The best mobile apps are created as a solution to a problem. Once you’ve identified that problem and potential solutions, you now have actionable first steps towards creating a digital solution that can help make an impact on people’s lives. But what comes next?
Executing your idea into a functional, well-performing app is an essential part of the process — but making sure that people are actually aware of the app’s existence is key if you want to help change lives. The mobile app ecosystem is more competitive than ever before — the first quarter of this year saw 37 billion worldwide app installations, an 11% increase from 2021.
Over the years, our expert developers at MindSea have successfully built and launched apps that have been used by millions. There is no guaranteed method to catapult your app to the top of charts, but we want to share a few pro tips* that we have found to be essential for the launch of a new app.
1) Research Your Competition & Industry
This step is absolutely crucial—it’s amazing how often would-be app creators skip it.
Researching your competition is a fundamental first step. When it comes to your potential competition, what are you facing in terms of functionality? What about market size? How about the quality of other apps your ideal customers are already using? Before making a commitment to launch an app, you need to understand what you’re up against.
To help gauge market potential, here’s a sample spreadsheet to track comparisons and differences between competitor apps:
Want the spreadsheet? [Click here]
Using this tool, you can examine and compare factors like pricing, customer satisfaction, and whether or not your competitors are keeping their app up to date. These are key insights towards determining whether an opportunity is worth pursuing, and if so, how to monetize your app.
2) Establish A Strategic Pricing Approach
Monetization in the app store can follow different purchase formats, with each pricing model coming with various pros and cons. Your app can follow one or several of these formats:
- Free to download/use
- Initial download price
- Offer in-app purchases
Which model is right for your app? It all depends on your goal.
The free or “freemium” strategy is by far the most popular. It is highly effective for driving consumer awareness and increasing likelihood of adoption because it builds an audience before even making a sale. Let’s be honest—people love free stuff! This approach also rewards value-driven apps as well as scalability.
As example, consider Spotify’s Premiere tier: it offers a more personalized and ad-free listening experience, but users can also benefit from the free version.
The paid or subscription model works best if you’re trying to connect with a niche audience to solve a specific issue. It’s vital that the aforementioned market research supports the pricing for your service. This may not be the ideal model if you want a ton of new app downloads, but it has the potential to grow a very loyal base of users if your app’s functionality meets or exceeds user expectations.
In-app purchases have proven to be another great option, as demonstrated TikTok’s current status as the consumer spending market leader. Watching videos on the app is completely free for users, but in-app badges and gifts can be purchased to support individual creators.
But before choosing a price point for your app, consider the market by asking these questions to help guide you to a more strategic approach:
- How much are competitive apps charging? How does my app compare in terms of value offered?
- What’s the cost to keep the app running?
- How many downloads would I need to cover that cost, and at what price point?
- Should I offer features that could be leveraged as an up-sell or upgrade?
3) Develop Branded Screenshots & Visuals For Marketing Purposes
65% of people are visual learners. So, show them why your app is worth their time. Users gravitate towards an app that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing—so you need to create great branded screenshots and visuals for promotion purposes.
These visual assets are essential to telling your app’s story. Potential users in app stores will view these materials as they learn about your services and decide if they will be downloading the app. They’ll play a huge role in other marketing endeavors as well, including press releases, social media content, and uploading onto ProductHunt.
Check out an example of branded screenshots we created for Halterix, a motion insight app, showing highlights of key functions and app features:
To share these materials, we suggest uploading them into a Dropbox folder. This file sharing platform is easy-to-use, reliable, and widely utilized, making it easy for you to share info that enables people to write about you.
4) Optimize Your Mobile App For App Store Search
Word of mouth is certainly an effective technique to spread the word about your app, but experts consistently find that most users find new apps by browsing the app stores.
When it comes to ranking in the iOS App Store or Google Play Store, both have similar variables. Across the industry, experts suggest that there are four important elements to ranking well in for both iOS apps and Android apps including:
- Keyword usage in the name and/or description
- Visuals and branding used for the app
- The number of downloads the app generates
- The number of positive reviews the app generates
According to MobileDevHQ, placing keywords within the app name have the biggest impact on app store search rankings. The study found that using keywords in the title increased rank likelihood by 10.3%. That’s huge.
Both the Apple Store and Google Play restrict title to 30 characters maximum, so make your point quickly and effectively. While some apps use just their brand name in the title, many tend to follow include a description with keywords after:
[Product Name]: [Description with keywords]
Here’s a few examples of what that pattern looks like in a few of today’s most popular apps:
5) Get Early Testimonials For Your Description
People want to know that your app is going to deliver value. Reviews can help new users trust you, especially when the testimonial comes from a source they feel they can trust.
As example, check out these examples from the description of Calm, a meditation app:
Even if most users don’t read your app’s entire description, those who do are more likely to become your most vocal advocates—or detractors. Start the relationship on a high note by displaying testimonials from real users who like what you’ve built.
As a bonus, these testimonials can also be helpful when reaching out to the press.
6) Develop A Media Outreach Strategy
All too often, mobile app developers fall victim to the “Field of Dreams fallacy,” but just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come. You need a deliberate strategy in place to help drive awareness and hype.
First, establish your story by identifying the value your app offers and what makes it unique. Next, start doing outreach to build relationships with writers, journalists, and bloggers who have an audience that lines up with the people you’re trying to connect with.
How can you find them? Here are a few tips:
- Google News: Search Google News for the name of apps that compete with you and look at the names of the reporters covering them.
- Reverse Google Image Search: Take images from your competitors’ website and see who used them on their blog. It’s likely that these bloggers have written about them and may be interested in what you built.
- HARO: Help-A-Reporter-Out is a daily email that connects journalists with people who are experts in various fields. You can use this to connect with journalists and writers when a topic aligns with your app.
- Social Media: Follow popular industry sources, competitors, and hashtags to keep your finger on the pulse. Twitter and LinkedIn are both good options that are frequently used for industry-related news.
7) Launch An Initial Web Presence
Start promoting your app before it goes live. While establishing media relationships is important, you also need to connect with your ideal everyday users: the real people who can benefit from your app.
What are the four key elements to a great app website?
- Ability to capture emails
- Clearly communicated value
- Site is easy to navigate; content is easily located
- Customer support
First and foremost, the primary goal of your landing page should be to capture emails. This will help drive as many initial downloads and reviews as possible at launch time.
Also, consider establishing a social media presence. Social media is a great tool to connect with potential users by sharing helpful and informative content, with the goal of driving them to your website.
8) Make It Easy To Spread The Word
Great mobile apps don’t go viral because of algorithms—they go viral because people can’t stop talking about them.
Thunderclap is a service that leverages your supporters to spread the word about your app, allowing them to help you with the launch before go-live. Build a campaign and from there, people sign up to spread the word on launch day. Upon sign up, they’re giving the service the ability to post on their behalf. On the launch date, the campaign is activated and are posts automatically shared.
Don’t forget about manual outreach! Groove CEO Alex Turnbull has shared how he was able to generate thousands of subscribers using this approach. He used a simple checklist for building relationships with influencers prior to asking them to share their content:
- Follow on Twitter
- Two Tweets
- Two Blog Comments
- Two Blog Shares
- Personal Email
Once this was implemented, he followed up with the perfect email:
Putting strategy into action with MindSea
Whether you’ve already launched your app or are just getting started, we hope these proven tips will help you find success. Are you looking for more resources?
- Try our Digital Health Check—it helps existing apps looking to optimize their functionality and improve performance.
- Check out our latest eBook The Ultimate Guide to Digital Health App Design and Development
Ready to build stunning and scalable digital solutions? We can’t wait to learn how we can partner for your app’s success. Contact us today for a consultation.