UPDATE: To see an an updated and expanded version of this post, visit the Ladder blog at: https://blog.ladder.io/app-store/
So you have a new App, ready to launch, and you don’t know a thing about App marketing? This post is for you.
The Key to App Marketing is Velocity — how fast you’re getting downloads.
Velocity is important because the App Store is biased towards Apps that are trending vs established Apps that have been around for a while. Being higher in the rankings means you’ll get more downloads organically, as people spot you whilst browsing the App Store; together, this creates a virtuous circle:
- New app gets a burst of initial downloads
- App starts getting organic downloads from users searching the app store
- App builds number of positive reviews, download rate increases
- Rank increases due to increased velocity of downloads
- More users see your app in the rankings, organic downloads increase
- Higher rank makes it more likely you’ll be written about by the press
- Free press exposure drives more downloads, rank increases…
…and so on.
Remember: word of mouth is always your number 1 marketing channel and it acts as an accelerant to the process outlined above — more downloads will mean more friends hearing about your app, which means more downloads, which means a higher app store rank… you get the idea.
So, knowing how this works, how do you maximise downloads?
Phase 1) Make sure that everything works first
- It is prohibitively expensive to advertise a poor app — without the good reviews, friend referrals and free press you get from having a bug-free app that addresses a genuine need, you’re going to have a bad time.
- Don’t guess how to convince people to download your app — split test a few different messages via Facebook Ads or Google Adwords with a small budget. I guarantee you’ll learn something you didn’t know.
- Seed the first few reviews and optimise your App Store copy and images — a higher download rate makes every marketing channel more effective.
Note: a good app will get more press than a new app so don’t set yourself up to fail by coordinating your launch campaign with the day the app goes live.
Phase 2) Hit them hard, all at once, with everything you’ve got
- Get as many downloads in a 36 hour period as possible — coordinate all of your efforts to land at once and you’ll successfully convince the App Store’s algorithms that you’re a big deal, worthy of a high rank.
- Push to go ROI negative on your marketing at this point if possible— forced growth during this period will pay back dividends when your increased rank starts to drive organic downloads.
- Don’t be afraid to spam your users — they will forgive you so long as it doesn’t become a habit. Send an email blast out to all users, adding a popup on your mobile site and a banner on your desktop site.
- Definitely add a sitelink in your brand paid search campaign and create an app download page on your site that will show up for SEO. Remember to post across social media and on your blog.
- Hit send on personalised emails you’ve prepared earlier to a list of bloggers, journalists and other influencers that might feature you.
Phase 3) Maintain momentum going forward
- At this point your initial blast should be working, and you should be seeing the initial traction start to come through in organic downloads — the key now is to maintain that momentum as long as possible.
- Email any users that didn’t click or open your first email to remind them to download your app — this can work particularly well.
- Continue your conversation with influencers who haven’t written about you — telling them when you get featured as ‘app of the week’ in one publication is likely to convince them you are worth writing about.
This strategy isn’t guaranteed to work — App marketing is a competitive, high-stakes game and there will always be the risk you blow your whole marketing budget and barely move the needle. At the end of the day, the best marketing plan is just to have a good app, but failing that, this plan should help you get the best bang for your buck.
Contact me on Twitter with any questions / feedback @2michaeltaylor