15 Things Every Mobile Developer Should Consider in Their Mobile App Marketing Strategy

Emdad Khan Blog, Case Study, Top 10 Leave a Comment

Generally the best way to get noticed is to build a great app.  We all appreciate this I’m sure. However, like all great products and websites, it also requires understanding of customer behavior and retention practices, as well as some tactics required to master them in mobile space.

I pulled together a list of the things that can simplify the challenges when it comes to helping drive adoption and engagement with your app.

1. Downloads drive rankings.

There is a lot of speculation around how rankings in the App Store are determined. People have observed the number of downloads in a 24 hour period would impact rankings. if you are planning to run a marketing campaign, or drive downloads via social media, paid advertisements, etc. it would likely serve you best to consolidate your efforts into a concentrated period of time (like one day).  Once your rankings are higher, that high discoverability will continue to drive more downloads, driving your rankings even higher.

2. App name and keywords matter.

Just like regular SEO, choosing the right words will improves discoverability. In particular the title of your app matters a lot. The best practices for keywords can be summarized as:

  • Choose keywords users might search for when looking for apps similar to yours.
  • List the most relevant or important keywords first
  • There is no need to repeat words in the title of your app, or the main category.
  • Unlike Google, marketplace search engines are primitive and don’t adjust for synonyms, plurality, or typos.
  • Separate words with spaces or commas, but not both (i.e. “word1,word2,word3” or “word1 word2 word3”).  Apple’s documentation has both, but you only get 100 characters.
  • If you app is multilingual it can be worth localizing the keywords for your target markets.
  • Start your name with a number of letter “A” if possible.  iTunes does alphabetical listings so this can help your app show up earlier in the list.


3. Pay attention to description formatting.

When you write out your description, verify it renders well in the app store and on your phone. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Only the first 3 lines are shown by default in the app store, the user will have to click more to see the rest – so make sure what shows above the fold is relevant and compelling.
  • Each line can accommodate 120 characters before it wraps, and bullets wrap after 45.

app-descriptionFor example, look at the two screenshots from two apps above– ones description is formatted in a readable and consumable way and the other looks confusing and hard to parse.

4. Specify a primary and secondary category for your app.

Both your primary and secondary category can act as keywords and can help improve your rankings and discoverability for your app.  If it is possible you app could be in two categories, it is good to choose the primary category as the less competitive one.

5. Provide a free (or lite – but call it free) version of your app.

The most searched words in the app store are “cheap” and “free” (and magazine editors will tell you that these words also help sell more magazines – it’s good marketing).

So creating a free experience of your application creates a discovery opportunity completely missed by only offering a paid version.

6. Lower the price of your app.


It has been seen that many  developers had success putting their apps on sale (therefore it might be worth pricing your app higher, so you have the option of lowering the price –just like retail, people value getting a good deal).

Many app developers will list their app at $1.99 and then frequently put it on sale for $0.99, or just reduce the price after it has been on the market a while.

7.  Drive reviews.

Prompt users to review your app.  One thing some apps have done is have a pop up that gives users two choices: “Rate this app 5 stars” or “complete this later”.  On the pop up prompt the developers don’t even give users the option to leave feedback less than 5 stars – so users have to go an extra step to leave a bad review.


8. Your logo matters.

Having a logo that stands out and grabs people’s attention will drive downloads. The logos that did best typically had the following qualities:

  • High contrast of colors
  • Character or animal logo that elicited a “cute” response
  • Contained Greens and Oranges
  • Had distinct border around icon

9. Promote apps cross platform or in-app.

If you build apps, or have multiple apps provide a hook that will allow you to promote more of your apps across your existing user base.  Zynga does a great job of this promoting their other games in their apps.

This is also a good reason to use Twitter and Facebook for logins and to prompt users to share – of course don’t be annoying.


10.  Create an invite system.

This is great, especially for games – if you allow users to invite other people to play with them it will drive adoption of the game.

11.  Build a relationship with the user.

When someone installs your app you know nothing about him or her. But if you can get their email address or contact information, then you can build a relationship with them and email them about new features, new apps, etc. This is why having a login or profile can be helpful.

12.  Add metrics and analytics to your app.

If you have an app the best way to know how to improve it is to understand how people use it. Understanding your users by looking at quantitative data can yield real insights as to what functionality is working well, and what users don’t use (or could be improved).

13.  Track your app performance.

In addition to tracking app usage as mentioned above – there are great tools for monitoring your app store rankings, reviews and downloads/sales performance.

14.  Advertise for downloads.

There are two types of advertising you can buy: nonqualified downloads and qualified downloads.

Qualified are the good ones – people that saw your app and then clicked on it to download.

The non-qualified ones are like games that require users to download an app to get virtual currency in the game – they user doesn’t want the app but is downloading it for the currency.  These will impact your download counts (and therefore rankings) but at the end of the day aren’t necessarily the most qualified audience.

15.  Promote your app online.

You can list you app in various application directories or aggregator sites.  You can reach our and ask prominent bloggers in your target audience to do reviews of your app.  It also doesn’t hurt to create your own domain and website to advertise your app and apply regular SEO strategies to that site for more organic discovery.  You can also try other marketing methods like PR, social media, video (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) or anything else that will help bring more attention to your app.

Hope this helps with your app development efforts, I know these tips made a big difference for a lot of applications and teams.


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