The good things in life are free. Including app installs.
The app market is growing at an insane speed. In June of 2016, more than 130 billion apps had been downloaded from the Apple store.
Yes, 130 billion.
And that is just from the Apple store.
An estimated 70 billion have also been downloaded from the Google Play store and this is really just the beginning.
Every year the number of apps that are being downloaded is increasing and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. In fact today, 89 percent of mobile phone owners use apps.
Along with the billions of downloads that have happened over the years, the app industry is also raking in mouth-watering profits.
It has been estimated by industry experts that by 2017, the app market is going to be worth close to $77 billion. This is almost double what it reached back in 2014.
There is no mistaking it. Apps mean big business and as more and more consumers rely on their mobile phones, the bigger the app industry is going to become.
In order to keep up with the trend, many businesses have launched their own apps.
These include big brands such as Shell, Starbucks, L’Oreal, BMW and more.
While none of these apps are in the top 10, they do help to foster customer loyalty and brand growth. They also allow big brands to take their share of profits from the growing app industry.
One of the businesses leading the way when it comes to apps is Starbucks. This popular American coffee chain offers customers a way to order and pay for their drink through their app before they even reach the store.
Other brands like BMW are also cashing in on the market and have an app that allows customers to do things like unlock their car and set the temperature.
L’Oreal’s app also allows you to virtually apply makeup, so you can see which products, colours and tones would suit your skin.
By targeting customers in this way, studies have found that they are more likely to purchase from the brand and are more likely to become advocators of that brand as well.
There are many ways that businesses are using apps to help to help expand their reach and grow their company, but marketing apps to customers and on the app store can be tricky.
There are so many apps on the market that it can be difficult and challenging to get your app to stand out from the crowd.
App marketing can also be extremely expensive due to the sheer amount of competition and money that is being thrown around by big businesses.
For many brands, creating an app is also less about generating millions of installs and more about going after targeted users who are going to eventually become repeat customers.
This strategy makes it difficult to determine if your app is going to make a solid ROI, which increases the risk factor when it comes to spending on app development and marketing.
If your brand wants to dabble in the app world, or if you have a startup that needs to keep to a strict budget when it comes to app marketing, there are some ways that you can market your app for free.
While it may take more time and effort than paying for app marketing, it is a great way to test the waters and see if your customers are really going to relate to your app or not.
Here is how to get started….
Start With A Good Idea
Let’s face it, if you want your app to do well, it has to offer something of value to your customers or target audience.
If you are a brand that is looking to create an app, you may need to get creative and think about what your customers are looking for and how you can enhance their lives in some way.
To use Starbucks as an example again, the coffee company realised that they could make ordering a drink far more convenient if they reduced the average wait time.
They also realised that by reducing the average wait time, people would be more likely to come in and purchase their morning coffee rather than skipping it altogether.
Hence, they created an app that allowed customers to pay and order their drink on their phone and simply pick it up in store.
By making it easier for customers, Starbucks was also able to build up brand loyalty.
Why would they stand in line at a different coffee shop if they could simply order their drink through an app and pick it up when it was ready?
Starbucks also offers their app users coupons and discounts, which further helps to create convenience and brand loyalty.
Other brands have also adopted a similar idea and have created apps to help users enjoy their products, receive additional benefits and perhaps even discounts or coupons.
“Gamification” is also extremely important when it comes to creating a successful app. After all, the apps that often make it to the top 10 are gaming apps.
By creating some level of play or a game in your app, it helps to keep users engaged and interested.
It can also help to get users hooked on your app and therefore more likely to discuss and promote your app amongst their networks.
Ultimately, choosing the best app idea comes down to your intention and what your business really wants to gain from having an app.
Just be sure to think about creating an app that helps promote both convenience and curiosity.
App Store Optimisation
Ok, so you have your great idea and you have successfully built your app, now it is time to think about getting it out there.
The first step with this is ASO or app store optimisation. Essentially, this is going to make it easier for people to find your app while browsing through the app store.
This is important because according to statistics, 63 percent of apps are found and installed through app store searches.
This is more than any other promotional strategy, so it is paramount to ensure that your app can be found on the top stores.
Basic app store optimisation is fairly simple and somewhat similar to search engine optimisation.
Here is what you need to know:
This is the face of your app, which will ultimately create the first impression when users stumble across your app. Because it is the first impression, it is important to ensure that your icon is catchy and meaningful.
In order to test out the effectiveness of your icon, we suggest that you trial it out before releasing it on the app store. To do this, purchase ads on networks such as Google Adwords and Facebook, and test out different versions of your icon.
The more you can test and assess the effectiveness of your icon, the more luck you are going to have when it is uploaded to the app store.
Your App Name
Coming up with a catchy name for your app can be difficult, however often the easiest solution for a business is to incorporate their brand name in some way.
Here are some examples of app names from top brands –
L’Oreal: L’Oreal Makeup Genius
Asics: MY ASICS
Expedia: Expedia Hotel, Flights, Car Rentals & Activities
GrubHub: Grubhub Food Delivery & Takeout
As you can see from the name choices above, choosing the right keyword in your app title is also going to be important.
This is because apps with keywords in their title rank an average of 10 percent higher than those without a keyword in their title.
Before coming up with a name, it may also help to think about the keywords that you wish to target and go from there.
Screenshots are a great way to showcase what your app looks like and some of the interesting features that your app offers. The best and most effective way to capture great screenshot images is to think of these images as an advertisement.
Your screenshots are going to be the strongest visual representation of your app, so you need to make sure that they draw your audiences attention and get them interested in what your app is all about.
As a general rule of thumb, you should offer at least three screenshot images of your app that clearly show how the app is used and what features are included.
This is where you are going to describe to interested visitors what your app is about. Of course, the more compelling and interesting you can make your description, the more app installs you are likely to generate.
To work on creating a compelling description think about your customers needs, wants and values. From here you can work on writing a succinct and enticing description that is going to get your app downloaded.
Here are a few great examples that we have found-
“Mercari provides a hassle free and secure way to buy and sell items such as electronics, jewellery, women’s fashions, beauty and more straight from your mobile device or tablet. Millions of products are available starting at $3.”
Mercari was able to quickly summarise what the app installer plans to gain from installing the app and what capabilities the app has. It also adds a level of curiosity by mentioning that products start at just $3- everyone loves a bargain.
“Life’s more fun when you live in the moment 🙂 Happy Snapping!”
Snapchat can get away with this brief description because it has a pretty solid reputation. Their description also appeals to their target audience. Not many teenagers are going to bother reading a lengthy and detailed app description, which is why this technique works for Snapchat.
3.) NY Times
“Enjoy all of our award-winning journalism with the NYTimes app for iPhone and Apple Watch.”
This is a great description as it clearly and quickly highlights what users can do on the app and what features it offers.
Hopefully these examples have given you some idea of where to start when it comes to writing your own.
When you can create an icon, name and description you are happy with, the rest is just going to come down to testing and assessing what is working and what needs adjustments.
It may just help to keep in mind that there are differences between the Apple Store and the Google Play store.
Apple Store Vs. Google Play
When uploading an app to the Apple Store here are some golden rules to remember-
- Metadata requires approval
- Can only change your app description with a new update
- App name can only be 255 characters
- Keyword field is limited to 100 characters
- Social media and links don’t affect ranking
Here are some golden rules for Google Play-
- App description can be changed at anytime
- App name is limited to 30 characters only
- Keywords are only done in the title and description
- Social links and other links affect rankings
Collect Honest Reviews
Having great ratings or reviews of your app is critical to getting noticed on the app store and by your target audience.
When your app has many positive reviews it also enhances the reputation and value of your app, which increases the number of installs.
Reviews are important as they also help to give your app credibility. Think about it, if you were looking for a time management app for example, you are most likely to go with the one that has the best reviews.
The proof is also in the results seen on app stores, for example, 67 percent of the top 100 free iPhone apps have a 4-star rating or better.
It has also been found that 92 percent of the top 100 free iPhone apps have a 3 star rating or better.
Statistics show us that apps with 2 to 4 stars convert the best when it comes to installs, so it definitely worth your time to ensure that your app has great reviews.
But how do you start getting reviews?
Reaching out to your family, friends and colleagues is only going to get you so far. Here are some techniques that you may want to try-
- Make it super easy for app users to leave reviews. You may want to try using an app review plugin for this.
- Give your existing app users incentives to leave a review, such as discounts, coupon codes or unlocking prizes etc.
- Provide exceptional customer service- this is one of the best ways to ensure that your app is loved by your users.
- Listen to feedback- listen and respond to any feedback that you do get about your app on social media or through the app store.
The more reviews you have, the more likely your app is also going to appear higher in search results. In fact, earning honest reviews is the most effective way to get noticed on the app store.
Make a Landing Page
As part of your app launching strategy, you should also have a dedicated landing page built specifically for your app.
This page can standalone or be added to your website. Either way, this is a very effective strategy if you are looking to promote your app and build credibility.
For your app landing page, simplicity is definitely key. There is no need to go into long-winded details or explanation. Just keep your landing page highly visual and straight to the point.
On your landing page you may want to consider including-
- Positive reviews
- Video or tutorial on how to use the app
- Clear bullet list of benefits
- Download link or button
The reason that having a landing page is so effective is that it can help to drive traffic to your app and can make your app easier to find.
If you don’t want to create a landing page, you can also simply include a download icon or link on your existing website. This allows you to leverage the traffic that you already have coming to your website.
PR, Influencers and Guest Posts
One of the best ways to promote your app is to reach out to popular blogs or authority sites and have them to mention your app. You may even want to write an article about your app and submit it to popular websites.
Start by reaching out to writers and contributors of tech publications like Mashable, Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, Tech Crunch, Forbes.com and so on, to see if you can get your app name mentioned in one of their articles.
When it comes to writing your pitch to these publications, be sure to also mention how your app is going to provide value to their audience.
You could also submit guest posts and articles that you write yourself to sites like these. Just be sure that the article you submit has some substance and is not all about promoting your app.
Another strategy you can try is reaching out to influencers to promote and mention your app on social media.
You could even offer the influencer something mutually beneficial as an incentive to get them to mention your app to their audience.
Social media is another great place to start building up the reputation of your app.
On social media you can share videos, screenshots, thoughts, feelings, reviews and so much more about what your app can offer. This can help to boost awareness about your app and promote installs.
If you already have an existing social following, promoting your app this way is a great way to take advantage of your fans and followers.
If you don’t have a big social following, you may just have to work a little harder in order to promote your app and get the message out there, or you may have to consider using influencers to help you.
When it comes to promoting your app on social media, consider sharing a variety of-
- Screenshots of the app
- Reviews and testimonials from users
- Blog posts relating to your app
- Video tutorials on how to use the app
- Videos of users playing with the app
- Discounts and promotions to entice users to install the app
- Inspirational quotes or messages relating to the app
- Funny memes relating to the app
- Sharing the benefits of the app through a story
- Live chat question and answer sessions about the app
These techniques will not only help to drive installs, but it will also help to create a community for the app users to share their thoughts, feelings and suggestions.
Apps are bound to be the way of the future.
Even if you have an extremely limited marketed budget, or are still unsure whether investing in an app is the right move, there are many free options out there to get you started.
It really all starts with ensuring that you have an interesting and thoughtfully crafted app that is going to offer your audience real benefits and information.
The next step with creating a successful app that also gets noticed, is ensuring that it is optimised for the various app stores.
This includes coming up with a great icon, a catchy title, a well-written description and beautiful screenshots. It also requires you to come up with top keywords, which will help your app to be found in the crowd.
After getting your app into one of the top stores, the next step is to build up reviews and ratings. Having a positive rating and plenty of reviews is not only going to get your app boosted in the search results, but it is also going to help reduce any barriers that your audience may have when choosing to install your app.
Along with optimising your app for Apple and Google, it is also important to try different promotional techniques. These include promoting your app on social media, tech publishing websites and by using influencers.
When you combine a great app with app store optimisation and great promotional techniques, you will be well on your way to generating plenty of installs and taking your share of the bourgeoning app market.