Have you or your company created a mobile app that’s so good that you can explain it to a total stranger in 30 seconds or less?
If you have created such an app, have you actually explained it yet?
Getting the word out about your app is one of the most fundamental yet overlooked mobile marketing tactics you can employ. Here are some effective and, in most cases, free mobile marketing tactics designed to show your app at its best. Very few developers I encounter do all these things.
Have you contacted every hometown newspaper affiliated with each person on your development team to share a press release about the app? Yes, the newspaper business is in decline, but newspapers still attract significant audiences both in print and digitally. Chances are you are working alongside someone who comes from a place no one would expect to produce someone with mobile app development, marketing, or sales skills. That means that among the people you work with every day there are candidates for compelling human interest stories about the local kid who’s trying to make it big in the mobile world. Writers love this sort of thing because they know their readers do, too.
Guess who also reads newspapers? Other writers do. If your app is as good as you think, you may find that some other journalist from some other outlet – a magazine, blog, network, radio station, or just another paper – stumbles upon the story about you, your colleagues, or your app, and is impressed enough to write his own piece.
Additionally, writers are among the more well connected among us. Someone writing about you or your app probably also knows others in the local tech or venture capital community. It wouldn’t take much effort to convince any writer who was genuinely impressed with your mobile app to tell her friends about it.
Have you created a simple video, 60 seconds or less, about your app or your development team, posted it, and then shared it with the people in your social networks who are most likely to share it with others?
Does that video include a deep link to your app’s store page?
Are you blogging about what your app can do and establishing thought leadership in your category?
Are you attending Mobile Mondays and other formal and informal meet-ups in your community to exchange ideas and let your peers know about the amazing app you’ve built?
Have you started following the more influential Twitter users in your category and invited them to follow you or your company so that when you Tweet about your app, your 140 characters will make an impact on someone who matters?
Does your app product page in every app store have the best, most engaging screenshots of your app? Did someone who knows how to capture screenshots take ownership of this critical task and make sure that your app looks irresistible? App store pages are beauty contests, and yet so many publishers I encounter treat app publishing like a checklist item they can’t finish fast enough. Have you taken the time to do it right?
On a related note, have you created five high resolution screenshots of your mobile app? Most smartphones still are considered standard resolution, which means your app may show at that standard resolution, too. Unfortunately, writers need high resolution screenshots because that’s the only kind that will print crisply and clearly. That probably means you’ll have to rebuild your app’s five best screenshots in Photoshop and publish them in high resolution. It may seem like a hassle, but without them it’s a lot harder to get coverage for your app.
Have you contacted all your friends, LinkedIn colleagues, Twitter followers and Facebook likers and asked them to a) download your app; and b) rate it highly if they like it as much as you hope they do? In addition to fetching screenshots, high user ratings do wonders to encourage others to download your app.
Get enough downloads and high ratings, and you might even catch the eye of the app store merchandising team. Granted, this is a long shot of lottery proportions, but a genuinely good app, a spike in downloads, gorgeous screenshots, and high user ratings are likely to turn merchandiser’s head.
Just about everything I’ve listed here is no-cost and takes nothing more than thoughtfulness, yet from my perch at Microsoft, I don’t see a whole lot of companies embracing these basic but effective mobile marketing techniques.
There is one thing implied on this list that isn’t easy or free, and that is the app you’re building or have built. Let’s go back to my first question: Can you explain your app in 30 seconds or less to a total stranger? If the answer is “no,” then your app probably isn’t ready for prime time, and instead of all the things I’ve mentioned in this blog post, your most effective strategy may be going back to the drawing board.