What Are the Best Practices for Marketing a Mobile App


Kara Dake, VP of Mobile Growth for CleverTap has worked with many apps, from idea to launch, through scaling. To help the mobile founder/marketer, she recommends the following best practices.

Analytics, Engagement & Growth

  • Integrate an SDK with a tool such as CleverTap that will track your user’s in-app analytics, and allow you to retain your users with engagement features such as push notifications, in-app messaging, SMS, and web notifications. The general rule is that you have roughly seven days to get users coming back to use your app, so it’s critical to set up a tool like CleverTap pre-launch, so your users won’t drop off post-download. The goal is to identify behavioral segments of users and send them highly personalized, contextual messages to drive engagement.

  • Look into Branch Metrics - Deep Linking, Attribution, and Mobile Marketing to measure your acquisition/attribution activity, and set up deep links to take your app users directly back into the app from their acquisition channel.

  • GrowthHackers - Premier Growth Community - GrowthHackers recently launched their ‘Projects’ tool, which helps team track, measure, collaborates and iterates on their Growth strategies and tests. Choose to be as metrics-driven as possible through all stages of your business.

Content marketing:

  • Develop a keyword strategy. Go to Google AdWords Keyword Planner, put in a target keyword (say ‘dating’ if you have a dating app), and then click on the ‘keyword ideas’ tab. Select one of these keywords, and put this into the search box and click ‘get ideas.’ The results – the long tail keywords – will show you directly what your customers have searched for.

  • Develop unique, high-quality content integrating those keywords. Depending on your product and industry, this could be a how-to video, an infographic, a YouTube video & social media post, or guest blog post.

  • Build marketing roadmaps around your content launches & execution strategies. By creating roadmaps vs. campaigns, you’ll be more apt to be flexible in your marketing messages, positioning, and channels instead of creating traditional one-off campaigns.

Influencer strategy:

  • The first step in building your influencer program is to determine what types of relevant people will likely positively impact your business by spreading the word. These could be industry experts, social media celebs, and super fans. Community leaders, local journalists and bloggers, niche celebrities and micro-influencers can have a bigger impact on outreach with your product than a large scale influencer with a less engaged, niche community.

  • After you’ve identified the types of people you’d like to reach out to, the next step is to employ a streamlined approach with the use of tools to quickly, and at scale, identify your target influencers. It’s easy to get bogged down by the tedious tasks in influencer outreach and management, so utilizing tools to speed up the process and make it more effective is critical for time-strapped teams. There are some free and low-cost tools such as BuzzSumo, Topsy, and Crawlytics that identify key influencers by keyword and industry. Additional favorites are NeoReach, GetHeartBeat, and FameBit.

Email marketing program:

  • Devise an email marketing strategy as one of your first marketing tasks. Whether your audience heard about your company via social media, digital ads, a blog, or PR announcement, place a call-to-action on your landing page or company website to drive email subscribers, optimizing for best email conversion. Add copy in this dedicated email that explains the benefits of allowing push notifications. For users that have downloaded your app but haven’t subscribed to email yet, encourage this to happen with an in-app email subscribe button, and send push notifications with new email content announcements.

When planning your onboarding strategy, your first email should be dedicated to encouraging users to download your app and focus on the benefits your app offers. Add a copy in this dedicated email that explains the benefits of allowing push notifications. A recent report showed that push notifications more than doubled a mobile app user’s average 30, 60 and 90-day retention rates, so driving users via email to opt-in is an important strategy

In your following emails, create a win-back email for users that have clicked to download the app but didn’t fully complete that action, or have downloaded but are inactive within a specified period. Again include copy that states the benefits the user will receive from the app. Using a tool such as CleverTap, you can also track who has uninstalled your app and re-engage them via your email service provider.


If you’re not quite ready for a full PR announcement, create a beta preview of your app using TestFlight. Share this with journalists a few weeks before launch. Also, make sure the app store has approved your app before your media launch. If you want to release your app quietly, and then go for a bigger splash when your app and value props are polished, tap into your local press who are more forgiving but will be a good warm up to the big league press. Make sure you have your first press announcement within six months of your app’s release, so you don’t become outdated news. Don’t forget to develop a media kit.

When determining which media outlets and journalists to reach out to, research journalists that have written about companies and themes similar to yours. If your app’s story is relevant to a seasonal-type story – like a dating app launch around Valentine’s Day – highlight this for the journalist.

Keep your email pitches straightforward and to the point. Track your outreach on a spreadsheet and follow up with new or additional updates if you don’t hear back from the journalist right away.

App Store Optimization:

Every app is allotted 100 characters in the keyword section of the store. Brainstorm the words associated with your app, remove duplicated words, and search the app store to see what your competition has posted. Your app description is important as this is what potential users will read when they visit the App Store. Only the first two to three lines are displayed in the main app description page, therefore include your most important information in those lines.

When you are pushing an app update, don’t just say ‘bug fixes.’ Include engaging copy on what you are updating and how it will benefit the user. As soon as your app is live, email your contacts and ask them for a positive review. In this email outreach, make sure you include your app’s name, price, value propositions, the App store link, your press kit and supportive materials such as a video.

Paid advertising tools:

Adspresso: This is a great tool for creating Facebook ads. Upload your pictures, taglines and audience targets and Adspresso will mix and match every combination. It will run the ads and optimize to the highest performing.

Pay-Per-Install Networks - Smaller PPI networks allow you to run tests for as little as $100. Sign up with your preferred PPI network, and choose the ‘cost per install’ campaign type. The network will then target users with messages to download your app.

App Cross-Promotion Networks – App exchanges Tap for Tap and Taptica offer app cross-promotion. Two apps agree to exclusively display each other’s ads on their apps, and they earn credits after they generate an app download. These credits can then be spent on additional ads. If you don’t support ads on your app, you can also purchase credits for installs.

App Directory Listings – App seekers search directories such as Appolicious and AppBrain when looking for new and popular apps. Consumers install apps and provide instant feedback. The costs to use these tools are based on the number of installs generated from the site.