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Mobile App Promotion Strategies: Before, During & After Launch

Shivkumar M 20+ yrs shaping technology Product & GTM strategy. Fintech, healthcare & retail industry expertise. Leads product launches, adoption & GTM as Director, Product Marketing.
Mobile App Promotion Strategies: Before, During & After Launch

You might think your work is done once you’ve overcome all the challenges in developing and testing your new mobile app. But the truth is: the more difficult work is up next.
Now you need to implement the best mobile app promotion strategies so that your app gets in front of all those prospective users and differentiate it from all your competitors in the app stores.

To make this post easier to digest, we’ve compiled the entire list of strategies into a single download:
Mobile App Promotion Strategy PDF

And now, on to the strategies.

Mobile App Promotion Strategies for Pre-Launch

Before you can launch your app, you have to lay the groundwork for it. The following mobile app promotion strategies and tactics will prepare you for a more effective launch.

1. Shepherd Prospects Into Your Email List

Email still works. And email marketing should be a staple in every mobile app promotion strategy template.
This pre-launch phase is the perfect time to begin growing that email list. Because your list will be a major tool for getting feedback on your app’s features and functionality. It’ll be the prime communication channel for updating followers on the production of your app or when your launch happens.

  • Add a subscription form to your app website with a prominent CTA. Make it clear what people will get in exchange for their email addresses.
  • Don’t be secretive! Sure, you want to pique some curiosity. But err on the side of clarity. In short: tell them WHAT YOUR APP DOES! A good example is the below pre-launch email signup for Yayplanner. The benefit of the app is crystal clear.

Mobile App Promotion Strategies - Grow your email list like Yayplanner

2. Use Referral Campaigns: They Still Work!

In connection with growing your email list, get email subscribers to invite their friends too.
But aren’t referrals overused?
Sure, everyone’s done it. But that’s because referrals work, if executed well. Users trust recommendations that come from someone they know.

Possibly the most famous, and most effective, referral campaign in the history of apps is Dropbox’s, where users could keep adding more free storage space with every friend invited to use the app. This referral program was key to building their massive user base.**

3. Give Exclusive Previews to Influencers

You can build buzz for your app by giving influencers, thought leaders, and industry experts an exclusive preview of your app. The hope is that these influencers find your app compelling enough to talk about it on their platforms, thereby promoting your brand to their audiences.
Find these tastemakers, contact them via email or Twitter, and ask them to give you feedback on what works and what doesn’t. Or simply ask them to share their thoughts about your app with their followers.

4. Prepare a Great Demo Video

Invest in video. Moving images sure beats words when it comes to audience impact. And videos can be used in everything from your app store entry to your social media promotion. They’re are a great way to introduce your product to prospects.

  • Show them the product! You don’t need to show happy users tapping on their mobile screens. Instead, screen capture your app in action.
  • Be concise.
  • Be witty and funny if your industry, app, and audience can handle it.
  • Most importantly, tell the user about the value your app brings to their lives.

The Bear writing app has a great example of a demo video that shows all the different uses of the app:

5. Tell the Press a Compelling Story

When you do thorough research and competitor analysis, you’ll understand what pain points your app solves. This is where creative storytelling comes in.
Use all that research to build a compelling story behind the need for your app – a story that the press would love. A story that touches on the broader problems that a large number of people experience and how your app is just the right key to alleviating that problem.

This should be an emotive story, ideally with a human interest angle. It’s not about how much your business hopes to make, it’s about how your app helps improve people’s lives. Talk about the struggle to put it together, or the painful lessons learned while developing the app.
Reach out and build relationships with local and industry press. And do this in parallel with developing your app, or even before the app development has begun!

6. Invest in Content Marketing

When done well, content marketing – in particular, blogging – can drive a fantastic amount of organic inbound traffic to your website and build awareness for your app. Fresh, relevant content will bring you to the top of search engine results pages, and with that, bring in prospective users.

Furthermore, by producing content (infographics, ebooks, white papers, blog posts) about the particular problems your target audience faces, you’re setting up your brand as a thought leader and an expert in the space. This builds trust with your audience.
Here’s a small portion of an infographic we use to establish our brand and our app as a thought leader:

Mobile App Promotion Strategies -Invest in content marketing!

Mobile App Promotion Strategies for Launch Time

What promotion strategies can you engage in during your launch period? Here are a few.

1. Plan for a Viral Launch Campaign

Sure, you can’t predict if something will go viral. That’s all on how your audience reacts. But what you can do as a marketer is lay the groundwork and plan for it. Read our blog post for a definition on what viral marketing is and for solid examples of effective viral campaigns.

2. Initiate Contests or Giveaways

Contests are a great way to generate attention and buzz around your product. Run a few giveaways on your social media channels while launching your app with prizes that appeal to your target user personas.
There are many tools and blog widgets you can integrate into your website that can help track how many people have shared your app launch announcement. Or you could request users to use a special hashtag when they post images or social posts.

Mobile app promotion strategies - contests and giveaways

3. Ask for Feedback Everywhere

Another way to promote your app (or even just the idea of your app) is to ask people for feedback.
There are many channels you can use to request people’s comments, the easiest being the web properties you own: your blog, your email list, your social media outposts.

4. Harness the Power of Online Communities

Then, there is the power and the potential publicity that can be harnessed when you successfully engage online communities.
Like any marketing targeted towards strong online communities (think Reddit, HackerNews, or GrowthHackers) honest, helpful engagement by already active members will always outweigh blatant marketing efforts done by outsiders. So prepare for this far in advance by contributing as often as you can before there is even anything that you need to promote.

Mobile app promotion strategies - promote your app on online communities
And when you finally promote your app, do so in a manner that still asks for community involvement or wisdom. For example:

  • Ask for advice or feedback on your latest project. Not so much publicize the launch of your app, but see if anyone has ideas on how to improve certain features, for example.
  • Share lessons learned in launching your app, or even the failures you encountered.

Old School Mobile App Promotion Strategies

There’s a reason why old school traditional marketing tactics don’t die quiet deaths. They work!
Take a look at some of the strategies below and figure out which ones may work for your app and your brand.

1. Pay for Ads

Paid ads are crucial to getting your brand out there. And there is a wide range of channels to choose from.
You can advertise very cost effectively on Google or Facebook, or you could go all out on traditional media such as radio or print. Facebook Ads are particularly effective at acquiring new users because of the ability to finely target ad audiences.
The point is: track what performs well and do more of it.

2. Produce Classic Swag: Flyers, Stickers, T-shirts

There are many types of flyers that may work for your app. Everything from discount flyers that you can display in physical stores, to direct mail flyers that could lead recipients to your mobile app landing page.
And what about stickers? There’s a reason why musicians and streetwear companies use stickers to spread awareness of their brand. People derive a very visceral pleasure from attaching a sticker to their belongings. (Think: laptops.)

Mobile App promotion strategies -old school swag like stickers
Also: if you’re ever planning on renting space at a conference or exhibit hall, you need a good, solid, minimalist t-shirt to give away. A minimalist design with just your logo or brand will increase the chances that people wear it. And the more people wear it, the more visibility your brand gets.

3. Personalize Your Direct Mailers

How often do you get something via snail mail that intrigues you? My guess: not very often.
Sure, direct mail can be expensive due to the cost involved in making something that stands out. Not to mention the high cost of shipping. But if you can send the right direct mail piece to a thought leader or influencer, you have a chance to make a huge impact on the recipient.

  • Give it a personalized feel. Consider personalizing a direct mailer with handwritten text.
  • Or include something other than a printed sheet of paper. Maybe send the recipient’s favorite snacks.
  • There are existing services that can plug into your marketing automation platform such as MailLift and Pensaki. These services will give you options to quickly produce personalized direct mail pieces that you can then send to influencers and thought leaders.

4. Rent a Billboard

I know what you’re going to say. Billboards are expensive.
But billboards also give you something that other digital marketing channels can’t: the clout of a large, physical sign showcasing your app and your brand to the public.

According to the Arbitron National In-Car Study, 71% of Americans consciously look at billboard messages while driving, and many learn about an event or restaurant they later attended.**
And you can improve results by injecting humor into your billboard. 56% of Americans mentioned a billboard they found funny in conversation.

Mobile app promotion strategies - rent a billboard

5. Get an SMS Short Code Paired with Your Other Tactics

For another old school tactic, use an SMS short code in tandem with your more traditional marketing channels such as TV, print, radio, and even billboards.

SMS still has its appeal, and enticing people to opt in to SMS marketing via a short code can be quite effective if paired with a discount or a promo code.
Read more about SMS short code and how to use it for your campaigns.

Mobile App Promotion Strategies for Post-Launch

Once your app has launched, how do you sustain the energy? These strategies are a good place to start:

1. Incentivize Your Best Customers to Share

It’s a basic human truth that we want to share our most intense experiences with our peers. Whether that experience is negative or positive, it will make its way to social media. And alongside those testimonials will be recommendations to try (or steer clear of) your brand.

If you tap into this human need and incentivize your best customers to share your app with their networks, you can turn loyalists into brand ambassadors. And in so doing, create a deluge of positive reviews and recommendations for your brand.
Remember this: 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.**

Mobile app promotion strategies- 84% trust online reviews
Get going with your loyalty programs, redeemable points, discounts, scoreboards, or even just a mention on your email newsletter. All these things might entice users to recommend your app to their circles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more.

2. Deep Link to Your Content

Deep links are traditionally used to increase engagement with your app. But there’s a way to use it to promote your app to non-users.
When you use deep linking in conjunction with SEO and web searches, you can bring visitors directly into your mobile app. If someone initiates a search on mobile, they can click on a deep link that sends them directly to the corresponding content in your app.

But what if they don’t have the app? Then they receive a prompt to download and install it. Win-win.
Here’s how ClassDojo, a parent-teacher communication app, uses deep links to bring you directly into the app… or prompt you to download.

Mobile App promotion strategies - Use deep links like ClassDojo

3. Apply for Mobile App Awards

You know those little golden award buttons that apps like to display on their app store descriptions? Yes, apply to every award body that makes sense.

Users want social proof and displaying an award on your app store entry or website can go a long way in establishing that proof. The press you receive will also increase your app’s visibility.

4. Submit to App Review Sites

There are hundreds of sites whose entire reason for existence is to review and rate apps.** Needless to say, a good review from the ones with the most authority (and backlinks) will help boost your app.

Start off with the more high profile sites such as Product Hunt, PreApps, and Betalist where early adopters congregate to try out the latest apps. Then work your way to other review sites that make sense.

Mobile app promotion strategies - submit to app review sites like Betalist

Wrapping Up: More Mobile App Promotion Strategies

There is an entire playbook of mobile app promotion strategies you can use, most of them revolving around user engagement. Our blog has a lot on this, and we have loads more on a resource page. Check out some of the links below:

Mobile Engagement Guide

A Complete Guide to User Engagement

We present a collection of resources that will help you build more delightful customer experiences by looking at the factors that affect user engagement.

Read the Guide

Last updated on May 7, 2024