So, you have an app. It’s built, tested and fine-tuned for the needs of your business and the relationship you want to build with your customers. All you have to do now is encourage them to download it – after all, if an app isn’t downloaded, does it even exist?
We have some online and offline tips to make sure your hard work isn’t wasted.
1. Know your ASO (App Store Optimisation)
Make sure people can find your app. The App Store for Apple devices has a Search function that doesn’t always function; Google Play is riddled with errors; the Windows 10 app store is a disaster. You need to make the best of this bad lot: 40% of app installations for Android devices take place through Google Play, you need to make sure you optimise.
You need to know your target customer base well enough to predict the keywords they’re going to use in searching for apps, and make sure those appear in the title. You also need to make the description short, punchy and human-sounding: a series of keywords may be optimal for the search engine, but it’s the human user who chooses to download the apps, and the description has to be legible and attractive to them.
2. Market your app intelligently
Find innovative ways of marketing your app, related to what your software does. If your app displays bus timetables, promote it by distributing seat covers for bicycles caught in the rain. If your app is for booking cinema tickets, sponsor a secret screening with your QR codes on show at the venue. You don’t have to act overtly, either: try guerilla marketing by sharing content that doesn’t directly promote your app or even mention it, save for a link at the end.
3. Hold a launch event
Provide free food. Provide free drinks. Provide free entertainment. Link your app to a positive emotion and your customers will think well of it the next time they hit their app store.
4. Offer referral rewards
Take a leaf out of Wriggle’s book. They offer users £3 to refer friends; it’s a small cost to you, but word-of-mouth marketing can be very powerful. It offers an incentive to your early adopters, too – the ones who often download the app but don’t install it, or install it but don’t use it, or use it for a while and then forget about it.
5. Seek out bloggers and influencers to preview your app
A write-up in a tech or specialist blog, or an appearance on a more long-term recommendations list, is a powerful marketing tool. Previews and recommendations encourage customers to look for your app by name, or click through directly from the content they’ve just read, rather than having to sift it from other search results.
6. Make the most of your setting
If your app is designed for a certain location, like our clients’ heritage apps, advertise there. Brief your staff to tell their contacts about the new app. Tie the app to an offer, discount, service, event – anything that creates an association between app, location and a positive experience. It may also be worth offering a free wi-fi spot so visitors can download your app. This is especially helpful to avoid international roaming charges for tourists and the like.
7. Offer alternatives
Offer a paper version of your app for older users. For a heritage trail app, for example, distribute a printed map of the route. For a takeaway app, offer a flyer containing discount coupons.
8. Use targeted social media advertising
Advertising to specific demographics on social media can be highly effective, and some platforms – Twitter, for instance – offer specific tools for app promotion. If your app is for recycling textbooks, advertise to students at universities during term-time, creating a tightly-focussed call-to-action. Even the time of day at which you boost or promote your post makes a difference: activity on a given platform or by a given user base will vary across any 24-hour period.
9. Be responsive
If your app is buggy, always answer criticism publicly on the app store or in your update notes. Show that you listen to your customers, act on issues and aren’t neglecting your app in the long term. This should help boost retention rates and convince new users to give your app a shot.
10. Take endorsements when they come
In the same spirit as our advice about bloggers and influencers above – be ready to capitalise if someone famous speaks well of your app. It happened to SwiftKey; it could happen to you. Set up Google and Twitter alerts for mentions of your app – if a celebrity picks it up, retweet, reblog and rejoice in the public endorsement.