Do you want to own a successful mobile app?
We sure built a few, ranging from utility apps for end users to high-end B2B apps.
After years of hands-on experience in the mobile apps world, there are a few things we want to share with you about the marketing strategy and tactics that worked best within our mobile apps development process.
The mobile development lifecycle can be entirely different from one app to another, but this strategies work for all business apps or consumer apps.
And the tactics we’ll present have been tested times and times again with meaningful results, but keep in mind that we’re trying to provide you with testing scenarios that can make your mobile app strive in the app markets.
Mobile Apps Marketing and Development [Strategy &Tactics]
1. Marketing Research above all else
- Start the research phase a few months before the first line of code
Most of the time, this will save you development money, hundreds of iterations, and time above all else. Because a successful app will always reflect the time you and your team have put into this initial research, an important pillar of mobile product development.
- Always do in-depth research of your buyer personas
Quantitative research is crucial to any development project, and it comes with the territory when creating mobile apps.
But the true power comes from in-depth research of your buyer personas. It’s a world of information out there, you just have to find the right people to research and perform one-to-one and group concept testing.
To start out, you need to specifically write down all the details of who your target audience is and why it should use your mobile app. How is it improving their life and why they would keep using it?
Asking yourself and your team this is not nearly enough, so get some of your buyer personas into testing the mobile app’s concept.
Of course, you will need an MVP to really test your mobile app concept as people tend to better understand visuals.
Remember that core insights will always be in watching people use the product, so use heatmaps, user recordings, and actions / interactions analytics.
– Turn key findings and core insights into a viable Marketing plan and clear development scenarios
Research without clear action plans is useless, so make sure to right down and record everything in each step of the research phase.
What you develop upon the key findings of your quantitative and in-depth research until you reach clear user paths and actions.
Define possible functions within the app and plan for engagement and delight, even if it’s a B2B mobile app. The key is to achieve word of mouth organically, even if it’s between business peers.
*If it’s a B2C type of app, the moment you gather enough info about your buyer personas is the best time to start building the specific type of community you need to achieve that critical mass of users.
This can also be done for B2B, if there’s a community of professionals in your industry.
2. Mobile App (System) Design with a twist
Gathering all insights and putting them into a viable Marketing plan is good, but far from enough.
Turning each insight into an actionable, clear and simple function within the app will be crucial to your MAU numbers after the release date of your app. (MAU = monthly active users).
System design for mobile apps is very different from one app to another. Some need communication integration with huge online databases, thus extending the development phase; others require complicated communication with external databases and different APIs.
But there are some similarities you should consider:
2.1. The Marketing Strategy Basics
The first thing to consider with a mobile app system design is the problem you are trying to solve. Asking yourself and asking your team the real WHY behind the development should come even before the WHO.
Because developers tend to fall in love with the first mobile solution that comes to mind, the client has to always ask himself and his team how important is the problem at hand and always question developers if the first solution is indeed the best one.
Mobile apps advertising and promotion for user acquisition is never easy or low-cost.
After spending lots of time, budget on advertising, and trying out all promotional tactics we could think of, we came to the conclusion that what works best is in-app marketing, that is marketing built within the app.
This should be the first and the main pillar of your marketing strategy for creating successful mobile apps.
In-App Marketing focuses on specific user interactions like:
- App review requests, where time is of the essence (mostly at the 3rd opening)
- Social shares from within the app – a powerful distribution tool that with “creation” apps fuel ego baiting
- Help menu designed with exquisite simplicity
- Slide-out menu that’s not only highly visible
- Video welcome guide from someone in your team – to really connect with your users from the first interaction
- Monitoring and optimizing interactions and micro-interactions in each mobile app screen – using not only Google Analytics, but also behavioral analytics tools like Flurry.
Of course, partnerships post-app production are needed, but in-app marketing works wonders.
2.2. Mobile Apps Information Architecture – it has to consider the user above all else and mind the finest details when it comes to UI and usability within the app, user requests, interactions, and motivation.
User motivation is a process to consider, test and validate as often as possible. It’s not a process specific to this stage, but also an important post-production concern that should be improved all the time. It’s the only thing keeping mobile apps alive after that initial spike in downloads.
Spend time and put real effort in micro-interactions for the Help process. Because the Help section should never be just a section, but a walk-through process, built in every stage of your app, which will make a huge difference in app usage over time.
2.3. Design and redesign until you reach the most concise and clear design solution. It will sell the app for you.
The marketing research and the detailed buyer personas should drive the UI and app’s usability. But make sure to pay more attention to what users actually do than to what they say. Flurry analytics should be processed and transformed in new app functions and optimizations.
Strive for design clarity, remove clutter, and always test icons with real users.
Never forget to optimize resources and design for fast, almost mindless actions. The moment you make your users think about what a button does, that user will close your app or even worse, uninstall it.
Minimal design is something to always keep in mind when developing mobile apps. In our experience, minimal tends to work best as it reduces the user’s visual clutter and cognitive load. He’s on the go most of the times, so removing this kind of visual extras is lowering the processing time for finding the right function to click. Also, it’s mindful of the small screen, which makes us recommend it.
3. Mobile Apps, the Development stage
Develop one great feature and move up from there
When it comes to mobile apps, business people, professionals and end consumers look for simple, one-solution type of apps which will solve a specific issue. Considering this, iterative and Incremental development is the go to methodology.
But there are 2 other reasons you should strive for a single great feature:
Memorable UVP (unique value proposition) – people have a tendency to remember one single feature and thus, no matter how many features you develop, users will always tend to reduce it to a particular one that’s important to them. In addition, one association tends to work better and faster.
New app versions are a bullet-proof App Marketing tactic – every new version of a mobile app is a marketing tactic in disguise. New updated products get featured by most app markets, especially Apple and Google Play, thus always creating a spike in downloads, especially in the first day of the update.
After you have reached that critical mass of app users, always do minor updates. This will not only instill the sense of novelty in your users, but it will also make them perceive the app as more professional and consumer-oriented.
4. Mobile App Testing – Test, test, and test some more
The design and app development process might take some time, but testing should be an on-going process, constantly intertwining with the development stage. Marketing should also focus on testing and insure that tactics are implemented throughout the app.
Functional testing, system testing, user acceptance testing, usability and integration testing are the basic types of mobile app testing to consider.
The testing should not be left to the quality assurance teams, but to all the people opened to this, even non-tech people or especially them, because they can offer the most valuable feedback in terms of app’s usability.
The best mobile app testing you can do is buyer personas testing. That is why the Marketing Research phase is extremely important.
A community of users already interested in your app’s solution will be a great testing tool.
In the post-publishing phase, we highly recommend you test and redesign:
- The app’s logo, as it will definitely grow your download rates at least for one week, provided that is better than previous,
- The copy – your app description, internationalization included, as it never gets enough attention in the launching stage,
- Your app – always go for minor app improvements.
5. Publishing your Mobile App in the app stores – a 3 Steps release process
To ensure that your mobile app hits the market the right way, provide it with an enthusiastic user base. Building a community before building the app is a great way to win that first wave of mobile app users.
But even then, a mobile app’s release should be a 3 step process:
- Create a pre-release buzz and teasing by going for a PR campaign involving influencers or professionals targeted by your mobile app, as well as a supporting advertising campaign. We recommend you do this pre-release few weeks in advance to let the word of mouth do some work for you.
- Publish the app in the market with a great copy and first logo, as well as continuing the PR & Advertising Campaign. Go big with PR releases and pitch news authors and researchers to get coverage.
- Create a post-published app review campaigns using influencers and professionals in your industry. The best way to make sure you get enough post and pre-release media coverage is to split the influencers in your industry in two groups, one before the app is published and one after, with more detailed mobile app reviews.
The post-publishing phase of your mobile app’s lifecycle is a stand-alone strategy and a different discussion.
If you are in this stage right now, just remember the basics: keep testing, do bug fixes as fast as possible, and create a discussions board around your app, empowering users to become part of your app’s story, and always offer something before you ask for reviews.
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