Check out the Step-by-Step Mobile App Marketing Guide for 2021

A Step-By-Step Mobile App Marketing Guide for 2021: The III Act Structure

Suggestions by some top app marketing companies to effectively market a mobile app in 2021.

Updated on :
January 15th, 2021
Twinkle Kalkandha
Twinkle Kalkandha
Product Strategist

App development is only half the job done, the real challenge begins when it has to be marketed. Mobile app marketing is a way to make your app reach out to as many users as possible. With an excess of 2.8 million apps in the Play Store and 2.2 million in the App Store, it becomes a mammoth challenge to make your app recognized. Effective marketing techniques like ASO are implemented to make it rank higher in the app markets. But that’s just one aspect of it. The more visibility your app receives, more will it come to people’s notice, and better shall be the downloading rate.

A brief on mobile app marketing

Mobile app marketing is about knowing your customers and taking them through the entire product life cycle. This includes introducing them to your application, retaining them as a regular user and finally making them loyal customers who form your core audience base. App marketing can be broadly categorized into three stages:

  1. Acquisition- The foremost step of marketing where you get the user to know about your app and make him/her download it.
  2. Activation– While user activation can have many connotations in general terms it can imply a user making initial progress with the app like creating profiles and exploring various things about it.
  3. Retention– This is the stage where your user becomes a regular user of your app; the loyal customer.

But app marketing can be an exhaustive process to comprehend so to make it sound interesting, we have compared to a theatrical narrative structure. Consider a Shakespearean play, despite the number of scenes, there’s always the ‘III Acts’. It’s the case for (almost) every story you see. The III Act Structure model of storytelling consists of the Setup, the Confrontation and the Resolution. Likewise, mobile app marketing can be divided into

  1. The Pre-launch
  2. The Acquisition
  3. The Post-Launch

The top mobile marketing companies know the app’s target audience and use techniques to bring it to their notice. But how do they do it? The following is a Three-Act Step-by-Step marketing plan that will guide you in making your app a profit-making machine.

Act I: The Pre-launch

The Pre-launch act is where you start things from scratch. From deciding the nitty gritty of the campaign to a pre-launch event to deciding a date, everything comes under the purview of the first act.

Pre-launch campaign

One of the very crucial steps in pre-launch app marketing is to focus on brand awareness and make your product (app) known by users. This is where you decide on how to market an app. There’s a lot of ground to cover as you devise the means and work on them to popularise your app.

The pre-launch phase is the best way to get yourself and team well acquainted with the planning and strategy you have adopted or want to adopt for mobile app marketing. While every marketing team has a different set of goals to advertise its app, there are certain areas that you need to always focus on.

  • Competitor research will help you know about other similar apps which are doing well.
  • Blogging about your app, its scope, the technology it uses can have a lot of impact through readership
  • ASO (App Store Optimization) to increase the visibility of your app and rank in Top X lists of the App Store and Play Store
  • Social Media App Marketing to reach out to more users
  • A comprehensive press kit to earn positive reviews from techsperts and journalists
  • A plan of mandatory regular assessment of mobile app KPIs like downloads, retention, active users, daily sessions, churning rate and retention rate
  • Beta Testing and onboarding

Target Market Research

Thorough market research for your target audience gives direction to the app marketing plan. Once you know who your target customers are, you will proceed accordingly. Now, what does having a target audience mean? It means that there is a pain point (irrespective of size) that you have realised and your app promises to eliminate it. There could be more than one pain point. Even popular hooked apps like Facebook, Amazon, PUBG, Wikipedia, WhatsApp had a target market when they started off, although the whole world now uses them.

One effective way is to find out what are the social preferences of your target audience is to know what kind of blogs do they read, which websites do they frequent, which influencers do they follow in SM handles, what YouTube channels do they visit, etc.

Creating user personas to build a stronger relationship with users

Now that you know whom to target, it’s time to connect with them with user personas. What is a user persona? It helps your product (app in this case) to be more relatable to the users. It’s a time taking app marketing strategy where you have to keep in mind factors like gender, age, race, religion, education, income, demographics, tastes and preferences, concerns, behaviours, etc. But when you’re gathering such huge data, you have to be very careful as many times it has happened that app developers wanted to shape the consumer to fit the app and miserably failed. It should be the other way round.

mobile app marketing

Why is a user persona created?

Consider reading a novel and following a character. Now a character without a profile will be dull, confusing and will rob you off consistency. It’s not stereotypical generalizing but an equitable archetypal approach to which users can relate to. A persona is like a character which is created using real data and helps to further ameliorate your relationships with customers. It’s basically a representation of your target audience segment for the app that you have designed. To create a persona, you need extensive research of your users’ needs, motivations and grievances. There is no right or wrong to it as you can include as much as little information in it.

mobile app marketing


It’s always not possible to gather data about your audience. In such cases, you can create personas based on reasonable assumptions to which your app provides solutions. The following bullets mention the factors responsible.

  • Pain points– What are the problems that your audience is facing?
  • OS preference– Is your audience more into Android or iOS or both?
  • Content-based– What are the types of content your audience usually goes through online?
  • Tonality- What is the content style preferred by your audience, how much understanding skills do they possess?
  • Social presence– How much time does your audience spend on social media?
  • Influencers– Does your audience follow social influencers who endorse products/services in the same vertical as your app does?
  • Ad campaigns– Which platforms should you use to carry out marketing campaigns?

User personas are apex means to enhance the UI and UX of your app. If the persona is designed nicely, users will love going through and analysing it. The motive of the UI developer is to generate empathy through the visuals. Empathise, Define, Idea, Prototype, Test, Implement are the elements with which a UI developer can build engaging personas.

step by step marketing plan

Interestingly, you can also ‘not’ consider the above yardsticks and create something for everyone (eg- Netflix, Amazon Prime, Pokémon GO).

Competitor Research for a thorough analysis

Market Research is of utmost importance. Whatever you make, you will have competitors in the market, some of whom might be doing great. Therefore, extensive research will lead you to understand their business model, target audience, their approach towards segmented groups, marketing techniques used, challenges they are facing, ranking in the app markets, merits and demerits of their user designs and user experiences and feedback. Make a list of your best market adversaries (say the Top 5 or Top 10).

Pro Tip: Understand the collected data minutely and try not to repeat such practices where they have faltered. Your objective is to make your app better in those areas, where your competitors are lacking or not doing well.

Deciding the date of release

The date of release can be one of the most thought-provoking aspects of the pre-launch part. Once your date is set, you have no other option than to streamline every pending task as per priority. With an end in mind, you can strategize each and every activity as per routine and delegate the duty to the member responsible for carrying it out. Keeping the date in mind will always make the team realise that time is ticking away and how everyone has to complete the task(s) in hand. Moreover, application stores strengthen their laws every year, especially the App Store. If guidelines aren’t met, there can be a delay in release. Therefore, the room for error is very less.

Content marketing strategy

This can be done even before deciding the date of release. Writing blogs about the application before its launch will help you to generate quite a buzz among your target audience. By the time the release date arrives, there will be enough food on the audience’s platters that they won’t need to be reminded for a download. Screenshots, tutorials, infographics, promos, videos, etc. help a lot in popularizing your app not just in the pre-launch phase but in every phase. The merits include:

  • A lot of impressions are fostered which can lead to conversions from the date of release.
  • It will show your expertise over the app and the objective it is trying to achieve.
  • Brand awareness keeps on growing.
  • The content can be further used for E-mail, referral and social media marketing.

Act II: The Acquisition

Implementing ASO to track and optimise your mobile app marketing strategy

App Store Optimisation or ASO is considered the SEO of mobile app marketing. As the latter primarily focuses on making a page/website get higher ranking in search engines, the same way ASO helps apps obtain higher visibility in app market searches. There are millions of applications in the app stores and to make your app noticeable to the users, you need ASO.

Keyword Research Optimization, with the help of keyword research tools, helps you to come up with keywords related to your app. With the tools, you can target, prioritize and measure keywords as per the requirement. Search and Conversion Optimization includes methods like A/B testing and the others which helps in gaining leverage on the App Store and Play Store listings. Tracking and monitoring the primary KPIs help in understanding keyword ranking, competitor’s rankings, changes in listings, etc.

Getting initial response through Minimal Viable Onboarding

Minimum Viable Onboarding, Mobile App Onboarding or simply onboarding is a process via which you can easily get initial response of your application. It’s like a free trial for users who can use your app, review its design and outlook, find its core objectives and see if it’s solving the issues that it was actually created for. With this, you can get a fair idea if your app will be a hit or flop in the long run.

Before onboarding, remember, a user should feel easy to use the app, so avoid things like filling out monotonous forms, multiple sign-ups and log-ins, eliminating or conjoining points that don’t have much significance and overburdening with options. The keyword is ‘simplicity’. Provide a very brief Product tour to let users know how they are going to benefit from the app and never shy away from using gamification methods which makes your app highly interactive.

Driving insane traffic through Social Media App Marketing

You would want to know how to promote an app on social media as it’s one of the most mainstream ways to popularise it to as many users as you can. In fact, it’s a must-follow protocol in today’s time. As of September 2019, Facebook alone has 1.62 billion Daily Active Users (DAUs) and 2.45 billion monthly DAUs.

how to promote an app on social media

There are two ways via which you can carry out social media app marketing-

Organic marketing- Create as many handles (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.) of your product/company as you can. Start following people from the group(s) you have targeted and make engaging posts about your product which they can see. Your posts should be meaningful, interactive and should compel the user to go through it. Don’t go overboard by overtly promoting your app that will only create a bad image among your customers. Use excellent use of graphics and millennial lingo, as it has a universal appeal.

mobile app market research

Paid Marketing- Paid promotions help in the app’s growth. As per stats, every paid app installation helps gain 1.5 more installs. It earns you more Click-Through Rates (CTRs), making it easier for your specified demographic of consumers to find the app. It is also an essential tool for brand recognition enhancement. Pay-per-click ads will help your users familiarise with the app.

mobile app market research

Act III: Post Launch

Push Notifications with exciting messages

Once your app is active and getting downloads, you should make sure that users keep coming back to your app. It’s a clever way to understand user behaviour. With interaction times and CTR, you can comprehend which messages have had a better impact on them. There are ways with which you can make your app interesting with the help of push notification. You can ask users to enable location sharing so that their app experience gets better with the feature. You can also introduce a fitting reward system for the users to feel elated. Whether it’s gaming apps, lifestyle apps, social networking apps, content marketing apps or apps from other genres, those who use Push notifications have benefitted immensely. Statistically, Push notifications do a lot good for businesses like-

  • Increase retention rate by 3 times
  • Improvement app engagement by 88%
  • 50% of the smartphone users consider the feature to be genuinely helpful
  • E-commerce apps with the feature bring about the maximum customer engagement at 278%

app marketing strategy

The reward system to increase customer motivation

As we mentioned in passing in the last point, the reward system can be a game-changer for your app. Understanding the user psychology is a must habit and how you use that knowledge to fruition will reflect on your app. Let’s be honest- no one likes a dull app or the one that’s way too simple. If you feel that is the case with your app, you can find accurate ways to master it.

Motivation is a key factor that determines your app’s relationship with a user. If a user is motivated enough by the app, he/she will not even think twice before opening it multiple times a day. Methods like gamification bring a storm of fresh air in the app. You can create a point system where the user can earn badges based on performance. A leaderboard will create a global community where a user can see how great he/she is doing. You can also include Daily Login Rewards, which can stimulate him/her to visit the app at least once every day.

In-App feedback and reviews: How it helps

Feedback keeps the two-way communication intact between your app and the customer. Feedback helps you to know how good your app is performing; whether good or bad, the customer will likely share his/her responses. You can include a feedback column in your app where customers and share their insights. Including pop-up ratings where a user is asked to rate the app is also a great way to know user responses. Now, it shouldn’t be right at the moment when they have downloaded the app or when they are in the middle of something. Let them use the app for some time, and the next time they open the app, a pop-up may appear asking whether the user is satisfied with the app and would that person recommend a 5-Star rating.

mobile app market research

While these were in-app feedback, it is also important that you generate enough reviews on the app stores as well. Remember, a user is usually prompted to write a review when he/she has concerns or expresses dissatisfaction. It takes a lot of good work to make a consumer write something good about your app. 88% endow their trust with online reviews and consider them to be like ‘personal recommendations’.

mobile app market research

There are many ways by which you can generate more views. Live chats, quick surveys, social media feedback are some of the ways which help in amassing a good number of audience responses. In-App Feedback tools like Mopinion, Instabug, Survey Monkey, Apptentive will help you to gather user data and feedback in a systematic order.
Collate and go through each and every review to know how your app is performing. Give special attention to those which are highlighting some features, raising a question or being critical about it. Try to acknowledge all of them with an assurance that it will be fixed soon.

To conclude…

To sum it up, the app marketing ecosystem is immensely huge and is getting more and more developments every year. While trade experts are predicting an almost 10 per cent slowdown by the end of 2022, it will most likely pick up from thereon. As an app marketer, your job is to conduct an empirical mobile app market research, understand the tactics, promote it vigorously, define KPIs, create a cohesive environment for the user and bank on their responses. The promotion shouldn’t stop. If your app has a website, then advertise it as much as you can, dedicate blog posts to it, release newsletters and Press Releases as all this will generate a lot of buzz around your app.

Hope this step-by-step guide will help you to venture out successful campaigns.

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