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Marketing & Monetizing Your Mobile App: Part 1

Mobile App Marketing Whether you’re developing a mobile app as part of your existing business’s strategy, or you’re bringing your great idea for a stand-alone app to reality, the goal is to make your investment a profitable one. 

Besides putting sufficient and skilled resources into developing a great product, the next most critical task is, of course, to get your app onto the devices of as many relevant customers as possible. There’s a lot more to maximizing downloads of your app beyond getting it into the app markets. 

What are some key marketing issues you need to consider for your mobile app?
  1. Focus on how your app benefits your customer.  Your focus needs to be on your customers and how the app provides them with convenience, value, and/or entertainment. Spend some time formulating exactly how your app improves the lives of your customers so you can concisely and clearly communicate this. 

    Also, consider the target user for your app.  Is there a defined demographic group that you’re trying to reach?  What’s the best way to do this? (This will also be important if you want to sell in-app advertising, which we’ll cover in an upcoming post.)

  2. Price your app right.  If your app is a marketing/commerce tool for an established business, you’ll likely offer it for free, considering it an investment in the potential revenue and customer goodwill it will generate.  However, if you’re developing a stand-alone app, you’ll need to consider whether to charge for your app or offer it for free. 

    Do some research—what similar apps already exist?  Where are they priced?  How many downloads have they generated?  There’s a balancing act between the potential revenue you leave on the table with a free app and pricing at a level that generates enough downloads to maximize your earnings on in-app advertising.

  3. Create a clear brand for your app.  If your app is an extension of your business, you need to ensure it consistently reflects your established brand.  If your app is its own entity, you’ll need to develop a unique brand. The targeted audience you pinpointed earlier, along with the benefits the app offers, should drive your branding.

    You’ll want a professional to help you create a logo and tagline that reflect what your app is about.  Consider the apps you use regularly—I bet you can recall the look of their logos with very little effort, and that’s because of strong branding. Well, that, and maybe because you spent four hours playing
    Angry Birds last night.

  4. Develop an online presence for your app, well before you launch your app.  If your app is tied to a company with an established online presence, then you simply need to create a landing page on your current site that’s focused on your app. 

    A fast and inexpensive tool for this is
    LaunchRock.  LaunchRock allows you to gather contact information so you can provide updates and invitations to interested customers, or, invite them to be part of a beta group. If you don’t already have a website, then you should consider creating one for your app.  An online “hub” lets you generate excitement before and after your release by offering a way for social media users, bloggers, and others to link to information on your app.  It also offers you a place to post demos and other more detailed information on the app.

  5. Work it!  Again, think back to your target audience and the benefits your app offers them. (There’s a reason we listed this first.) If your app is a marketing tool for your business, integrate information on the release of your new app into all of your various marketing channels. 

    Use your established social media networks and blogger contacts to spread the word. If you’re building a new network for your app, set up social media profiles and start working them. 

    Drive traffic to your site, where potential customers can check out a demo or detailed descriptions of your app, and where you can capture their email addresses. 

    Seek out bloggers and sites that review mobile apps or cover categories related to your app.  If you’re going to charge for your app, offer promo codes to entice bloggers and others with a strong following to try it out and hopefully spread the word.

Next time, we’ll discuss getting your app into the mobile app markets and go into more detail on options for monetizing your mobile apps, including in-app advertising.

Have you had success launching and marketing a new mobile app?  What other tips would you share?  We’d love to hear about your successes and challenges.