Mobile apps are a booming industry and a lucrative business. Revenues from mobile applications continue to grow on a yearly basis and new trends are always on the rise.
And now, you’ve gone through the pains of developing your first mobile app and deploying it in your favorite app store. Congrats! But you should know that tapping into this sea of endless opportunities requires more than just coding skills, and building a good app only accounts for only part of the process of creating a successful app.
If you want to make the best of your app, you need to have a sound strategy to make sure that your app is discovered and downloaded among millions of others, and that users become actively engaged in using your app, and potentially spend money in it.
This is the goal of app marketing, the subject that I will be discussing in this two-part article.
What is app marketing?
Many businesses make the mistake of considering the number of downloads for their app as the sole metric of success. Downloads are important as a first step, but fact of the matter is, there’s much more to app success than just download statistics.
A sound marketing campaign involves acquiring, engaging, retaining and converting users. These campaigns are meant to funnel your users toward delivering value, i.e. spending money through your application.
Good marketing campaigns are measured by revenue and lifetime value.
Acquisition, the process of getting users to download and install your app, is the first step to creating market success. There are a lot of ways through which users can find and download your application, including organic search, word-of-mouth, in-app referrals, or paid campaigns through social or ad networks.
A lot can be done to promote your app an increase download rates without spending a dime. Blogging, writing reviews and getting engaged in social media activities are just a few of the techniques that can help people know more about your application. You should also have a good website to go with your application, where reviews can be linked to and users can find out more about your product and possibly become convinced to install it.
Paid campaigns can also help to increase your download rates, and a considerable number of companies use them in as their main marketing implement. Social networks such as Facebook offer lots of options for you to promote your app through paid boosts to your posts. Subsequently, you can use mobile app tracking tools to better understand how many downloads resulted from each paid campaign.
But if you’re planning to invest in paid acquisition, you should have a suitable strategy for spending your money. Such a strategy will go beyond counting the number of downloads, and requires identifying the right channels, targeting potential users and evaluating the value of those users over time. For example, you need to determine whether a particular range of your paid-to-acquire users are becoming big influencers or are rather under-using your app. If they’re not producing ROI or providing you with lifetime value (LTV), you should start considering other paid channels.
A note on monetization
A well-calculated monetization plan is an important part of the acquisition phase of your marketing campaign. Whether you’re going to deliver a one-time premium app for purchase, or you’re going to opt for a free app that will depend on in-app purchases will depend on your goals. Meanwhile, the following facts should help you decide how to best set your app’s monetization strategy:
- Users are now spending more and more money while using apps, and in-app spending is starting to eclipse app store revenues.
- Paid apps oftentimes can’t withstand in-app purchases.
- Free apps supported by ads are unpopular, and users are often annoyed by the ads that encroach on their display’s real-estate.
- Free trial periods followed by a one-time purchase and extra paid-for features can help sometimes, helping users get the feel of the app before slipping their hand into their pocket.
Once you acquire users, you need to categorize and evaluate them. Today, nearly 22 percent of apps downloaded are never used more than once, and without the proper tools, you can’t make a correct measurement and assessment of your users’ value, or lay out a roadmap to make them more engaged.
This is where analytics come to your rescue. Analytics involve studying users’ interactions with your app in order to better understand their behavior and be able to produce better user experience and encourage your users to provide value.
Analytics track anything from the duration of the time users spend in your app, to intervals between sessions, and categorizing users by their behavioral habits and the way they navigate through your app. Much can be made from the data that is returned from analytic data. For example, studies might reveal that tablet users spend more time on your app than smartphone users, leading you to the conclusion that you need to improve your application’s screen flow.
Data obtained from analytics can also help you to segment and single out users based on their interactions, and move toward tailoring your app’s behavior to better respond to the needs of those users and convert them into long-term users of your app. This way, you can also determine the demographics of the users that are more inclined to use your app, valuable information that will help you better plan your future paid acquisition campaigns.
In recent years, a host of analytics tools have emerged, and have since become an invaluable asset in gathering and processing data about the usage of mobile apps, and in defining marketing strategies for mobile app companies. I will present some of these tools in a future post.