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App marketing is the cumulative marketing efforts to interact with your app users with the objective of acquisition, activation, engagement, and retention by leveraging various marketing activities.
  • Acquisition:  Persuading users to download your app to deliver the desired experience.  It aims to encourage the user to download the app.
  • Activation: The act of driving users to interact with your app.  Usage of the app should be self-explainable to the users.
  • Engagement: Arousing the interest level of users to ensure they keep coming back to use your app regularly. The irresistible urge to tap the app icon points toward high engagement.
  • Retention: Reducing the loss of users is retention. A high retention rate helps in creating loyal users. 
According to Nielsen, the average time spent on the mobile app is 30 hours per month. We use and enjoy multiple apps to make our life easier. Some of them daily and some occasionally. Be it booking a cab, buying groceries, keeping a check on our health or finances, etc. You name it, and the online world has it for you (mostly). 

App Listing

Users often get to know about your app on the app listing. Almost 40% of users browse in app stores when looking to download an app. It is where everything has to begin on a positive note. To catch the eyeballs of users, use a clear and easy-to-remember app name, a crisp description, followed with easy to understand screenshots and video. At this point, the user gets the feel of whether to go ahead or not. A good app listing offers a large number of initial downloads.

Acquisition Using App Marketing Channels

As of 2018, there are more than 3 million apps on Google Play and 2 million on Apple Store. Leveraging the right mix of marketing platforms helps to make an app a great success. It can be broadly classified as:
  • Organic/ Free
  • Paid
  • Organic/ Free
  • App Store Optimization (ASO) is a practice to ensure your app is easy to find on an app store. It involves app name, crisp description, keywords, screenshots & videos, and ratings & reviews. Simply put, you can think of it as SEO for a website.
  • Paid 
  • Making use of various advertising platforms to acquire/activate/engage/retain users is another significant aspect of app marketing. Search advertising and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are used strategically to meet the objectives of a paid campaign.

User Activation Strategies

The acquisition strategy comprises multiple activities. Some yield results instantly and others may take a bit longer. App store listing, social media, and web pages could be leveraged free of cost but consume time to spread the word. On the other hand, paid ads could help in scaling up quickly. The marketer needs to judiciously create a basket of activities to achieve success in the long term.
  • Push Notifications: helps sending a welcome message after an initial app install is a good practice to say thanks to the users. A report suggests that push notifications could increase user engagement with your app by up to 80%. 65% of users with push notifications enabled a return to your app within 60 days. Only 19% of users don’t do it. 50% of users opt-in to push notifications and say they find them useful. Nobody likes to struggle to navigate through the app, especially the one newly installed. An intelligent way is to take your user to a proper onboarding flow. It helps the user to take a tour of the product and understand the key features. It breaks the ice and teaches them how to use it efficiently. A hygiene practice is to encourage users to register on your app by their phone numbers or email address. It helps in making further communication with them.
  • Rich Push Notifications: To overcome the limited word limits in push notifications make use of interactive elements such as images, video, and audio to keep your user engaged. One can also spice it up with clickable links to specific pages.
  • In-App messages: The messages which appear when the user is active on your mobile app. It could be a response to a user's action. Increase your app launch by 27% with the help of the right app message. A report suggests in-app messages receive 8x times more responsive to push notifications. 

User Engagement & Retention Strategies

  A successful app ensures that users experience the strong urge to use the app and deliver it every time. The high engagement spreads the word about the app. It helps in acquiring new users. Since the app delivers the promise, it is bound to keep the users glued to it to increase retention. Carefully crafted marketing activity results in increased engagement and retention rates.
  • Hassle-free Onboarding: Create a natural onboarding process by asking users to fill few details. Restrain yourself by showing all the features at once. Let the process be effortless and encourage the user to learn the features as they use your app. The use of clear CTAs, a simple sign-up process, and easy design are significant to ensuring seamless onboarding.
  • Use of Push notifications: As discussed above, using push notifications smartly produces excellent results. Keep in mind overdoing it can backfire and result in users leaving your app out of frustration and anger.
  • Personalization: Learn quickly from the data residing at your end to deliver a personalized experience. Create an experience, aligned with the users' preference to enjoy the time spent on your app. Compelling apps never miss a chance to add value by connecting to a user authentically. 
  • Rewards: Achieve high engagement by offering rewards, coupons, discounts, content access, and other benefits that are valuable to the users. Users get the feel of it if you are just doing it for the sake of doing it. Try adding value that delivers a pleasant experience in the form of rewards. Leverage app gamification to connect and compete to achieve higher engagement.
  • Ratings & Reviews: Good ratings and reviews make a great first impression on the new user. It signals users to take action. Ask your users to rate and review to help you improve the experience. It creates a feedback loop. Great apps boast high ratings and multiple positive reviews. 
  • Understanding the target market: A clear understanding of the ideal customer profile helps in focusing marketing efforts in the right direction and saves you from fueling the marketing budget. It is a prerequisite for an app marketer to know vital information such as demographics, psychographics, habits, lifestyle, and also about user behavior for similar apps.
  •   One should start with the following necessary steps:
    1. Create an ideal customer profile
    2. Use pre-defined filters to identify proper accounts
    3. Establish a conversation with them
    Create an ideal customer persona and try to make them your user. Look deeply into the insights to learn more about what they like/dislike about your app. It acts as a feedback loop with regular iteration till you deliver a delightful experience to your users. Is my mobile app marketing working? All the efforts made into marketing your app must be measurable. It should reflect the benefits of the activities performed and also look out for the scope of improvements. The set of basic metrics helps to give a snapshot of your app marketing. To start with, the following are the basic set of metrics that could help us gauge our marketing efforts.
  • Acquisitions: The newly gained users are acquisitions for your app. Keeping high acquisition with high retention is a win-win situation for an app.
  • Retention Rate: The users who return to use your app after the initial activation. The average retention rate is 20% after 90 days across all industries.
  • Active Users: The amount of user base is regularly interacting with your app. One can measure it weekly ( WAU- weekly active user) or monthly (MAU-monthly active user)
  • Stickiness ratio= Daily active users / monthly active users 
  • Session Length: The amount of time spent by users on your app. The right amount of time will vary for each app depending upon the goals. Screen flow of users while navigating the app. It helps to know where the dropout is maximum or which screen is resulting in maximum engagement/conversion.
  • Cost Per Acquisition: The cost incurred in acquiring a user. It must fit in your marketing budget. Mathematically, CPA= total cost/ number of acquisitions.
  • Lifetime value (LTV): It is a profit attributed to the long-term relationship with a user. The formula to calculate LTV is, the average value of a conversion*average number of conversions in time* average customer lifetime.
  • Keep in mind, that LTV should be higher than CPA.


There are millions of apps in the store. Each of them calls for attention. To break from the clutter, the app needs to be seen first and then deliver a “wow” experience to the users. Once you have a great app, make sure to make some noise. Leverage marketing activities to encourage users to use your app. Make that experience count and give them a reason to return. Provide value to your users and keep them engaged with the relevant content. Never forget to delight them every time.

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