Our Guide to Marketing a Mobile App (The Right Way)

Mobile apps are the hottest type of startup since sliced bread. When you see apps like Instagram, Vine, and so many others “strike big”, it’s hard not to wonder “what if?”. Unfortunately, it is quite hard to build a technology business such as a mobile app; You have to provide a good product that solves problems in just the right ways. Then, once you build the app, it can seem almost impossible to get people to notice it. That’s where this blog picks up. We can’t help you with your idea but we can surely make sure your app sees the light of day.

There’s a lot of misguiding info in the marketplace on how you truly market a mobile app successfully. We get it though – it’s hard to figure out what to do with so much conflicting information. That’s why we wanted to set the record straight, once and for all.

We didn’t want to hassle you with just another checklist of things to market your app, even though this article does happen to include that. We want to provide app developers the tools to build off these strategy platforms by providing the underlying reasons why you market a mobile app in the first place.

So here we go.


Do You Have a Brand to Market?

People buy brands, not products. If you don’t have a brand yet, any marketing you do will unfortunately fail. Think about it. What are some of your favorite apps? Can you truly say that any of them weren’t already a cohesive brand before you downloaded it?


In-depth research is always essential before any major business investment. Building an app identity is no different. Companies should look at what their competitors are doing. How can you differentiate yourself from these competitors? In the end, a brand is simply built from a contrast of your competitors. If your top competitor has a orange identity then you should be an apple. If they are blue, you should be red. Make sense?


More than one-third of all U.S. smartphone owners download at least one app per month. With app use increasing across smartphone users of all ages, good branding and beautifully clever app design could considerably increase customer loyalty and create a new revenue path for you.


The Foundation of a Successful Strategy

giphy (1)

In order to build an app marketing strategy that works for you, it’s important to understand the underlying factors you are working with. By understanding the basics you can build a campaign that fits your vision.


Top Goals for App Marketing Campaigns

  1. Create some buzz (social media, word of mouth)
  2. Acquire real estate in the app store (higher rankings, features)
  3. Generate quality downloads (for as cheap as possible)

Aspects to a Successful App Marketing Campaign

  1. Creative messaging
  2. Targets people on mobile devices
  3. Drives social mentions
  4. High profile press coverage
  5. Optimize and track app listing in the App Store or Google Play
  6. Utilizes video to tell your story

Marketing Channels That Drive Results

  1. Mobile
  2. PR
  3. Social
  4. App Store

Kicking Off Your App Campaign



In this stage, you’re simply prepping all the assets and infrastructure you need throughout your product launch.

  • Setup Your Social Accounts – Set up your Facebook and Twitter accounts so you can start publishing updates about your app.
  • Build a Viral Landing Page – Your landing page should accomplish two things:
    – First, it should collect user emails to notify them of the beta launch.
    – Secondly, you should provide an incentive to share with Untorch.
  • Tell Everyone You Know – Reach out to your network via social channels and  email. You’ll most likely have a ton of contacts in your email, so it’s a smart idea to organize them and send out targeted emails that direct people your landing page. Let there be no shame in your game.
  • Submit Your App to Beta Launch Sites – Do some research on sites that let you submit your beta product. Check out – Beta ListErlibirdIdea SquaresStartupli.st.
  • Provide an Exclusive to an Influential Writer – If you can provide an exclusive to a writer at a large tech publication like TechCrunch or Mashable, you’ll be able to generate some good press. More importantly, you’ll have a go-to person to do a write up on launch.

Beta Launch

Almost there! In the Beta phase, you simply want to test your apps viability, work out bugs and listen to your customers to help you define what features and updates you should be focusing on.

  • Get Feedback – Feedback is key. Not having a way for your users to give feedback is the ultimate product sin, especially in the beginning stages. Most of your analytics in the starting stages are statistically insignificant. With UserVoice it’s extremely easy to add a small widget into your app where they can send feedback directly to you on how they like your app and the features they wish it had.
  • Collect Data – Make sure you have a tool to know which of your users are visiting your app and what they are doing the most. Is one of your big features used by only 1% of your users? Use MixPanel and find out.
  • Prime Your PR Funnel – You’ll need to get a conversation started about your app. With Buzzstream you can build out PR list by segment and can send them targeted messages while keeping track of conversations.
  • App Reviews – Submit your app to websites and blogs that review apps. Here’s a cool list we’ve built.
  • Setup Ad Campaigns – Let’s keep it real. The app market is super competitive. You’re not going to make it without some sort of ad budget to drive your users. Before launching, you should understand the demographics, psychographics and geographical data to build out customer profiles for targeting. You should also be listening to your Beta customers to understand the features that are important to them so you can create ad copy that resonates with future customers. AppsFlyer is a great tool to help you track downloads by advertising channel.

Launch Day


Woohoo! You’ve made it. Now it’s time to scale your efforts and utilize the infrastructure you’ve built.

  • Mobile Ads – You should have your ads setup by now. These should be going live the minute you publish your app. If you have a small budget simply start with Facebook mobile app ads. We’ve used them, and they’re great.
  • Press Outreach – You know those epic PR lists you’ve built in Beta with Buzzstream? It’s time to start your blitzkrieg. If you don’t hear back, don’t sweat it. You should have at least 4 – 5 follow-ups to send out while you wait.
  • Email your beta list – Don’t forget you have a beta list you’ve been building up to, now. Don’t be afraid to utilize this list to announce your launch. Can you provide additional incentives you can provide to share with their network?
  • App Store Optimization – Now that your app is getting downloads, it’s important to monitor its ranking in the app store so you can make improvements to keywords and descriptions. By measuring downloads vs. your ranking, you can gauge how many donwloads you’ll need to be in the top 10. Check out great app store optimization tools like AppAnnie and SensorTower.

Important Things to Know

giphy (2)

The Difference Between a Mobile App and Other Types of Businesses

The profit margins for mobile apps are razor thin. Unlike traditional businesses, such as retail, who deal with profits oftentimes $100+ on a single purchase. Mobile apps have a lifetime value of $1 – $5 for a single user. If you’re lucky it may be more ($30 – $100+) but you’ll be in the minority. Thus, the effectiveness at which you acquire a user must be 100x more efficient than other marketing efforts.

Pro-tip: It’s very important to remember to calculate Apple’s and Google’s share into your equation when analyzing ROI (often times this is a major over-site by newbies).

The Difference Between App Marketing and Marketing for Other Products

The main difference is your strategy has to be all about mobile. People get so stuck marketing in traditional and digital channels, they forget its a mobile app. That means you need to market with a mobile first attitude.

The #1 Rule: Get people to download your app on their mobile device in the least amount of steps possible.

This is often the biggest mistake people make when trying to market mobile apps. Understanding this important concept will allow you to drive a greater amount of downloads. Thus, doing any form of marketing in which this is not your #1 priority is indeed going to fail.

The Problem in the App Marketing Industry

There is a huge lack of creativity in the app marketing industry. The focus is on submitting your app to app review sites and optimizing app descriptions. This is a perfectly legitimate tactic, but it isn’t strategic.

There are 500 – 3,000 apps launched every day. That’s why as an app business you need to stand out from the crowd. Hands down, creative app marketing is the best solution for apps trying to make a big splash.

Top 5 Things Not to Do When Marketing an App

  1. Don’t skip beta and pre-launch because you’re in a rush
  2. Don’t Use Web Banner Ads (unless you have a huge budget)
  3. Don’t Rely Just on Review Sites
  4. Don’t market your app before its a brand
  5. Don’t utilize big budget traditional marketing activities that include too many steps to download

Building and Marketing an App is Hard, We Know.

The above are just a few of the steps to take to getting your app out there. There are countless other things you can do, but these are some key steps we’ve found that will help you effectively get off the ground with success.

Need to hire experts to build and launch your app? Sign up for a Free Account.

What is some other advice you would give to new app developers? We’d like to know.

Recent Posts