Apps are everywhere! They're a daily (let's be honest - an every ten minutes) part of life. Using a focus group of myself, I found over 140 apps on my phone, which is a lot, but is also probably the norm for most people. Apps help us connect with friends, order food, play games, get rides, watch our favorite shows, keep up with our schedules, share documents, touch up our pictures, shop, check our finances, and on and on and on. There's pretty much an app for everything.
Why do we download the apps we do? Sure, we may stumble upon an app, read the description, and get interested in it enough to download it, but we primarily download apps because of good word of mouth (so make a great app!) and good marketing (which is what we'll dive into here). I took a look at the most popular iPhone apps and found 3 major brands that market their app well, from a variety of industries. Keep in mind that it takes a lot of time and money to get into the top 10, and the top 10 will be full of the usual suspects of apps. However, by looking at what some of these apps do well, you can still get your app in front of the right people.
Snapchat may not be the biggest money maker in the world, but there's no doubt that it's a cultural force. People use it every day to send pictures directly to their friends. Some people take "keeping a streak alive" (sending pics to someone daily for an extended amount of time) deathly serious, even getting to the point where they'll hire someone to keep the streak up whenever they, god forbid, have to be away from their phone. So how does Snapchat remain in the conversation, and more importantly, get people to download their app?
By weaponizing word of mouth. If you go to Snapchat's Twitter page, it's full of retweets of people praising new features, sharing visits to Snap headquarters, and playing with new filters. It's not tweets that read "omg snapchat is the best #goodcompany," but they are tweets that are showing that people are out in the world using the app. Snapchat has realized that what people love most about the app is connecting with friends and peers, so instead of just telling people that their service is good, they let others speak for them.
Google once said "content is king." Or maybe it was Bill Gates. Or maybe it was Sumner Redstone of Viacom. No one really knows who said it first, but you've definitely heard that phrase a BILLION times by now. Netflix takes that to heart. The way they market their app is by putting the focus entirely on the kind of content they provide. They tweet info about their upcoming shows, jokes based on the shows and movies on the service, and share memes that originate from the content they have on the platform. They also create "compilation" videos that show upcoming content coming to the app.
Netflix realizes that in order to get people to download the app, they need to use what they have, which is their content. You can take the same approach when it comes to your app and your content.
You would think that Uber wouldn't need to market their app. In the short time it's been around, it's already entered into the pantheon of "brand names that become verbs" a la "just google it" or "Netflix and Chill." People say "let's Uber" all the time. But Uber still has to market themselves to continue to spread the word. They do this by placing ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offering discounts for trying the app, which gives an incentive for new users to download the app and try it out, hopefully persuading them to remain a loyal member. (If you want a crash course on how you can create an Instagram ad, well, we got you.) They also give users a unique code that they can share with friends that gives a discount both to the person sharing and to the person receiving the code. This is both a good discount ad and a way to encourage word of mouth.
Uber also handled criticism of their app, as well as showing that they are committed to "moving forward", by releasing a buzzy commercial that played on social channels.
Uber shows you that you can encourage app downloads by utilizing referral codes for your app as well as keeping your users in the loop about your commitment to evolve.
But What About My App?
Sure, your app may not have the marketing budget of a Snapchat, Netflix, or an Uber, but you can still use similar strategies to market your app. Try promoting positive word of mouth. Use referral codes to encourage downloads. If you have great content featured on your app, use it! Want more info on how to do a great Inbound Marketing campaign? Download our free eBook for more!