Chelsea has a hybrid role at Vovia of Content Marketing Strategist and Account Manager. Her love for marketing spans across web, social, content and digital marketing – aligning marketing strategy to real business problems is where she really flourishes. When she’s not in the office you can find her adventuring with her family, climbing a mountain, camping, snowboarding, reconnecting to her inner yogi, enjoying live music, taking photos, or getting all crafty in the kitchen.

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Mobile App Marketing to Set You Apart from the Pack

So many apps, so little time. That couldn’t be truer in today’s age, where Canadians are spending almost 3 hours a day on average on their phones, and most of that time is on apps (eMarketer, 2018). It makes sense that you would build an app for your business to get in on some of that mobile engagement. However, there are 2 million apps available in the app store. How do you stand out and grow your active userbase within your app? How do you re-engage inactive users and keep them coming back for more? Let’s look at a couple of best practices for launching an app and building out a loyal community.

Mobile App Marketing to Set You Apart From the Pack

Growing Your Userbase through Mobile App Marketing & App Store Optimization

First and foremost, you need a well thought out marketing plan for your mobile app product launch and ongoing marketing. Modern-day product marketing considers various stages of your go-to-market strategy such as beta, pre-launch, launch, re-engagement tactics, growing your audience, and often a monetization plan somewhere along the line (you want to make money, right?). Entrepreneurs and business owners typically want to see a healthy ROI on a significant investment like this. It might be something you bake right into the DNA of your product or something that evolves and scales over time. Some investors/stakeholders might encourage you to focus on community growth or engagement first, while others may want more immediate returns. It really depends on the product you’ve built and various stakeholder needs.

We’ve built a simple checklist to give you an idea of what could be involved in managing online marketing for your mobile app:

  • Website or Landing Page Build – UX Design, Development, and CRO.
  • Google Ads – Google Universal App Campaigns, Google Search
    Google Play, YouTube, and the Google Display Network.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Keyword research, mapping, and strategy, onsite and offsite SEO, etc.
  • App Store Optimization (ASO) – This is your keyword strategy within the app store, ultimately its SEO for your app listing.
  • Social Management & Paid Social Promotions – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Quora, etc.
  • Email Marketing – You’ll need a subscriber, segmentation and ongoing communication strategy to be effective.
  • Content Marketing – SEO rich content in blogs, articles, video, reviews, social content, newsletter, FAQs, trials, reviews, podcast, etc.
  • Press – Possibly investing in press and media coverage, if your app is newsworthy.
  • Analytics – And of course, you’ll want to assure analytics are setup properly across all your digital channels!

Many of these product marketing tactics can be universally applied to a variety of businesses, but there are a few mobile-specific noteworthy items that warrant a deep drive such as Google’s Universal App Campaigns and App Store Optimization (ASO). Both are highly targeted ways to drive qualified traffic to your app store page.

Google Universal App Campaigns

Whether your app is for iOS, Android, or both, you can promote your app on Google’s platforms using a Universal App Campaign. Also known as a UAC, it integrates machine learning into every phase of app promotion. You may have heard about this type of campaign in the past called Search App Install Campaigns. These campaigns relied on targeting strategies similar to Google Search. Google recently retired this type of campaign for Universal App campaigns.

With the advancement of machine learning technology, Google has pushed to let AI evaluate prospective users and serve ads to people who have shown intent and are more likely to download your app. Google will even create the ads for you, as long as you upload the assets to the platform. You can leverage images, text, and video assets in the campaign, and it will dynamically create ads based on the placements. Ads are eligible to run across the Google Search Network, the Display Network, YouTube, and the Google Play Store (this one is only for Android devices).

What is a Universal App Campaign?

But before we just let machines take over, we can’t forget about the human touch required to drive the best performance. For example, there are a couple of different strategies you can pick for the app campaign, but Google won’t tell you which one is best for you. Google offers three types of strategies for app campaigns:

  1. Driving installs – perhaps you need to prove to stakeholders that you have a decent app userbase. This type of campaign will drive as many downloads as possible. But how much are you willing to pay for an app install? Google can’t answer that for you – this is where we can help you out, so keep reading!
  2. Driving in-app actions – a large volume of users is great, but are they actually using your app? In-app actions may be more valuable to you if your app needs interaction to be successful (e-commerce is the obvious one, but this can apply to other business types too). Again, Google can find users that are likely to take those actions, but what actions do you want them to do? And are you able to track those actions? All of these need to be planned and executed manually.
  3.  Driving in-app revenue – one step deeper than actions is actual revenue. This would only apply to e-commerce based apps, but just because you’re an e-commerce app doesn’t mean this should be the only way to go.

Once you’ve chosen a strategy, you then need to calculate how much you’re willing to pay per install, action, or revenue value. As a Google Premier Partner, we have access to average KPIs for apps within the same industry. We can use this to estimate how much budget you’ll need to hit your targets and use as a benchmark while running the campaign.

Finally, creative testing is another strategy that requires critical thinking from a human. Yes, Google’s algorithm will optimize to show ads in the best placements with the best combination of headlines and images, but it’s up to the advertiser to continually test creative. For example, you could set up two ads that have the same elements, just a different image. Ideally you would isolate all the variables with different ads so that you can test them simultaneously for a true A/B test. Over time you will see if there are performance differences among the ads and can swap out or pause elements that don’t produce the desired result.  As you can tell we get pretty nerdy about testing and tinkering for the optimal Cost per Conversion (CPA).

SEO for the App Store

ASO stands for App Store Optimization; trust us when we say all mobile product owners should take advantage of this one, especially since there are so many apps that fall short here. It’s your big opportunity to stand out as a unique must-have app and make your download page more visible in the app store!

We all know that getting mobile app real estate can be challenging. After all, haven’t we all bought into the Marie Kondo (Tidying Up) less-is-more way of life? Isn’t that why you spent Saturday afternoon rummaging through your closet asking if each pant, top, belt, and undergarment brought you joy? So to ensure your app sparks some joy in your users’ digital lives, be sure to make sure your end-to-end app experience is dialled in. First off you need to conduct keyword research for both your landing page copy and app store listing – focusing on 2-4 long-tail or niche keywords, this will help you be more searchable on Google Play (Android), Apples App Store (iOS), or another 3rd party or manufacture app store. These terms will be woven into your overall content strategy.

Apple App Store Visuals

Did you know that there are over 300 app stores worldwide in 2018? This means the competition is steep, so you need to create compelling headlines that are short and snappy – you only have a few seconds to really grab your prospects’ attention. Your app store description is also critical, and you have limited characters, so don’t rush the copywriting process. Your app title name and any subtitles are also considered ASO variables that can greatly impact your searchability – so choose those app name and description wisely. You need to fill out the app store keyword field (not available in Google Play), this is table stakes to help align your terms to categories or areas people are searching for when they are discovering new apps in any app store.

As for the visuals, you can upload an app icon, plus images (customized screenshots) or video to really paint a picture of the full user experience and benefits. Treat this as you would an ad campaign; with declining attention spans and sensory adaptation, you need to present your app as being rather novel. Get your UX Designer to build these assets. Lastly, don’t forget to measure everything – your app store engagement data and ongoing testing will lead to lower user acquisition costs, increased organic growth, and a true understanding of audience behaviour. This data along with Google Analytics/GTM should guide any future product changes as well.

Considering all the levers available, you will really need to evaluate your campaign goals and desired outcomes. Are you looking to build awareness and receive downloads? Then you will need a multichannel approach. Which channels should you test first? How long should you run the campaign? That depends where we can reach your prospect best. Remember traffic can be paid for or earned, and we typically see a mix of these yields the highest returns over time. Ultimately the more quality traffic you drive to your listing from organic and paid traffic the higher you will rank in the search results. It’s all about testing, testing, and then yes, you’ve got it – testing some more to figure out which channels, budget allocation, audience types, keywords and targeting get you the best ROAS and organic search results. Let the numbers guide you.

Feeling a bit of app overload? Need help with your mobile app go-to-market strategy? We live and breathe marketing strategy, daily optimization, and analytics. Reach out and let’s talk!