7 Steps to Marketing a Mobile Application



2011 will be the year of the mobile application. Early adopters will roll their eyes at that sentence, but Joe Doe from suburbia, who just got the iPad for Christmas is nodding his head. This year, widespread adoption will take mobile applications from a buzz phrase at SXSW to an everyday term (like microwave or blender…). And, more and more  companies will lunge at creating mobile applications. But, creating an application and getting people to actually use it are two different things entirely.

We’ve helped a few companies create and market their mobile applications, and here are 7 steps for marketing a mobile application.

1) Start by creating a good application that people actually will use on a regular basis. This may sound like good business sense 101, but I cannot begin to tell you how many applications I see that people would flat out not use. Or, applications that are built badly. Put the basics first. Research the needs of your consumer, analyze their needs, and then look at the marketplace. Then, create an application that does two things – 1) fulfills a need (even if the need is for humorous relief or just fun), 2) that a person would use on a regular basis. For example, we had a client who wanted to reach pregnant women. They initially thought of an application that would provide tips during pregnancy, but would an expecting couple look at it frequently? New app idea: You put in the date you are expecting, and the app shows you a silhouette of the baby growing. Much more likely to be used on a regular basis.

2) Setup a website for the application. A simple website allows people to feel comfortable that the application has a reputable source behind it. This is especially important if you are charging for the application. Don’t have the resources to provide individual customer service? Offer a forum where users can help each other, and you can answer questions at your convenience.

3) Recruit beta testers. If you can help it, do not release an application without having beta testers test it first. Developers who have been working on the app for weeks or months cannot provide the same insight as a sample consumer can. Find beta testers that fit the audience demographic of the app (meaning, people who would actually use the app!), and get their feedback. Do not use your friends as beta testers. Rarely will they be able to give you the feedback that an objective third party will provide.

4) Reach out to relevant bloggers and journalists. Also known as PR. Once you have the app in excellent working condition, contact bloggers who are well read by your audience. Please note, that I didn’t say just any bloggers. For example, if your application is geared towards saving money, get in touch with bloggers who write about personal finance. Keep it professional and kind. Remember that bloggers must provide full disclosure, so if you offer the app for free for them to test and potentially review, they will disclose this. Also, keep in mind that they may choose not to review the app. Respect their choice while making it as easy as possible for them to share the news of the application with their audience.  Sample tweets for example are a great idea.

5) Create a Facebook Ad campaign. I’ve discussed the main difference between Google Ads and Facebook Ads on Shama.Tv before. Facebook ads are an excellent way to reach your prospective audience since you can personalize the ads by demographic information and even interests. A well run Facebook ad campaign requires testing and patience. Tip: Strong images matter more than headlines.

6) Use Twitter to find current and potential users. Setup a twitter search for your application name and competing applications. Make it a point to respond to people who tweet about your app (or even a competing app!). I use TweetDeck and have a separate column for people who mention “The Zen of Social Media Marketing” (my book). Whenever I see a tweet where a reader comments on it, I respond. It is an excellent way to build relationships – and provide customer service on a grand scale!

7) Team up with other application creators. This worked very well for email newsletters in the past decade. (Can’t believe I just said that!). You would sign up for a newsletter, and a web page would pop up, recommending other fine newsletters you may enjoy. Remember, this was the era where you actually enjoyed the “you’ve got mail!” message. Today, the same concept applies for applications. Find complementary applications, and see if the application developers would like to team up. Let’s say you produce a local news application. Team up with a local sports or weather application! There is no harm in asking, and you are only limited by your own imagination.

Happy Mobile Marketing, and a VERY Happy New Year to all our readers.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/5286424197/sizes/m/in/photostream/

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