What Is Mobile App Marketing? All You Need To Know

Admittedly, mobile app marketing and mobile marketing are two terms that have been mistakenly used interchangeably for quite some now. They might sound like one and the same thing to some individuals, but the fact is, these are two completely different beasts.

So, what is mobile app marketing? And how different is it compared to the standard mobile marketing?

Well, for starters, mobile marketing is basically any type of marketing delivered via mobile. It’s a considerably broad term, describing mobile sites, app promotions, typical mobile ads, and other types of campaigns that specifically target mobile users.

The target audience here is essentially anyone using a mobile device – which of course, is a pretty large group – as 96% of Americans own a smartphone.

Mobile app marketing, on the other hand, is all about promoting your app. This entails both organic mobile app marketing and paid app marketing. Both organic and paid marketing are generally used in tandem to drive traffic to an install page, convert users into paying customers, and keep them coming back for more.

There are numerous mobile app marketing strategies designed for both acquisition and retention – and both as equally as important as the other. After all, the average app is deleted less than six days after it is installed. However, these numbers are far lower for lifestyle, social, and gaming apps, which rarely last more than a couple of days.

mobile apps average days from last usage session to uninstall worldwide in 2018
Mobile Apps: Average Days From Last Usage Session To Uninstall. Source: Statista

In order to get people to download your app in the first place – and to keep using it day after day, your app marketing strategy needs to be rock solid.

So, what are the best mobile app marketing strategies to utilize?

Well, first, let’s define the real differences between organic and paid mobile app marketing.

Organic App Marketing vs. Paid App Marketing

Organic mobile app marketing fundamentally seeks to achieve authentic interactions with real prospects. With time, you get to build your brand’s following, and subsequently convert followers into real app users. It’s an extended system made of tactics like app store optimization and blogging, all of which usually takes a lot of effort over the long haul.

Contrastingly, paid app marketing attempts to influence the audience more directly, over a short period of time. Instead of waiting for your target prospects to discover your app’s brand and then grow to like it, you hit them with ads right off the bat.

Now, make no mistake. Hiring an app marketing agency doesn’t necessarily make the consequent promotion strategies paid marketing. Think of the entire framework as simply paying for mobile app marketing. You can leverage both organic and paid app marketing services.

Fair enough. But, what are the main objectives here?

Mobile App User Acquisition And Mobile App User Retention

Promoting your app is not just about downloads. Having marketed more than 3,300 apps already, I can tell you for a fact that mobile app marketing goes far beyond this level.

You see, PreApps has helped its apps gain more than 10 million downloads so far. But, we didn’t stop there. We went ahead and continued engaging the mobile app users to keep them on the apps.

But, why is that important?

Ok, spreading the news about your app to its target audience is essential. Getting them to download might be more important and all.

But, these two are just the first stages of an app user’s typical lifecycle. What’s arguably more critical is keeping the downloaders on your app for long periods of time so you can generate revenue from them.

The latest mobile app usage statistics indicate that about 25% of apps are used only once within the first 6 months of acquisition. And that’s the lowest the rate has gone in recent years. The situation has only gotten worse since 2018, 2017, and 2016, when the numbers were 21%, 24%, and 23% respectively.

Percentage of Mobile Apps Used Only Once
Mobile Apps Usage. Source: Statista

With such alarmingly high figures, it has become extremely crucial for mobile app marketing to extend all the way to the end – from when your target audience first hears about your app to when they ultimately become regular users.

In a nutshell, mobile app marketing is like a funnel with the following stages:

  • User Acquisition refers to the process of interacting with your target market to convince prospects to download and install your app.
  • User Activation follows after the acquisition process. As soon as your app gets installed, mobile app marketing attempts to trigger registration and initial engagement. Users consequently respond by entering their email addresses, for instance, or possibly granting various access permissions to your app.
  • User Retention comes last – because mobile app marketing seeks to keep users engaging with the app on a permanent basis. The principal objective is to generate real value from every single app download.

And so, to define all the entire mobile app marketing framework accordingly, let’s dive deep into the interaction funnel to explore promotion strategies for acquiring as well as retaining users.

Mobile App Marketing For Acquiring Users

1. Pre-Launch App Marketing

Come to think of it, pre-launch app marketing is like what’s widely known as the “snowball effect.”

Imagine building a small ball and then releasing it from the top of a hill. Chances are, it’ll pick up more snow particles as it rolls, and progressively expand on its way down the hill.

Ultimately, by the time it reaches the base of the hill, it will have collected enough snow particles to make a large, visibly-outstanding mass that’s capable of crushing through various barriers.

And that’s essentially how prelaunch app marketing goes. You start promoting your app way before its release, then watch the resultant buzz develop slowly from a small snowball to an enormous one.

In essence, you take advantage of app review platforms, social media, landing pages, automated emails, blogs, and app press releases to let the market know that something big is cooking.

Pre-Launch App Marketing

By spreading the word before Apple even approves your app, you’ll be making the app a star before it becomes one. And in the end, you’ll launch it to a market that’s already excited about the prospects of downloading and trying out its features.

2. App Press Release

Reaching out to a wide audience base requires a solid PR strategy. While most of the effective mobile app marketing tactics here take a lot of effort and resources, a good app press release happens to be different.

You only need to create a comprehensive media kit that’s interesting and convincing enough to capture the attention of the masses. You could, for instance, compile app demo videos, logos, banners, icons, screenshots, plus a detailed but brief review guide write-up to highlight all the unique features that set your app apart from its competitors.

That said, the only problem is bound to be finding a prominent media platform and convincing them to publish as well as share the news widely. According to a recent survey of journalists, it emerged that more than half of them (53%) around the globe are not interested in press releases. Their mailboxes receive an overwhelming number of poorly composed submissions on a regular basis.

So, to avoid all the frustrations that come with app press releases, do yourself a favor and work with a specialized mobile app marketing agency that enjoys close ties with popular media platforms.

3. App Store Optimization

Commonly abbreviated as ASO, App Store Optimization is pretty much like SEO, but in the context of the App Store. In other words, App Store Optimization is a combination of mobile apps marketing techniques that tweak various listing parameters to make an app more discoverable by the App Store search algorithm.

Now, it’s worth noting that the Google Play store is actually the leading app discovery method among Android users – even beating out App Store searches from iOS users. This certainly makes ASO one of the most critical strategies when it comes to mobile app marketing. All things considered, therefore, you cannot afford to compromise on even the tiniest details.

App Discovery Statistics
App Discovery Statistics. Source

Whichever approach you consider using, it goes without saying that implementing ASO is not as simple as it may seem. You’re required to tweak multiple elements and then monitor your app’s performance, while persistently making adjustments based on trend changes.

For starters, you have the name to worry about. You can’t just pick a random app name because it happens to sound good. You should first conduct research about your target market’s search patterns, their preferred keywords, and the corresponding competition scene.

Using the findings, you can come up with an ideal, discoverable name, plus a brief, compelling, and well-composed description, complete with all the high-value keywords.

While you’re at it, you might also want to develop attractive descriptive visuals for your App Store page. I’m talking about things like the app icon, screenshots, and the app demo video. The better impression you make, the higher your App Store rank is expected to climb.

And that’s not all. There are still additional elements – like your app’s reviews and overall usage rate – that come into play when ranking the App Store Search results. Apple seemingly doesn’t take anything for granted.

4. Viral Mobile Apps Marketing

Going viral is, undeniably, the one thing that’s capable of making your mobile app a celebrity overnight. If your promotion content turns out to be extremely relevant and engaging, you might be able to reach millions of prospects in an unbelievably short period of time. Social media users are always willing to share interesting stuff with their followers.

For instance, the car-sharing app Get Around partnered with several notable celebrities and influencers to promote their app shortly after their launch. This certainly grabbed a lot of buzzes as many of the videos and images received hundreds of thousands of views.

Car Sharing App Partnered with Influencers For App Promotion
App Promotion BY Influencers. Source: Instagram

Don’t get me wrong though. While social media usage is growing exponentially, triggering a viral campaign is a challenging (and potentially expensive) undertaking. Viral mobile app marketing requires a high level of finesse and experience.

In a nutshell, you should be able to expertly leverage urgency, exclusivity, user incentives, influencers, humour, press engagement, and audience interactions.

5. Paid Mobile App Marketing

Like we’ve said already, paid mobile app marketing is the shortcut to promoting your app. You get to capitalize on various paid ads to place your app right in front of your target audience.

Paid Mobile App Marketing
Various Paid Ads Layout

Apart from cross-network promotions, some of the most popularly used paid mobile apps marketing options include Google Universal App Campaign, CPI ad platforms, App Store Search Ads, Promoted Tweets, and Facebook Ads.

Combined, they come in handy when you need to supplement your organic app marketing efforts.

Mobile App Marketing for Retaining Users

1. Push Notifications

Push notifications are special display messages launched through an app while it’s running in the background. Contrary to typical texts, they normally appear on the lock screen or home screen to alert users.

When it comes to mobile app marketing, push notifications are quite reliable for engaging your app users with graphical, highly-personalized messages.

2. In-App Messages

In-app messages are a lot like push notifications. You basically send them through your app to randomly target users with personalized engagements.

The only difference is – while push notifications ride on inactive apps, in-app messages are essentially displayed while users are actively interacting with the app.

Establishing If Your Mobile App Marketing Works

To get the best out of your mobile app marketing, it’s highly advisable to leverage multiple strategies at once. We’ve done it many times with our proven tactics, and we’ve seen the immense potential of a comprehensive app promotion framework.

Now, with such a system in place, I bet you’d want to find out how each individual mobile app marketing technique is performing.

Are your app marketing efforts reaching the target audience?

How is the market responding? Are you gaining or losing users?

And most importantly, is your overall mobile app marketing generating positive ROI?

Mobile App Marketing Metrics

There are many variables you could track depending on the type of insights you need. That said, here are some of the most important mobile app marketing metrics we’ve used to evaluate our strategies across numerous apps:

  • User Lifetime Value
  • Return on Ad Spend
  • Return on Investment
  • Average Revenue Per User
  • Cost of Acquisition
  • Retention Rate

Check out our comprehensive mobile app marketing metrics guide to get the full details.

Key Takeaways

  • Mobile marketing is basically any type of marketing delivered via mobile.
  • Mobile app marketing, on the other hand, is all about promoting your app.
  • Organic app marketing fundamentally seeks to achieve authentic interactions with real prospects and drive them to download your app and retain them as a using (and paying) customer.
  • Paid app marketing attempts to influence the audience more directly with ads, over a short period of time.
  • 25% of apps are used only once within the first 6 months of acquisition.
  • User Acquisition refers to the process of interacting with your target market to convince prospects to download and install your app.
  • User Activation attempts to trigger registration and initial engagement.
  • User Retention seeks to keep users engaging with the app on a permanent basis.
  • Pre-launch app marketing involves promoting your app way before its release, and then watching the resultant buzz develop progressively.
  • A good app press release is a comprehensive media kit that’s interesting and convincing enough to capture the attention of the masses.
  • App Store Optimization is a combination of mobile apps marketing techniques that tweak various listing parameters to make an app more discoverable by the App Store and Google Play Store search algorithm.
  • Viral mobile app marketing should be able to expertly leverage urgency, exclusivity, user incentives, influencers, humor, press engagement, and audience interactions.
  • Push notifications are special display messages launched through an app while it’s running in the background.
  • While push notifications ride on inactive apps, in-app messages are essentially displayed when users are actively interacting with the app.

Conclusion

App Secrets Book

No matter what your niche, you are going to face some fierce competition when launching an app. Therefore, your app marketing strategy needs to be comprehensive to capture your audience’s attention from multiple angles.

So, how do you think you should set up these mobile app marketing tactics to generate the best possible results for your app? Do you know how to promote your app in the best possible way, both organically and through paid advertising? Which of these strategies do you think would work best for your specific app?

Get in touch with us today to find out the answer. Our team at PreApps has helped thousands of people successfully launch and market their mobile apps. We would be more than happy to help you, too.

Sean Casto
Posted By

Sean Casto

I am the founder and CEO of PreApps.com, the leading mobile marketing and discovery platform. I have been a guest speaker at industry conventions for Microsoft and Samsung and lectured at Universities such as Northeastern and Harvard. I have acquired a deep understanding of the struggles developers face and a passion to serve the growing mobile app community.

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