With a staggering 1.6 million apps in Google Play and another 1.5 million apps in Apple’s App Store, the global app market has never looked more crowded. For mobile users, this translates to an endless variety of apps to enjoy and explore. For app developers, however, it means that the competition has never been tougher. It’s no longer enough to have an innovative, breath-taking app in order to stand out in the ranks – at least not without a suitable, brilliantly-executed marketing plan. Why spend all that time, money, and those resources to develop an app, just to see it fail in the store? Here are eight crucial mistakes you must avoid when it comes to marketing your app:
1. Treating mobile like it’s desktop
Let’s put it on the table – a mobile phone is not a small desktop. You can’t just shrink down your desktop experience and expect it to work well. Mobile apps have different characteristics and should be designed to provide a different experience. The app should fit into the dynamic on-the-go mobile phone ecosystem and should be simple to use, quick, and intuitive.
2. Trying to disguise a mobile website as an app
Mobile website are not apps – even if they are often disguised as such. Users are no fools and they can easily distinguish native apps from mobile websites and will often prefer the former over the latter. Native apps can indeed be a pain to work with for the developers, but they look and work much better, offer higher levels of interactivity, and can also work offline – on buses, subways, and planes.
3. Launching without proper a marketing plan
It doesn’t matter how innovative and amazing your app is, chances are it won’t market itself. You will need to create a strong marketing plan and give users reasons for downloading your app, and even more important, ways to discover and access the app. Your marketing efforts must start as early as possible. Define your app’s audience, identify your core issues and innovative solutions, map the field, and identify your main competitors. Make sure to set aside a budget for marketing and work closely with mobile marketing experts (see below).
4. Marketing your app in-house
Many advertisers try to manage all their marketing efforts in-house. Yet different fields of marketing each have their own unique, important characteristics. Web and mobile marketing, for example, for all their seeming similarity, are very different. Specifically, the mobile app market is a very competitive market, one that has little mercy or room for halfhearted attempts. This is why it is important to use experts and to employ companies who excel and specialize in mobile marketing.
5. Neglecting retention engines
As many app developers already know, getting downloads is only half the battle. The real challenge is in getting people to keep coming back to your app. You have to create an ongoing value for your users, to understand how and why they use your app, and create retention and engagement mechanisms.
6. Ignoring your users
With all due respect to your family, friends, and employees, when it comes to getting real honest feedback on your app – there is no replacement for users’ comments and reviews. Ignoring your users’ feedback can hurt you both in the short term (public App Store customers’ reviews and ratings) and in the long term (creating a low in-app retention and inhibiting social sharing). It is not only about listening to your customers, though: it’s about creating effective two-way communication and responding to your audience – in the App Store reviews, on your blog or social website accounts, and in making relevant changes and improvements to your app.
7. Not taking advantage of data analytics
There is no excuse, really, in this day and age for not taking advantage of the vast data originating from users’ app usage, and for not optimizing marketing efforts in real time accordingly. Measure everything you can, even it doesn’t seem too important at first. The data might come in handy later on. Base your decisions on data, rather than on gut feelings and whims. Make sure to pay attention to the right data metrics, such as:
- Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and Conversion Rate (CR)
- Engagement, retention rates, and post-install events
- In-app choke points (where do users stop interacting with your app)
- Daily Active Users (DAU)
- Average time spent in the app
- App crushes
- Monetization stats (Average Revenue Per User – ARPU)
8. Not thinking about monetization
You’ve spent a lot of time and effort on your app. And most likely, you haven’t done so out of good-natured philanthropic intentions. Yet, assuming that monetization will take care of itself, or that your app’s good name and brilliant execution will be enough to cover costs, is likely to lead to disappointment (not to mention bankruptcy). It’s important to consider monetization early on, to build a solid, thought-out monetization strategy, and to integrate it as seamlessly as possible into your app’s user flow and experience. Research other apps in your app category – how do they monetize? Do they charge users for their app, or have a subscription model? Or maybe they prefer the freemium model and rely on in-app purchases and in-app ad revenues. Whatever model you choose to implement, make sure you do it early on. Pay attention to users’ feedback and actions, and adapt your monetization strategy accordingly.