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5 Ways to Increase App Downloads

Todd Swoope  //  August 2, 2016  //  7 min read

You’ve made your app, it’s completely functional, easy to understand, and you believe it has a real place in the market. Congratulations! You’ve completed your first big hurdle, but success won’t come from immediately. Creating an app is the first fight, but promoting your app and gaining loyal customers through generating app downloads will win the battle.

Today, the Apple App Store grows by over 1,000 apps each day. One thousand apps a day, plus a monstrous amount of apps that are already live, means the competition for downloads, search space, and customers is fierce. There are a number of ways to promote your app, including Google AdWords, optimizing your app for App Store searches, Google AdMob, Facebook Adverts (you can do it only after you have crossed a minimum app download limit), display advertising—the list goes on and on.

The problem is that everyone with an app is using these methods, and it’s easy for app categories to become too saturated. In order to have a successful app, you you need to get creative to get customers. You’ll need to change it up and think outside of the box to get found…heck, you’re going to need different kinds of creative all working together to get found.

Today’s post is here to help. Below are some creative and efficient ways to get your app found in the app stores and to increase your customer base.

1. In-app referrals

“We’ve found that our growth is driven substantially by word of mouth. When someone sees the ease of use, the fact that they press button on their phone and in under 5 minutes a car appears, they inevitably become a brand advocate.” —Max J Crawley, Business Development at Uber

The on-demand cab service, like Uber, has been the precursor of in-app referrals. Of course, many apps used referrals as a way of assisting word-of-mouth before Uber and Lyft. But this industry turned in-app referrals into a business staple.

How it works

For example, let’s take a look at how Uber does it. When you send an invite to your friend for an app download, the message they receive reads: ‘A gift from me to you. Claim your Uber first ride free, up to $20.’ …followed by the link to download the app. Plus, when your friend signs up and books the first cab, you receive $20, as well.

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This referral system helps all the three people connected with the app. You get the incentive. Your friend gets a free ride, you get a credit, and the company gets a new user. It’s a win-win-win for all.

And you don’t need to be in the services industry for in-app referrals to work with your strategy. To see if this strategy will work for you, look at your customer journey to see if an incentive like a referral would make sense to pull new customers in.

2. Content marketing

“The paradox is the more info you give away the more people will buy what you have to give.” —Brian Clark, Founder and CEO of Rainmaker Digital

There’s a saying that goes “content is the reason search began in the first place.” And it makes perfect sense. People don’t surf the web or look at their mobile devices simply to download the apps or buy stuff. Who wants to watch an ad on a device so personal? It makes people feel like someone’s invading their space.

With content, the story is different. It’s a way to reach groups of potential customers without telling them, ‘Hey! What I actually want from you is to download my app!’

How it works

There are many ways to approach content marketing, but to start, begin with identifying your targeted audience. The better you understand them and what they seek from your app, the more you’ll be able to create content that provides value to their lives.

If you’re starting fresh, you’ll have to think broadly about the content. But if you already have content assets, see what amongst the current content has worked best and what is missing from your current offerings. The best way to create content is to involve your team in the process. However, if you don’t have expertise, outsourcing can be a good option.

Creating an editorial calendar (similar to one you’d use for a web experience) that aligns with your marketing plan and objectives is also a great place to start. Publishing content and amplifying its reach using social media can do wonders for reaching a new customer base.

Unlike other marketing techniques, the effects of content marketing lasts longer. Your content will be visible and keep entertaining, inspiring, or educating your customers as long as it holds its relevancy.

3. Use an “app of the day” service

“The best things in life are free. The second best is very, very expensive” —Coco Channel

The rise of app discovery apps and services play a major role in the mobile advertising and app promotion industry, and it seems like they are becoming a major new channel for distribution.

News around app discovery apps is becoming a category in their own right, with a range of other major players in this space. With their incredible growth, that’s reason enough to try promoting your apps through app discovery platforms.

How it works

Think of app discovery platforms like the Zomato for apps. It’s like an app listing site, but the best part is the “app of the day” services. Many app discovery platforms offer a single deal per-user, per-day for developers.

Through an app discovery platform, your app gets a chance to get in front of the tens-of-thousands of users who access the website. All you have to do is be creative to choose the best day for the service that will match your app’s offerings. It’s an incredibly simple, effective, and popular format.

The biggest success story in this area has been App Gratis, which is riding high following a $13 million investment. Some of these platforms charge developers a one-off cost to get featured, while others charge on a cost-per-impressions basis.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 4.42.37 PM

In addition, you can check out Appsfire, Game Finder, and Free My Apps to see which service might fit your needs best.

4. Social media communities

“You can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them.” —Pam Moore, Social and Marketing Consultant

Social media is a proven way to build communities and expand brand recognition, even though it’s been around for awhile. Social media platforms can be powerful tools that help engage the attention of a new crowd, and can help you build a successful online community.

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How it works

There are two steps app publishers should take in order to take maximum benefits from social media:

1. Start with a bang

It is important to get a high number of people on board at stage one. Try making a bang when you start your social strategy by:

  • Choosing your platform wisely. Not every social media channel is not made for your app. Your business should choose to designate the most time and effort to the platform that will reach your target audience. For example, LinkedIn is a great platform if you are looking for business relations, but if you have an app focused on fashion, you might want to jump to Pinterest and Instagram.
  • Using infographics and videos to get your message out. In this modern era, no one has the time to even catch a breath, so how do you expect them to read 300 words about your app? Infographics and short video clips can help here as they are short, simple, and interesting, which may work better for potential customers.

2. Engage your community

It may seem simple, but engaging your community by posting relevant articles and posts that help community members will give you a big boost. Use the 80/20 rule in which 80% of the content on your social channels should be your entertaining and informative content, and 20% used for CTAs. This way, the community stays happy and your app download number can continue to increase through this channel.

Additionally, try involving influencers within your community, as they bring in great ideas, greater feedback, and experience you can use.

5. Press releases

“A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” —Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group

No matter how good your app is, a user cannot click the green Install button until it is visible to them. The sale of any product starts with its visibility, and the same goes for an app.

Mailbox gave a perfect example of how to do it in 2013. Its PR team starting rolling out press releases two months prior to launch for their beta version, and the campaign garnered 300,000 signups before Mailbox’s launch on Feb 7, 2013.

How it works

The next time when you are planning an app launch, include PR into your strategy. Reach out to the influential bloggers and journalists to review your app. Start by locking the launch date early, and give yourself at least a month before launch date to pitch journalists, app reviewers, and bloggers to introduce your app. It is important for the reviewer as well as your own team for promotion on app stores.

Another important piece of PR is to find the right journalists. Your targeted audience subscribes to only certain publications, which means they may not read a press release or news story if it’s published in a location that isn’t relevant to them. Similarly, reviewers are also known for working in a particular category. If your app is about productivity, talk to journalists who write reviews of such apps. If your app is an Android game, approach reviewers who write about Android games.

The last word

The app market might be more competitive than ever before, but every day, we see new apps rise to the top and overtake all others for downloads and usage. This process is not impossible, and with some hard work and creativity, you too have the chance to make your app user base skyrocket.

Best of luck!

About Todd Swoope

Todd Swoope is the the Head Marketing Strategist for Snyxius Technologies. From the mountains of Pennsylvania to the city of Austin, he's is always up for a marketing challenge. His interests include witty wordplay, hot cups of tea, and chocolate chip cookies. 
View all posts by Todd Swoope >

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