Tips to promote mobile apps through digital channels

By | October 2014

Promoting mobile apps

Making a app is not the final step to reach a broad mobile audience. In fact, your amazing app can be discovered only by a few friends if you do not push it in the market – or better, in the right market segment(s) – hopefully catching the right multipliers to benefit from a viral exposure. Here are some guidelines to boost your app reach.

 PLATFORMS (Facebook and Twitter)

  • Ok, an obvious but fundamental step: always check if links to app stores work, in particular if you are using short links like bit.ly or goo.gl
  • If you have Facebook Page(s) or Twitter profile(s) you can add covers to promote your App. Please consider covers do not have a broad reach since users tend to engage with your social media content directly on their timeline.

FACEBOOK ONLY

  • Geo-target posts by selecting only people in the country with a relevant age range (e.g. 17-30). This way the target audience will be smaller but more consistent, increasing the conversion rate of relevant goals (e.g. clicks to the App store, downloads, usage of the app, clicks to your transactional site, transactions=hard goal) and the engagement rate (likes, shares, comments). As a result, there will be an increased post’s edge rank and, consequently, its organic reach. Geo-targeting is also a good way to avoid reaching fake fans that in some pages can easily be spotted by looking at the country of origin, different than your primary target country (in particular for pages with a high geographical focus).
  • Image size matters. Ideally, shared images for Facebook posts (free or paid) should be 1200×1200 (they will have a max width of 504 with a variable height) while shared links should be 1200×628 (they will be 484×252). Remember the 20% text rule: no more than 20% covered by text or they will not be enabled to be boosted as promoted post/image/app/whatever.
  • After changing the Facebook Page cover you should add a brief description with a short link to so if people click (or tap) on the cover to find out more, they will still be able to get straight away to the app store. I have noticed that Facebook page visitors on average about 1% of all page like(rs) and, if you are running promoted posts reaching a wide audience, page visitors can be something like 0.05% of your total Reach. A social media page should never be considered as a website; you can look at it as a repository of content that will be seen from another point of views, surrounded by other content that you cannot expect because each social media user has a different surfing experience. You can now add call-to-actions to Facebook covers but please remember to keep text under 20% of the entire space – check your cover here.
  • offers ways to promote directly. Please do not boost links to app stores because they will not be approved as ads since they would violate their regulations. Here are the guidelines to run Paid Ads for Apps through Facebook Advertising platform:
    https://developers.facebook.com/docs/ads-for-apps
    To go further and measure App downloads, the Apps has to be registered and linked to the FB Ads account. More info here:
    https://developers.facebook.com/docs/ads-for-apps/mobile-app-ads/register-your-app

Anyone running Google Adwords campaigns can benefit from Ads extensions to enrich their content. Such extensions also include links to App stores (iTunes or Google Play respectively, depending on the user device).

Here is an example:

App extension

Google Adwords App Extensions, an example

APP POPULARITY AND RANKING

App ranking is made of many factors. No. of downloads is just one of them, and it varies by country. Number of Downloads are not a good indicator of an app popularity, whose ranking is influenced mostly by “current installs per user”. Important indicators are also rating (up to 5 stars), positive comments, no. of app uninstalls (negative factor) and how fast users delete the app (it tells how attractive it is). A boost in the first 72 hours, benefitting of being listed among “new” apps, is just one of the factors in effect.

I am sharing a screenshot of Google Play insights. This app has more than 100 downloads but in fact, the number of real users is about 50%:

Android app insights

Android app insights

For this reason, it is important to invite people to download and give five stars plus an excellent comment and possibly keep the app on their device(s).

The App should be categorised in the right category (free or paid), and its description and associated keywords should be relevant and translated into as many languages as possible otherwise, they will not be available in some App Stores (either iTunes or Google Play). Therefore, when a user clicks on an ad in a given country he/she will see an annoying message saying something like “App not available in this country”.  The description and keywords should include relevant words also in foreign languages if appropriate wherever needed to increase the chances to be found by prospective users.

There are a few ways to check App ranking in different country mobile stores. One is Applyzer.com where you just have to create a free account to access details by country and sector.

For example, these are the top Education apps for iPhone in Italy in October 2014:

App ranking checker

App ranking checker

It is interesting also to check performance of the same app in different countries:

Check your app performance in different countries

Check your app performance in different countries