The number of mobile apps downloaded each year has been progressively growing. In 2017, there were close to 180 billion app downloads. That number is expected to increase to 205 billion this year, and more than 250 billion in 2022. Impressive figures, right?
Well, this also means that there are nearly eight million apps in the Google Play store and more than two million in the Apple App Store. And how can you make your app stand out of such a dense competition?
Developing an excellent app that functions properly is not enough. It is also important to create a strategy for its marketing before you even release it. You need to create a recognizable personality for your app, and the only way to do that is through branding.
So, if you are planning on launching an app in 2019, here is a step-by-step guide to branding divided into three crucial stages: pre-launch, initial launch, and post-launch.
STAGE ONE: Pre-launch
Since you wouldn’t build your house from the roof down, you also shouldn’t consider branding your app the day you release it. If you set your foundations right, this could be the most important phase which will be the basis for success.
Set up the release date
You have probably heard the saying that “deadline is the ultimate inspiration”, but what you probably don’t know is that it is also the ultimate preparation. If you know when the app will be released, you will know what step to make and when to do it. Also, Apple’s app platform has a strict review policy which could delay the launch.
Research the market
Launching an app is like starting a new business, you need to know what the audience wants. Do this at the very beginning of the development phase, so that you don’t have to change a lot of things along the way. App Annie is the place to search for useful data.
Envision your ideal user
Who are you speaking to determines what you will say, and how you are going to say it. It is the very core of all your marketing efforts, so try to imagine who is the person who will use your app, and what do they need the most.
Who’s your competition?
A competitive analysis will help you find out the price, monetization, ranking, and reviews. Consequently, you’ll be able to figure out what would make your app stand out from the bunch, and discover your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) and capitalize on it.
Establish the app’s “personality”
Your app should have a story and a message. Is it about financial empowering? Is it about living life to the fullest? Whatever it is, own it, and build your marketing strategy around it. Your app persona also needs a name that will hook users in and get them to click.
Now, put some makeup on it
The design styles you use should be similar on all channels (social media, website, app features). Determine the font and color palette to make your branding consistent from the get-go.
Work on your pitch and PR
If you want to fund for your app, you should prepare a pitch deck that will showcase the app, your team, and your company. Before your app is launch you should collect that positive material and “transform” it into the press kit, build a media list, and start your PR efforts a few weeks before the launch.
Create a pre-launch landing page
A pre-launch video trailer is the least you can do. A pre-launch landing page will build a buzz around the app before it is even released and ensure users from the first day. This will help you with early SEO. This is also the time to start with the App Store Optimization.
Start the content marketing efforts
Content will drive traffic and awareness about the app, so you should consider starting with it months before the release date. Start with a simple launch post on your blog about the qualities of your app, and you will slowly grow to become an authority in your niche.
Set up social media pages
This is all part of a big hook which will drive the users to you even before the launch. Remember that each social media platform has its own policies, so you have to have a different strategy for each of them.
E-mail may seem like an outdated marketing strategy, but did you know it acquires 40 times more users than Facebook and Twitter combined? A cleverly thought out email marketing strategy includes collecting e-mails through your website and keeping them up-to-date with the latest updates and features.
STAGE TWO: Initial launch
Once you are done with the pre-launch things get simpler.
Collect good reviews
Encourage authentic five-star reviews. But don’t attack the users with the review the very moment they download the app. Statistically, it is best to do that after two weeks after the download.
Have a user acquisition strategy
The more users you get in a short time period, the better position your app will have on the store’s ranking. Rewards and promotions are always good tactics, but when it comes to effective marketing, you can never go wrong with word-of-mouth. So, invest some effort into referrals from friends and family.
Use paid and free advertisements
Instagram, Twitter, and Google ads are something to have in mind, but as for the cost-effectiveness, Facebook is the place to be. As for the free promotion, reach out to influencers to review and recommend it on their blogs and social media and explore and use Google’s search engine.
Be active and communicate
Besides the two-way communication on your social media pages, you should also be active on forums and open online communities like Quora, where people are asking questions about your app or some problem your app can solve. Another type of communication is the public one – participate in podcasts, interviews, and make your voice heard by guest posting on websites with an established audience.
Boost your visibility
Write a convincing pitch that you will send to Apple’s editorial team which will persuade them to get your app featured in their store. Become even more visible by applying for mobile app awards, and thus reaching new users and ensuring a mention in media outlets.
Focus on reviews
Submit your app to AppReviews, 148 apps, and other review websites. Frequently read over the reviews and ask loyal users for positive ones. Once you have the feedback, come up with retention and engagement strategies.
Consider a more traditional approach
Some traditional marketing tactics are still very effective. Depending on the topic of your app, you can hang posters and rent billboards in areas where it will be noticed (e.g., college campus, bus, coffee shops, etc.). Make it easier for people to download your app by incorporating QR codes on the ads.
STAGE THREE: Post-launch
This is the phase where you need to continue with your previous efforts. Besides engaging with your social following, offering referral bonuses, continuing with the SEO tactics, and regularly asking for reviews, you can engage in a “burst campaign”. This includes massive media exposure over a short time period.
Do not forget that your ultimate goal is to generate revenue, so you will need to set milestones and key metrics, which will help you understand whether your strategy is working or not and know which are the high-value tactics you should put your focus on.
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