As per the recent statistics, there are more than 1.4 million apps on Apple’s App Store. For the Google Play store, the number is 1.5 million. The competition in the app market is fierce. In such situation, it is becoming harder and harder to get the initial traction for apps.
At Mobisoft Infotech, which is an iOS and Android application development company, we help a lot of first-time entrepreneurs to launch their apps. So as a service to our existing and future clients out there, we decided to go out and list every tactic that is published out there, which helps apps to get the initial traction. This blog post lists them all. I will first start with simple stuff like ASO which is completely under your control and then move on to social strategies you can use to promote your app.
Get the Basics Right. Implement ASO – App Store Optimization
One of the main ways, the users find your app is via the search feature of the App Store. ASO – App Store Optimization – is a set of basic practices you should follow to make sure that your app shows up in the App Store search for the terms related to your app. Here are some tips related to ASO:
1. Choose the app title strategically
Your apps title is one of the most important ranking factors in the App Store search. Put some effort to get this right. Make sure that you have included a couple of most important category keywords in your app title. However you need to make sure that the keywords fit naturally in the title, otherwise, it will look spammy. Here are some samples of the titles of the apps which are in top 20 in their categories as of today.
- musical.ly – make music videos for Instagram and for Facebook messenger
- Indeed Job Search
- Genius Scan – PDF Scanner
- Concur – Travel, Receipts, Expense Reports
2. Research your keywords thoroughly
Keywords is another important criteria on which your rank in the App Store depends. Make sure that you give enough attention to choosing right keywords for your app. One of the easy ways to find out good keywords is to check which keywords are being used by your competitors. There are tools which can help you with this. Some prominent ones are listed below:
- AppNique – http://appnique.com/
- SearchMan – https://searchman.com
- AppMind – http://appmind.co/
- AppCodes – http://www.appcodes.com/
- SensorTower – https://sensortower.com/
Also it is important to make sure that keyword selection is not one time process. Monitor your keywords for their performance in App Store search. Try out some variations to find out the keywords which work the best for you.
3. Write a clear and concise app description
Though not as important as title or keywords as a search ranking factor, your app’s description is an important factor which decides whether the user will download your app or not once he has found it. Make sure that you write an effective copy to make sure that your app’s purpose is evident. Also, don’t forget to mention the most important benefits your app gives to the users to make their life wonderful or the specific pain points it solves.
4. Get more ratings, reviews, and downloads for your app
Your app’s ranking in the search results is also greatly influenced by the ratings, reviews, and downloads it receives. Here is one good tip that you should always integrate into your app to get more positive ratings and reviews.
You should proactively prompt the user to rate your application. However, don’t be nagging about this. Give a gentle pop up after the user has had a few positive interactions with your app. For example, if yours is a Todos app, and the user has used the app for three days in a row, then you can show a pop up to the user like:
“It seems our app is helping you to manage your tasks efficiently. Would you like to rate our app on the App Store”?
The buttons for the pop up could be, “Yes I would like to.” and “I will do this later”.
To get more downloads follow the other tips mentioned in this document to gain more social interactions with your users to get more publicity which should drive the downloads further.
5. Be obsessive about resolving negative reviews
Remember: A happy customer is a brand ambassador for your app. Get in touch with your users who have posted negative reviews about your app. Resolve their problems. Let them know once you have resolved the bugs in the following update. Convert the negative users into advocates of your app. Also in the process, you will learn a lot about the how the customers perceive your app and what value it brings to them.
6. Use localization to get more downloads
There are a lot of non-English speaking countries in the world where people prefer to use apps in their local language. Multiple studies have shown that if you localize your app to languages other than English, it can increase the downloads of your app significantly. This was first brought to light in 2012 by a Distimo publication titled: The Impact of App Translations. You can read more about this here
7. Don’t use simple screenshots of your app. Get properly designed screenshots which highlight the main features of your app.
Pictures are powerful. One of the first things the user does when they land on your app page is to check out the screenshots of your app. This is a very good chance to “sell” your app, by highlighting the best features of your app. If you want some example of how to do this right, check out the following four famous apps, all of which are in top 10 as of now:
- musical.ly – make music videos for instagram and for Facebook messenger
- Colorfy: Coloring Book for Adults – Free
Use your pricing strategy to get more downloads
8. Freemium can be the silver bullet for many types of apps
First challenge for most of the apps is getting the users to try out the app. If the app is paid, then there is very little chance that everybody your app reaches to will download the app. In the initial stage of your app, it’s really important to get as many people to use your app as possible. That way you can collect analytics and improve the app accordingly. Many billion dollar companies like Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram didn’t have a clear business model or sustainable revenue when they received the Series A funding. The business model in this case, is let’s get the traction first and then we will figure out a business model. You can make this work, if you have sustainable seed or angel funding to keep the app alive, till you bring in your first million users. At that stage you should be able raise further funding to push your app further.
With freemium strategy, you keep your core free and charge the users for certain premium features using In App Purchase. Freemium can be a very good way to allow the users to use your app and then monetize your app through premium features where users see a clear value your app brings to their workflow and life.
However, Freemium may not work for utility types of apps, which are clearly better than the competition and have a clearly evident purpose to its users.
9. Play with the pricing of your app to attract more paying visitors
When starting out you may want to price your app (or In App Purchases) a dollar or two more than you have decided. This way you can reduce the price during special promotion times to attract more users. One thing to note about pricing is to make sure that you know how your competition has priced their apps and price your app accordingly.
Use Pinterest to promote your app
10. Create awesome boards around your app’s category
Create some awesome boards in your app’s category. Start with at least 8-10 boards with 5 relevant pins each. Use the keywords and descriptions which are related to your app’s category. For example, if you are creating a time management application, you can create boards about being more organized.
Make sure you have a board where you can pin links to other people who are talking about your app online. A board that includes app reviews, demos, blog posts, photos and anything else that showcases other people using your app and their opinion on your app.
Use catchy and creative titles for the boards to aid in discoverability and to help categorize your board topics.
Add watermarks to your images and use your app’s url in your pin’s description.
Don’t overwhelm your readers with “pin dump”. Only share best of the best content.
Learn more about to Pinterest to understand how to engage the audience on the platform. Read Pinterest’s guide to create great pins.
Use video and YouTube to promote your app
11. Create a compelling App Preview for your app
Both App Store and Google Play Store allow you to upload a preview video for your app. Use this opportunity to create a significant impression on the users. The app preview creates a great opportunity to convert those customers who have not downloaded your app yet by looking at its screenshots.
Here is a link to an article which describes how to create a great App Preview video.
12. Tell your app’s story using a video
Create a professional video for your app. Make it creative, keep it funny, make it personal (and yes keep it short!). Use the video to connect to your user. Here is a great example: DollarShaveClub.com
13. Create a six-second how-to series
Make the most of Vine with videos potential customers will find useful. The hashtag #howto is one of the top trending tags on Vine.
14. Localize the Google Play store video
On Google play, you can upload one video per language. This increases the chances of the app getting downloaded by the people who don’t speak English. If you don’t have the video translated to other languages, you can use YouTube’s transcript feature, and Google Play will use the transcript based on the user’s language setting.
15. Use the video of your app on your app’s website
The best way to explain how your app works, is through video. On your app’s landing page, embed the video above the fold near the “Download from App Store” buttons. Use a custom created thumbnail with your video which will get your visitors to click play. Sometimes putting the play button right at the center of the thumbnail works better as the call to action to play the video.
16. Create a YouTube channel for your app
You can create a YouTube channel for your app and optimize the titles and the descriptions of the videos to use the keywords related to your app’s category. This way you can get some extra downloads via these videos. If you are good at creating creative and/or funny videos, then they can become a good promotional vehicle for your app.
17. Send your video with your review requests to the bloggers
While requesting a review for your app from famous bloggers, also send the video you have made for your app. The video can help the blogger understand how your app works, which makes the review easier for them.
18. Use your app’s YouTube video in your email signature
In Gmail, the YouTube video link gets converted to your video’s thumbnail, which will get more views for the video. This can result in a few more users for your app.
19. Use video ads to drive installations on Facebooks and other ad networks
Video ads generally convert better. Use them effectively on Facebook and on other ad networks which have come up specifically for mobile apps like, TapJoy, Chartboost and Vungle.
20. Share your app’s video on startup-videos.com
Share your app’s video on startup-videos.com. The more visibility you can get for the app the better.
Publicize your App
21. Submit your app to various sites
Seriously, do this! It doesn’t take that much effort. There are many sites out there which allow you to list your app. Here is a great list of such sites. Google Play store gives certain importance to the number of links to your Play Store listing page. This should help with that too.
22. Make a connection to your users and convert them to advocates
Reach out to your power users. Email them, ask them for advice for improvements. Ask them what you can do to improve the app. If their opinion gets counted, they will feel more inclined to share the app with their friends and family.
23. Get as much publicity for your app as possible
Make a list of top 500 bloggers in your industry and reach out to them, use Twitter and blog search to find them. Get them writing about the app. But you will usually find that most of your tries to get these bloggers to write about your products will fail. So here are some tips which will increase your chances to get reviewed by a blogger:
Put together a press kit for your app and send it with your review request. Your press kit should include:
- 1. App Icon
- 2. App Screenshots
- 3. App Preview Video
- 4. All your press releases
- 5. Short Company Profile and Links to your social media accounts.
Here is list of key tactics you should use, while reaching out a to blogger:
- 1. Tell a story. Keep it interesting.
- 2. Present it in the context of recent news or social media wave
- 3. Do your homework. Reference the blogger’s previous posts on similar topic.
- 4. If you are going for somebody big like TechCrunch, give them some exclusive stuff that hasn’t been covered before.
- 5. Stay Concise.
- 6. How Show humility
- 7. Acknowledge competition.
- 8. Give them assets like beta invites and your product’s video, so it’s easier for them to review your product.
24. Use a tweaked version of Brian Dean’s content roadshow technique to get your app reviewed
Brian Dean posted this great technique on how to get influential bloggers to promote your content. He calls it: the content roadshow. I think it can be tweaked to get your app reviewed by influential bloggers. The gist of it is, find out the bloggers who might have reviewed other apps from your category. Approach them and tell them about your app and how it is better than the previously reviewed app. Then politely ask them, if they would like to review your app too. If they agree, send them required info and make their job as easy as possible as described in the above two tips.
25. If you support localization, reach out to bloggers in other languages
Sometimes it’s harder to get reviewed by famous bloggers in US as they get a lot of similar requests. One way to get a lot of press for your app, is to reach out bloggers and journalists from other languages which your app supports. Since app economy is not as prolific in these other languages as that of English, there is a good chance that your app will get reviewed by these foreign language bloggers and journalists.
26. Focus on the one unique feature that sets your app apart from the competition
While creating the marketing material for your blog make sure that you focus on that one feature of your app that sets it apart from the competition. Then write powerful copy around that feature to market your app.
Some other unconventional tips to get more downloads
27. Apply for awards
Apply for awards in your app’s category. If you win you get lots of press and mentions. This should help to drive the downloads further. Search for “Mobile App Awards” on Google to find the relevant ones. Some award competitions I found are:
http://www.mobilepremierawards.com/ For UK companies: http://startups.co.uk/startups-awards/how-to-enter/ There are quite a few of these out there. Find those which are applicable for your app and keep an eye on their submission dates.
28. Run a contest
Contests can be a good way to promote your app. You can run contests like “Pin to Win” or “Tweet to Win”. You can give them promo codes to unlock In App Purchases for free.
29. Create a Facebook or LinkedIn group
Based on your app’s category and nature, start relevant groups on social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also become part of existing groups which are relevant to your app’s category. Share valuable resources and information there to gain more publicity for your app.
30. Contact admins of related Facebook pages
Find Facebook pages which have 100K+ likes which are relevant to your app’s category. Reach out to their admins and give them a compelling reason to share your app with their fans.
31. Optimize your email signature
Always be promoting. Never let go of even one opportunity to put your app in front the users. Create a compelling one liner about your app and add it to your email signature along with the link to download your app.
32. Get speaking opportunities
If you have spent your career in some area related to your app, then this can be a good opportunity to leverage it. With some good blogging, LinkedIn and Twitter activity, establish yourself as the authority in the domain and become the brand ambassador for your app. Start small first and slowly build up from there.
33. Manually recruit customers
Yes, this can be an effective to way to get those initial users for your social app. Tinder threw exclusive parties at USC. To enter, people had to install the app on their phone. As per the Business week here is an account of the initial trips that tinder’s co-founder Whitney Wolfe took to get those initial users:
“We sent her all over the country,” Munoz told me this week. “Her pitch was pretty genius. She would go to chapters of her sorority, do her presentation, and have all the girls at the meetings install the app. Then she’d go to the corresponding brother fraternity—they’d open the app and see all these cute girls they knew.” Tinder had fewer than 5,000 users before Wolfe made her trip, Munoz says; when she returned, there were some 15,000. “At that point, I thought the avalanche had started,” Munoz says.
34. Use other popular online platforms to scout for your initial users
Look for online platforms where your ideal customers will also be listed. Then leverage those platforms to introduce your service to these customers.
AirBnB has famously used Craigslist to find out people who had great ads for vacation homes. Then approached them via an email from a “Fan of AirBnB”, which introduced the app. Here is the full account which you might want to read.
So that’s it. These are all the tips, I found out to get as much visibility and promotion to your app, to drive the traction. Do you think I have missed a few you know? Please put them in comments. I will get them added to the main article in a further update.
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