Once upon a time, back when app market competition was very low, you’d only have to jockey with some 500 apps. Those were the good old days of 2009, when App Store had only just launched. Now, the mobile app market has turned into a huge multi-billion dollar industry and you have to compete with more than a million other apps in each major app store.
We still see exceptional apps and games that turn into overnight successes that rake millions of dollars in a matter of days – but those are the exception, not the rule. True app success is bound to having a good app marketing plan, one that starts before you actually launch your app.
In this post, I will lay out some of the most important marketing measures to take before launching your app.
Do Market research and learn from competitors
You can’t build a successful app if you don’t know what your users want. True user requirements can be obtained from a good research in app stores. Find out other key players in the category that your app operates, and learn their strengths and weaknesses.
Try to figure out how naming and keyword schemes are affecting user rating, reviews and install rates. Examine a few and create a list of features that each of them have. Compare the list with your app’s feature set, and you might come up with a few ideas that can make your app better or a few key features that you might have missed.
Also pay close attention to what users are saying about those apps. Customer reviews are gold mines that can help to avoid mistakes your predecessors have made and understand what your audience values. Many of them include comments regarding features that users would appreciate seeing in apps. This is an exclusive opportunity to avoid user disappointment when your app goes live.
Build up some hype: How To Create Buzz For Your App Before Publishing It
get feedback early on
You and your development team might think highly of the features you’ve embedded in your app. But do the actual end users think likewise? Does the look and feel of your app actually conform to the tastes and preferences of your app’s audience and demographics? To find out, you need to have your app tested by actual users. This is what beta testing is for.
Always have a beta testing plan for your app. Find your target customers and invite them to try your app and to give you feedback and opinion on what can make it better. Actively engage with them and reward active beta testers by letting them know early when the final app will be available for download.
You can use platforms such as TestFlight to organize and manage your beta testing campaign.
get marketing involved soon
As I’ve said before, developing and releasing your app is only half the equation. A considerable part of the challenge is to make sure your app gets discovered and installed by the right people. Unfortunately, this is something that is often overlooked by developers and companies. They either get involved in marketing too late into the development of their app, or they ignore it altogether and only decide to get into marketing after they publish the app and become dismayed by the low number of downloads and impressions.
I’ve already described some good pre-launch app marketing techniques in this article. Here are a few key guidelines that can help market your app before launching:
• Know your unique sell points: What makes your app special? What sets you aside from others? Try to focus on those.
• Lay out your app store optimization strategy: How will you choose the name of your app? What keywords, description, screenshots and logo will you use? (You can actually A/B test app store elements before publishing your app.)
• Create a landing page plus a preview video for your app: A landing page and video demo can help users get a feel of your app and communicate with your brand before it goes live in app stores.
• Blog about your app and engage in discussions in forums: Talking about your app can help build an audience for your app before it becomes available in app stores. It can also help you recruit beta testers and scout for evangelists.
• Reach out to the media: Create a press kit. Talk with reporters and bloggers and people with large social media presence. Raise interest in influential people that have a large online follower base and are likely to drive traffic to your app when it goes live.
plan your release date in advance
While it is completely natural to feel the urge to release your app as soon as you’ve typed the last semicolon in the source-code, you should show some restrain and stay true to a timetable instead of giving in to your impulses.
Good planning and a well-thought-out release date can help get press coverage for your app when it goes on the e-shelves. Make sure your app’s release does not coincide with some major tech event that is likely to steal all the attention that is your due.
Also take the necessary measures to build hype around your app and create anticipation for the release date. As an example, you can take a look at how the app Hatch made the headlines before being launched and made it to the number one spot in App Store within days of its release.
A note on release dates: you should consider fluidity in release dates, especially at the beginning stages of development. Timings you give in the early stages should be within the quarter or month range, and as you progress through the development, you can specify a more accurate timing.
over to you
The key point in app development is to start your marketing before your app is published. These tips will help you get started on the right footing when launching your app in app stores.
If you have any other pre-launch tips that can help boost app marketing campaign, please share with us in the comments section.