There are more than 700,000 apps in the Apple App store and more than 200,000 specifically for the iPad. The competition is fierce and there is a lot of duplication in regards to the value propositions for each application.
In a cluttered and often saturated market, it’s becoming more and more difficult to stand out in the crowd. Luckily, this challenge is faced by everyone and not just the bedroom developers looking to make their dream of riches from an application come to life. It’s a challenge for everyone in the space.
Those who have the best marketing understand the importance of developing a well rounded, consistent and comprehensive marketing strategy similar to what they would for an actual business. The best strategies have a combination of content marketing and paid advertising post and pre-launch of the app.
The following is what I’d consider the Battle Plan for app marketing:
Pre-Launch Battle Plan:
1. Develop a Strong Value Proposition Statement:
Your value proposition statement is what you need to understand and identify first and foremost. You need to be able to create a clear set of messages that illustrate exactly what it is you offer and what unmet need you’re fulfilling. Depending on the type of application, this can be very challenging to figure out. Below is a few example value propositions that can be attributed with some of my favourite apps:
- Instagram – Create beautiful photos and share them with friends.
- 8tracks – Find great music curated by music lovers.
- Draw Something – Have fun with friends playing pictionary 2.0.
- Penzu – Keep your memories and journal secure with Penzu.
- Shazam (company) – Find out the name and artist for any song playing nearby.
Once you have established your value proposition for people you will want to bounce it off people and see what they think of your product. Often times, entrepreneurs get caught up in their apps being able to offer this, that and the other thing without focusing on the core problem. Thus One of greatest pieces of advice I received over the last few years was specifically related to the importance of clearly being able to describe your product. Thus, I recommend explaining it to your mom, dad, cousin and even a stranger and ask them to describe how the app works right back to you. You might be surprised at how complicating your app sounds on the first pitch.
1A. Run Google Adwords:
For a couple dollars a day you can run a few different ads all with a different call to action and see which gets the most clicks. As you review the different call to actions and identify which one was the most successful compare that to your value proposition and recognize that there could be an insight there that leads to a reason to change or revise your content.
2. Incentivize Word of Mouth with a Landing Page:
Now that you know what your product offers, it’s time to tell the world. You need to develop a landing page that clearly communicates the problem your application will solve and why people should download it.
The first thing you want to do is ensure that you have a landing page that clearly communicates what your product offers. To do this, you may need to develop a video and show exactly how the application works to clearly show the process to your potential customers. DrawSomething has a great description video that showcases exactly what the app does:
While it’s very important to communicate what your product does – Capturing leads (emails) trumps even that at this stage. Driving this initial buzz and interest is a great way to not only validate your idea but also ensure that you have a potential customer list early on. LaunchRock is an easy to use option which is built on a viral loop that can easily generate results. The process for this is simple and one that every app should consider at this stage:
- Collect Info – User submits their information (Email)
- Incentive – You provide an incentive to share – Ex. If 20 of your friends sign up using this code we’ll send you a XYZ Brand T-Shirt.
- Socialize – Provide the user with a promo code, ability to share via FB, Linkedin, Twitter and Email.
Launch a blog, write guest posts for other blogs, comment on relevant blog posts, write articles, write an e-book, speak at conferences and events, open a Twitter account and start sharing information that illustrates your point of view. There’s no end of ways to get your message out there. Do your homework and find out where your market hangs out. What forums do they participate in? What blogs and newsletters do they read? Get your message in front of them in the places where they already are.
3. Connect with Relevant Influencers:
Have influencers write about your app and link to your landing page. Do a search for those who are in your industry.
Here is a template email for you:
Hey Jeff, it’s Ross here from ABC Appication and I just wanted to drop you a line and say how much I’ve enjoyed following your site. The layout is great, always relevant info, and I’ve downloaded your eBooks for my own reading. I’ve actually shared the one on marketing your iPhone App with a few of my friends and they were completely blown away. Either way, I’m an entrepreneur and have followed more blogs over the past few years than I care to admit and I have to say, you’re consistently sharing great work so keep it up.
Back in September you wrote a great piece on an Application that [XXXXX]. I thought the way you covered their founders and gave an honest and critical review was awesome and probably beneficial to the founders and your viewers. As I stated earlier, I am the co-founder of an new App, XYZ, that gives users a chance to [XXXX]. We’ve generated quite a bit of traction through our landing page alone with over 500 sign ups and I wanted to see if you would be interested in a sneak peak demo of the product.
Furthermore, I would like to send you along a App Store gift card just so when we do launch you can download our app and it can be considered on the house. Heck, if you don’t like the app after doing a demo we’ll still send you the gift card and you can use it to download the latest track from The Killers (Check their Spotify or Grooveshark).
Let me know if you have any questions and thanks for reading this email… I know you’re extremely busy.
The process for building an email for an influencer is quite straight forward:
1. Don’t be a Jane Doe: The influencer you’re pitching is probably contacted by someone just like you every single day. Before you email her, develop a connection by retweeting their stuff or sparking an off-topic conversation.
2. Do your research: Make sure your blog references their work or something that made you think this would be of interest to them.
3. Tell them why you matter: Let them know what it is about your app that is actually important. Why people (specifically her audience) should care.
4. Stroke the Ego: Not every influencer has an ego but some of them do. In that case, compliment them here and compliment them there but don’t go over board with the butt kissing – That gets tired and lame.
3A. Media Gets a Press Release:
If you’re reaching out to a journalist or someone in the media you should also consider sharing a press release. When you write this however, don’t think of the document as a information document – Write a story. Make it captivating and ensure that it’s compelling. There a few different spins you can put on the story – Here are a few ideas:
– Local & David/Goliath Spin: Best Friends Launch an App to Destroy Instagram
– There’s a problem and you’re Batman: XYZ App Solves XYZ Problem
For a more detailed description on how to get press check this out:
How To Get Media Coverage For Your Startup: A Complete Guide
4. Cross Your T’s & Dot Your I’s
A lot of Startups think that the fact that they were accepted into the Apple Store is their one way ticket to success and riches. Urmp-Wrong. There is a lot more to it than that. First and foremost, you need to do everything you can to ensure that when someone does find your app in the appstore – They want it. Here’s a few things to ensure are perfected before launch:
4A. The Right Screenshots: The screenshots you show in the App Store need to be the money shots within your user experience. They need to clearly identify the value of your app and also demonstrate simplicity and ease of use. For most apps, you’re going to have competition below and above you no matter what. Thus, you want to try and standout however possible and this is just one of the many ways to do it. See below:
4B. Make sure you have the right name: The name of your app is often something you put a lot of work and pride into but it’s often overcomplicated. Ensure that your name is (1) easy to pronounce and ideally (2) the URL is available for purchase.
5. Develop a Facebook Page
Everyone knows that Facebook is the most popular social network in the world. The reason I’m mentioning it is because it’s one of the many places (most convenient) where one brand can share content that goes viral in the matter of minutes. Recent changes to Facebook have increased a users ability to reach the masses and your brand can do the same. Use Facebook to keep friends, family and people who are interested in your product in the loop with the App.
At the end of the day, Facebook is free and easy to use. When someone likes your business page it’s published in the news feeds for their friends and network to read. If you want to take it even further you can also add everyone to an Open Group (this could piss some people off) and share additional content within the group. They will get notifications every time you post an update to the wall of this group – Photos and simple text updates alike.
Be sure to use Facebook to share screenshots of the app, share photos of the team working and let everyone know about the launch event you’ll be holding in a few weeks! A few additional resources for Facebook content marketing can be found here:
- Stop Sharing Boring Posts, Make a Viral Facebook Status
- 3 Types of Facebook Marketing Content Mistakes to Avoid
- How to Go Viral on Facebook Using Reactive Storytelling
Post-Launch Battle Plan:
1. Invest in Advertising Campaigns:
Awareness is going to be crucial at this stage so you will need to do everything you can to spark the attention of people from all over the world. To do this, I suggest investing into online display ads, mobile display ads and Facebook ads. The combination of these three types of ads can present you with an opportunity to drive people directly to your app or leads for info acquisition. Here are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Captivating Photo: The idea that a photo can say 1000 words is very accurate. Photos are very important when you develop advertising campaigns but every photo can be perceived in a different way. I’d recommend taking the time to test multiple photos with your ads and see which ones spark the most interest or click throughs.
- Highlight New Features: Many apps won’t have full functionality once they’re launched, and that’s fine so long as you roll out these features sometime after launch. For example, if you can live stream on your app, consider doing what you can to level up your live stream chats within the first 3 months of launch. You can use this new feature to market your app to new customers.
- Perfect Headline: Your headline has no choice but to be short and sweet. Take the AIDA approach with your headlines: Capture Attention, Spark Interest, Insight Decision, Drive Action. If you can do this you will find success and be able to get a user to go from simply someone aware to someone downloading your application and sharing it with their friends.
- Call to Action: Tell them to click or download. That simple.
2. Press. Press. Press:
You already know how to pitch an influencer and journalists so now it’s time to get down to business. If you think it was important to spark the interest of media back when you were still building, your efforts are about to level up. The relationships you built while building the app need to be used once again to announce the launch. If you’re going to one of the larger media outlets like TechCrunch or Fast Company you need to give them an exclusive. The same goes for users likeRobert Scoble, try to give the A-list media/influencers a chance to access your app or news before anyone else.
Here are a few pointers again:
The Classy Way To Get Media Coverage For Your Startup
How To Get Media Attention For Your Startup
3. Seed Forums – Spark Conversations:
Find every app and startup relevant forum you can get your hands on. You will be looking to use these forums to get insights, feedback and most importantly – Downloads of your new application. After you launch your app you should head out to a variety of different tech forums and talking about this App. Whether it’s on HackerNews, MacRumours, Crackberry, Tuaw or a local forum to place emphasis on the local entrepreneur aspect. Develop these threads and spark an ongoing discussion about your product or the industry in which you are playing in.
Want more insights on content marketing? I’m writing a book titled Level Up: A Guide to Content Marketing where I’ll be sharing insights like these about emotion and diving deeper into a handful of tips and tricks that will help take your content marketing efforts to the next level. Sign up today for updates regarding launch and other developments.