How to Get Started with Marketing Your Mobile App

Alisha Shibli
Jul 22, 2019
Guest post by Alisha Shibli
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Building an app is like building a business. Once you have a great idea, the rest is up to execution. There are the three most basic things you need to do in order to ensure your app is a success.

  1. Hire a development team or use online tools to build an app

  2. Build a great app and upload it on the App Store / Google Play

  3. Wait for the app to become the next big thing (and become a millionaire)

This is a wonderful fantasy. One that can come true with a few more steps that actually bring the app into the limelight. One of the biggest challenges that most folks who build an app face is not knowing how to promote it to its target customers. After all, if no one knows about it, no one will pay for it.

This is where marketing and branding come into the picture; the two most essential elements that play a key role in the growth of any business.

There are hundreds of ways to successfully market a mobile app. In this article, we have divided the process into three simple parts. Those are:

  1. Things to do outside the app world

  2. Things to do inside the app world

  3. Things to do within the app itself

1. Things to do outside the app world

i) Build a great website

There are few things in the digital world that generate a lot of buzz besides social media and your website is one of them. It opens up an entirely new marketing channel. With the right domain name, SEO, and ad campaigns backing you up, you can drive traffic to the app through your website.

Here are a few things to get right about the website:

  • Domain name: You need a domain name that does justice to your app. With over 1200 new domain extensions to choose from, pick the one that best describes your app. For example, if your app is about tech, then choose .TECH, or if it's a store or in the eCommerce space, then go for .STORE or you could go a bit more generic yet cool extensions such as .SPACE, .SITE, .WEBSITE, etc.

  • Name and logo: The name and the logo are especially important on the mobile interface because of the limited screen-space. Your app's logo will become its key identity on the user's smartphone and it needs to be easily identifiable too. For instance, if your app's logo is the same color as Facebook's app logo, it's going to confuse the users. Similarly, if the user searches for Amazon and your app's name is Amazing, it might become an annoyance to the user. Therefore, your app's logo and name play an important role in how users engage with it.

  • Screengrabs from the app. Give users a peek into the app by putting graphics of what your app looks like on an actual device. This will also eliminate the possibility of users confusing your app for any other software.

  • Video of how the app works. This can act as a pitch that explains how the app works and why someone should download it. The video format is a remarkable opportunity for you to position your app as a solution that your customers absolutely need.

  • Social proof. It's always helpful to show that there are a lot of people who are benefitting from your app by sharing testimonials or reviews for them.

ii) Leverage social media

You can use social media to promote your app, drive users to your website, subscribe to your mailing list, get special benefits, and more. The biggest advantage of social media is that it allows you to have a dialogue with them directly.

A few tips for using social media to your maximum advantage:

  • Be consistent with your content--post interesting and engaging content on a regular basis

  • Share special features of your app and give reasons to download it

  • Ask questions to engage the users

  • Have a clear CTA for every post that you share

  • Promote your website by sharing blog posts, etc.

2. Things to do inside the app world

Often users search for certain keywords in the app store when looking for an app to download. That means content optimization is key. A strategic app description will determine whether you're listed in the first ten results or in the last 100 results when someone searches for "simple recipes", for instance.

App store optimization can be divided into two essential components - textual and visual.

Textual description comprises of the name, slogan, subtitle, description, and keywords associated with the app. Visual description involves icons, screenshots, app videos, etc.

i) Textual optimization

Keyword research
Begin your search with keywords--find the ones that strike the right balance between keyword difficulty and monthly searches. For instance, the keyword "recipes" has a lot of monthly searches.

On the other hand, "simple recipe" has relatively less monthly searches as compared to just "recipes".

Not many people will look at more than 10 apps when they are browsing the results. Therefore, instead of targeting keywords with a lot of competition, pick long-tail keywords that have slightly lesser monthly searches but have a higher chance of ranking because of low competition. This will improve your chances of ranking among the first few results and hence more traffic will be sent your way.

Apps now have a 'subtitle' section and it is a major opportunity to highlight your main keyword. The text you put there can improve your chances to show up in the rankings. So, be mindful and include your strongest keywords in your subtitle.

A powerful description is made up of the right keyword mix and it's written in a way that not only helps with app's textual optimization but also entices and converts users. By default, users will only see the first few lines of the description. So, that's where you must deploy your maximum effort and give users the reason to download your app.

ii) Visual optimization

This is the first thing that users will see and probably an important reason why they'll want to consider downloading your app. Ensure that your app icon is different, original, and appealing. Use your icon design to demonstrate what the app is all about. For example, 'Remember the Milk's' app icon is a cow.

People want to see what the app looks like before they download it. So, share screenshots with descriptions of what they are. If you share just images without any text, you are likely to hurt your conversion rate because users won't be clear about what's on those screens. Share five screenshots with text on them that act as five good reasons to download your app.

3. Things to do in the app itself

You achieve explosive growth when your customers become your advocates and promote your app. The only way to achieve this is to create an extraordinary app that is truly valuable and show people how they can express their appreciation.

Your objective is to get positive word-of-mouth so ensure that you equip your users with all the tools to help you achieve that. The two best ways to do this are reviews and referrals.

Apps with the best reviews will perform better in search results. Also, most users will refer to what others wrote about the app to make a decision on whether or not download.

The problem?

As a consumer, you often leave reviews when you've had a terrible experience. When you like a product, you just use it but rarely do you leave a review.

So, how do we get those who love our product to leave a review and those who had a bad experience share their frustration with us instead of sharing it with the world?

1. Ask people to review it

The timing is crucial here. It's ideal to send the review-request when someone has used the app multiple times and it should not disrupt their user flow. For example, imagine you're ordering food and as soon as you have added items to your cart a review prompt shows up. You'll most definitely ignore it (may also get a bit irritated) because you're in the middle of doing something and are probably hungry. The right time would be a couple hours after the order has been delivered when you can be sure that the customer has consumed the meal and is probably smiling in satisfaction!

2. Reach out to unhappy customers

When you ask people to review your app, you're bound to find some who won't give the best rating. If they give anywhere between 1-3 stars, show them a second prompt asking what they think can be improved.

Let's understand referral through Dropbox's example. One of the reasons the company was able to grow was because they gave their customers the ability to easily invite a friend/colleague to use the service. The friend got a free new account and the person through whom the referral came got extra free storage. This was a win-win situation for everyone.

Referral programs are wonderful if done right. Use these simple tips when yo'ure working on your referral strategy:

  • Give a good reward to people who refer their friends - free trials, special coupons/discounts, freebies, etc.

  • Give a good reward to those who are being referred. Ensure that this reward benefits you in some way too.

  • Ask your users for referrals but again, be careful about the timing. Ask users for reviews and referrals only when they've used your app for a significant amount of time and are loyal to you.


Never start building an app until you have a marketing strategy in place. Even if you have the best app in the world, there is no guarantee that it will succeed if no one knows about it. Make sure you incorporate marketing and branding in your plan before you get down to work.

Alisha Shibli is a Content Marketing Specialist at Radix, the registry behind some of the most successful new domain extensions, including .STORE and .TECH. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.