How to market your Android app

May 26, 2014
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google play store nexus 5 1Once you have an app uploaded and published in the Google Play Store, your next task is to promote the app. Since there are over 1 million apps in the Play Store, the chances of someone finding your app without any sort of promotion (either internally by Google or externally by you) is literally 1 in a million.

The first step in promoting your app is to build an app that is worth promoting.

App discovery is still a big issue in the Play Store. According to a 2013 report by Distimo, new publishers accounted for just 3 percent of the top 250 apps in the Play Store and they took just 1.2 percent of the revenue. The big names have the budget and the existing presence to promote new apps, while independent developers struggle to get seen.

So what can you do to promote your app?

One thing you must understand is that no amount of marketing, advertising and promotion is going to make a bad app popular. The first step in promoting your app is to build an app that is worth promoting.

DIY

Once you have a good app the first step to promoting your it is to tell your friends. Your friends are more likely to download and install your app because they know you. They are also a good way to get feedback about your apps. What do they like about it? What annoys them? And so on. They are also a good way to find out the longevity of your app. Do they still use it after a week?

Make sure you include a link to your app.

Next is social media. You may have already used Facebook, G+ and Twitter to tell your friends about your app, if you haven’t make sure you do. Also try to get your contacts to re-share your post about the¬†app. Make sure you include a link to your app. Google has a whole page explaining how you can link to your products. The easiest way to generate the right link is to find your app in the Play Store, and then just cut and paste the URL from your web browser. The official format is:

http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=<package_name>

Where “<package_name>” is the app’s fully qualified package name, as declared in the manifest file.

You can also generate a link for all the apps you have published. To create the link, you need to know your publisher name, which is available from the Developer Console. The links look like this:

http://play.google.com/store/search?q=pub:<publisher_name>

Offer your existing apps at a promotional price to 'celebrate' the launch of the new app.

If you already have apps in the Play Store you can leverage those to promote your new app. There are several ways to do this. One way is to offer your existing apps at a promotional price to “celebrate” the launch of the new app. This promotion should also be shared on social media etc.

You can also use “in-house ads” with any of your apps, which are already using mobile advertising. Many advertising platforms don’t charge for “in-house ads” and they let you promote your own apps in the space that would normally be used for advertising other products or services.

A third way is to modify your existing apps to specifically promote your new creation. You will need to upload a new version with the built-in promotional material. Your existing users will get notified about the update via the Play Store. To promote your new app you can use a built-in interstitial, greeting message, link within the main menu, and so on.

It is also worth sharing the news about your new app on the various Android forums. The Android Authority Forums have a special place for developers to share info about their new apps.

Advertising

Although¬†¬†these DIY methods¬†are a good start, alone they won’t be enough to launch your app to the top of the charts. Unless you are lucky enough for your app to go viral, like Flappy Bird, you are going to need to spend money to make money. The simplest way to promote your app is to use mobile advertising. If your app already displays apps then you can use the same mobile platform to promote your app.

Google’s Admob service allows you to design a mobile ad and start a promotional campaign. Getting started is quite easy and the service has sophisticated built-in analytics which let you see the number of ad impressions, the number of taps, and the number of people that installed your app as a result of the advert. To stop you from unexpectedly spending hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on your ads, you are able to set a daily budget.

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Your ad needs to be eye-catching, clear and include a call to action.¬†An ad which just says “cool new game” isn’t going to get many taps. You need to use enticing verbs and phrases like “challenge”, “beat”, “defend” and so on. Then you need to include a call to action: “Play for free”, “Download now”, and so on.

It is important that you use the analytic data. If you see your ad isn’t producing many downloads then change it. You can run several different ads simultaneously, see which ones perform better and use it. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Hold the Front Page

If you can get your app noticed by “the media” then your downloads will likely be boosted significantly.¬†There are several different categories¬†of “media”, each with its own sphere of influence. Beside the main stream media like the BBC, CNN and so on, there are popular sites like Android Authority¬†and other tech sites which cover apps, games and new developments.

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There are two ways to get the attention of the media. The first is to use a press release. You might think that the heyday of the press release has been and gone, but actually they are still a powerful asset in promoting product launches and other news worthy events. As a writer here at Android Authority, I love press releases. Even if Samsung, Sony, LG or HTC hold a big glitzy launch event, I always try to find the corresponding press release.

A good press release gives a journalist instant access to the key facts plus quotes from the key people.

A good press release gives a journalist instant access to the key facts plus quotes from the key people. For smaller companies it adds the human angle and helps the journalist tell a story. There are lots of online press release services around. Two of the top ones are PRWeb and Business Wire. A good starting point to understanding press releases is the free eBook Press Releases on Wheels.

The second way to get the attention of the media is to connect with the journalists directly. This can be tricky, however most organisations have a way to make contact via the web. As for Android Authority, App Developers should visit our App Developers page to see how we can help and to also make contact with us.

Wrap Up

In closing it is worth mentioning Amazon’s Appstore. One of the cool features about Amazon’s store is that it offers users a free paid app everyday. This “Free App of the Day” program is a potentially good way to get your app noticed. According to Amazon, “Participation in FAD helps you gain greater exposure and drive significant traffic to your app.” Developers¬†can find out more about the program on¬†the¬†Nominate your app for the Free App of the Day Program page.

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Bill Gates once said “If I only had two dollars left I would spend one dollar on PR.” If you don’t promote your app it won’t get noticed. Although marketing is a vast subject, hopefully these small pointers will help you along the path to success. Remember: Create a compelling app and then promote it as much as you can.

If you have any additional insights on app promotion then please use the comments section below.

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