How NOT to Promote Your App. Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting.

How to Promote Your App

If I could go back in time, one of the things I'd probably do is fix the mistakes I made during my course of app development. I've been making apps for over 6 years; and if there's one thing that I have noticed, publishing your app and sitting on your couch with a cup of coffee is far from the best way to get app installs.

In the first month of 2013 when I was just a boy, I released an app which I named Sciencia. It was my very first app on the store and it ended up being my most popular app for a long time. I took down the app after some time for a few reasons which I won't share though. After 3 years, that app gained over 10,000 installs.

Is that impressive?

Definite no!

Could the app have done much better?

Absolutely!

As a preview, let me tell you one thing I did wrong. I didn't promote. I literally built an app, wrote a crappy description about it, and published it hoping that some people would just stumble upon it and install it. It wasn't until I started blogging that I learnt one huge fact.

Promotion matters!

There are over 2.1 million apps on the play store and over 2 million in the app store. Putting an app out there without some sort of recognition isn't going to help you in any way. You need to learn how to promote your app. After all, unless your app isn't really useful and practical, chances that your app is going to go viral are almost zero.

If you are an experienced developer and you're here, I'm sure you've already dabbled with all sorts of app marketing techniques such as ASO and Social Media Marketing. It's great that you've started boosting your app installs. I'll still talk about these things, but I'll focus on tactics higher than these.

It's been 6 years since then, and I still have a lot of learning to do. So in the meantime, I'm going to tell you all that I did wrong when I published my app, and how to do these things correctly.

Phase 1: Before Launch

Mistake: Build a Crappy App, and Pray it Goes Viral.

Before you start sending in the hate please hear me out. If you've been on the internet for a while, you most likely have seen this. But this tip is not emphasized enough. If you really want to promote your app, you need to have an app to promote.

Let me use my app as an example. Sciencia was a learning app with literally copy and pasted information from Wikipedia. If I remember correctly, there were only eight topics I listed in the app. Oh and it had a calculator and a dictionary. That's about it.

Let's analyze everything wrong with that app.

#1 Nobody would like to install that app.

When I first built the app, my first guess was, students! Yes, it could help students in some way, but there are a few problems.

I mentioned that my app had eight topics about science with info from Wikipedia. If I wanted to learn about those topics, why shouldn't I just Google them. 

Also, my app had a calculator and a dictionary. There are already tonnes of those in the store. And those ones were far better. 

Therefore, the people who would happily use my app boils down to zero.

#2 The design could be compared to "poop on a stick"

Your app has to look really good. It also has to be built in a way that does not compromise the user experience. An great app with bad visuals is still a bad app. And my app was neither great, nor beautiful. That's a huge no no in my opinion.

#3 It didn't solve a problem or help the user

If your app isn't built for customisation or fun, it has to solve a problem. If it doesn't it doesn't add value to to the users life then why the hell would you consider promoting it. It actually is foolish in my opinion.

Solution: Build a GOOD App that Deserves to go viral

Now that you've seen what made my app horrible, lets see how we can make it worth installing.

First of all, you've gotta make it something the user wants. I know this sounds cliche but I actually mean it. An app that doesn't add value to a user's life, whether it's by entertaining the user or assisting the user, you need to make something that will make the user keep, or even promote the app.

Let's talk about the UI. A good user interface is not only one that's beautiful, it's also one that's practical. If you want to promote your app, you've gotta make it something that can be used easily. If you don't know how to make your app look good, you can check out UI designs online. A better UI makes for better app promotion.

I normally check for UI designs on Pinterest, Dribble and Google in case you're wondering.

Phase 2: During Launch.

There is one crucial thing you need to do here. App Store Optimisation or ASO for short.

Mistake: ASO Doesn't Matter.

To put it plainly, it does. If you have no clue on what ASO is, please, wait a while before you promote or even publish your app.

ASO does not only help your app rank above competitors, it also helps the user to find what they need (that should be your app by the way). For example, type "learn to code" in the play store. What do you see?


How to market your app


Those first 4 apps is where you need to rank. If you want to get more installs and you rank at the very bottom of your targeted keyword, then hold up. That's not gonna happen. ASO basically involves the following:


  • App Name
  • App Title in the Store
  • App Description
  • URL or App ID
  • App Screenshots and Picture Quality etc.


All the above need to be centered around one thing, your keywords. The reason those apps show up when you type learn to code is that all these things listed above have some element of that keyword. I'm not going to talk much about ASO here as it is a really long topic. But if you want to learn more about it, I suggest you read more from pro marketer Neil Patel. He helped me get started with ASO.

Solution: Utilise ASO to its full potential

Start by implementing keywords in your app id if your still coding. Afterward, implement keywords in your store title and name. Here's where things get fun. You have to write a really lengthy description. I know, this isn't true in some cases, but the longer the better. If you write a longer description with more spaced out keywords, you'll have a better chance of ranking higher.

Phase 3: After Launch

Now we're getting started! There are literally hundreds of ways to get your app installed noticed after you launch it. 

This is the part of promoting your app that I didn't listen to. After I released my app, I just left it there. In short, I published and prayed. I didn't actually work to achieve my goal. So I'm going to make a list of the things that you need to do to get your app noticed by people.

#1 Create a landing page

Please don't overlook this. If you're going to make an app, you can't live without a landing page. This won't increase your installs at first, but it will play a huge role later. Your landing page should look a bit like this:

image for how to promote your app


In that landing page, you're going to talk about your app and what makes it worth installing. You're going to tell your audience why they need it and why they should have it. Additionally, you're going to add a contact/support page where people can ask you questions. 

Don't know where to start?

You can build a free site on places like Wix.com, or blogger.com, but there are many alternatives out there. 

#2 Social Media Marketing

how to market your app and promote it facebook


If you have a following on Twitter or Instagram, friends on Facebook or even a group on WhatsApp, now is the time to utilise your social media. I'm still going to break down the process of getting installs through these means.

Let's start with one of the best options, twitter. If you have no twitter account now, its ok. If you have one with a thousand followers, that's better. But whether you have a following or no following on twitter, here's what you should do...

Tweet!

Well duh! I know some of you thought about that. But the process of getting app installs through tweeting is not as straightforward as it sounds. When I built my second app I decided to use twitter to promote it. But I had no idea what I was doing. As a result, I got no link clicks, and no installs.

After a long time, I finally figured out what I was doing wrong.

Mistake: Just Tweet About Your App. And if that Fails, Tweet Again!

twitter how to market your app

This already sounds dumb, but a lot of people do it. When tweeting, there are about 4 things you have to make sure you do.

#1 Content:

If you're going to get installs off twitter, you need to attract them first. It's not that easy to attract someone to your tweet when they are browsing through twitter, so you're going to need a proper headline to grab their attention. When tweeting, a bad idea would be to do this:
HeY EverYonE! I made an App Come check it oUt! https://www.applink.com/applink #lit #coolapp
I can see the facepalms now. If you do this then you should be at the bottom of the food chain (Just a joke, don't sue me). This is a very bad example of a captivating headline to draw people to your app. You need to write something that is going to make someone browsing through tweets pause for a moment and potentially click your link.

Let's say you build an app to help you find your phone. This is what a captivating headline looks like:

Lose your phone a lot? This #app could be a solution! #clumsy #iPhone #apps https://applink.com/applink
Compare this headline to the other one. See any difference? Well, for starters, it isn't cringy. Instead it is masterfully written. But be warned. If your app doesn't justify the header then your title dubs as clickbait and will lead to less installs instead of more.

#2 Hashtags:

Hashtags are what gets your tweet out to the world. Without hashtags, chances that anyone will see your tweet are near zero. In short, you need to make sure you add hashtags. And not just any hashtag, but hashtags that are trending. This is key if you want to promote your app.

#3 Images:

Do you know that tweets with images get more engagement? Without images, drawing the attention of your audience won't be easy. These images may not necessarily be images of your app. They could also be visual representations of what your app can do.

#4 A link to your landing page:

So now you've added the perfect hashtags, and you've found splendid images. Now you have to include the link to your landing page. This will show users the potential of your app and give them a reason to install it.

If you apply those 4 elements, you have a perfect tweet. But be warned, do not spam your twitter. This can end up being counter-productive.

Solution: Spend Time Building a Good Tweet that Will Attract Viewers.

The same thinking applies to instagram and potentially facebook. Posting on instagram is basically the same thing as tweeting, but you have to focus more on your media.

Now on facebook and whatsapp, you have to do just one thing. Join groups. These groups aren't just going to be any type of group. You're going to sign up for groups that falls into your app's category. Once you do that, apply the same thinking above and post. I should also mention that using hashtags on facebook and WhatsApp groups is uneffective; so you can deal without them.

#3 Posting on Forums and Q/A sites

reddit how to market your app

This is one of the most effective ways I can think of. But, it is also risky. I use reddit and quora for a lot of things ranging from browsing on forums or contributing in subreddits and answering questions. But I rarely promote my own content and/or apps, and the times I do it, I proceed with caution.

Mistake: Spamming Reddit or Quora Will Get Fast Installs.


Truth is, it most likely will. But it will yield terrible results. When I started blogging, I spammed so much on reddit and quora. Using that tactic, I got 3000 pageviews on my blog that day. But these results are only short term. After a while, you will definitely get banned, after all, I was banned from tonnes of subreddits. Doing this can also attract trolls to your app, who just want to give it a bad review. This is a definite "no no" in promoting an app

Solution: Actually Participate

You don't just post in reddit to promote your app. You will definitely fail. So for the first bit of your time on reddit, don't even mention your app. Wait about a week or two while actively commenting and participating. After a while, casually drop it in. You will definitely see results.

Same applies to Quora. Spamming on quora can get you kicked out. You need to participate actively and one day, talk about your app while answering. People will get curious and check it out. Trust me.

Also, don't be limited to reddit and quora. There are tonnes of other forums on the net.

#4 Make a blog

person typing how to promote your app


You have every right to say no to this one. After all, it won't affect your app promotion that much. But if you make a blog now and promote it while simultaneously running app promotion, the results will be spectacular.

If you're interested in this tip, please go ahead. If you have the time and resources to start a blog, head here. If you have no money, you can use a free service like blogger or wix.

Oh, and blogging can get you extra cash! Just thought I'd let you know.

#5 Going offline

going offline how to market your app

If you've got some money and a printer, it's time to get busy! You can design and print about 5 - 20 posters and post them at various places where people can see it. In some areas, people allow you to put up your posters for free. If you have that opportunity, go for it!

This isn't compulsory though. It can be a good way to get more local installs, but not everyone has this opportunity.

Now tell your friends and family to install it. Turns out, that first 50 installs are very crucial in your app success. Try to get them to review the app too.


Conclusion

That's a wrap! I hope you enjoyed this article. And I'm sure that if you apply everything I've talked about, you'll be able to get a decent amount of app installs, at least, more than I did.

Also, you can get a free app promotion schedule down below that utilises the same tips


Get a Free App Promotion Schedule To help you get your first 10K Installs


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