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Much is spoken about the significance for brands to build an app, for a plethora of benefits that apps help brands within the long run. However, there isn’t adequate information on how do you have users commit to your app (or download your app). Flashback, 7 years ago, there was a time your phone had very limited memory, 4GB – 8GB max! You also stored videos & songs on your phone and hence the memory left for trying out new apps was very limited. Every single time you come across a new app, you first need to figure out a way to find those few MBs for the new app – by deleting a song or another app maybe!

Let’s talk about today. Our phones have ample amount of space, most of the songs & videos we consume are online. Hence, there’s enough space for new apps to reside on our phones. What this leads to is a large number of apps, installed on your phone but hardly ever opened.

There are 2 questions to address here:

  1. How to have apps downloaded?
  2. How to have installed apps opened regularly?

In this article, we will be talking about the first point. There will be another article in this series which will talk about App Engagement (point number 2 above).

Below is the app promotion plan, popularly used by leading digital marketers. The plan is broken down into 3 phases:

  • Pre-launch phase
  • Launch phase
  • Post-launch phase

We have significant importance & distinct objectives for each of the 3 phases. Below is a TL;DR version of the same:

  1. Pre-launch phase – Build relationships, talk with communities, build the hype, app store optimization
  2. Launch phase – Invest in generating maximum downloads via paid media
  3. Post-launch phase – Understand what worked and what didn’t, harness on high ROI activities, keep bringing in bumps of app downloads using innovative tactics

Let’s dig into the 3 phases in further detail:

Email Marketing

1. Pre-launch phase:

A. High profile media coverage – Create a list of magazine editors, newspaper journalists from across the web within your category and start an outreach campaign via Linkedin. Provide a BETA access to them and ask them to write about your app on their content platforms. This essentially is a PR outreach campaign! The call to action in the articles published (during the launch phase) should be “Check out this app!” (or awareness).

B. Reviews by bloggers – There are tons of websites out there who review apps & products. These bloggers have a heavy social media following and/or subscriber base. Reach out to them via their social media channels or their website contact us form and try a barter. Give them some goodies or free access for life to the app (if that’s a subscription app) or something similar. Have these bloggers put your story up on their review blogs, social media channels & shoot an email to their subscriber base? The call to action in these articles could be “Download app” or something action oriented. You may even run a pre-buzz campaign to collect email IDs for the audience who’ll receive an early access to your app or an irresistible deal.

C. Viral marketing – There’s no step by step process to have a content go viral. The basic point here is to experiment with communication to generate word of mouth about the app. Try for a video communication and keep the storyline relevant to your target audience. Build a strong character for the app to define its purpose and tell an engaging story. People share content that impacts their line of thinking and triggers a strong emotion.

D. App Store Optimization – This is SEO for apps (often called ‘ASO’). Work on the app title, app description, the screenshots, and video. Define an interesting self-explanatory icon to the app. Generate backlinks for the app link on Play Store & App Store (just like SEO!) and generate reviews from downloaders on an active basis.

Facebook Ads

2. Launch phase:

CPI-based affiliate network campaigns – Speak with affiliate partners who run excellent campaigns in your target geography who offer a Cost per Install based campaign. Always run in incent campaigns (the users aren’t incentivized for getting the app installed, rather they have explained the benefits of the app). Try and invest a smaller amount with multiple partners, to begin with, track results using a tool like App Annie or Appsflyer and then scale up campaigns that show promising engagement metrics for the downloads.

A. Google app download campaigns – Using Google Ads, select target keywords and run campaigns for ads to be shown within Play Store. You may also run display campaigns, however, the CTRs will be low. Try running campaigns within other apps as well which fall within your category or are likely to be used by your target group.

B. Facebook app download campaigns – Use Facebook ads to run app install campaigns. The targeting capabilities remain similar to website campaigns.

C. Reviews generation & reputation management – One very important activity to be performed during any app download campaign is to consistently fetch reviews from downloaders. This could be in the form of push notifications, popups with the app, emailer campaigns for signups and more. One tactic you may use to focus on  more positive reviews – Ask a question – “Do you like us?” When people click on YES, take them to play store. When people click on NO, take them to your website feedback form.

3. Post-launch phase:

A. High ROI paid advertising campaigns using Google/FB/Affiliates – Once you identify the top source of app installs in terms of ROI, app engagement, etc. (using app analytics tools mentioned above), pick a few and continue the campaigns on a consistent basis.

B. Push notifications & referral marketing – Using a combination of push notifications & referral marketing as a growth hack. Referral policies work! Dropbox, Uber has grown multifold because of a good referral scheme.

C. Contests & social media marketing – Keep your brand buzzing and alive. In the digital clutter today, there are tons of options for your audience to quickly switch to an alternative of yours. Keep interacting with your audience via app notifications, ask them to follow your brand on social channels. Keep sharing engaging content on your social channels and bump up the engagement once in a while via campaigns and contests.

D. Offline advertising & partnerships – Digital just can’t survive in a silo, one needs to create ripples in the offline space as well to successfully market their product or service. Go out and interact with brands to partner with them in events or similar alliances which benefit both the parties. Get mentions from peers within your operational business vertical and help the word spread organically. This is very important in the long run.

Needless to say, not all of the above activities suit each and every app category. Just pick and choose the activities that fit fine for you!

Apart from this, there can be a number of innovative campaigns that you run to generate app downloads. Do share your ideas in the comments below and let’s help the digitally aware community! Also, share your questions in comments and I’ll answer them personally.

Share this article with your friends going the app way for their product or business.

Also Read: Top 5 skills to excel in a Digital Marketing career.