One thing all mobile users have in common is our propensity to fill up our devices with tons of apps. From games (mostly games) to news and sports, apps chew-up home screen real estate and push everything else to secondary status. Yet with the millions of apps available on the market, how do we find the most interesting ones? Outside of promotion in Google Play and Apple’s App Store, how do apps get noticed?
If an app developer is lucky enough to be able to afford marketing, there are a couple options outside the app stores. If the app comes from established sources (such as CBS Sports) then all they need to do is announce on their sites that the apps are available. For the rest, getting noticed is a hard road. If they don’t get noticed, they shrivel up and die—no matter the price of the app. If they do get noticed, they can basically start working on the follow-up app.
When marketing a new app, there are three major ways to get noticed. Every one of them will take some effort, including fruitless self-promotion and outreach. Emails will need to be sent, and buzz will have to be created. No matter what, in order to stand out among millions of apps, you have to create something people will enjoy. And as Flappy Birds has proven, it doesn’t always have to be intelligent.
1 Word of Mouth
As my friend Josh Becker told me, “I don’t watch the news. I wait for people like you to tell me what I need to know. Hey, you’re my app! Aww, isn’t that cute? You’re a great app, by the way!”
While he was being a tad silly, the point is there. Word-of-mouth is the best course of action for any burgeoning app developer. So how do you get people talking about your app? You talk to them about it through targeted searches and conversations. The old adage of “finding a need and filling it” holds true here. People are talking, the smart app developer just needs to get in on the conversations. From there, they tell their friends, and so on. Welcome to social media.
Word-of-mouth doesn’t stop with social media. From podcasts to blog mentions, there are all these corners of the Internet that when grouped together, create one large marketing tool that can’t—and shouldn’t—be ignored.
2 Reviews and News
If your app is lucky and your word of mouth campaign was successful, your app will start to show up on review blogs. There are tons of those, from androidcentral.com to the Windows centric wpcentral.com. Beyond those, there are tech sites such as The Verge and TechCrunch that do plenty of app reviews every day. It takes tenacity and strong word-of-mouth to reach the ears and eyes of the tech press, but a well-timed email can easily pique their interest. What these sites offer is much more than a flat review, though.
Review sites offer another form of word-of-mouth. They offer integrated audiences and conversation right there on the review page. Comments light up and the shares on the article bring more awareness to your app. A good app marketing plan includes plenty of outreach to tech sites and additionally, sites that follow the theme of your app. These can be dark horse success stories for app developers; sites that don’t generally do app reviews might make an exception because of the theme.
3 Aggregated Lists and Search
A great thing about the Internet is that chances are, someone else has the same problem as you. Say you need a very specific app—simply type your query into the great and wise Google and you’ll likely find exactly what you are looking for. Says blogger Amy Oztan of SelfishMom, “If I need something specific—like a photo editing app—I usually search something like ‘top photo editing apps’ and scroll through the lists. Somebody has always done the work for me.” Others will search for reviews of particular apps without knowing the name of a specific app and fall down the Internet rabbit hole, collecting names of apps along the way. While scrolling through Google Play or Apple’s App Store will result in some discovery, it’s this searching that offers the biggest possible marketing opportunities for new apps. Even if it is just proper SEO on the developer blog, someone is always looking for something.
Then there are sites like Producthunt.com, which offer an aggregated list of new apps. Kind of like an RSS feeder for apps, this site (and others like it) provide a one-stop-shop for new apps without having to scroll through endless categories based on popularity in the app store. This is especially important since the app store tends to be biased towards more successful franchises.
The overall theme to marketing your new app should be getting noticed. No matter what you do, doing nothing is just as good as not bothering to create the app in the first place. You’ve created something amazing (even if it is a fart generator) and want to get the word out. So start talking about it. When people see your passion behind your project—passion being quite infectious—they will spread news about your app for you.
The best marketing plan is the one that gets people excited about your app, not the one that hinges on hoping someone notices it.