Salt spoke with Marina Engelvuori, head of marketing for HQ Mobile. She provided invaluable advice about launching an app and creating a mobile marketing strategy in an age where spotting your competition can be exceptionally tricky.
As with other jobs in the marketing sector, tech marketers are finding the messaging of their work become far more honest and conversational, rather than as sales-focused as it once was. In particular, social media has given both consumers and businesses a loudspeaker to voice their views.
Consumers and millennials, in particular, follow brands whose mobile marketing strategies position them as being closely affiliated to their lifestyle and values. Similarly, business brands are beginning to lean more towards consumer brand expectations. The gap between B2B and B2C is narrowing.
What was once called the digital revolution has now become a way of life. And mobile apps have become a crucial part of that lifestyle. Businesses who offer a service have to step up their creative game and appeal to consumers and businesses alike. This is impossible without the work of dedicated mobile developers and designers, who can build native platforms to meet user needs.
No matter how user-friendly your app is, if it doesn’t get seen and downloaded by the right people, then all of the hard work that went into its development is ultimately pointless. That’s why app marketing is arguably just as critical, and just as difficult, to get right. Here are 10 tips to help you nail your business’s mobile app marketing strategy.
- Market research is essentialMobile app marketing begins long before there’s even a product to discuss with the public. First and foremost, once you know what kind of app you’re creating, you need to get to know your potential customers. Finding out what makes them tick and what they want from a similar app is the easiest way to ensure yours meets their demands. Consider starting a blog about lifestyle and advice that is relevant to your target audience, making it useful, but also fun!
- Time the release of your app carefullyMake sure that your release date doesn’t clash or coincide with any competing apps. You should also plan your mobile app marketing strategy far enough in advance that you give yourself time to organise press and promotional campaigns, as well as working out any technical issues or bugs before it hits the app store.
- Get feedback at every stepAs Marina points out, when it comes to app marketing, it’s essential to “touch base with your network and get them involved in the ‘dry-run’”. Encourage team members and partners in your wider network to try out your app and report back on how they found using it — the positives and the negatives. The HQ marketing head goes on to recommend canvassing “a mixing pot of industry experts, developers, business people, and friendly users,” to gain as full an understanding of your app’s UX as possible.
You should also ensure that you have a model for creating a reliable feedback loop. The longevity of your app can depend on how attentively you listen to customers, and how effectively you incorporate any resulting changes to future releases and updates.
- Don’t jump the gun with announcementsResist the urge to find the nearest proverbial digital megaphone once you’ve almost finished the development stages of your app. Keep your cards relatively close to your chest and be sure to keep your release date in mind. “There are no hard rules about the right timing,” Engelvuori notes. “It comes down to how many tweaks are needed and unexpected surprises you come across during the dry-run.”
- Team up with like-minded partnersFind partners who think alike and share the same target audience as you, from both a brand and a business perspective. Ideally, you should be able to go to market with an appealing offer which can meet the specific needs of each brand partner’s followers, addressing their unique requirements. Draw on insights from the groups of people you asked for advice at the start of the process, and build alliances at that early stage which you can capitalise on the whole way through the process.
- Don’t let your competitors get wind of your ideasDon’t reveal too much about your app too early — not only to accommodate for any delays in production but to avoid the competition getting wind of what you’re up to. By copying your ideas before you have a chance to scale out, the big boys could leave you at the starting line, so don’t be afraid to keep your cards close to the vest.
- Beware the hype-cycleFurthermore, if you spread the word too soon, app anticipation could start to fade quickly. Keep the momentum going by spreading teasers on social networks — for example, entertaining videos to show consumers how to use the app/service — but don’t saturate your profiles. This can also help you to encourage interested parties to sign up early.
- Keep SEO in mindMarina also points out: “Marketers should ensure the final app is hosted on web pages that are search engine optimised based on keywords relevant to both the app and your target audience.” These are the basic building blocks of search engine optimisation (SEO), which can make it easier for people who are looking for the service you provide to find you, whether or not they already know your brand’s name. This may also help your visibility within the app store.
- Reward your most active usersAs your app continues to grow, you should find ways to encourage continued use of the app and build your follower base. Try creating fun, tongue-in-cheek, viral competitions or campaigns that offer rewards for usage, or discounts for any time a referral code is used.
- Don’t keep quiet about your achievementsDespite being in the tech sector, there are some parts of app marketing that are decidedly old-school, with press and PR being one of them. Tell the media the story behind your app — outline what solution you’re aiming to find for your customers, and how your product can achieve this.
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She launched the Ubuntu operating system for phones, which was a top ten trend on Twitter at launch, and the “Ubuntu Edge” crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo broke all industry records. She has helped to get HQ into O2/Telefonica’s start-up program, Wayra, where only 1.6% of startups get accepted. She is a business-minded leader who has managed diverse talent in local and regional teams in both small fast-moving and blue-chip businesses. Marina shares her time between the start-up HQ (www.hqtheapp.com) and tefficient.com, a consulting business.
To learn more about HQ,