Mobile App Marketing Tips For Small Businesses: 11 Experts Share Their Advice - BuildFire
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Mobile App Marketing Tips For Small Businesses: 11 Experts Share Their Advice

 You finally did it. You spend countless hours perfecting your app and you have just launched it into the marketplace. So, naturally you should be expecting millions of downloads and money flooding in…right?

After all your app has all the right widgets and looks amazing. Plus, you invested a good amount of money and time into it. So why is your app barely getting any downloads? Well, it could be that your app is not being marketed the way it should be.

We reached out to 11 professionals and asked them for their mobile marketing tips for small business apps. We believe their strategies will guide you towards the levels of success you are looking for. 


Paul Manwaring

Design & Marketing Consultant

I have found a couple thing extremely helpful while working with a few startups and their apps:

Twitter/Facebook Ads:

Being able to hyper target users of these 2 social media platforms you can really find the perfect leads. For instance we had an app allowing users to find the best food at lunchtime in London.So we were able to target users in specific areas of London, during the hours of 11am-2pm (the busy lunch hours and when people might be looking for some food or just using their phones during their break).

Influencer Marketing:

Great way to get your app in the eyes of your audience. I’m an influencer myself in a sub-genre of music. I have been asked by manufacturers of DJ equipment, speakers, audio production software simply because I have a large following of exactly the type of people they want to target. It’s very powerful to get a good review from someone who lives and breathes the niche you are trying to break into.


Richard Kelleher

World’s first Marketing Sociologist
Marketing your app starts before the approval process by iTunes and Google for your app. It should
start at the onset of your app development.

Start with Focus Groups

You need to reach out to the old-fashioned marketing tools to market your
app. Start with a focus group of your customers. What features do they need
on their app? Where do they hear about the apps they install on their
mobile device?

Location is key

What publications do your customers read (including online ones) that you
need old-fashioned public relations for? A good press release placed on
TechCrunch or Mashable is like 30 years ago of getting your press released
placed in the New York Times and Washington Post.

Utilize your platform to the fullest

I have a saying – Think tap, not touch – throughout the process. People
touch their computer, tap their mobile device.

Do not cram everything in

You need to utilize the cloud to serve your application. Associated Press
app takes about two or three minutes to download. Too much information. Web
design focused, not mobile. Thirty seconds is death to a mobile app
loading. Don’t try to be everything to everyone via an app. That’s the
problem with websites and why they were abandoned by consumers for mobile

Final Words of Wisdom

Think of your mobile app as the sales brochure from last century. Too few
people use the tap to call feature available in most app design.
Katie Meurin

Director of Marketing


Build up your credibility

For a new developer, their marketing goals should be centered around building new reviews.

If you spend a lot of money on marketing before you build reviews you will send visitors to a new listing without the credibility of seeing other reviews. I usually recommend a grassroots approach – start with your friends, family, colleagues. Maybe throw an app launch event and ask everyone to review there.

Get a business card

If you don’t already have business cards for your company, you need to. Building up your online presence is important but don’t forget who is actually behind every computer, people.

Build up credibility anywhere you go

Carry around a business card that asks people to review, give it to everyone you meet. Adding a simple line asking people to review your app will let people know that you value their opinion. The reviews will not only help you establish credibility with visitors but also with the app stores, so they will show your app more in search results and you will get more organic downloads.


Brady Christensen


Most people are looking for a magic-bullet to market their mobile-app. They’re crossing their fingers and hoping that the answer to their marketing problems is something like “Use Adwords!” “Do SEO”, etc. Well here is the closest thing to a magic-bullet I can give you:

Know your audience:
Who is the ideal person to download and use your mobile app? Once you know that, find out where they hangout online.
Here is an example:

You own a fitness app that helps increase strength on the big lifts like bench press, squat, and dead lift. You do some research and you learn that your audience is young men, ages 18 to 25 that want to build muscle and strength. You would start by advertising on pages that cater to that demographic. You also found out that your customers are heavily involved with Stronglifts 5×5 workout routine, a workout routine highly recommended for beginners. You now know to position yourself with Stronglifts 5×5 to start bringing in even more of your ideal customers. You would then contact the creator of stronglifts 5×5 and negotiate an agreement for an advertisement, facebook mention, or newsletter blast.

The bare minimum

For anyone who is just getting started, I would highly recommend, at the very least, running very targeted ads on Facebook to people who meet your criteria.



Bob Bentz


While app store optimization is certainly important, marketers must not
rely solely on promotion within the stores to maximize downloads. There
are over two million apps in the stores and finding a particular app is
similar to finding the proverbial needle in the haystack, despite the best
ASO efforts.

Know the game and play it right
It is not easy to get consumers interested in downloading another app on
their mobile phone when smartphone users are already using an average of
26.7 apps per month, according to a Nielsen study. Too often, a company
spends all of its money on developing an app and does not reserve any money
for marketing the app. That is a rookie mistake. Don’t make it.
Develop a marketing plan
A company needs to have developed a structured marketing plan in advance of
the release of the app. It needs a plan to tell existing customers and
prospects good reasons why they need the app and where the app can be
downloaded. It needs to evaluate all of its current marketing channels to
determine which would be best for promoting an app.


Find the right platforms

Facebook, for instance, would probably be better for facilitating app downloads than
outdoor advertising since a social media user is likely on her mobile phone
already as opposed to a driver who is hopefully not on his phone. Google
AdMob might be the best place since it enables an app marketer to advertise
within other apps that consumers have already downloaded.

Facebook Ads
There is no doubt about the power of creating buzz on social media for an
app launch. It is an important part of the initial publicity required.
And, nobody does app marketing better than Facebook which earns a
significant part of its ad revenue from brands pushing app downloads.

Advertise outside the web
Of course, internet advertising is not always the best source for app
downloads. If the app has a huge budget, it may very well be television
that results in the most downloads. *Game of War* did a great job of
promoting its app with eye catching Kate Upton and Mariah Carey as the
stars of the commercials.
Be in the spotlight
Acquisition costs will not always be high priced efforts like the
television advertising for *Game of War*. Publicity is a major driver of
new app downloads so use press releases and other public relations efforts
to get the word out. Include a social media blitz as well. The ROI
provided by public relations efforts will likely result in the best ROI of
any of the promotional efforts.

Spread the word, fast.

When marketing an app, it is absolutely critical to get off to a quick
start to break through the supply of apps in the app store. If an app is
buried below thousands of others in the rankings, it is going to be
difficult to get found. Therefore, app marketers must get the word out
quickly about the app by using a high level of growth hacking or a large
advertising budget in an attempt to gain a featured listing and benefit
from organic downloads. Downloads beget more downloads thanks to the viral
effect of the purchase and the improved ASO.

Advertise on mobile apps
Research from Localytics found an added bonus to advertising apps. App
users that were acquired as a result of being discovered via a mobile ad
network were more likely to come back for multiple uses on the app than
those that found it from an organic search on the app store. This is
likely due to the fact that the ad creative has done a good job in
pre-selling users on the benefits of the app and that the advertising was
highly targeted.
Encourage Sharing
The viral effect of apps is an important phenomenon to take advantage of.
An app should encourage existing users to share the app with friends or on
social media. (Think Candy Crush.) This is a great way to take advantage
of the viral publicity that a mobile app can provide.
Add your app URL to your content marketing
Another great way to drive traffic to an app is to find the URL of the app
download in the iTunes or Google Play listing for the app. Keep in mind,
this is not the URL for the business, but the URL that is used by the app
stores. Then, when the business does content marketing on its own blog or
on external sites, it can link to the app store URL listings. The goal is
to get multiple rankings on the search engines for the app. Those rankings
might be the page on the business website that promotes the app download
and the app stores’ direct URL’s for the download.
Go International
For iPhone and Android apps, there are multiple countries where the app can
be listed. If an app makes its money on advertising, there is no reason
not to list the app in all countries, especially populous countries like
China and India. The Apple App and Google Play stores are available in
over a hundred countries so it makes sense to be listed in as many of them
as necessary. Of course, if the app has an ecommerce element to it, this
may not be practical.

Be present in multiple stores
There are many secondary Android app stores and therefore many places where
an Android app can be marketed. Amazon, Kindle, Nook store from Barnes &
Noble, AppBrain, and GetJar are a few alternate places where an Android app
can be marketed in addition to its logical home base in the Google Play

Measure your CPI and advertise wisely
There is a defined cost to acquire app downloads and it is measured by a
Cost Per Install (CPI) index. The CPI per vertical market varies, but
according to Fiksu, it averages $2.98 per user in 2015 and it is rising
every year as businesses expand their use of mobile advertising, thus
driving CPI costs up.
Alice Williams

Online Content Contributor, Business Bee

Bring on the hype

Generating excitement via social media is a must*. SMB’s should plan
out a social media campaign that starts approximately 3 months before the
app is released. In doing this, the SMB can tease out information regarding
the app to build awareness and market it in a cost efficient manner.
Create a Launch Event

Another way to generate excitement and build community relations
is to throw an event to announce the launch of the app. The SMB can invite notable
members of the community, bloggers and social media influencers to generate
buzz and to try and attract members of the local press (which is fantastic
PR for the SMB and their app)
Include your app in your emails

A way to help market the app without much extra work is to be
sure to include information about the app in any email communications the SMB sends out
to customers and to of course have a dedicated email announcing the app when it is live.


Steve Hatmaker, Jr.
Digital Marketing Strategist


Start Today

One of the best ways to guarantee marketing success for your mobile app is
to begin today. Most small business get involved in marketing the app when
it is too late, or even worse, they completely over looking any kind of

Know your competitive edge

After you complete your marketing research for your ideal audience, you
need to discover your apps unique selling proposition. What makes your app
unique? Why is it better than your competitors?

Optimize your app

Also, it is very important to optimize you app for the App Store. This
includes optimal use of keywords in your app name and description.
Take your time
Try to avoid the rush to get your app out immediately, you have a better
chance of getting press coverage if you have an advanced target release

Design the perfect press kit
Be sure to offer sneak peeks and teasers such as screenshots of your app,
video promo, and blog post. People love visuals. Start giving them insight
and build buzz long before the apps launch.

The power of email

Be sure to send out emails, tweets, and Facebook post to your current
customer list. Never underestimate the power of an email.

Build a microsite

Build an enticing microsite just for your app. Keep it updated with fresh
content about your app.

Spread the word

Contact sites like App Advice (, Macworld (, and 148 Apps ( These are
popular sites that have large audiences and can help spread the word about
your app. As soon as it releases, write these sites and ask for a review.

Ask for reviews

Ask customers for reviews after your app is released.


Marin Perez

Content Marketing Manager

Solve your customer’s problem, not your own.

First off, make sure your app is actually solving a problem. Many
businesses feel like they have to create an app because everybody’s doing
it but an app strategy isn’t a one-time project, it’s a long-term program.
Because of that, make sure it fits with your business goals.

Use all your tools

Make sure you leverage every single touchpoint you have with the customer
to promote the app. Many brands will promote their app on the website, on
social, on email and on other digital platforms but don’t ignore your other
connections with customers. If you’re a brick-and-mortar, use your in-store
signage or your receipts to promote your apps.

Leverage your communication channels

Finally, don’t forget to leverage the communication channels you own to get
the most out of your app. Brands will likely use paid media to acquire new
app users and it’s important to get those users over to channels you can
control like email, push notification, in-app messages and more. From
there, ensure you’re delivering personalized and relevant communications to
your users across every channel.


Boni Satani

Inbound Marketer

Six ways to promote your Mobile App

  1. Add a link of your app on your existing website
  2. Offer a Free Recharge/ Coupons to encourage users to download your app
  3. Guest post on the relevant website and in a way promote your app via
    author bio
  4. Encourage your existing users to promote the app by offering them some
  5. Optimize your App title and Description around relevant keywords
  6. Ensure that your app is indeed adding value to users


Joe Franklin

Focus on the Rankings

When marketing a mobile app the, it’s important to focus first and foremost on ranking. The app market is chaotic, and if your app isn’t ranked high enough, it won’t be discovered. It can be tempting to lean on ad networks that will promote your app through other apps and banners, and while this may work, it can also be costly.

Develop a Social Media Strategy

I recommend that my cash-strapped clients focus first on social media. Regardless of size, every mobile app company should have a social media strategy in place – it increases brand reach and can help drawn in the right audience for your app. It can also be a powerful communication tool between the app developer and end user, which can help keep reviews within the app store positive, thereby helping to increase rankings and visibility.

Keep an open line of Communication

If users can only complain about an app through its review process, developers are setting themselves up for failure. Keeping an open line of communication through social media fosters actionable feedback that helps with updates and cuts down on ranking-killing bad reviews.”


Brian Sparker

Be Refined by the Fire

The best tip I share with my clients is to monitor and manage your online
reviews. Having a firm understanding of your customer’s feedback and pain
points can make a huge difference for mobile apps as it allows a business
to leverage customer feedback, track issues the customer may be having and
identifying trends through data analysis and common phrases used in the


More to come…

We hope our experts have given you valuable insight into mobile marketing for your app.

With these tips you are well on your way to getting your app to the right people at the best time. As always we we are committed to your success and believe in your mission.

If you have any suggestions, comments, or questions, please let us know in the comments below

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Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.

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