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A recipe for a successful mobile app marketing plan – the secret lies in the ingredients – part 5


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The optimal mix for your marketing plan, considering your objectives, budget and more
This is the last in a series of trainings, discussing the optimal mix of activities, considering objectives, budget and more. Here we continue with the tools and also talk of App Stores Optimization (ASO). We will as well provide some advice on an optimal plan for any budget level.

The first part discussed some considerations in deciding on your objectives and setting up your budget; the second part talked about public relations based tactics, from traditional PR, to industry events, social media and content marketing; the third part discussed user acquisition campaigns; and the fourth part discussed ATL advertising and on-street promotions.

Fourth area of marketing activities to consider: App Store Optimization – (ASO)

ASO is a relatively new term. Similarly to the web, it refers to the process and measures you can take within your app’s page in the store. It refers to what you can do in order to improve your app’s rank and climb to the highest place possible (in your specific app category and in the general store). It’s the app stores SEO (search engine optimization).

There are around ~1M apps in each store (iTunes or Google play), meaning you have no choice but to invest in ASO if you want to get your app discovered. Otherwise, there are good chances that your app will be buried under tons of similar apps, never to be found.

ASO mainly serves discoverability. It helps you:

  • Get easily found on the store (most of the searches for apps are done through the store’s search mechanism) 
  • Get  you app outrank the competition, and generally speaking as high as possible 
  • Appear in searches of relevant keywords and be well ranked in this list 

iTunes ranking algorithm is different than the Google play one. Apple gives more weight to total number of downloads. Until recently it was their main ranking parameter, so you could have used burst campaigns to climb and be as high as #1 within an hour from campaign start!!! Recently, the algorithm has changed and now it gives more weight to additional parameters as well. Google’s algorithm considers many parameters, such as external links, web traffic, reviews, app actual usage and so forth.

Let’s consider 2 main use cases for a user searching for an app: General exploring (window shopping style) vs. intent-based search:

  • Potential users can just explore and browse the store without really knowing what they are looking for. It’s just like hanging out in a big mall and checking out what’s going on. Similarly to window shopping, users are hoping something would catch their eye (or in our case hoping nothing would catch their eye, but some nice goodies always do, and the wallet is opened J). In this case ASO should focus on discovery through high ranking (general store and specific category), and through being featured in the store special highlight areas.  
  • Potential users can search for a specific app (serve an immediate need, heard about it, etc.). They can search through a variety of channels such as Google, app directories and so forth. Many researches show that most likely they will type a related keyword/term or the app name in the search mechanism of the app store. In this case, ASO should make sure the app appears in relevant keywords search, and that it’s ranked as high as possible, at least higher than the direct competition.

ASO is greatly supported by all the tactics discussed up to this point in our series (e.g., social media push, network conversations and user acquisition strategies).

Very similarly to SEO, results (stabilized ranking, search results optimization) are starting to show only after a while, and only following investment through many tools simultaneously. ASO is also built on massive trial and error (around keywords for example).

ASO isn’t magic. Even if you will recruit the best ASO agency out there, you’ll still need to put extra effort around social, digital, user acquisition and so forth, to make sure you get optimal results.

In summary, ASO is not a magical trick. It’s a growing discipline, focused on ranking and visibility in the app stores. It uses a set of tools that should be used in your marketing plan, helping you achieve your overall objective anyway. So you see, all your marketing tactics are very much connected and influence each other. ..

Prioritize your marketing activities, choose the right mix given your objectives and constraints, and you will have many of your ASO work covered.  Don’t forget to pay extra attention to your download page (texts, screenshots, video, etc.), and keywords definitions during your app submission.

You could use an ASO agency or DIY quite well. You can find many helpful tools online. Here is one example: Check out mobiledevhq. It’s a nice platform designed to help app developers analyze and optimize their rank, keywords and more. They offer free basic subscription, and premium services for reasonable and fair prices.

Measurement is easy: compare your initial rank and the movement (hopefully upwards) after you’ve started your ASO work.

Required budget can be relatively low considering you’ve already invested in website, social and so forth.

As in most activities, it is time consuming as well when you have no external help.

Finally – it’s a user acquisition tool. The higher you are ranked on the store and the higher you appear following relevant searches, the higher the number of downloads you will enjoy.  However, ASO is also helpful in increasing awareness, as the more times your icon and details appear in front of users, the higher brand recognition you achieve, with your brand identified, remembered and appreciated.

App marketing plan series – wrap up

We wish we could share with you a complete, readymade marketing plan for your app, we just wish. Well, that’s impossible. Every app has its own given conditions, market, limitations and many more crucial elements to consider before building, fine-tuning and aligning its marketing plan.

We could, though, share some recommendations regarding the prioritization and selection of activities:

Got minimal to no-budget level?

You’d probably want to run most things yourself; minimal external agencies involvement as well as minimal paid acquisition campaigns.

In this case, rely heavily on PR (including social) and ASO activities:

  • PR
    • Develop relationships with relevant bloggers and journalists. Use news wires and additional 3rd party tools you can find on the web.
    • Be active in relevant forums and groups
    • Attend events, mingle and keep hunting for free speaking opportunities. Try building relationships with relevant associations in your market; they can help bring nice opportunities to the table.
    • Choose the relevant social networks for your app – build your profile or pages even before the launch. Plan your posts (content and frequency). Initiate viral contests every now and then. Always try to make your social activities viral to enhance the ripple effect of each activity.
  • ASO
    Make sure you build a website (consider using low budget hosted and managed templates such as WIX). Create as many external links as possible to your app download page. Use Keyword optimization tools. Work on your app’s download page – copy and visual elements. Monitor your app’s rank and keyword search performance.

Got some budget?

Add some user acquisition push to the mix (start with mobile ads. ATL should be an add-on if budget allows).

You will most likely need an agency for that. After you’ll brief them on your objectives and constraints, they will recommend which ads to use and will help build the acquisition campaign(s). Make sure they cover the creative, analytics and optimization parts of the campaign as well, and check with them ahead of time to see if you need to integrate a certain SDK (software development kit) on your app’s client side (for measurement purposes), as this can take some time and preparation.

Got extra budget still?

Boy, you are lucky!

Get help! You can use the help of professional agencies – PR, social media, marketing communication and project management, or any additional help that comes to mind. You can find great agencies for anything these days. Just make sure they have the exact experience that you are looking for and check references from other clients. You don’t need to find yourself wasting time on managing a frustrating relationship with a bad and disappointing agency.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The activities described here represent a major portion of the possible app marketing plan mix. By no means does it cover everything that you can do for marketing your app. We focused on the most common areas of activity. Note that we go deeper into each topic in a dedicated “know-how” training, designed to teach you what you need to know in order to run your app marketing activities, A to Z. You can find these trainings at:

Thank you and good luck!

Elli is one of Co-Founders, a mobile expert and a mentor. Having years of experience in the mobile and marketing industry promoting popular mobile apps and B2B related services. Presenting specific expertise on users' acquisition strategies, PR, social media, product marketing, BizDev integrations and more
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