The What, Why and How of Mobile App Marketing

Robby Gupta

[bctt tweet=”Running a business without marketing will kill it – Paul Cookson” username=”techjini”]

As of March 2017, it is reported that there are over 2 million apps in Apple’s App Store and close to 3 million in Google’s Play Store. The global mobile app market is predicted to reach a whopping $189 billion by the end of 2020. (Source: Statista)

Mobile apps have beaten desktop ones by a long way. But if these apps are not marketed properly, they will quickly fail. Given the amount of competition, only a handful apps have the potential to make it big. In fact, it is reported that although consumers spend 85% of their mobile time on apps, 84% of time is spent only on 5 apps! Such competition among well-known brands for increased session time and frequency can be discouraging for SMBs or individuals trying to make it big in the global app market.

However, most marketers today don’t realize or underutilize the power of mobile app marketing. If used properly, marketing your mobile app can result in generating interest, increase conversions and helps build app loyalty.

But before we delve deeper, let’s understand the entirety of mobile app marketing.

The What

In the never-ending ocean of mobile apps, there is a high chance of your app being uninstalled if it is not engaging. The primary goal of any mobile marketing campaign is to:

-Attract more users

-Retain and engage existing users

-Generate and increase revenue from existing users.

Mobile app marketing is all about constantly engaging a user throughout his/her life-cycle. By lifecycle we mean, the time they first hear about the app to the time they become a loyal user.

Note: Marketing process will continue much after the user uninstalls an app.

In broad terms, mobile app marketing involves various strategies and techniques that help the app get the attention it deserves. These campaigns include numerous efforts (both online and offline) to capture user attention.

A typical mobile engagement funnel has 4 stages:





Typically, mobile app marketing can be divided into two phases:

Advertising – to acquire new users on various websites/apps

Marketing – to boost revenue and engagement from existing users

Mobile Strategy

The Why

Now that we have covered the basics of mobile app marketing, let’s dive deeper into its importance.

Why do you need a mobile app marketing?

Starbucks launched its app back in 2011. Initially, the app’s use case was limited for just delivering rewards such as free coffee to customers who were using the app. But over the last few years, Starbucks leveraged its app marketing efforts and by the end of 2015, about 21% of all the company’s transactions occurred through the app.

How they did it?

The company used a range of app marketing techniques in its overall strategy to drive user engagement. A few noteworthy tactics include:

In-app Messaging:

This technique proved to be imperative and a successful element in the entire marketing campaign. Customers were sent personalized messages and notifications to fill out surveys. As the user took part in these surveys, he/she is rewarded with more stars. When the customer collects a certain number of stars, he/she would be provided with a free beverage.


Starbucks took the app’s engagement to the next level by enabling users to save the songs heard in any of the company’s outlet and provided a seamless listening experience by way of offering a saved playlist that the user could listen to when they left the outlet.

Free Offers:

Starbucks offered special discounts, free offerings, birthday gifts etc. to all users so that they use the app regularly.

Additionally, the company incorporated a loyalty program, with some added features such as mobile order & pay etc.

The result?

Starbucks gained highly exceptional results. During February 2016, about 7 million orders were placed through the app in the United States. It is estimated that 11 million individuals are currently using the mobile application!

This case study serves as an excellent example of how an effective marketing campaign can leverage adoption rates and boost engagement levels of a mobile app.

However, with such highly successful cases, most marketers today undervalue the importance of mobile app marketing.

Developers feel that creating a unique and out-of-the-box app is enough to go viral and the word of mouth will take care of the rest. The truth is farther from this notion.

The number of downloads is no longer the only metric to measure the success of a mobile app. If the app is not marketed properly, individuals might as well uninstall it the very next day.

If you want more users to download your app, use it regularly, review it and recommend it to others, marketing is a must!

The How

Having discussed the importance of mobile app marketing, let’s now delve into the most crucial part.

How to Market Your Mobile App?

There are numerous best practices out there for mobile app marketing. But after having worked with numerous high-profile clients, we have come up with some extremely critical must-haves of every mobile app marketing campaign.

Analyze User Behavior:

Any effective marketing campaign needs a sharp buyer persona. You can’t market or even develop an app without powerful insights of your target consumer. These insights help you in engaging users in the correct manner.

Start by listing out some important and essential attributes for a better persona development.

These could include





-Income Bracket

In addition, you can also try consumer surveys, in-app feedbacks etc. for getting in-depth analysis of your user preferences. Also, identify the devices which are used by most of your audience.

Choose the Right Name and Icon for Your App:

The name of an app plays a critical role in its success. Make sure the name is not only unique but catchy as well. It is also highly recommended to include the app’s name in your list of keywords. This inclusion boosts your discoverability in app stores.

A well-designed icon also attracts potential customers. Your app icon should reflect your offerings and stand out in the user’s search results.

Better UX/UI Designs:

Before proceeding any further, please make a note that UI is not UX. There are many differences between UI and UX. UI is a lot closer to graphic design while UX is more technical and analytical.

If a user is impressed by UI/UX of the app, it is already a success. So, this aspect of a mobile app is critical and needs to be checked thoroughly even before the marketing campaign is formally launched.

App Store Optimization

App Store Optimization (ASO) is an extremely important and a must have the aspect of any app marketing campaign.

In fact, Forrester even claims that 63% of apps are discovered through app store searches.

But what is ASO?

ASO is the process of optimizing your app so that it ranks higher in the app store’s search results.

As the app ranks higher in the search list, its visibility increases. The primary goal of ASO is to drive more traffic to the app’s in-store page and encourage people to download the app.

Influencer Marketing

This is relatively a new marketing strategy if used correctly – influencer marketing can boost your download rate.

You can approach Influencer Marketing through numerous ways:

You could request an influencer to guest post on your website or you can reach out to notable tech related websites and request an article promoting your blog.

You could even ask relevant influencers to give a shout out for your app on various social media channels.

Creating the Hype

Before you launch your app, you need to plan a robust strategy to promote it.

Chalk out all the important platforms (social media, websites, press releases) on which your app should be promoted and plan promotional events accordingly.

You could contact sites such as CNET, PCMag to review your app to spread the word among a large number of relevant audience.

In addition to these best practices, you could always:

-Try email marketing

-Put up attractive screenshots to explain users about what they should expect

-Update users if one of their friend/relatives installs the app to boost engagement

-Ask users to register with their email address or phone number. This way you would have another channel to engage with them

Request feedback and reviews from existing users. Remember, a majority of your potential customers will look at the reviews before downloading the app.

We hope to have answered all your queries/doubts regarding mobile app marketing. Please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with us if you want to understand mobile app marketing better.

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about the author

Robby Gupta

Robby Gupta is the head of US operations for TechJini, Inc. He has had varied experiences working in New York, Cupertino, and Bangalore with packaged & amp; custom web and mobile app development for an assortment of industries. His current focus is Immersive Technologies, IoT, AI bots and their applications in the digital enterprise.

  1. Marcus Kay

    May 23, 2017

    Great post!

    I totally agree on the needs of a sharp buyer persona.

    And your point “Developers feel that creating a unique and out-of-the-box app is enough to go viral and the word of mouth will take care of the rest” is really spot-on.

    A lot of app entrepreneurs just think users will flock to their app because it is awesome.

    They just don’t get the importance of nailing down their buyer persona, and not even think about app marketing at all.

    In the current app market, you are already lucky to get a few daily downloads without any app marketing.

    What a shame. So many hard working hours are wasted!

    Another common reason is for this is…

    They don’t really have any marketing budget at all!

    So they just ignore any app marketing, and wish their app would fly.

    That’s a BIG mistake.

    Because there are lots of app marketing tricks that are totally free.

    I’ve written a mega post (> 6,000 words) about 36 free tips to increase app downloads.

    I hope your readers here can get a kick out of it :-_

    Either way, keep up the good work!