“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”
This is the adage we use when we help each other accomplish difficult tasks. The equivalent of back-scratching in mobile app marketing is cross-promotion, a very effective tactic that helps app developers and publishers reach out to their audience and increase traffic and install rates.
This compelling tool is unfortunately underrated, and many developers fail to understand and leverage the power that it offers. Cross-promotion helps cut costs and reach out to an audience that is already engaged.
In this article I will take you through the basics of cross-promotion and some of its most common tactics.
what is cross-promotion?
Regardless of the mechanism and tools, at its heart, cross-promotion is cooperative marketing by two or more companies of one another’s products. It’s collaboration that works to the benefit of all sides.
This is an effective tactic for new apps that have limited audience and need someone to give them a boost after being published in app stores.
That said, there are many ways you can cross promote your app, including self-coded promotion between your apps, cross-promotion platforms, blogging and social media, and much more. Here are most well-known cross-promotion methods:
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SELF-PROMOTION ACROSS APPS
Technically, this isn’t really a cross-promotion tactic, because it all depends on your development history and previous apps. In this method, you promote and publicize your new apps by displaying ads in apps you’ve previously published. This is an effective method because it taps into a pool of users that are already familiar with your brand and are more likely to trust and download your new app.
The downside to this approach is that you will be cannibalizing your users. These are users that are already spending part of their time in one of your apps or games, and by downloading your new app, they’ll probably allocate some of the time they were already spending in one of your apps to use another one. However, it will give a new app some initial exposure and can come in handy when you want to smoothly transport your users from one of your free apps to another that has in-app paid features.
The other challenge that this method presents is that it has no prebuilt library or widget to integrate into your app, and you’ll be forced to write your own ad-hoc code, which is more time-consuming than other approaches.
striking deals with other devs
This is vanilla cross-promotion, the core idea that cross-promotion is all about. In this approach, you have to find some other studio or indie developer, and make an agreement to promote each other’s apps or games in your respective products.
This can expose your app to a large audience, especially if your partner already has an established reputation and is a larger studio. However, you do have to take note that this method can backfire, especially if your partner’s app or game happens to be a huge success, and it can lead to users abandoning your app for your partner’s. In fact this is something that happens a lot when you’re part of an advertising network, especially in the case of mobile games.
Overcoming this effect takes a little planning and a lot of faith. If you’re trying to promote a utility app, this effect can be minimized by partnering with an app that complements yours instead of replacing it. For games, this is a little bit more challenging and takes careful scrutiny of your partnership candidate to make sure that it doesn’t end up becoming a rival.
Ready-made platforms lift much of the burden off your shoulders and take care of much of the underlying mechanics of cross-promotion. They provide in-app advertising that operates through an ad network where different studios join to share their users. This is an especially popular method in the mobile gaming industry. It is a win-win situation, because developers find access to a much larger audience, and the audience gets exposed to a much larger number of games.
There are many popular ad networks, including Chartboost, Supersonic and Tapdaq. Consider that each platform has its own set of rules (some of them are truly complicated), which requires you to carry out research before committing to one.
The possible trade-off of using ad platforms is that you have little or no control over which ads will be displayed in your app, and though the platform SDK does much of the heavy lifting for you, there are some things that you need to do on your own, such as building the logic of ad frequency and order.
As a final piece of advice, in order to make the best out of your cross-promotion strategy, make sure you complement your efforts with an analytics tool in order to be able to measure success and adjust your strategy with A/B testing tactics.
This guide can get you started on cross-promotion. The concept can be implemented in many different settings. How do you cross-promote? Share your experience with us in the comments section.