During the past several years, technology has made a significant shift, thanks in part to the popularity of the Apple iPhone 4, which helped usher in an era that focuses on gadgets and devices more fit for on-the-go entertainment, size-wise, but still kept the power of bigger devices. And the similarly popular Angry Birds mobile game also had a big hand (or is it feathers?) in turning casual gaming into a legitimate threat to dedicated handheld consoles like the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable back then. Naturally, the business side of things shifted accordingly, producing a flock of hopeful developers looking to cash in on the booming trend.
The rise of developers
It’s relatively easy now to develop apps and games because of several tools like BuildBox providing non-programmers the fighting chance to develop their own stuff and leave their mark in the industry, too. Of course, not everyone is destined for success. For every developer that produces an overnight sensation like Flappy Bird, there are hundreds of others looking up, albeit with renewed hopes in their faces. One of the common shortcomings of app and game developers is that they’re not exactly wired to do the things that would really put the spotlight on their creations, which is marketing and promotion.
Let’s face it: independent app and game developers are typically broke because they spend most of their resources on trying to keep their project afloat. And that leaves them incapable of outsourcing the marketing and promotion stuff to, well, dedicated marketers. But there are several ways to promote apps and games without getting a marketer or PR person, too. If you’re an aspiring developer looking to get your product out in the open, you should consider employing these effective marketing ways.
1. Get honest reviews from your friends
This is probably the easiest way, but also one of the most helpful. Get your friends to use or play the app or game you’ve developed and ask them to provide their most honest and vicious feedback – as in no holds barred. If they’re really your friends, they would be comfortable in giving you constructive criticism, if not pure criticism. Assuming they do give your app or game a negative feedback, you can use that to further improve it. But if they receive it warmly, perhaps you can ask them to post about it on their social media platforms, too.
2. Design a very attractive app or game icon
Small things go a long way. When people are browsing through app websites like Google Play and iTunes, the very first thing that they will see is your app or game icon. You can use that to grab people’s attention by putting out a very catchy icon – not over-the-top and at the same time not lacking. If you have zero design skills, however, then it would probably be wise to consult with someone with more fitting skills rather than forcing yourself to go all Picasso. But don’t worry; as long as you have the proper idea in your head, getting someone to design your app or game icon shouldn’t burn through your resources.
3. Optimize your app store descriptions
App Store Optimization is one of the more effective ways to organically get people to your app or game – okay, for the remainder of this article, let’s just use app – straight from both the app store search and Google itself. However, optimizing your app description doesn’t simply revolve around constructing the most eye-catching phrases. You should follow effective formatting, like making use of testimonials or bullet points. Also: search for keywords relevant to your app and use them within your app description. You don’t have to be an SEO expert to properly optimize your app’s page.
4. Create a landing page or website
Having a space on the internet solely for your app is a big thing. Not only does it show people that your app is very much legit and not just a scam, it’s also a great way to show off your app even more. You can upload more screenshots of your app and even upload videos that detail your app even further. That will really get people to understand what your app is about. And like with the app store optimization, be smart with your formatting and wording. Finally, use a simple website layout. You want people to easily navigate through details of your app and people are known to have short attention spans when casually browsing on the internet.
5. Launch a blog
This is basically an extension of the previous item. Since you already have a website for your app, why not launch a blog, too? Blogging is one of the best ways to interact with consumers since articles are written with a personal touch. In the blog, you can post progress reports about your app, assuming it’s still in development. But if it’s already a fully geared-out app, you can post about updates, change logs, future plans, or even your next app. And furthermore, you can also reach out to other bloggers to write about your app in their own blogs. Be courteous, of course; you’re asking them for favors, not the other way around. Needless to say, though, you should approach bloggers that specifically write about app, games, or tech-related stuff, although you can be more open-minded, like approaching someone who blogs about dogs if your app is related to dogs.
6. Get the word out in different social media platforms
With the way different social media platforms have evolved over the years, to the point that they are essentially utilized as news outlets by many, it would be a very, very smart thing for you to similarly take advantage of them. You can post about your app on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and other platforms, although refrain from sounding like you’re forcing your app down people’s throats. And speaking of Facebook, you can make use of their Facebook Ads feature! It helps you narrow down your target audience and specifically reach out to them.
7. Have other non-friends review your app
The goal is very similar to the very first item in the list in that you’ll be reaching out to other people to review your app. Except that you’ll be asking total strangers instead of your buddies. Actually, “asking” doesn’t accurately describe it because you’ll be posting your app specifically on review websites. If your app is still a bit rough on the edges, expect equally rough reviews, but use those to improve your app. There are a lot of review websites out there – feel free to have your app reviewed in as many websites as you can. But be cautious when choosing the websites, too.
8. Don’t leave your app unfinished
And last but not the least: If your app is still extremely buggy to the point that it can’t function the way you really intended it to, don’t upload it yet! Work on it until everything’s all good, because you’d want your app to leave an excellent impression on the first few people who will touch your app. Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective and simplest ways to market something – app or not. So make sure that the first version of your app that you’ll upload online is fully finished or at least free from errors that basically renders it useless.