Dear Socially Stephanie:
I'm currently working on an app. While the launch is still some time away, what should I be doing to prepare? I want to get as much excitement around the app as possible before the launch and then go hard once it launches to make sure I get a lot of downloads from the get-go. Do you have a strategy I could follow? I'm planning to introduce it on Google Play and iTunes.
App-tastic in Apple Valley
Congratulations! You are very smart to think about these things beforehand. It is always easier to build buzz and excitement before a launch. In fact, the most successful apps are those that get the most downloads in the first weeks. If you wait too long, it could be too late. Don't worry, I have a strategy for you and I think you're going to like it.
But before I get into the nitty-gritty, I want you to take that phone out of your pocket and put it into your hands. Stare at it. Love it. Make it your best friend and really think about how you use it and how others use it. Why, you ask? Because apps are downloaded via mobile phones, nowhere else. That's where I want you to focus your marketing attention.
With that said, and considering that you're an app creator, I assume you already have a responsive website. That means when people come to your site from their phone or tablet, they see your mobile friendly website, not the website you view from your desktop. (If you don't, get one, fast.)
I'm going to break this strategy up into pre-launch and launch to make sure you have a timetable, because you need to stay on track. Ready? Let's dive in.
During the prelaunch phase, you need to concentrate your efforts on gathering leads and generating buzz. I want you to capture those leads right on your website. And I want you to capture both email and phone number. I'll explain later.
So how do you go about getting leads? It's all about the content. Awesome content plus the influence of social media equals increased pre-qualified traffic. Increased pre-qualified traffic brings you leads. It's a simple formula really, and it's something I call social blogging.
Make sense? The more targeted the blogs and your social content become, the more qualified your traffic will be. Now for the lead part. Once you lure app downloadees to your site with the blog and social bait, it's time to reel them in and get them to sign up. You can use a pop-up or an opt-in box at the end of your blog posts to encourage those emails and phone numbers. By the way, you also want to have an opt-in box on your homepage so no matter what page someone lands on, the option to sign up is right there in front of them.
Now that you have the social blogging down, let's talk about which social sites you are going to use and how you're going to use them. The first site that is a must is Instagram. Instagram is an app that's used on phones. The audiences match. Plus, with this strategy you can get a ton of signups and interest before you launch. Then when you do launch, you can change the link in your bio to the app store for easy downloads. You will also want to use Google Plus and start building a network there. You are launching on G+, so it makes sense to get in front of the Google fanatics. Plus, with 1,000 followers on G+ you have access to advertising. That could be a huge win. If the audience is right, you'll also want to be active on Facebook and Twitter. Both are highly mobile and highly populated.
In addition to all the awesome visual and mobile friendly social content you create, you should also think about setting up and sharing a mobile short code to capture people while they are on their phones. Something like "Text 'AppTime' to 555-1111" will do the trick. You'll want as many phone numbers as you can get before launch.
After six months of heavy content and lead generation, you'll be ready for launch. The first thing you'll want to do is email and text everyone who signed up in the pre-launch phase and let them know that the app is live. Since those who receive the text will be able to head on over to the app store from their phone, they will have a higher download rate. A simple click and they are there. See why I wanted you to gather phone numbers? Genius!
Once you get your list downloading, it's time to think like a publicist and get those third-party endorsements. There are tons of sites that review apps, and you should reach out to all of them. If you can get your app in the hands of some influential tech bloggers, you can see top download status in no time.
Lastly, if you need that extra push, you can engage in some mobile and social advertising. I think Facebook is great for advertising apps because you can get super targeted. In fact, Facebook even allows you to create an app download campaign and target different devices.
Well, there you have it, a mobile app strategy fit for a winner! Go out and get 'em.