The app business has skyrocketed over its 10-year lifespan with close to 200 billion mobile app downloads expected by the end of 2017, an increase of around 50 billion from 2016 figures as sourced by The Online Marketing Institute. It's no surprise that a growing number of people and companies continue to create apps in hopes to capture a portion of the market. There are countless articles to teach you how to hook users, and all types of apps being pumped out including a fast-growing live trivia app that everyone you know is probably playing. 

Success isn't automatic, however, as there are certain criteria required for creating and marketing apps that will grab the attention, and dollars, from users. Most people implement external marketing efforts, but a proper internal strategy needs to be implemented that will maximize the popularity of the app as well as its exposure to the multitudes of app shoppers.

I recently talked with Thomas Ma and Anish Dalal, founders of Sapphire Apps, who have an impressive track record of meeting app download and customer engagement expectations. Sapphire Apps has a portfolio of over 500 iOS apps with a combined following of 15 million-plus users, so they know how to achieve both internal and external app results. 


The worst thing that can happen when developing an app is to spend precious time, money and resources on creating something that nobody actually wants or needs. It's happened to me on more than one occasion, which is why I never develop anything until I test the idea first nowadays.

I've personally developed and approved hundreds of mobile apps over the past five years through my company and on my own. One of my favorite ways to test an app idea is this five-step process: 

  1. Create a FB page. 
  2. Create an ad. 
  3. Create a basic landing page with a signup form (just use click funnels or something simple if you don't know how to code). 
  4. Create a targeted audience using your competitor's data. For example, if you're building an app related to Fantasy Sports, set your ad audience set to people who have liked Fan Duel's (a fantasy sports app) FB page. 
  5. Drive ads. 

If people are signing up you know you have a good idea or are solving a problem with a real need. If not, run a new ad, test again, and run this process until you feel like you've either validated or invalidated your idea.

Thomas and Anish agreed wholeheartedly with this process. Their process was similar, but they use Instagram solely and run in through their business and personal accounts "Story." Then, based on the clicks and signups, they make a determination whether or not they want to pursue the idea. 


App stores have a tremendous amount of traffic and most people are looking for products that meet specific purposes. Therefore, you want to reinsure that your app targets a niche and is then properly marketed so it will be seen.

To ensure your app ranks high in searches, it is crucial to pay attention to the metadata (key data and keywords that identify your product) and use tools that optimize results. Thomas and Anish recommend using more long tail keywords which can be found through ASO tools such as Sensor Tower, App Annie and Google Trends. My team and I have found a lot of success with long tail keywords as well when optimizing our data. 

They recommended to be sure to watch trends in the app stores and use keywords associated with the most popular. App stores provide marketers with trending keywords which should be used to maximize exposure.

It is also recommended to optimize your app marketing plan to include customer reviews. Once the app has been used 2 or 3 times, request a review from the customer and if their experience was negative, have them send comments directly to you via email.


Social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, and Instagram can be powerful springboards for app marketing when used correctly explained Thomas and Anish when we spoke. 

Instead of running cold ads, it is important to find potential users with targeted audiences of comparable apps. 

Instagram is particularly advantageous to those business accounts that garner 10,000 or more followers. The platform now allows you to add links to your product story that can drive traffic and sales. To reach that mark, it is important to research your niche, use good content that is short and to the point, and use targeted keywords that are specific to your idea and trending in searches.

Their expert tip for creating calls to action is to learn how to evoke a feeling in that potential user that drives them to ask, "What am I missing?" (#FOMO), in order to make them click the link to "find out more." 

The combination of testing from the onset, long tail keyword optimization and a targeted social media distribution plan can work to significantly boost app downloads and drive sales. And, seriously, think about #FOMO when you're driving ad campaigns.