Marketing your app is vital to your success on the app stores. With so much money being made by the top apps, either through sale on the app store or sale to a larger company with deeper pockets (see: Instagram / Facebook), there is little doubt that any good app idea can achieve the success that the creator envisioned when they came up with the idea.
There are even places like KickStarter where you can look to get funding for your app before you have even engaged a developer or finalised the design.
While everyone dreams of developing a successful app, the most won’t get major venture funding before commencement and therefore everyone else is left to develop their idea, launch their app and hope for a miraculous take-up in popularity resulting in a flood of cash from sales of the app and a buyout offer from a major corporation!
Strangely enough, there is nothing about that previous statement which can’t happen, the reality is that it will take longer than you expect develop, probably cost more than you want to pay to get it off the ground and then flounder around on the app store bringing the cash infrequently dribbling through your door.
There are two things that it is worthwhile making clear here:
1. Developing an app needs to be treated like a business
2. All successful businesses have a plan
While it is important to be working on the plan for your app in order to get it built, it is also important at the same time to be working on a plan for your business – the business of marketing, promoting and selling your app once it is released to the app store.
Many years ago, in the early Gold Rush days of the Apple iTunes App Store, it was certainly possible for an app to become successful immediately upon launch simply by activating it on the app store where it stayed in the “New Apps” listings on the first page for a number of days….almost guaranteeing exposure.
However those days are long gone and an app needs a serious marketing and promotional strategy in order to be successful – and even then, it might still take time to reach that critical mass that you need to top the app store rankings.
One of the critical errors that app entrepreneurs tend to make is putting off the marketing until the last minute, or even worse, failing to market their app at all.
Great app promotion is critical to the success of almost every app and many people are surprised to learn that the best marketing approach for an app starts well in advance of the launch.
To give you a good example, think about the way you see some of the top grossing motion pictures promoted to the market. They will release the name of the movie to the press, let them know who the stars will be and what it will all be about. Just enough information at the really early stages to get you interested to find out more.
You will start to see some more trailers released and “Coming Soon” posters all around. As time goes on, there are public relations exercises and social media buzz-building well ahead of the release date.
An A-List Premier might precede the public release but on the night the red carpet is rolled out, the world is buzzing and people are already lining up to buy tickets to see it as soon as they can.
Then compare this to a Direct-To-DVD movie release where everyone still gets paid but there is no fan-fare, no red carpet and the only way people ever find it is when they are watching movies at 2am.
If you think of the marketing of an app as a bit like a motion picture launch then it will hopefully help you realise that there is a lot more to successful marketing for the app store.
There are certainly other ways for an app to make you money, other than direct sales and there are many businesses providing free apps for their customers where the return on investment (ROI) from that application comes in the form of increased exposure for their brand and hopefully, more sales for their business, not directly from selling an app on the app store.
However even in the case of a free app you need to ensure that it is properly promoted to your target audience in order for you to show a return on your chosen monetisation strategy.