Marketing begins the day you put your mobile app idea into production. When growing or scaling your mobile startup, you have to look at a much broader spectrum of marketing effort, instead of just customer acquisition.
But of course, not everyone has an extensive budget for marketing. But that shouldn't deter you, as most marketing efforts don't really require money. Instead, what you need is a great product, some amount of creativity and huge amount of time to invest.
I've chalked out these strategies for those of you who have got all it takes to grow their business, but lack the knowledge or insights on the tools. You must have a great product (mobile app) that solves a problem for your customer segment and you should have the time to invest in marketing to make your mobile startup grow.
App Store Optimization or ASO
ASO can give your app a push in discoverability and, therefore, downloads. Understanding the below components will make sure your app stands out from the rest and also help people discover your app when they're searching through the app stores.
App Name - make it easy for people searching within the category of your app to get to your app quickly by including those key search words in the name of your app.
Keywords - Just like on the web, focus on relevancy and search volume. Do an exhaustive research on your keywords using the Keyword Tool.
App Icon - Trainz Driver sold 20 times as many units after an icon change. Don't use words (especially the app's name) in the icon and keep the design simple with solid colors. Use the Icon Gallery as a reference if you need to.
App Description - In two lines, you must be able to effectively communicate your app's value to the potential customer. Khan Academy's app is a great example.
App Screenshots - Customize the screenshots to show the user how the app actually works. This is your ad or sales poster. The Evernote app best illustrates this.
App Ratings - Get your family and friends to download your app and give you an 'honest' rating. Prompt users within the app to rate and review and place social-media connection options in your app.
When searching for apps, the natural go-to medium is the web, apart from the app store itself. The conversions can be direct in nature (downloads) or indirect (email subscribers). Here are ways to make sure you optimize your landing page for increased conversions.
Headline - The most effective headlines are short (no more than seven to nine words), communicate the message in simple English and at the same time, generate enough curiosity for the audience to read further.
Sub-Text - The idea behind the sub-text is to seal the deal. Your sub-text should lead your audience to a call to action that will lead to conversions.
Picture or Video - A picture should showcase the benefit or the result of using your app. Similarly, a video should focus on how your app can help your potential customer, rather than an explainer video on your app's features.
Download Link - ensure you have the link to download your apps included on the landing page.
Lead Capture - Offer additional value to the visitor over and above the direct benefit of the mobile app. Such as an email course, a whitepaper, a guide, etc.
Social Validation - people like to know who else is using your app. So either integrate Facebook's social API or add testimonials.
Gamification is more about human psychology than it is about technology or methodology. In fact, many feel gamification is best linked to Maslow's hierarchy of needs: physiological, security or safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Make sure you have the following addressed:
Objectives - What do you hope to achieve by implementing these techniques? Do you want your retention levels or engagement to increase or do you want to build a viral loop?
Add Value - Make people feel they've accomplished something special or difficult, they outdid themselves or others or they learned something really awesome.
Build Into Ecosystem - Depending on the type of app and current user behavior, gamify those parts that allows for user acquisition, engagement, behavior modification and management, commerce or loyalty.
Sharing Loops - Build loops into your implementation that enables your users to share their achievements on their social-media networks.
Quick Rewards - Users are engaged far more if you break that one big reward into smaller bits offered frequently at certain milestones.
Word of Mouth
The only thing that causes a viral effect is word of mouth, which is best spread by those that have used your product. Your best marketing channel is your existing customer. Let's look at a few strategies that will get your users to market your mobile app for you.
Aid Referrals - Find a way to incentivize your users to spread the word just as Dropbox awards both the person spreading the word and the one that signups as a result of it. PayPal paid cash to each new customer and the ones who referred.
Drive Marketing - by giving additional storage space to users who share about Dropbox on their social media, it drives its users to market the product for them. Give users a reason to do so.
Vanity Content - Users proudly enable social share option for Runkeeper app because the distance ran makes them look good among their friends and peers. People love to show off, give them a reason to.
Shareable Content - create content that is so compelling that users want to share it among their network. This is how Neil Patel does with QuickSprout and here's how I do it with Mobile App Growth Hacks.
Customer Service - if you can connect with your customers at an emotional level with outstanding customer service, just like Buffer App, you can be rest assured that happy customers help spread the word.
All you need is time and a bit of creativity and you can see what a huge difference you can make in the success of your mobile app. All the examples stated in this guide have proved these strategies to be effective, over and over again.