10 Steps to a Winning Pre-Launch App Marketing Strategy

By Ian Heinig / 7 February 2018

3 million apps are available today. Here are 10 pre-launch marketing efforts that will generate buzz and drive downloads for your mobile app on launch date.

Marketing a mobile app before its launch is similar to creating a snowball.

Barely noticeable at first, each bit of outreach layers together to create momentum over the course of the app’s development.  By the time you’re ready to launch, the ball is rolling and people are buzzing.

Marketing your app is more important than ever. According to reporting firm Statista, more than 3 million unique apps are available today.

graph of number of apps available as of March 2017
Source: Statista

This means that your app doesn’t stand a chance of gaining traction with users if you don’t promote your app beforehand.

Here are the 10 steps for creating a pre-launch marketing strategy for your app:

  • Research your users and competitors
  • Start early
  • Create a website for your app
  • Start a blog
  • Connect with email marketing
  • Create buzz with social media
  • Prepare a press kit
  • Reach out to influencers
  • Call for beta testers
  • Optimize your app store listing

1. Research Your Users and Competitors

An effective app marketing plan begins with understanding your users and competitors. Gathering demographic data on users helps you visualize exactly who you’re trying to reach.

From teens to digital nomads, each audience has different needs and usage and spending patterns. You’ll need to address these factors in your marketing messages to gain users.

Researching the competition shows you how users interact with apps like yours and their expected behaviors. Looking at other apps lets you position yourself against their selling points, weaknesses, and relevant keywords.

competitor analysis table for mobile apps
Source: Kissmetrics

With your competitor data, modify your approach to offer potential users value in a unique way.

2. Start Marketing Your App Early

App marketing is a grind, so begin at the development stage.

Awareness builds slowly and peaks at the launch date, so pick your channels and stay consistent to build interest.

graph of content strategy for mobile app launch
Source: Outbrain

To muster early support:

  • Reach out to friends, family, colleagues, customers, peer groups
  • Seek potential users as soon as possible, and include them in your marketing
  • Solicit feedback from your inner circle, who will later become your best supporters

3. Create a Website for Your App

A website is the hub of your pre-launch app marketing strategy.

You expand your web presence by hosting content and displaying your app to potential users in a number of ways:

  • Publish expert blogs to create value for visitors, drive web traffic, and boost search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Run interactive app marketing campaigns such as giveaways, contests, or quizzes
  • Encourage email signups to enable drip marketing (which automatically delivers marketing messages to users inboxes)
  • Create dedicated landing pages for each marketing initiative (e.g., free demo) to increase downloads

Website builders like WordPress and Squarespace are inexpensive, blog-ready platforms that can be ready in less than an hour.

4. Start a Blog

Blogging helps you update your growing fan base and attract new users. Each post should solidify your brand voice and speak to relevant issues surrounding the app.

Conducting keyword research with Google Keyword Planner helps you maximize your SEO rankings and write to what’s in demand.

For example, if your app is geared to weight loss, research the relevant search terms and questions in this space. Answering searcher’s questions will attract your audience while simultaneously promoting your app.

The key is to create content your audience wants to read – as exemplified by the workout app Fitplan.

screenshot of article on Fitplan's blog

Demonstrate your thought leadership, but still ask for feedback. Users will flock to your app if they’ve been informed, consulted, and delighted by your blog.

5. Connect With Email Marketing

Email marketing is a cheap and easy way to sustain interest with prospective users.

Sending subscribers the latest blog post and a bi-weekly newsletter updates them about your progress. People who read your emails during app development are more likely to become customers come launch day.

For optimal engagement, craft evocative and descriptive subject lines. Personalized subject lines see a 29% higher open rate.

graph showing data on importance of personalized email subject lines
Source: MarketingSherpa

Subscribers may not read each email, but they will be able to track your progress with a quick glance at the subject line.

6. Create Buzz With Social Media

Social media is amazing for creating hype and developing a strong community around your app.

Choose a few main social media platforms that your audience prefers, then establish a routine for engaging with them and distributing content.

Quora and Reddit can also be used to gather feedback from highly active niches and to promote your app by word of mouth.

example of marketing app on Quora

Learn how to market your app on Quora in 5 steps.

Here are some best practices for marketing your app on social media:

  • Post frequently
  • Use relevant hashtags
  • Feature influencer reviews
  • Solicit feedback on app features
  • Invite engagement with contests, giveaways, and promotions
  • Share a mix of screenshots, ‘how-to’ videos, GIFs, high-quality images, and blogs
  • Interact with similar pages to spark a discussion with their audience

7. Prepare a Press Kit

A press kit is a one-stop resource for journalists and influencers. It contains all the information, images, and context for why your app deserves a good review.

A complete press kit will streamline the writing process for journalists, making sure they have everything they need.

example of a press kit for a mobile app
Source: Dan Counsell

A press kit should include each of the following:

  • Review guide: Highlight the features, pricing, FAQ, release information, and your contact details
  • Screenshots: Show your app at its best because publications will use these photos in their write up
  • Lifestyle photos: Feature your app in a natural scenario that emphasizes its use and value
  • Icons, logos, banners: Include .png images for digital posts, or .eps for print publications
  • Video: Enhance the reach and impact of your marketing; upload to YouTube or Vimeo for best compatibility

8. Reach Out to Influencers

An influencer endorsement will skyrocket the pre-launch hype for your app.

Influencer marketing firm Collective Bias found that 60% of consumers are influenced by blog review or a social media reviews.

You can reach out to tech bloggers, journalists, or industry leaders to capitalize on their authority.

Send these people your press release along with a description of your app and its benefits, as seen here.

example of an influencer outreach email to promote a mobile app
Source: AppSamurai

You can find influencers by using tools like FollowerWonk, Klout, or Traackr.

9. Call for Beta Testers

Beta testers help you improve your app quality and empower your pre- and post-launch app marketing strategies.

Testers provide insight into your target audience, helping you select the right features. They can also become your biggest advocates.

Calling for beta testers is itself remarkable and will increase your exposure. Since people want what they can’t have, indicating that you’re close to launch will excite followers.

To find beta testers, visit sites like Ubertesters, Betalist, or even Reddit.

10. Optimize Your App Store Listing

This is the critical and final stage of your pre-launch app marketing strategy.

After all, this is where people decide whether to buy your app. To get the most downloads, you’ll need to optimize several key areas of your app store listing. Make sure that:

  • The app name describes your app function and encourages downloads
  • The app description tells your story, attracts users, and contains relevant keywords
  • The app visuals (screenshots, preview videos, app icons) entice users to buy
  • The keyword optimization targets the language users will use to search for an app like yours

Marketing Your App Begins Pre-Launch

The app store is crowded. To grow your user base, begin promoting your app well before the launch.

These 10 tactics allow you to generate buzz that will translate into traction and growth once you’re ready for downloads.

Already launched your app and need post-launch marketing tactics? Here are 5 app marketing strategies for you.

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