If you thought building a following onsocial media was hard, try convincing people to download your mobile app.
It's a tricky business with fierce competition, overcrowded keywords, and flighty users. Think about how many times you've downloaded an app, opened it, and given up before you'd even made it past the login screen (I am notorious for this). Building a great app is the first challenge. Getting it in front of the right people is another beast in itself.
The interesting thing about apps is they are marketed heavily by word of mouth. You use the apps your friends use, the apps you're recommended. Certain industries, like the restaurant industry, for example, live entirely off word of mouth. Even when you search online for "best taco spot downtown," you still read the reviews of others before you make your decision. The same tends to go for apps.
Which is why the core strategy for marketing your app should be comprised of three different elements:
1. Getting someone trustworthy to recommend your product.
2. Retaining the users you do get and minimizing your churn rate.
3. Collaborating with other like-minded companies with similar audiences, so you can continue expanding your reach.
Now let's break down how to actually do this:
Step 1: Utilize Influencers
Otherwise known as influencer marketing, this has become a staple in just about every digital strategy for eCommerce companies and apps. The tried-and-true method of influencer marketing is essentially affiliate marketing, except most influencers these days choose up-front payment opposed to some sort of revenue share. Although, there are pros and cons to both types of deal structures.
The challenge here is choosing the right kinds of influencers. There are companies out there that will help you not only find but actually barter with influencers in certain niches, to get them to promote your product, service, app, etc. For example: Trend Pie basically searches for accounts with your particular audience, and then gets your app in front of those targeted users. Their network of influencers extends to over 250M Followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. They were the ones that helpedDrunk Mode, a mobile app that helps you stay safe while drunk, go viral.
Step 2: Build Retention
Getting users in the first place is difficult, but convincing them to stay is the real challenge.
In order for your app to remain relevant, you have to retain far more users than you lose. This is what's called "churn rate"--essentially how fast you are losing users and needing to replace them.
The issue with retention is that there is no "one correct answer." You can offer people incentives for being more active. You can send them a billion push notifications. You can offer more engaged users rewards. You can do anything you'd like in order to keep them coming back--as long as they come back.
The truth is, if you build a quality product, you won't need to convince people. That's been one of the most astounding things about the growth of messaging platforms, for example. They bring you back by letting you know you have a "new message." And since you're curious, you log in to check it. But in order for this Step 2 to happen, you need to have enough users actually benefiting from your product in the first place.
Think less gimmicks and more quality.
Step 3: Collaborate
It has taken people a long time to fully realize the benefit of collaboration on digital platforms to expand reach.
One of the most cost-effective ways to market your app is to collaborate with other companies. However, when thinking of a partner, you want to think of companies that aren't direct competition. Instead, focus on companies that target the same demographic with different products.
For example, here's a cool case study: when Rocketing, a mobile app that lets you live #lifeshared was launching, they partnered with Party Naked, one of San Diego's premiere event planners. Together Rocketing and Party Naked put on some of San Diego's best parties, including their epic Sunburn pool parties. And the partnership made sense because they were both targeting similar demographics, just in different ways.
This concept is one that really gets flushed out in one of my favorite books on marketing, Brandscaping. It's all about brands that executed effective collaborations and ended up reaching a far bigger audience than if they had simply tried to go at it alone. (Buy this book for yourself for Christmas. It'll change the way you look at marketing forever.)
Just remember: marketing your mobile app may be a uphill battle at times, and once you get the ball rolling, you then have to work twice as hard to keep that momentum going. It's not for the faint of heart. But then again, if it was easy then everyone would do it.