So you’ve spent months building your mobile application and it is safely submitted to Apple’s AppStore, RIM’s AppWorld or Android’s Market Place. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the spoils and riches that will come pouring in as soon as it goes live.
If you are one of the many (unbelievably) that think building the application is the hard part, that sales and marketing are not important or that the app stores themselves offer the best awareness-making for your app then this list is for you. I say this with certainty that marketing is more than 99% of the effort that goes into application development for mobile devices.
So here, without further delay, are the first 5 things you can do to help market your app — beyond just putting in the App Stores and hoping.
- Create a web site
I know, old school but absolutely necessary. If you don’t have a site that clearly articulates the reason for someone to drop some cash or to instill confidence, people will be reluctant to buy your product. A few more hints: Always include a way for someone to get help/support for technical issues – and be RESPONSIVE. Always include a demo movie or tutorial on the site to show what it is like to maneuver within your product. Always have plenty of screen shots to showcase the product. Always include testimonials from actual users — if you don’t have any, use the App Store comments/feedback (as long as it is good) and NEVER just stream the feedback from the various stores to your website without vetting them first. Bad reviews don’t help and there are bound to be some. Some great examples are PumpOne’s Fitness Builder website and Zeebu Mobile’s BabyGo! site.
- Start listening to your potential customers
Set up an RSS reader account (such as Google Reader) and search for key terms that describe your product, describe the pain of your customer or even your competitors product. Searches should be in Google, Google news, Google blog search and Twitter. Monitor this daily and start engaging with the conversations that are going on around you. You need to be a part of it through Facebook, Twitter and the blog world.
- Engage with the influencers
I do think you need to submit your application to as many review sites as possible but that is an ongoing and never-ending process. While that continues, I would suggest you find the key 10 — those in the media, be they bloggers, video bloggers (hint), podcasts or print folk — and start engaging with them. If they cover the space your app targets and you follow them then you know they can have a big impact on awareness for your application.
- Market the story as well as the app
Huh? The app is only half the story, the development process, the highs and lows, the places it was built and the obstacles overcome make up the rest. Here’s a perfect example. A company I interviewed for UNTETHER.tv, Glitchsoft, are launching a bartending time management game and the lead developer’s story is as interesting as the game. He works, hard. He found investment from one of Canada’s ONLY billionaires (Terry Matthews). He credits Starbucks, ViaRail and various hockey arenas as the place he wrote the most code and, for good measure, had a management change about 6 weeks before launch. What’s your story? Use it.
- Write to be found
Opportunities abound to help your app be found and you should be using each and every one to their fullest. Write about the market your application targets — for your blog or someone else’s (preferably an influencer). Write your descriptions and keyword search terms for the application stores as though you were looking for your product, not as the developer. Create keyword-rich content for your website. Create a Twitter hashtag and use it on every tweet. The more ways to be found, the more terms that lead to your application, the higher the conversion.
These are just the basics and take time — I mean a lot of time — to get right but marketing is more important than the development of the product because this effort needs to sustained throughout the life of the product. Develop, deploy and develop the next product and relying on the marketing might of the stores rarely works — you have a greater chance of winning the lottery than being a featured AppStore app — so focus on building your brand at the same time as aiming for the panacea of mobile app awareness bliss.