15 App Marketing Strategies to Boost Mobile Engagement

Alex Danchenko

Co-founder, Reteno

October 13, 2022

In the fiercely competitive market of mobile apps, you can’t just sit back and watch your app grow.

Mobile app marketing covers every touchpoint across every funnel stage ‒ pre-download, onboarding, and post-download. If you’re shooting for long-term app growth, you can’t afford to drop the ball at any stage.

In this article, we’ve put together a list of our favorite app marketing strategies.

Quick Overview: Why You Should Leverage App Marketing

Mobile is more popular than ever. Users in top mobile-first markets spend 4 hours and 48 minutes a day on mobile apps, and this brings in billions of dollars in revenue. But to make money from apps, businesses have to spend money - last year, global ad spending topped $295 billion.

 

If you're not sure whether being mobile matters or why you need to market your apps in a specific way, your competitors are already on it. Mobile marketing accounted for 18.5% of marketing budgets in 2020 (U.S. businesses), and this is projected to grow to 23.3% this year. So, if you don’t invest in a marketing plan for an app, someone else will.

Mobile app marketing is typically used to:

  • Attract users (acquire new users, engage existing users, and win back dormant users)
  • Increase revenue
  • Build a stronger brand
  • Improve customer loyalty
  • Establish a direct marketing channel

Now, let’s discuss the fifteen mobile marketing strategies that we’ve shortlisted for you.

1. App Store Optimization Is a Must

Apple app store listing elements

Search engines in app stores operate in a similar way to Google or Bing. They are also designed to show apps based on short keywords and phrases in users’ queries. Moreover, the search engine itself can suggest potential keywords and app names to complete queries.  

Wide-scale app recognition is the shortcut to search visibility. But if you don’t have it yet, you should focus on ASO. App descriptions on some stores will require more tweaking, so look into the specifics of each. In most cases, you will focus on your target keywords, e.g., “puzzle,” “food delivery,” “reading,” etc.

2. Focus on App Store Ads

In addition to generating organic traffic to the app page, you can boost your presence and visibility through ads. Advertising an app on an app store is essentially the same as running a pay-per-click campaign with Google Ads.

Choose the keywords that matter the most - like Marvel’s “comics” or Trello’s “to-do list” ‒ and pay for every click that it derives. Paid ads put your app in front of a huge audience of potential users without you having to wait or fight for your spot at the top of the search results. 

3. Use Smart Customer Segmentation & A Data-Driven Approach

If you market your app with a one-size-fits-all approach across different user groups, you’ll likely lose some of them. The same message will be effective for one category of users and ineffective for another. But you don’t have to lose one user to gain the other.

Divide users into small groups based on various factors like age, location, preferences, buying stage, and other factors, and adjust how you promote your product for each segment. 

Effective segmentation must be data-driven. For instance, at Reteno, we connect all your data sources to learn as much information about your potential customers as possible and enrich your content strategy.

4. Use Viral Loops to Attract New Users

Viral loops are a marketing strategy for app products designed to entice your existing users to refer your product to others. Some of the best examples of viral loops are Dropbox offering free storage space for referrals, Candy Crush with its game boosters for inviting Facebook friends, and highly shareable Buzzfeed quizzes. 

There are several techniques for creating viral loops - incentives, shared experiences, invite-only buzz, etc. Not every type of loop will make sense for your app. The bottom line is that you need to create something worth sharing.

5. Create App Landing Pages

One of the best ways to market an app is to reinforce your messaging outside app stores. Create a webpage or an entire website that acts as a “showroom.” 

Your app’s landing page should be clean, attractive, and user-friendly and contain the app’s description, features, and value propositions. Include images and a demo video to show different screens and functionalities within the app. Features like call-to-action buttons and links are also useful for driving conversions.

You can even create a website before the app goes live and send out email alerts to anyone interested.

6. Run App Install Ads

Our second tip was to advertise inside app stores. But there are numerous other platforms to run ads on. 

Search engines and social media can drive lots of traffic to your app and increase downloads, so start there. If you have a tight budget, you can focus on two or three key social media platforms. It helps if you already know where you’ll find your target users (insights from segmentation). 

Postmates and BetterMe used to run ads on Pinterest and Snapchat because that’s where their gen Z and millennial users were at the time. Now, they’re using Instagram Promo to drive installs.

7. Use Best Onboarding Practices

Onboarding

Long onboarding sequences can ruin all your efforts, regardless of how good your mobile app marketing strategy is. Tedious multi-step onboarding is almost a guarantee for a user drop-off (unless the app is from a well-established brand). 

Quick, intuitive onboarding is essential for signups. And the more users sign up and get hooked on your app, the more will be coming back later. It’s also the perfect time to communicate the app’s value and explain how it works. So, work on function-oriented, progressive, and benefits-oriented flows with your designers and developers.

8. Cross-Promote

If you have already published other apps, you can promote your newest addition with in-app ads. Thus, you’ll maximize the lifetime value of each user at the portfolio level versus just the app level. Alternatively, you can cross-post across multiple social networks, promoting the app in a way that suits the audience and interface. 

This marketing technique is very common in the gaming vertical, especially in the hyper-casual gaming segment. But there is nothing stopping you from cross-promoting your app across your app portfolio or on social media. It can drive growth and customer retention regardless of the industry. 

If you’re not sure how to market your app with cross-promotion, look at your competitors. 

9. Gamify App Interactions

Gamified elements within a non-game app motivate people to use it more. You don’t even need to rebuild the app - just add interactive experiences into the existing build. Thus, you’ll make previously mundane activities fun.

Gamified mobile marketing strategy example: Duolingo

By implementing the game mechanic of levels, Duolingo drastically increases the learning value of our courses and boosts user engagement. It uses all the elements you could ask for: internal currency (lingots), social interaction (Facebook invites), competitiveness (scoreboard, badges for achievements), and point-based rewards.

10. Create Highly Personalized Content & Recommendations

Here is another callback to customer segmentation. Rely on your knowledge of your users to make previously mundane activities fun and create the type of content they’ll enjoy. Important note: people are more responsive to personalization based exclusively on information they've volunteered. If you use third-party sources, your users may feel violated. 

A good example of personalized content comes from Evernote. The brand understands that its users are interested in productivity, goal setting, and app usage tips; hence, its content covers these topics. 

There is another more famous player that leverages highly personalized content - Netflix. Their algorithms have over 2,000 clusters of consumers, each of them seeing a slightly different layout of the main screen.

11. Get Your Push Notifications Right

Before you can convey messages, offers, or other information to your users through push notifications, you need to communicate their value. The opt-in message is the perfect place to explain how users will benefit from receiving your push messages. You’ll get more opt-ins if you give users the option to decide what notifications to receive.

Here are other recommendations to get it right: 

  • Leverage the right moments 
  • Keep it concise and fun
  • Don’t spam
  • Pique curiosity
  • Localize
  • Test, test, test

12. Encourage Ratings and Reviews

One of the best mobile app marketing best practices is getting positive reviews from real users. Of course, you can’t control the content of the reviews. But the end results are worth the risk. What’s more, even negative reviews can help you get more downloads if you address them and communicate with the person under their original review.

To maximize 5-star reviews, tag your power users and prompt them to evaluate your app. Before asking your dormant users to rate the app, send them a push to revive their interest in it.

13. Act On User Feedback

Show that users who share feedback are active participants in making the app better. By making them feel appreciated and heard, you create positive connotations with your brand. Plus, the user who wrote the review and those who read it are more likely to use the feature in question, knowing that it has recently been improved. 

That said, you’ll have to be careful about applying feedback to product management. Consider the maintenance, debugging, and additional server load of each new feature. But sometimes, suggested improvements are well worth the effort.

14. Win Users Back with Incentives

Incentives to bring users back

Locate leaks in your sales funnel and engage users right before they drop off. These are the top selling ideas for apps:

  • Discounts & promotions - Nudge first-time visitors to conversion with an introductory promotion. For example, offer free first delivery or a free upgrade. Consider offering another deal around the time when many users churn.
  • Loyalty programs - Stir up engagement with points programs, cashback, punch card programs, and tiered programs, targeting your loyal, long-term users and dormant users separately. 
  • Seasonal content - Plan your marketing calendar based on holidays, events, and seasons that your users care about. For example, relaunch your app with Christmas-themed activities.

15. Employ Omnichannel Techniques

While having a mobile app with highly engaged users is beneficial, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Ensure seamless integration of branding, messaging, and touchpoints as customers move down the sales funnel. It includes digital interactions like push notifications, SMS, email, in-app messages, and web notifications, as well as customers’ real-life experiences with your brand. 

If managing customer events, motivations, and friction points across different channels gets overwhelming, consider automating certain business processes. For instance, mobile marketing automation can help you efficiently profile customers and execute your messaging strategy.

Still unsure how to get people to download your app or how to make them stay? Discuss your marketing campaign for your mobile app with our team at Reteno, and we’ll bring active interactions to your applications.

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