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11/22/2013 10:05:48 AM
App Marketing on the Cheap!
App Developer Magazine
App Marketing on the Cheap!

Marketing & Promotion

App Marketing on the Cheap!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Khalil Dandan Khalil Dandan

How to Successfully Market an App Without a Big Budget

App developers often spend most of their time developing an app and very little time promoting it. With over 1.6 million apps available in the App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft Phone Market Place combined, gaining visibility for your app can seem like a daunting, intimidating task. Many app developers have no prior marketing efforts before contacting an agency which can lead to frustrations.

A lot of developers assume that marketing takes a significant amount of time and money to be effective. The cost of hiring a public relations agency or marketing firm is unthinkable for most start-ups. Fortunately, there are simple and cost-effective steps busy developers can take to gain visibility among their target audience. A simple overview of these steps can be summarized in Figure 1.

Focus on your unique offering

Contrary to popular assumptions, your marketing efforts are not limited to the ways you decide to promote your app. Your marketing efforts begin the moment you decide to develop your brilliant idea. In order for you to position your app properly, you must understand who your audience is and why they would want to download your app. You are not limited to your geographic location, so it is important to consider other markets and regional cultures in order to communicate to a global audience. Before you can harness the power of mass outreach provided by social media, you must identify your app’s value and build your key messages around that. Make sure you focus on the core value you bring so that your target audience will pay attention to your marketing efforts.

Do your research

In order for you to identify your value proposition, you must consider your competition. For example, we (myself and other team members at AppEpic) have worked with the developers of SayWe, a voice chat-sharing app, who were looking to gain visibility among younger app users. SayWe is a unique interactive interface that allows users to share voice notes with Facebook friends and groups. Before we could provide specific promotional tactics, we had to figure out where SayWe would stand in the app market. We looked at SayWe’s competition to identify its unique offering. We discovered that SayWe’s simple interface allowed users to simplify their daily communication tasks with fun and efficiency. After conducting testing and focus groups, we decided to include fun, efficiency, and simplicity in our key messages.

Share your app with gatekeepers

You can avoid releasing first and marketing last by introducing your app to the market before its launch date. There are serious bloggers and journalists that conduct app reviews for a faithful audience. However, each website has its own niche. Be strategic and send personalized email pitches to the right people. When we approach the media, we spend a significant amount of time looking at the page to make sure the writer covers the particular software, genre, and device that we are working on. There are good and bad ways to pitch your product to influential writers. Since you are competing with thousands of other apps, your pitch is important.

In order to obtain a writer’s attention, we create unique angles that touch on the product’s key message in the first paragraph of an email. It must be newsworthy and interesting to the writer. Keep your messages short and sweet, and follow up with a phone call if you do not get a response. Twitter is a great place to obtain contact information. You are not limited to new app launches to pitch your product to the media. Each update release is a new opportunity for you to get attention from the blogosphere.

Provide previews

Microsites are an important place to share new information before and after your app’s release date. Write a compelling description, share the app’s launch date, and post relevant information to create anticipation for your app. This information should be available prior to your launch date so users can refer back to something after hearing about your app. You can provide more than just a screen shot; some developers produce video demonstrations to highlight the most interesting elements of an app and post the videos broadly for maximum visibility. Tease your audience with new information to build hype before launch date.

Get outside perspectivesv You can use your current network to gain exposure and improve your product. Once you launch your app, do not ignore negative reviews. We look for these reviews to identify areas for improvement.

You can easily obtain outside perspectives from the people around you. Ask around and find people who fit your target audience. Get them together for a short feedback session. For instance, if your mobile app is a game, there are active communities of gamers on numerous forums. In that case, reaching out to gamers will spread the word and provide interesting feedback.

Organize the feedback you receive and look for patterns in the responses. When we conduct focus groups, we look for specific and actionable comments that will help the developer make the app even more epic. Our participants often point out things that our developers would have never identified alone.

Use social media effectively

Do not limit your social media campaigns to just Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. You can get additional visibility on other platforms like Google+ and Instagram. To obtain a strong follower base, share fresh and engaging content with your followers. The level of engagement depends on the platform you are using. Your Twitter page will require more posts than your Facebook page. If you have your pages already set up, it is tempting to ignore them and focus on other tasks. Keep your fans entertained and keep them updated as you add new features. When you neglect your social media pages, you run the risk of losing that base. Keeping your content fresh will keep your followers engaged.

Follow your passion

Marketing is not a function of your budget, but a function of your passion. Once your product is launched, you have a limited amount of time to obtain enough reviews and downloads before it is shadowed by other apps. After working with a diverse portfolio of developers, we have learned that there is potential for all developers to reach out to markets, especially when you think outside of your geographic location. Going outside of your comfort zone to gain visibility does take time, but is rewarding when you focus on sharing exciting information about your app to the right people.

This content is made possible by a guest author, or sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of App Developer Magazine's editorial staff.

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