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Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your iOS App

Think you can’t be successful at launching your own iOS app? You may want to think again.
Think you can’t be successful at launching your own iOS app? You may want to think again. Image by

As technology becomes more accessible and affordable, many companies have had success launching their own iOS apps. But as often as we see these success stories, marketers tend to stop before they start this venture. This is true for a few reasons. For one, they may not have the know-how to begin. For another, every app is different, and the marketing strategy should be compatible with the design. Not everyone knows how to create an ideal strategy to market their own unique app. Today we’re going to talk about five things you can do to create the best app for your business and use it to progress your goals.

1. Build Your Online Presence

Establishing even a small to moderate following before launching your app means you have a built-in customer base.
Establishing even a small to moderate following before launching your app means you have a built-in customer base. Image by

Generally speaking, it’s good practice to build your online presence before you launch an app. Since most of your marketing will be done on digital platforms, that’s where you need to begin (if you haven’t already). Today’s market is largely experiential, and buyers typically make purchases from companies they trust and feel a personal connection with. Starting conversations about relevant topics across social media platforms- and asking for feedback about what your audience would want from an app- is a good place to start.

If you’re still looking for an idea, you may want to start by identifying a specific problem that people face. Your app development should focus on finding a solution for that problem. What has been problematic for you in your industry? Have you noticed other professionals in your line of work struggling with it as well? Keep in mind that there are often many solutions to one problem. So if apps that are similar to the one you want to create already exist, don’t necessarily be discouraged! We’ll talk more about that very shortly.

But when it comes to building a customer base online, here’s what you need to know: The more personal interaction your audience gets with your brand, the more likely they are to develop loyalty. With so much advanced technology becoming increasingly accessible, the app market is more competitive than ever. That’s why creating a unique bond with your customers is essential to standing out. On Facebook, you can join relevant groups like Mobile Marketing Experts, App Entrepreneurs and Marketers, and Bluecloud Select. In these groups, you’ll meet other independent markets who have valuable information, stories, and research to share.

Twitter is also a good resource for networking, building an online presence, and learning from others’ experiences. Even if you see it as a hub for celebrity gossip and political wars among desktop warriors, it’s still an ideal place to network. Think about it. How many people are more likely to respond to a tweet than to an email? In this digital era when people are inundated by more information than their brains can fully process, the answer is a lot.

People also do a lot of talking on Reddit. When you’re trying to interact with potential customers and try to find out what they want from an app like the one you are building, you want a platform that lends itself to in-depth discussion. While Twitter often yields simple answers- and you need those short and sweet tidbits- Quora or Reddit members tend to hold lengthier discussions on topics of interest. So jumping into a conversation about mobile apps, establishing your business’s presence, and talking up your app can really benefit you.

Instagram is ideal for marketing because its visual design grabs attention. Using photos and videos to engage potential customers and give them a feel of your business is one of the best ways to grow your following. As you begin to develop your app, give your followers an insider’s window into the process and what’s to come. The more immersive your content is, the more it stands out in potential customer’s minds. And if they already feel a connection to your brand, they’re much more likely to choose your app over the competition when you launch.

2. Research Your Market

It’s a fact: Keeping up with your competition can make or break your mobile app’s success
It’s a fact: Keeping up with your competition can make or break your mobile app’s success. Image by

Speaking of social media, it’s an opportune environment to gauge the need for a product like the one you’re developing. After all, you want to have an idea of what kind of revenue and download volumes you can expect from your app. Apptamin recommends searching for all the apps that are similar to the one you want to create. Although people fear a saturated market and are overwhelmed by the task of setting their business apart, Apptamin makes an important point: When the competition is successful, it indicates that there is a healthy market for your product. The challenge is to set yourself apart and show potential customers what you do differently and better.

That said, a market in which there are too many competitors might not be a good idea. What constitutes “too many”? It’s all relative. Even if your market is overly saturated, you may have a unique feature or way of making your app different or better. If you do have a standout feature- and/or a moderate to large following- go for it.

Apptamin recommends using an ASO platform like Mobile Action to gather information about your competition. Mobile Action and similar resources will provide you with a list of competitors for your app or any specific competitor you’d like to research. There are quite a few excellent app marketing tools to choose from.

What you want to know is 1) how many downloads your competing apps are getting and 2) how much revenue they are earning. Of course, you can use ASO platforms to accomplish this, but you’ll also want to research reviews on competitors on the App Store. Reading reviews gives you more than just information about what features people enjoy or don’t enjoy. While many users don’t take the time to write detailed reviews, preferring to express their satisfaction level in one to five stars, others do. Actually, the two to four-starred reviews often yield more helpful details than the standard one or five stars. That’s because these reviews tend to be honest and thoughtful; users explain what they like and don’t like about the app in question.

Keeping up to date with your competitors’ reviews also supports your marketing. For example, it tells you what you are doing better than other apps. If you notice that several of your competitors are struggling in an area that you excel at, you can leverage that in your marketing. Don’t be afraid to tell your audience what you’re doing better, differently, or at a lower cost than your competitors!

If you have an existing app, be sure to keep up with your own reviews and compare them to your competitors’. In a rapidly evolving and competitive industry, it’s important to stay abreast of what similar businesses are doing right and wrong. Also, as customers vent their unmet needs, new niches emerge from reviews. As heavily saturated as your market is, there might be a collective need that none of your competitors are meeting well. You can grasp onto this and capitalize on it as your own company’s niche.

Apptamin recommends saving time on iTunes by reading reviews by category. Four categories exist: Most Helpful, Most Critical, Most Favorable, and Most Recent. Take notes as you gather information and use it to inform your own strategy.

3. Choose the Perfect Name

What’s in a name? When it comes to mobile apps, the key is to say a lot with a little.
What’s in a name? When it comes to mobile apps, the key is to say a lot with a little. Image by

What’s in a name? In a digital market, sometimes everything. Although it can be tempting to choose a longer name and app description on Apple, that’s not the best way to go. Although you want users to understand what your app does, you want to keep it digestible. In other words, pack as powerful a punch as you can in a few words. It helps if the words you do choose are highly descriptive and contain a major keyword. You can research keywords on Google Ads for free.

A good rule of thumb: Use keywords that are popular, but not the most popular. Remember, your goal is to stand out on a search. However, when you submit your app, you’ll be required to enter an “extended name” that explains what your app is all about. Your name and “extended name” should contain popular and moderately popular keywords.

It’s a good idea to use a name that is aligned with your business goals. After all, a name is a customer’s first impression of your app, and reflects your brand as well. With that in mind, you’ll want to make sure that a social media handle is available for the name of your app. Even if the exact name is taken, sometimes you can modify it by changing or adding one or two keys or words. Get creative if you must, but make sure you choose a descriptive, standout handle that reflects what your app is about. Again, people have limited attention spans and likely won’t take the time to figure out a name they don’t understand.

4. Choose Your Revenue Model Wisely

There’s no such thing as a superior revenue model; what’s best for one app might be ineffective for another. Here’s what you need to know to make the choice.
There’s no such thing as a superior revenue model; what’s best for one app might be ineffective for another. Here’s what you need to know to make the choice. Image by

While some iOS developers are just experimenting or creating a game for fun, most businesses are motivated by money. Assuming that you are, too, let’s talk about revenue models. There are several you can choose from:

  • One-time, direct fee: This model isn’t typically ideal because it doesn’t necessarily support growth. As an increasing number of customers start using your app, you’ll need money to support that growth. You’ll also need funds to keep up with changing trends and market your app based as mobile tech continues to evolve. However, a one-time fee is the most straightforward way for users to pay. If your mindset is experimental, and you want to make money while giving users a chance to try it for one upfront fee, this might work for you.

  • Free with in-app purchases: Many successful developers have gone with this model because it allows users to experience the product without making a commitment. However, once the user finds value in the product, they tend to want access to its more in-depth features. Viral games often use this model and make a fortune from it.

  • Free “lite” version with paid version available: This can be really profitable if you can effectively showcase the value of the paid version within the free version. In other words, give users a taste of the full experience and offer some value, but make sure the most value is packed into the paid version.

  • Subscription-based: If you already have a moderate to large following and/or have seen major interest in your app, you may want to sell subscriptions. This way, support for future development is built-in to your revenue model.

  • Upfront fee and in-app purchases: This is a tough sell for obvious reasons. Users are not only required to pay an upfront fee, but also pay for in-app purchases. These expenses can be a turn-off, especially in a market that offers so many less costly apps. Many of these will probably be your competition. That said, if your market is a specific niche that is very difficult to satisfy, this could be the way to go! Do your homework before taking on this model.

  • Free with ads: Some developers offer their app for free, but users must view ads before continuing their experience. Many games use this model, and the upside is that playing is absolutely free. However, “Zoom fatigue” or digital overload is a real thing, and people tire of being interrupted by ads over and over again. This is especially true if your app is not for entertainment purposes, but is meant to help solve a problem. If users think they can meet their need elsewhere in less time, they might even pay rather than lose time.

  • Cross promotion within free app: This model often works really well for beginners. If this is your first app, you’ll likely gain a lot of users this way. Once you have them at your fingertips, you can launch a similar paid app. You’ll already have a built-in audience.

When deciding on pricing, a lot of marketers are tempted to start low and increase over time as the development grows. While that makes sense in theory, it can be disappointing in practice. Users get used to paying a certain price, and when it goes up, they’re often disheartened. This can really color their experience with your brand.

You might say, “That’s not fair- of course users should pay more if I’ve added more features over time!” While that’s true, not everyone will see it that way. Some will be focused on the inconvenience of the cost going up, and won’t be able to see beyond that- especially if other apps offer similar, if lesser, value for free. Starting at a higher price and dropping as necessary is often a better way to go.

5. Optimize User Experience

The user experience is the heart of your mobile app, so make sure no detail goes unattended
The user experience is the heart of your mobile app, so make sure no detail goes unattended. Image by

Last but certainly not least, the user experience is the most important ingredient in the recipe for the perfect app. From the first few seconds, your app must be easy to use. If it’s not, people won’t stick around to troubleshoot and get to the good parts. The simpler the app design, the better. The trick is to make the core features easily accessible.

Apptamin’s advice? Ask for feedback from other pros in your industry who have created successful apps. Which user features worked, and which didn’t? You may even want to create a mock-up and ask people you trust to try it and provide feedback. With Apptamin’s toolbox, you can access a complete list of prototyping tools.

You also need a visually striking, immersive design. Mobile design is complex, so if you don’t have a really good handle on it, it might be worth hiring a designer. Websites such as Upwork and Crew give you access to a community of freelance designers and developers.

Once you’ve drafted the user experience, you may want to invest in the opinion of UX/UI experts. If it’s within your budget, you can gain invaluable insights. For example, is your app design coherent or chaotic? Is the sound and speed optimal? Is your app’s icon compatible with its design?

These may sound like little things, but when it comes to the user experience, one wrong detail can ruin it all. Imagine a visually stunning, engaging app that is easy to navigate and presents a potential solution to a problem you must solve. Now imagine that the sound is too quiet and it’s hard to hear anything you might need to. See how one small thing can make or break the experience? Because details matter so much, expert opinions can really benefit your app. That said, if it isn’t in your budget, consider asking friends or colleagues who would typically be interested in your app to try it. And make sure they know that you’re looking for one hundred percent honest feedback.

In Conclusion

Now that you’ve got a starting point, happy launching! Of course you want to wait until you’re absolutely ready. Depending on your app and objectives, this can take months to years. But once you launch, make it count! Get bloggers, journalists, and media specialists to write about your app. Share a countdown across social media channels that includes any special offers for people who download the app on launch day. Generate as much buzz as you can- if you want your app to be worth it, you must believe it is and act accordingly!

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