How to promote a mobile app before launch?

Stuart Henderson once said that „Driving a business without promoting it is like winking to a girl when it’s completely dark. Nobody, except for ourselves, knows what we’re doing”. This is why companies dedicate their resources and economic means to marketing – to reach more receivers. It doesn’t matter whether you own a well-functioning company with a substantial income or are a total beginner on the market, it is important to get your company noticed and stand out from the crowd.

The mobile app market is incredibly crowded, which makes it very difficult to make new, potential clients notice you. However, mobile app marketing ​is different from marketing of goods and services in that it can be begun long before the app’s release. Sometimes app promotion starts even at the beginning of development. What is more, the promotion costs in such early stages are not as big.

Long before your app’s release, it is important to consider the ways you will gain new users. Not taking care of this aspect of your app is a mistake, which can effectively hinder your app’s or mobile game’s growth, and sometimes even diminish the chances of it ever succeeding. This is the reason why we have prepared a set of tips to help you effectively promote your mobile app before releasing it to the Google Play and Apple App Store. To execute most of the below mentioned strategies, you don’t need the commitment of a lot of people, and even quite a small budget will enable you to carry out each of them.

A Landing Page is the basis for mobile app pre-launch campaigns

Nowadays, all pre-launch promotional campaigns for mobile app releases need their own, dedicated websites. Developing the product in itself often takes months of preparations. The workload and expectations of mobile app developers keep on increasing, peaking a couple of months before the release. If we decide not to share this excitement with our potential receivers, we will waste a great opportunity to gain followers and users. Remember, a pre-launch campaign is meant to make the app gain future users even long before its release. Mobile app developers are quite often reluctant to share their idea with others – they are afraid of someone plainly copying them. During some stages, those fears may be well-justified. However, at a late stage of development, when the planned release date is only a couple of months away (optimally, 2 to 3 months away), there is great potential for gaining broader attention. A landing page is a spot, where users can learn about the basics of your mobile app. It is also the go-to spot for interested bloggers and journalists. Let’s look at two such examples:

An interesting, although perhaps slightly unusual example of a landing page is bankjoy.com. This company decided to prepare a specialized, B2B-oriented mobile app meant to become the standard for shadow banking institutions. The website is also unusual in that it has kept its minimalistic form since 2015, even though Bankjoy has kept on evolving.

Landing page for mobile app

Another interesting example could be the getfinal.com page. On this page, we can enter a queue and wait with others for the release of Final, a mobile app which enables their users to generate virtual debit cards. As soon as we enter the page, we are presented with a message saying “To gain early access, enter your address” and a video explaining the functionality of the app.

This type of website does not need to be very complex. A final, “company website” will probably look completely different. Also, the pre-release information usually presented on such a page change form multiple times before being presented on the final website. The main purpose of a landing page is to collect the e-mail addresses of potential users to be able to notify them about the mobile app’s release. When you have access to thousands of e-mails right from the start, you can increase the likelihood of your app succeeding in the Google Play and App Stores. When you know who the target audience of your app is, and what benefits the app gives to its users, preparing content which can effectively encourage to sign up for receiving notifications and updates about the app should not be too difficult. It can also be helpful to examine the solutions of the competition and the leaders in the appropriate categories.

One of the more popular solutions as far as landing page mobile app promotion is concerned is taking advantage of WordPress technology. With this method, “setting up” a landing page is quick and inexpensive. You can also always use ready-made templates and edit them to fit your exact needs. The only thing you need take care of is implementing the right plugins to be able to collect all the e-mail addresses of the interested clients – then, your page is ready to be shared. There is also a plenty of online tools designed specifically for creating those kinds of pages. They have a limited number of templates and page layouts and come with automatically implemented mailing integration. In this category, good examples are, among others, unbounce.com, landingi​.pl​ and wix.com. What’s important is that, already at early development stages, we remember to tackle the issue of securing a web domain. In this article, we assume that you have already registered your app’s domain. If “your-app-name.com” and its local versions are already taken, it could prove to be problematic in the future. In recent months, domains ending with .io have been very popular among web and mobile start-ups.

A webpage is more than a „creation” – the content is important!

Data analytics are a very important part of pre-launch mobile app promotion. It is good to have a habit of measuring and analyzing all the essential components of the website. This habit, if not already present, can be practice already during the creation of your landing page. While collecting leads, we should also look at sources of traffic and optimize the website for the appropriate type of viewer. Here, developers use A/B tests to check which methods work better for gaining new clients. Some of the previously mentioned online tools also integrate analytics solutions – in WordPress for example, there is a wide range of helpful plugins.

How do you generate traffic during your pre-launch campaign?

When the landing page is ready, you of course need to get some traffic. A very popular method for increasing the number of page views is using AdWords and Facebook ads.

Using AdWords ads is a simple solution for gaining new clients. Proper, organic positioning of a WWW page takes time – and so, it is a good idea to boost your browser position through Google Ads. After choosing a number of keywords, beginning the campaign and choosing an appropriately high CPS rate you can even become the first result. Of course, when it comes to Google Ads, there are a couple of other factors at play, too – it’s not only about the ad quality. This method of mobile app promotion before the releases to the Stores can give us access to valuable statistics about our future users and will automatically adjusts the ad for all devices.

A disadvantage of AdWords is the restriction of the number of characters for use in the ad. Every word counts – Google mostly relies on copy, not graphical content. Speaking of counting, we should probably remind you that the cost can vary quite a lot – how often your ad is viewed depends on the agreed upon rate. Google wants the advertisers to pay maximum rates, but not every “ad click” ends with a successful conversion. If you wish to promote your app before its release, you should consider starting an AdWords Campaign (with publisher pages and mobile app ads).

Facebook also offers paid solutions, supplying the platform’s users with a number of ad formats. Every campaign has a defined goal – in our case, it is the pre-release promotion of an app. With this platform, you can create an ad designed purely for conversion, tailored for a specific audience – Facebook allows for great segmentation of who exactly the ad reaches. Moreover, the positioning of the ad is easy to specify. You could also choose for the ad to be seen only on mobile or only on PC. There is also an option for Audience Network Facebook marketing. The Audience Network is a network of webpages and apps which are in cooperation with Facebook – it is similar to other affiliate networks on the market. Pre-release mobile app marketing through Facebook is getting increasingly popular. It is estimated that 36% of Polish internet users use a type of „adblocker” – but, because of the way the whole platform is constructed, this type of blocking does not affect the website nearly as much – and dedicated apps are not affected at all. The biggest advantage of Facebook is definitely the accurate and precise targeting and ad range. It does have some drawbacks, though. With costly solutions, there is a noticeable decrease in organic traffic. Additionally, companies often note that, after the end of the paid campaign, the organic audience range visibly falls. Platforms like Facebook do this to encourage us to continue investing in paid campaigns. Obtaining the wanted economic effects also takes more work than in the case of AdWords. You need to test various solutions first and focus on adjusting your actions to reach the desired effect.

Mobile app promotion should start with an AdWords campaign on pages that are thematically connected to your…

Mobile app promotion should start with an AdWords campaign on pages that are thematically connected to your app. Adwords is perfect for generating leads, especially if you are considering initially releasing the app in only 1-2 countries (this method is called a Soft Mobile App Launch).

Mobile app promotion on social media is not limited to Facebook!

While promoting your mobile app, you can use a plethora of other social media, too. It is however important to always be where the potential users are. Just like with Facebook and other channels, you simply need to create interesting content to bring them to your landing page – there is no need to spend even a dime on costly solutions. 90% of Polish internet users use social media. Depending on the functionality of your app, you can spend more energy and time on promotion through LinkedIn or Twitter. The user base of all the above mentioned platforms values engagement – by becoming the voice of your mobile apps, you can help it gain both future fans and brand ambassadors.

Most creators are sceptic when it comes to contact with media. However, most of them are pleasantly surprised – reaching even some of the most famous names in the category is not as difficult as it seems. You should prepare a list of reporters and influencers you would like to contact – remember to take their target audiences into account. Here, it could be a good idea to start by taking a look at the competition. You should check, where there have been mentions about said competition and who the author was – then quickly proceed to action. Most people can be effectively contacted through LinkedIn or Twitter. If a given person finds the app interesting and we have good content to give them, there is a big chance that we will be featured.

Create your own blog

Another good way of finding new users for your mobile app is creating a blog. Here, we should probably mention that, while creating your platform, it is not enough to just write about your app or mobile game. The first companies that decided to write blogs about their actions made the mistake of writing “about themselves, for themselves”. To effectively convince a community to your project, you cannot treat a blog like a promotion channel. A company blog should have content written “by you personally, but for others to enjoy”. Only when you make interesting and valuable content can you bring in interested consumers. The basic tactic here is preparing content connected to the category of your app. For example, if you are developing an app connected to culinary recipes, you could create a blog featuring the most important news from the world of cooking, most famous chefs or kitchen equipment reviews. If it’s a fitness app, you can adjust the blog accordingly, too. Generally, while preparing content, focus on your viewers’ interests. It is important not to forget that a blog is more than just a banner. Even though it is in principle meant to promote our mobile app only before its release to the Google and Apple Stores, it can be useful long after the app has been released. A correctly managed blog is a great tool for not only promotion, but also PR – it develops your image and creates a place for dialogue – not only with the users.

You can write on other people’s platforms, too

Here, it is a good idea to remind you about so-called „guest posts”. Apart from managing your own blog, you can also create app awareness by preparing posts for other, popular platforms. As a developer of a mobile app, you surely have found yourself getting inspired or learning from other websites. It might also just be that you have an idea about what kind of post would match a certain site. By paying respect to the creators of a given blog, you can try to contact them. Through a personalized e-mail, you could try to suggest a topic of interest by boasting about your previous achievements or giving a sample of your written work. If you manage to get the attention of a blogger, it might just be that, in a relatively short amount of time and small amount of effort, you will be able to really get yourself noticed among all kinds of readers.

Speak to your potential users

A dialogue with potential users can be very good for your mobile app promotion campaign. It is also a good idea to find discussions about the app on other platforms and join the conversation. Many developers have had great success using services such as quora.com, forums or social media to build an image of an expert in a specific topic. It is a completely different thing to receive a recommendation from someone, who has previously personally helped us or supported the growth of an internet group than from a stranger. Moreover, the feedback will help you shape the product to perfectly tailor it to the customers. Hence, it is not only good to answer to comments on your blog or Facebook profile, but also to actively search for and engage in dialogue anywhere it is possible.

Show yourself on video

Each platform has its own way of reaching a certain type of users. Some prefer Twitter, some Facebook, some can’t imagine life without Snapchat, considering Instagram a relic of the past. No matter the preference, marketers underline the growing popularity of video content on all platforms. All social networks, at least in some degree, have adjusted to this trend. The king when it comes to video is YouTube. It is different from other services in that it is mostly comprised of so-called “evergreen content”, which is content that remains viable and attractive for a longer time. Facebook is great for hosting viral content, which appears and gains popularity only to quickly disappear under an overload of new information. YouTube channels are easy to browse and content of interest can easily be found through the search bar. As a developer, while managing a new channel, it is a good idea to prepare content about your mobile app beforehand. Starting with a video presenting the idea itself, and then proceeding to further videos about its functionality and how-to-use tutorials. YouTube is a platform which shows a lot of engagement across its user base. The users often share videos among each other, comment and vote under videos. After producing a product promotion video, it is very easy to place it on our blog, using the comments under it for dialogue with users.

Beta test pre-access

Another way of gaining pre-release users is to carry out beta tests of the app. A lot of technology enthusiasts will gladly download your app to check it out before others get the chance to. Those types of pioneers are often also fond of sharing their experiences and thoughts as the most trustworthy sources of information. Additionally, a big number of early testers, whose expectations were met, later become some of the most loyal users.

A well-managed Pre-launch campaign can get you users long before your app’s release. A good example of this phenomena is a previously mentioned app, Robinhood, which collected a user base of 350 thousand before even appearing in the stores. We have mentioned this mobile app in the “10 mobile app marketing mistakes you should never make” article.

The most recent big release is „Super​ Mario Run”​. New users keep on signing up for the game in the Google Play Store, even though the release for Android is due in March.

Super Mario Run for Android

Super Mario Run was also the first App Store release to use the „notify me” function. The app profile’s “install” button was replaced with another one, which lets you receive a notification about its availability, encouraging you to install it later. Generally speaking, most developers put increasingly more weight on pre-release activity. This fact has been noticed by Apple and Google Stores, which then gave them an option to gain new users while not taking away the flexibility of the release date.

How have you promoted your mobile app before its release?

How to market an app before launch?
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