The pre-launch phase is arguably the most important step in the app marketing process. Typically, the first phases of your mobile app marketing strategy should focus on brand awareness and visibility. Here’s how you can you successfully market your mobile app to your target demographic.

32 Pre-Launch Mobile App Marketing Strategies

1. Determine a release date

Apple has a strict review process that might delay the release, or you may encounter a setback that you didn’t anticipate. Planning far in advance will give you adequate time to prepare for the hard launch, allowing you to foresee any contingencies that may occur.

Pro Tip: When scheduling your launch date, pay attention events that are going on in your space that have the potential to overshadow your app.

2. Conduct market research to understand your customers

One of the most common pre-launch pitfalls is not doing market research properly. At the very beginning of the development phase, you should identify the key players in your specific app category. It doesn’t matter how thorough and effective your marketing efforts are – if your app doesn’t address a pain-point or addresses one that already exists in the market, then it will simply not succeed. App Annie provides tons of useful app market data.

Pro Tip: If you don’t know what the most influential blogs, groups, forums, or websites your target audience is visiting, or what influencers they follow, you will struggle to reach them.

3. Build out your user personas

Try to envision the ideal user– What characteristics and traits do they have in common? Once you’ve nailed down the demographic you’ll be targeting, you can adjust your marketing message much more easily. Ask yourself who your app is for and how your target audience could benefit from your features. What features are they currently missing in the apps they are using or have used in the past? What features do they like and dislike the most?

Pro Tip: An app aimed at the 30-40 year old demographic is going to need a much different approach than an app made for millennial. Be smart about using certain language, gifs, emojis, etc. and adjust your messaging appropriately.

4. Conduct a competitive analysis

The chances that your app has some existing competition in the app market are very high as there are millions of apps to choose from. Make a list of your top 5 competing apps, their current price, monetization model, ranking, pros and cons, notable reviews. You could even go as far as making a competitive matrix to determine how your app compares. Make sure your app doesn’t repeat any poorly made features or UX elements that users have negatively reviewed. Think about what could make your app stand out in contrast to your competitors. These are important considerations that should influence your entire app marketing approach.

Pro Tip: Research and test competing apps and improve on what they are offering.

5. Determine your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

With the information gathered from the last point, you can determine what makes your app unique and capitalize on those elements throughout your messaging.

6. Define brand messaging and positioning

What’s the story behind the app? Bumble does this well as their value proposition and vision to empower women is evident throughout all of the company’s messaging. Once you have a story and messaging that resonates with users, and the app provides a great experience in achieving their goal, the positive reviews and ratings will roll in. Customers buy into the reason the brand was created, not just the features it provides.

Pro Tip: Establish a brand voice. Who is behind the app?

7. Create a branding style guide

The purpose of a style guide is to ensure similar design styles are used across all of your marketing channels. Having a document keep track of your color and font choices will be extremely useful especially if you have a larger team. This will ensure that your branding remains consistent.

8. Create a pitch deck

If you want to obtain funding for it from angel investors or venture capital firms you need to prepare an effective “pitch deck” that showcases your company, your app, and your management team for prospective investors. It’s a is a concise, easy-to-understand, and highly visual presentation of a business idea sent to investors prior to a face-to-face meeting.

9. Collect PR materials:

Start collecting your pitch templates. When your app is launched you can send your pitches more quickly. Also you need to create your press kit. Include high-res photos of the logo, icons, screenshots, videos, marketing images, etc. Also, include information about the features and functions as well as details about your team and the background story of your app.

10. Build a media list

One of the most overlooked aspects of marketing a new app is PR initiatives and reaching out to influencers, publications, tech bloggers, etc. to secure backlinks. Make a list of these contacts that might be interested in writing about your app. Connect with them and ask to mention your app when it is released. These contacts must be relevant to your space or they won’t bother replying. Also, try to work out a promotion strategy with them. You need backlinks for your website to gain any type of visibility on Google.

Pro Tip: Think about what your target audience reads, and what they listen to and be sure to target these sources.

11. Begin PR outreach

It’s important to start your PR efforts pre-launch. Journalists and bloggers will appreciate the chance to look at your app before launching. You can ramp up your efforts after launch. Even if you don’t plan on doing pre-launch PR, building a list of sites to submit to will make promoting easier when launch time rolls around.

Pro Tip: Outreach to local press, publications, influencers such as bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters. etc. and ask them to review your app and send honest feedback. Share your thoughts on a good post they may have published and let them know why they may be interested in reviewing your app. Positive comments are always a good way to get a relationship going. Keep your pitch to journalists short and sweet with a link to your press kit or landing page. That way, if they’re interested in writing about your app, they’ll have all of the information they need.

12. Create a website, microsite, or landing page

Mobile websites are the number one source of app installs.

Creating a pre-launch landing page or at the very least a video trailer for your app has become a must-do. It’s never too early to start marketing your app.

Tip: Once you have a video made for your website, you can recycle it by putting it in the app stores, on social platforms like Youtube, or even use it in your Facebook Ads.

In addition to building a buzz around your app, having a pre-launch website is also a great way to get some early SEO by beginning to build your domain authority.

13. Start collecting emails

Email is not the most innovative tactic to drive mobile user acquisition, but it remains an essential part of a good marketing plan. When you set up your website, collect emails so you can keep your followers updated and let them know when it launches, when you have new updates and features, etc.

14. Capitalize on mobile visits to your website

Mobile searches now overtake desktop so it’s more important than ever to ensure that your website is optimized for mobile. You can also boost downloads by promoting visits to your website via mobile to download your app with a mobile smart app banner.

15. Define your monetization strategy

Defining your monetization strategy too late or squeezing in a functionality to help make the app profitable last minute will only create the opposite effect with a frustrating UX. Mobile app monetization is done in a variety of ways, from freemium based apps (in-app purchases) to ad-supported, and subscription-based.

Start App Store Optimization (ASO)

App Store Optimization involves optimizing your App Store page to rank higher in search results and convert at a higher rate.

Over 65% of apps are discovered from a search on the App Store directly

Once your app is ranked highly in search for a certain keyword, it will continue to rank for months after.

Follow steps 16 to 19 to maximize your app’s organic downloads:

16. Hook users with the app name
A great title is your chance to hook users in and get them to click on your app to discover more. Include a keyword in the title for best results.

Keyword research is probably the most crucial part of ASO. The algorithm employed by the Apple App Store uses primarily keywords coming from the app title in order to rank apps for specific search queries. Other elements such as installs, conversion rates, reviews & ratings, etc. are taken into account by the algorithm to make a proper ranking on apps targeting the same app store keywords.

Pro Tip: Conduct keyword research and create a set of long and short tail keywords.

17. Convey value in the app description

Include features and benefits the user will get out of the app.

18. Add screenshots and video
iOS and Google Play both allow for a short video preview of your app. Use this to show off gameplay, demo functions, and convince users to try it out. Include 2-3 feature screenshots with short, and exciting language to capture users’ attention right away.

19. Select the right app category
Try choosing a less competitive category so your app can rank higher in. Keep in mind that you need to make sure the category is relevant to your app.

Pro Tip: Make sure you have all your logos, screenshots, and images ready in different sizes and required file formats for easy upload to the app store and use on different online channels. Also, make sure your first two screenshots are the most exciting.

20. A/B test app page

A/B testing your app page is one of the best ways to improve its conversion rate. Test your icon, screenshots, app video, and descriptions to boost conversions.

21. Localize your app

There are tons of people who would love to use your app but will never find it because it’s not in their language. Change this by localizing your app page.

22. Create a content marketing strategy

Build up a blog months in advance of launching. When it’s time to launch, you’ll already be an authority in your niche with followers. Start simple and write a launch post, boast about the app’s features, showcase screenshots, and videos, etc. Here are several benefits of content marketing for your app:

  • Drive traffic, conversions, and brand awareness with content
  • Create a brand around your app by being the expert in your niche
  • Build trust with users through content
  • Blog content can be used for email marketing to re-engage contacts, for social media, and so on.

Creating quality blog content is a surefire way to get your app noticed on search engines.

Pro Tip: Once you have your content created, publish it on third-party sites like Medium, LinkedIn, and turn it into a slideshow and post it on SlideShare for some extra exposure. SlideShare can help you reach thousands of readers who may be interested in giving your app a try. From there, you can link directly to your website or landing page.

23. Set up social media pages and set goals for each platform

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other social platforms let you expand your web presence and allow you to directly communicate with your target audience. If your app targets specific age groups, identify the social platforms that are most popular with people in this demographic and focus on them. Make sure you consider the following:

    • Is it clear that you have an App from the first glance of your social profile?
    • Is the purpose of the app obvious?
    • Is there a link to download it?

Creating a page for your app on Facebook alone gives you a platform to share news, updates, and even how-tos or exclusive app tips. Reach out to friends and family to like and share your page, even if they aren’t part of your app’s target demographic, someone in their social network might be.

Pro Tip: Claim a username for your app on all platforms. You may end up using the platform down the road that you didn’t start off using. Consider all platforms, for example, Google+ as it can be a valuable place to find and share your content with others in your niche. Don’t underestimate the power of lesser-known platforms. StumbleUpon for example, allows users to search for and discover new content that is tailored to their interests.

24. Create social media content & creatives

Gathering social content and materials ahead of time will expedite the social posting process. Create a social posting calendar and schedule posts ahead of time. Get creative with your content and create a demo video, infographics, and capture interesting screenshots of key features.

25. Start promoting on social

Post company updates, features, etc.- get followers excited about the launch. Create a hashtag and use it in posts when appropriate. Post and share not only promotional but entertaining and engaging content related to your app in order to build a community behind it.

26. Set up Google Alerts

Find where people are talking about the problem your app solves. You can also use them to track where people are talking about your app directly by setting up a branded keyword alert.

27. Plan for promotional offers

Such as coupons. Offer limited time promo codes for free downloads, in-app purchases, or points. This will encourage listeners or readers to download quickly so they don’t miss out, helping your app rise through the rankings.

28. Plan for contests and giveaways

Running a contest can get your app a lot of attention online. This diagram from Media Examiner shows the engagement and barriers to entry for each choice:

29. Collect Reviews

Showcase 5-star reviews on the site, social, and everywhere else. Make sure reviews are authentic, or else your brand will seem in-genuine. Make sure they aren’t over the top and encourage honest, but positive ones. After two weeks is statistically the best time to ask for a review.

Pro Tip: Use testimonials not only on your website, but in ads, social posts, and on your app store page.

30. Track user acquisition

Use an attribution platform like AppsFlyer or Kochava to keep track of where your downloads are coming from.

31. Create a press kit page and post it on your website

Post your press kit on your web page by compressing everything into a .zip. Add the Press Kit link in the appropriate metadata field in iTunes Connect.

32. Write a press release

Your app launch won’t likely gain a lot of traction among journalists without a press release. Keep in mind that you need to have something newsworthy to say or else it won’t get picked up.

Final Thoughts

Diversify your marketing strategy. Create diversified content and make sure app reviewers have easy access to it at all times. Remember that your strategy should be iterative with continual optimization which will be essential to finding the perfect balance of different approaches so you can launch a successful mobile app.