Now that you’ve created your new groundbreaking, life-changing mobile app, it’s time to kick back and watch the downloads roll in. Like a patient fisherman you sit, you wait, and you wait some more.
But… no bites. If only you’d arrived at the party a little sooner...
In 2008 soliciting downloads required far less legwork. There were just 800 apps in Apple’s App Store, and competition was scarce. As of July 2015, that number had grown by almost 2,000x to an astounding 1.5 million. Today, both the App Store and Google Play offer a cumulative 3,000,000+ mobile apps for download, with Amazon, Windows, and Blackberry trailing with a combined 870,000:
Among those millions, there’s something for everyone — from an app that directs you back to your car in a pirate voice, to one that allows you to pop virtual pimples.
For users, mobile devices have never been more powerful. For app developers, however, getting people to press the “install” button has never been more difficult.
So what happened?
Over the several years we’ve seen a number of tech giants acquire apps for hefty sums of cash. Facebook bought out mobile messenger, WhatsApp, for $19 billion, while Google spent a reported $966 million on Waze, the Israel-based mapping app.
These were just the latest in a string of newsworthy acquisitions that had everyone seeing dollar signs — your friends, family members, classmates, and co-workers. Inventing a hit app became the goal of nearly every entrepreneurial mind around the world.
Heck, If you had a nickel for everyone who pitched you their app idea, you’d probably be wealthier than the creators of WhatsApp. You’ve probably even had an idea or two yourself.
To keep up with the growing demand for app development, businesses like AppMakr emerged to help regular people with no industry experience create their very own apps DIY style — flooding an already busy market.
Today, it doesn't matter how groundbreaking or life-changing your app is. If you’re not staying ahead of mobile app marketing trends, you risk drowning in overcrowded tech marketplaces like the App Store and Google Play.
Why app development is more important than ever
By now you know that mobile is the new desktop. More users access the internet via their mobile devices than any other way — and that’s been the case since 2014:
It should come as no surprise. After all, these are the devices we have by our side at all times — shopping, working, even sleeping. Research has shown we check them up to 150 times a day.
But things get even more surprising as you dig deeper to find out how we use them.
As it turns out, 85% of time spent on smartphones is in apps.
A few leading marketers are using this fact to completely transform the customer experience by developing mobile apps instead of settling for a responsive website.
Take Facebook for example. Their mobile website works perfectly fine, but their mobile app is far easier to use. The same can be said of nearly every other app compared to its corresponding mobile responsive site.
However, the majority of marketers are lagging behind — finally mobilizing ads, trying to prove ROI, and struggling to secure the budget needed to fully integrate the channel.
While many play catch-up, leaders are faced with a different challenge: stand out in an increasingly competitive market. Here are a few ways they can overcome it in 2016:
Adapt to a new kind of search
Knowing that people discover content differently on desktop than mobile, Google has been making an attempt to deliver search results that are more relevant to mobile users.
One of those attempts, called “App Indexing” means when I search for something like “music streaming,” this is what I see:
App indexing allows a user to click on a search result right into an app. Along with “deep linking,” it’s been called the new link-building strategy for apps.
Deep linking is the reason that when you visit YouTube or Twitter or Soundcloud in your mobile web browser, you’ll be prompted to open or download the app instead. Both are must-add tactics to your mobile app marketing strategy.
Get more interactive with your app marketing
It’s no secret that people’s attention is becoming harder and harder to capture every day. As a result, businesses have been trying desperately to find new ways to engage their audiences — with some success.
Over the last several years, video has emerged as a powerful marketing medium, spurring more attempts to boost the interactivity of content even further.
Today those attempts come in many different forms, like:
- Facebook’s immersive “Canvas” ad format allows users to swipe, click, watch, and read content within the app itself. So far, it’s produced sky-high ROI for businesses that have tested it.
- Beacon technology is becoming more prevalent, even if it’s still not fully understood by consumers. If that’s you, consider this great explanation from H.O. Maycotte of how a retailer might use it: “Say someone is walking past a retail store; if they’ve downloaded the retailer’s mobile app, the company can use beacon messages to capture their attention as they go by, enticing them to enter. Once inside, beacons can be used to make personalized offers, speed checkout processes and pretty much anything else the retailer can dream up.”
Organizations like Major League Baseball and American Airlines are among the first to scale the use of beacons to deliver personalized mobile experiences.
- The “internet of things” will drive a 2 trillion dollar industry. Marketers who can incorporate items that deliver app feedback to create personalized experiences will benefit.
- Virtual reality is more than something you saw in “Back To The Future.” It’s here, and it’s already being leveraged by leading marketers. Using an app, and a Happy Meal box, McDonald’s created a virtual reality experience for its customers.
Get creative to stay top-of-mind
Research shows that most people spend the majority of their time in a select few apps like Facebook and Instagram. Use a combination of creative push notifications and even text messages to remind users to come back for more.
For example, after Spotify began edging out Pandora as the most used streaming app, the team there started sending push notifications about new music and activity of a user’s friends on the network in hopes it would lure them back in.
Optimize your app page for search
Research has shown that 63% of people find apps via app store search bars. As a result, “App Store optimization,” has become increasingly popular over the last several years. The right name, keywords, and even icon have a big impact on who finds your app and whether they download it once they do find it. A few tips:
- Make your name reflective of what your app does.
- Include, (but don’t stuff your page with) relevant long-tail keywords such as “find apartments” or “search apartments” if your app is designed to help people find new living spaces.
- Create a professional icon that will catch the eye of prospects in search results.
Market to enterprises over customers
Studies have shown that 43% of developers focused on marketing apps to businesses are making more than $10,000 per month, compared to only 19% for those focused on consumers.
An increasing need for automation combined with a bigger budget makes businesses a prime target for developers. Consider refocusing your efforts if you’re not seeing a high ROI.
Make your app free, even for just a short time
Today, for every paid version of an app in the app store, there are several free alternatives available for download. If you’re a new kid on the block who hasn’t seen a big boost in app revenue, consider making it free for just a short time to give people a taste of what they’re missing. Once you have some social proof on your side — like more installs and positive reviews — raise the price and see if the downloads keep coming.
If they don’t, consider offering two versions of your app: a free, basic one with in-app upgrade purchases, and a paid one, complete with all the bells and whistles.
Get your app in the hands of an influencer
You know them, but maybe not as “influencers.” The fitness fanatics with tens of thousands of Instagram followers, the travel bloggers with countless site visits, and the Vine comedians with millions of video views — they’re the people you want using your app.
Because they have a direct line to the people you want to reach. If you’re unwilling to offer free downloads to everyone for a limited time, at least make them available to high-profile journalists or bloggers in the space. If that doesn’t work, try offering an extra incentive for promoting your app.
Check out how private aviation app JetSmarter teamed up with fitness influencer Caroline de Campos to reach thousands of people.
Target them on social
On mobile, users spend more time in social media apps than any other category:
So don’t skimp on social media when marketing an app. Facebook has continuously come up with new ways to engage mobile users with Canvas ads, Instant Articles, and mobile lead ads. Instagram, with its new ad capabilities, is following suit:
In fact, all the major networks offer app install ads. Just be cautious when including them in your mobile app marketing plan. Not all deliver the same ROI.
Resolve negative reviews because customers have more power than ever
It’s not unusual for your app to receive a few negative reviews. You can’t please everybody.
However, if you’re letting them pile up and not doing anything to solve them, then you could be in some trouble, shows a graph from Mobile Action:
Chances are, if you’re getting more than you can keep up with, the problem is more about your app than with the reviewer’s personal preference. Work to resolve whatever issues you can, otherwise you may see a drastic drop in downloads.
Make your landing page forms easy to fill out
If landing pages are part of your mobile app marketing strategy (as they should be) make sure the sign-up forms on them are easy to complete.
Typing with your thumbs can be a painfully tedious task. The fewer form fields on your mobile landing page, the better. All-in-one fields that accept a first and last name are becoming an increasingly popular tactic, and even more efficient are ones that leverage a one-touch sign-up with social media profiles.
Stand out from the crowd, or drown in the app store
How will you market your app in 2016? What tactics have you found valuable so far? Let us know in the comments, then create a mobile-optimized landing page for your app with one of Instapage’s expert templates.