What is Mobile App Marketing?

Mobile app marketing is the process of promoting mobile software in order to obtain app installations, engage existing users, and monetize the app.

Benefits of Mobile App Marketing

Mobile has changed every industry. The way your customers research products, buy things, entertain themselves, do work, and even physically get places has drastically changed thanks to the always-connected smartphones in their pockets.

Mobile apps, in particular, have created an environment where brands can create deeper and more authentic connections with users than ever before. Apps are quickly becoming the preferred way consumers want to interact with brands and services, especially for younger demographics. A recent study found 18-24 year-olds in the United States spend 91 hours a month in apps, and that figure is expected to grow.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd, though. There are nearly 4 million apps in the various app stores, and the competition is getting fiercer as the stakes rise. Mobile app marketing enables brands to improve their discoverability through increased visibility, improved download numbers and, ultimately, higher monetization.

Whether your business model is paid download, advertising, in-app purchases, or subscription plans, mobile app marketing has a direct impact on revenue. Mobile app marketing can be divided into three main categories: new user acquisition, user engagement, and app store optimization.

New User Acquisition through Mobile App Marketing

Mobile app marketing to acquire new users involves creating awareness for the app and driving installations.

As we mentioned, the app stores are extremely crowded, and Google, Apple, and others have yet to solve the discoverability problem that all new apps face. That means your new user acquisition efforts must begin well before your app is launched.

Driving awareness for an app before it’s launched includes blogging, social media marketing, email nurturing, trailer videos, soft launches with beta invitations, and press conversations. Important metrics during this phase include number of emails obtained, traffic to sites, press mentions, video views, and social media engagement.

Driving installations becomes the primary concern for mobile app marketing post-launch. This involves paid advertising on third-party websites, apps, advertising networks, media, and social networks. Facebook, in particular, has been a proven channel for driving downloads, but brands should also pay attention to Twitter, Pinterest, and other emerging networks.

Important metrics during this phase of mobile app marketing include cost per acquisition, cost per channel, cost per engagement, and number of downloads. Understanding these metrics across acquisition channels is paramount. The ability to optimize and allocate budget efficiently across channels can make or break a new user acquisition strategy.

Engagement Marketing

Acquiring a user is just the first step in mobile app marketing, as much of the revenue earned per user is made after the initial install. Irrespective of business model, brands need to keep in mind the majority of apps lose up to 80% of their users within the first 30 days of install. This makes engagement marketing a vital weapon in any brand’s arsenal because it enables companies to grow their user base, as well as boost monetization of apps, driving revenue over the lifetime of a user.

Mobile app marketing for engagement involves intelligently communicating with users through a variety of channels, including push notification messaging, in-app messaging, email, and social networks. These messages should drive users toward actions that are deemed virtuous and ultimately drive sustained usage and higher revenue.

Successful brands use in-app behavior—combined with other business intelligence about users—to inform marketing campaigns. The most compelling mobile app marketing campaigns are tailored to an individual’s actions within the app, as well as to the user’s preferences regarding device, timing, and channel.

For example, most brands conduct winback campaigns on a set schedule based on time elapsed since the user has last been active—on day one, send X message, on day 3, send Y message, etc. Intelligent mobile app marketing for winback campaigns would factor in engagement level for the cadence of messages. It’s more important to quickly reach out to power users who have dropped off in usage than it is to message dormant users who would likely churn anyways.

Important metrics during engagement marketing include opt-in rates, uninstall rates, conversion rates, and revenue. Engagement marketing is key to long-term app health, and lifetime value (LTV) of users is another crucial metric to keep track of.

App Store Optimization

App Store Optimization (ASO) is the process of improving visibility within app stores. With millions of apps available, app store optimization is a critical way for brands to achieve sustained downloads. Ranking high in app stores has compounding benefits—in fact, a recent Nielsen studyfound that 70% of total app usage comes from the top 200 apps.

Google, Apple, and other app store providers do not provide specific criteria for how to rank higher in app stores, but best practices have emerged: utilizing specific keywords, writing great descriptions, and using appealing screenshot images.

Post-install engagement also plays an influential role in app store rankings, and brands are taking notice by spending more time on engagement marketing to assist in ASO. Keeping users engaged provides multiple benefits for ASO, including driving downloads of new app updates and increasing app ratings and reviews.

Important metrics for ASO include rankings over time, installs and conversions, and post-install engagement.

Mobile App Marketing Plan

Your mobile app marketing plan should be guided by the goals for your app. A paid social gaming app will have a different mobile app marketing plan than a social networking app, an ecommerce app, or a streaming media service. The metrics to pay attention to will be similar for each app, but the ones you optimize for will vary.

Regardless of the business model or type of app, great brands have the people, processes, and technology to execute on mobile app marketing plans. Even small teams must dedicate the proper resources to mobile app marketing because it has a demonstrable impact on the short-term and long-term metrics for success.

The people should be adept at gathering and interpreting data about mobile marketing results. The processes provide a structured plan of attack, but these should be flexible enough to enable quick shifts in a mobile app marketing plan if it’s not yielding the needed results.

Finally, the technology should empower teams by automatically optimizing different phases of the mobile app marketing plan. This includes the ability to deliver personalized communication at scale in order to boost engagement and increase monetization.