Back in 2010, Apple trademarked “There’s an app for that.” It’s the “Where’s the beef?” or “Got milk?” of our generation––an advertising slogan that’s both ubiquitous and memorable. Continuously referenced in popular culture, Don Draper would be proud.
A decade later and the slogan still holds. Whether you want to scan your passport or find a date, there is an app for that. And while individuals argue that the app boom is over, the mobile app economy is set to grow to $6.3 trillion in 2021. On top of this, consumers, on average, spent 50% more time in mobile apps in 2018 than they did in 2016.
It’s as good a time as any to build and launch a mobile app. Despite this, Gartner warns that 0.01% of consumer mobile apps are a financial success. A poor marketing strategy is one of the top reasons apps fail.
With this in mind, we’d like to share with you 11 creative ways that you can promote your new mobile app. We’re not here to tell you to post on social media or to build nice looking landing pages. These ideas aim to help you think outside the box. Running the same marketing app marketing playbook as 99.9% of apps isn’t a recipe for success.
The list is in no specific order, so you should pick the ideas that most appeal to you. Start with a handful–or even just one–and test what works for you and what doesn’t.
Building an app is half the battle. The other half is user acquisition.
Product Hunt is a community that helps its users share and discover new products. It’s no surprise that apps like Konsus, a professional outsourcing company, leveraged Product Hunt to grow their startup by 500%.
Getting featured on Product Hunt is a great way to kick-start your business—especially if you’re a new app developer or an entrepreneur with a unique and new original app.
Reddit is a great place to start promoting your app. It’s even better if your target audience is mostly male, based in the United States, and 25-34 years of age.
Though Reddit is against promotional activities and is known for its hatred of marketing tactics, there is a subreddit available specifically to promote mobile applications, r/AppHookup.
You can place links to your app, as shown here:
Most people will download your app from the App Store. Therefore it makes sense to focus on ASO. Start by conducting in-depth keyword research to see what people are looking for. This article from Tool.io should help you better understand keyword density, and installs per keyword.
Once you’ve done this, it’s worth adding videos, revamping creative and text, and remaining focused on improving your app reviews and ratings. Nothing beats free traffic.
People want to spread the tools that make their own lives better. Make it a win-win and offer your customers an incentive to hit the share button in the app. It’s one of the best ways to create a steady and long-term stream of installs. Unfortunately, it’s not an item that most apps include in the mobile app development process.
The wildly popular Duolingo app for language learners offers one week of free Plus for every person referred.
We don’t know about you, but swiping right on Vilma is an obvious choice.
That’s what Tinder urged it’s customers do, turning cuteness into business. Back in 2014, Tinder allowed users to swipe through photo profiles of rescue dogs. If a customer swiped right, it linked to the nonprofit that rescued the dogs with more information about how to adopt or volunteer.
The takeaway from this pro-puppy initiative? Partner with another organization that shares the same target customers to promote your mobile app. For example, an app like AllTrails might try and partner with an outdoor clothing retailer like The North Face or Patagonia.
We have a soft spot for QR codes. If your mobile app marketing plan doesn’t include QR codes, we’re here to tell you that’s a big mistake. Create a QR code that links to your app, then promote your QR code in the following ways:
You could also create a QR code that generates a text requesting a link to your mobile app. This way, you can combine the powers of SMS and QR codes! All app launches need a healthy dose of QR codes.
SimpleTexting customer Jenzy helps people size their feet and shop for shoes. The company has a mobile app and promotes it by texting out a download link.
The benefit is that when you send a link by email, there’s a chance a recipient is on their laptop. So they wait until later, then forget all about it. When you send a direct SMS message, it solves all those problems.
You can also use keywords to promote your mobile app. A keyword is a word, phrase, or some combination of numbers and letters that allows people to receive texts. In your keyword autoresponse, you can include a link to the App Store. Take a look at how it works:
Revolut has been making waves in Europe where their borderless debit card is considered trendy. Its popularity in Europe made app promotion in North America a lot easier. Regardless, there’s a ton to learn from its approach.
This tactic might not be as exciting as others on this list, but by getting people to sign up weeks or months before it’s available, you build an awful lot of suspense. Even better if you tell people their position in the queue as Revolut did. It’s like how everyone goes to the brunch place to the longest line, even if your eggs taste the same right next door.
The clever thing about Revolut’s approach is that they allowed people to skip the queue by referring friends. This provided people with an incentive to shout from the rooftops about the app without giving anything significant in return.
Who doesn’t like winning awards? Yes, the only award we genuinely care about winning is a fictional Dundie. But there are certain awards your mobile app should consider applying for.
While winning depends on your app and the quality of your pitch, participating in awards can lead to press, reviews, and the all-important app downloads. Consider applying for:
Want to know how to promote your app? Get it on app review sites. Getting press and reviews about your mobile app is a great way to increase the credibility of your offer. Plus, it’s an entirely free source of traffic.
If you’ve tried it before, you know it’s far from easy to get a free review. Review sites receive a lot of pitches and are busy. Any email you send needs to include all the critical elements about your app and why the blogger should even bother looking more into it.
You can consider reaching out to:
Too many mobile apps focus on app development and not on marketing. Intense focus on creating an exceptional app is not wrong, of course. It’s an essential ingredient to its success. But for it to be a financial success, you need people actually to download your app.
Running the 2015 mobile app marketing playbook isn’t going to cut it. You need to think outside of the box to connect with your target audience.