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There are over 800,000 apps available in the app store. The bar for standing out is exceptionally high, which is why it’s fundamental for mobile app developers and entrepreneurs to have a strong mobile app marketing strategy. Here are 11 tips for marketing your app online.

Mobile App Marketing

#1 App Store Optimisation (ASO)

Both Google Play and Apple’s App Store algorithmically prioritise certain apps in search results based on a variety of ranking factors (ratings, tags, screenshots, app title, download data etc.). However, unlike SEO (which primarily focuses on Google) app store optimisation is not a one-size fits all game.

The most important ranking factor when it comes to app store optimisation is your app’s title. If you’ve built a train time-checker app, then it’s recommended to use ‘train time checker’ in the title.

You can use Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool (with the device setting on mobile) to identify which terms / phrases relevant to your app people search for the most on mobile. I’d recommend taking the specific search volumes with a pinch of salt, but it’ll give you a good ballpark idea of the magnitude of searches for different keywords.

When it comes to ASO, it’s important to fill out all of the fields with relevant details when submitting your app to the app stores, and pick your categories carefully.

Similarly to traditional SEO (search engine optimisation) social links are also incredibly important, as is the authority of the app developer. Focus on promoting your app heavily via Google+, Twitter and Facebook and find interesting ways to incentivise real social sharing.

#2 Facebook Marketing

I’m very surprised that few mobile marketers are talking about this. In my experience, one of the most effective ways of acquiring mobile app installs has been through clever use of Facebook’s advertising platform. I could write for days on how to set this up, but my general advice is this:

• Use a combination of page promoted posts & sponsored stories targeted to mobile news feeds.
• Use page like ads, again with the placement set to mobile newsfeeds.
• Use an oCPM for conversions / installs bid type.
• Use the power editor or a tool like Qwaya to manage and segment your ad demographics.
• Use a combination of high-res images and URL posts.

Alternatively, feel free to drop me an email and I’d be happy to advise on good ways to setup a Facebook Ad campaign for your mobile app.

#3 Promoted Tweets

Similarly, promoted tweets are another highly effective way of driving mobile app downloads when set up correctly. Start off with a small budget testing various different keyword segments, and scale up what drives the best cost-per-acquisitions.

#4 Build viral mechanics into the app

Again, this technique is so under talked about. Marketing your app should not be some after-thought, but instead built into your app, if possible. What does your app do to encourage social sharing to the user’s social profiles? As long as every user refers an average of one new user, you have linear growth. If one user refers two users, you have exponential linear growth – often referred to as ‘going viral’.

#5 Drive reviews, naturally.

Reviews are a huge aspect of app store optimisation, as well as an important factor in convincing people to download your app. It’s extremely important that you find an effective way of driving reviews in a way that’s natural and won’t trigger Google or Apple’s spam filters.

I recommend the ‘offer them something cool for a review approach’ – be it some free credits or an extended subscription, giving the user something valuable in return for a review is a win-win situation that seems to work well.

#6 Mobile specific ad networks

I’ll be honest, I haven’t had an awful lot of experience using mobile-specific ad networks but I’ve heard mixed opinions about them. There are literally hundreds of ad networks available now, so it’s a bit of hassle separating the good from the bad, but the ones that seem to get a lot of good press are iAds, AdMob and Mojiva.

#7 Create a microsite & apply traditional web marketing tactics

Mobile app marketing is tough because there are a relatively limited number of ‘catchments’ where you can reach people interested in downloading your app – and those places (app stores, app magazines etc.) are extremely competitive to get visibility in. However, creating a micro-site opens up a whole host of marketing possibilities.

If you’ve built an app that sells concert tickets in London, you could build a micro-site and do some SEO around it. If you ranked #1 for ‘London concert tickets’ you’d drive approximately ~8,100 people searching for ‘London Concert Tickets’ to your app per month.

#8 Leverage other people’s audiences

Guest posting can be an incredibly effective way of driving mobile app installs if done in the right places. The more you know about your target audience and which publications they read, the more informed your guest posting strategy can be. In my experience, it’s far better to go after prestige publications (such as Mashable, The Next Web, Huffington Post etc.) opposed to the more niche publications, unless your app is highly relevant to that audience.

The traffic and awareness that one post on Mashable can drive is enormous, and probably equivalent to 10-15 guest posts on smaller sites. Aim high.

#9 Reddit, Quora, and niche networks

Reddit advertising is ridiculously cheap. The last time I ran a Reddit ad campaign I paid less than £50 for about 600 clicks, of which the quality was surprisingly high. Play around with advertising or contributing on niche social networks, such as Reddit or Quora. You can also use Google’s display network to run your ads on specific websites that support Google Ads. This can be very powerful when done well. For example, if you have a financial services app, you can run your ads on The FT or Forbes, which not only drives hyper-relevant traffic, but also associates your app with a sense of credibility.

#10 Retargeting

When of the beautiful things about having an app microsite is that you can use retargeting to run ads (on Facebook, Google, or any websites supporting Google Ads) to people who have already visited your app microsite but not yet downloaded it. These ads typically convert very well – as you’re only advertising to those who already know about your app.

#11 Email marketing

Email marketing may have connotations of being a bit 2005, but it’s still one of the most effective ways of driving traffic, building advocacy, and converting leads to users / customers. Build a newsletter and offer your potential users information that’s useful and valuable to them. They’ll respect you for it and ultimately be more inclined to download your app.


I hope these ideas have spurred on some new ideas to help you market your app. If you have any questions or would like Venture Harbour to help you with your mobile app marketing, feel free to get in touch and we’d be more than happy to help!

Image Credit: Soldiers Media Center

Marcus Taylor is the founder of Venture Harbour. He’s also an early-stage investor, advisor & the youngest Patron of The Prince's Trust.

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