers. Definitely, I will share it on my social network. Thank you.

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