I’m in Barcelona this week doing a keynote speech for the bDigital Apps conference, which is focusing on the marketing and monetization of apps, particularly gaming apps. One of the key points I’ll be making is that the cost of developing an app is only half of the equation.  The other half is to create a marketing campaign that builds awareness about the app and encourages people to download it to their smartphones.

The key to building awareness for an app is to understand that consumers often buy products for emotional reasons rather than logical reasons. Here’s an example – when someone buys an expensive sports car, they buy it for emotional reasons. In other words, they buy it because of how it makes them feel.

But if you ask that person why they bought the expensive sports car, they’ll give you all of the logical reasons for their purchase. For example, they’ll say they bought it because it was German engineered and has special steering that improves the handling. But they’ll say they bought it because it makes them feel young and sexy, even though feeling young and sexy are two of the biggest reasons people buy expensive sports cars.

When it comes to building and selling a mobile app, the key issue is to try to use emotion to create demand for the app. In the United States, where I’m from, Coca-Cola outsells Pepsi because they do a better job creating emotion in their advertising than Pepsi does. In fact, in one research study, consumers were given Coke and Pepsi, but weren’t told which one they were drinking. In other words, it was a blind taste test. In the blind test, half the consumers chose Pepsi and the other half chose Coke, indicating that from a taste point-of-view, the two sodas are very similar.

But then they went back to the same people and gave them a Coke and a Pepsi in a non-blind test. This time, the consumers knew which brand they were drinking. When they knew which brand they were drinking, they chose the Coca-Cola 75% of the time, even though the research indicated that only 50% of them preferred Coca-Cola when they didn’t know what brand they were drinking.

The reason the consumers preferred the Coca-Cola, as mentioned earlier, is because Coke does a better job using emotion to sell their product.

By understanding why people buy products, mobile app developers in Europe and the United States can use that knowledge to create demand for their apps. The days of creating an app and hoping that it sells a lot through word-of-mouth are over. Today, app developers need to spend as much time and money marketing the product as they do developing it.

There are a number of ways to market apps, including many of the traditional ways like TV, radio, print and billboards. But one of the best and most cost-effective ways is to use mobile advertising to sell apps. Mobile ads are the banner ads that pop up when you’re visiting a mobile website. The vast majority of people don’t click on mobile banner ads, but smart marketers understand that if 100,000 people see a mobile banner ad and 1% click through on it, that’s 1,000 people who are interested in buying your mobile app. Those numbers work out pretty well for app developers who are serious about creating demand for their products.

If you don’t have a budget to spend on mobile ads, you can always build demand through word-of-mouth, PR and other less-expensive approaches. But the marketplace is getting more and more crowded, so the best approach is to be sure you save some of your budget for marketing your app, not just developing it.

10 Steps You Should Take to Market Your Mobile App. In the slides below, you’ll find the entire presentation I gave at the bDigital Apps conference in Barcelona. Included in the 104 slides are 10 things you should do to market your app. Some of them have been mentioned above already, but here’s the entire list in a nice, handy little package:

  1. Think Backwards. It all starts by getting inside the mind of your customer and working backwards from there. What are their motivations for downloading the app? What are the things that might prevent them from downloading it? How can you reduce the friction along the way? By getting inside their minds and working backwards from there, you can uncover hidden motivators in your customers that will eventually lead to increased demand.
  2. Select Your Keywords Carefully. You probably already have a good handle on some of the keywords you’ll use to enhance the visibility of your app online, but it’s a good idea to supercharge what you’re doing by using tools to supplement your list. Of course, Google has a terrific keyword search tool, but you might also check out tools like MobileDevHQ which goes deeper and wider than the Google tool.
  3. Steal from Your Competitors. AppCode.es is a tool much like MobileDevHQ except that it gives you the ability to snoop around on what your competitors are doing. There’s no law against snooping. In fact, snooping is a good thing when the end result benefits your business.
  4. Test Your Names and Icons. Have you tested your name and icon with a large, statistically-viable survey of 100+ people? By using a simple tool like SurveyMonkey, you may find that what you thought was a winner is actually a loser. Take a look at the graphic on the right. The ones under the “Yes” banner have icons and names that communicate a story. The ones under the “No” banner have names and icons that don’t clearly communicate a story. You want to be on the left.
  5. Get Featured on App Review Sites. There are several hundred app and game review sites. It may be labor-intensive to get reviewed on all of them, but if you focus on the top 10, you can get some word-of-mouth traction for your app that way.
  6. Don’t Expect Huge Results from Social Media. You may be surprised to find someone who wrote a book called How to Make Money with Social Media saying that you shouldn’t rely on social media, but too many start ups believe that a Facebook page is their ticket to riches. Sure, social media is important, but it’s not a silver bullet. It’s just one element of a well-rounded marketing campaign.
  7. Use App Marketing Management Tools to Track Your Results. Tracking the results of your marketing on the back of a napkin or even on a spreadsheet was fine a few years ago. But today, if you’re going to expect results, you may have to use a tool like MobileAppTracking to conduct the proper analysis. Don’t be afraid to step up and use tools that cost some money — it’s usually worth it.
  8. Run Burst Campaigns. Here’s a trick that can provide some great results for your marketing campaign. Rather than run a marketing campaign at consistent levels, run it in bursts. In other words, heavy-up so that there’s a lot of buzz — and downloads — during the heavy-up periods. By doing so, you can (hopefully) drive a ton of downloads and get on some “Top 10” or “Featured” lists. Once you’re on those lists, you can back off and save your money for another go-round a few weeks later.
  9. Use Mobile Ads to Hyper-Target. Mobile ads are an under-utilized secret weapon for mobile app creators. When you run a mobile display ad campaign, you’re targeting people who are ready, willing and able to download your app right then and there. Better still, you can hyper-target your campaign so that only people who have a history of downloading apps see your ads. Mobile marketing is a mobile app developer’s secret weapon, so if you’re not already using this, jump on it now before your competitors do.
  10. Focus on Customer Retention. It costs 3 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to keep an existing one. Given that, you’ll want to focus on customer retention by adding new features, running competitions, adding new platforms and rewarding loyal customers. It all adds up to a reduction in your churn — which means money in your pocket.

I hope you’ve liked some of the tips I’ve included above. What are your suggestions for marketing apps? I know I’ve missed a few. Be sure to include your thoughts and comments below the full series of slides below.


Posted by Jamie Turner, Founder of the 60 Second Marketer and co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile.He is also a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.