Promoting your app in a hyper-crowded marketplace

The mobile app market is exploding — and that’s putting it mildly. Gartner says less than 0.01 percent of consumer mobile apps will be considered a financial success by their developers through 2018. Free apps will make up 94.5 percent of downloads and by 2017, apps will be downloaded more than 268 billion times.. Brian Blau, research director at Gartner, says: “There is an app for practically anything a connected consumer may want to achieve.”

The negative outlook for developers looking to monetize their apps is compounded by the vast number of free applications: Users are becoming less and less likely to pay for an app, and their expectations from a paid app are increasing.

The Gartner report notes that not all mobile apps are geared at generating revenue. Some developers code out of interest or for popularity; some are aimed at driving brand identity. But regardless of purpose and revenue, what goes into the making and marketing of a successful mobile app? In an earlier post, we listed a few pointers for a successful app launch. Here are seven tips for promoting your app more effectively, before and after launch — and how to build an app that’s more likely to be noticed.

Identify what the competition is missing. However imaginative you are, it’s very difficult to come up with a truly unique app in terms of functionality. Consider that there are now more than 1.2 million apps just on the iOS App Store. Rather than trying to improve on an existing (good) app, look for what the competition is missing. Or, look at how you can make your app more user-friendly.

It’s easier to market a free app first, and monetize via-app products and subscriptions. Google Play doesn’t let you change a free app to paid. On the iOS App Store, though, you can experiment with a free-to-paid strategy — and also the other way round. If you go from paid to free, the publicity from review websites and blogs can make the switch worth it.

Promote it personally before and just after the launch. Talk to people on Twitter and Facebook about your app. Create a Facebook group and a Google+ Community of people who’d be interested in the app. Ask all of your friends to download it and give it a 5-star rating, and also get feedback so you can improve your app.

Hire a copywriter for the app name and description. Even if your app is truly unique, these elements are important deciders of whether people click your app. The app’s name should be descriptive and also distinctive — for example, you don’t want to call it “insta____.” Achieving this balance can be challenging. Along the same lines, consider hiring a designer for your app’s icon.

Think of new ways to mix and match the functions of a smartphone’s accelerometer, gyroscope, and other sensors. One example is an innovative app that uses GPS data, astronomical data, the phone’s camera, and orientation to “label” the night sky with the names of stars and planets when you point at it.

Remember that app stores are accessed globally. If you can afford it, consider a Global ASO service to localize your app’s name, keywords, and description. A whopping 72 percent of users are more likely to buy a product that offers information in their language — and keyword localization can increase app downloads almost eight-fold!

You will probably test your app rigorously before launch: Just one bug can generate too many one-star reviews. But you also have to test the effectiveness of your marketing. Mobile analytics services — such as Flurry, for example, which gathers usage data from more than half a million apps — help you with targeted ad campaigns. Insights into your users and usage patterns can help you improve your app.

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