Global App Marketing made simple

One complaint frequently heard by mobile app developers is that their apps don’t get as many downloads on stores outside of Google Play and the App Store. At the same time, a majority of developers engage in little to no marketing, so their placement on Google Play and the App Store aims only for the low hanging fruit. To some extent this is understandable. To press further requires some understanding not just of marketing, but logistics – and with logistics, extra administrative efforts. So, let’s jump in.

When a store has hundreds of thousands of products – what product is it going to promote? Getting a top placement in various app store charts is not easy – it either requires an inherently popular app with a high volume of downloads, paying for the position, or comes through developing a relationship with the store. Stores promote what is advantageous to them. This is the case whether we are talking about Google Play, Amazon or Walmart.

If you are seeking special treatment from a store, it is worth working out arrangements that are interesting for the store. It’s a two way street. But we aren’t really talking about the store… we are talking about your app. However it is sliced, it is the developer’s responsibility to do their best to market their app. This is especially the case for free and freemium apps.

Who makes money promoting free and freemium apps?  Well, the developer if their app manages to a) achieve a significant volume of in app advertising, and b) they manage to convert on in app purchases and/or commission-based referrals. Otherwise, advertisers can make modest earnings. The base advertising unit as 1,000 impressions means that profitability is measured on the basis of “micro-results” – where sub-1% differences can be quite meaningful.

In most cases though, you don’t have to pay to have your app in a mobile app store. I like to compare this to brick-n-mortar retail where the process of getting a product onto a physical store’s shelves can involve a very substantial investment of effort. The hardest of getting into a physical store is convincing the owner that your product will sell, make them a profit, and physically arrange the shelf-space for your product. Working with distributors can facilitate that process, but you are still working with the distributor. Either way, you are also paying for the physical shipment of goods, plus the commission for the distributor and/or retailer.

Online stores circumvent almost all of that. There is a space almost immediately available for your product. There is no shipping cost. You are only concerned with the commissions for the distributor and/or retailer. Digital products are the basis for an awesome business model. However, app developers are frequently not aware of the time/cost to market associated with physical goods and physical stores, so in most cases they don’t take full advantage of their business model.

That’s the logistics. Where producers of physical products often have their own vehicles and hire their own drivers to help reduce the costs of distributing their goods, app developers have the Internet for near instantaneous delivery and set up. Beautiful!

Getting your app on any given app store is only part of the equation. It will have its own web page, it will be in a directory and there will be people who will come across it and download it. Your number of downloads can be expected to be small as you are leaving it to the customers to find your app.

The marketing component involves making people aware of your product so that they will want to download it – so that they will for it, so that they will go to where they can get it. Your goal is to reduce the “gap” or “barrier” between your app and the end user. Marketing, in this context, is a matter of setting up signs and building bridges – thru links.

Of course, getting your app set up on all of the different mobile stores requires some effort. Promoting your app’s availability on different stores compounds that effort.   Fifteen to thirty minutes a day could be enough for many developers. You don’t need to do everything all at once. Focus on one thing at a time – 1 thing each day. As you feel ambitious, become more efficient or become encouraged by results, try doing 2 or 3 things each day.

  • Get your app on a new store.
  • Post that your app is available on that store on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.
  • Find and Sign up to an app marketing group (i.e. LinkedIn)
  • Announce to the marketing group that you are looking for stores to host your app.
  • If you have a web site, post that your app is available on a new store.
  • Consider setting up an account on Freelancer or another outsourcing venue.
  • Post a project to have someone review your app – and get it published.
  • If you’re good with video, set one up on YouTube showing how your app plays.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. It can take some time, suffice that where sales and marketing are frequently considered number games, each and everything you do creates the potential to “generate a number”.  I can’t guarantee you results, but I can just about guarantee that you will get far less by doing next to nothing than you would if you did something.


Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.

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