Advertising is an ever changing landscape. We have gone from single sheet billboards being the only form of mass marketing, to a huge plethora of options. Having such a vast marketing machine at your disposal for any product can be great, but it can be equally as daunting a prospect.

How can you hope to have one core advertising strategy when it has to adapt to hundreds of different mediums? This problem is compounded when trying to promote a product on a burgeoning marketplace – app stores. These online catalogues are still relatively new (billboard advertising has been around since the late 1800s, whereas most app marketplaces haven’t been around for more than 10 years at this point), so it can be difficult for even advertising experts to wrap their heads around.

So, based on the general consensus on app advertising that stands at the moment, here are the best avenues to explore if you want to tell the world about you app.

ASO

If you maintain a website, you’ve likely heard of, or utilised Search Engine Optimisation. SEO involves optimising and promoting your website for the purpose of it performing well on SERPs. A good SEO campaign can dramatically increase traffic and revenue of a website.  ASO, or App Store Optimisation, is a similar process aimed at improving ranking and downloads in the  app stores.

The approach differs between app stores, as Apple’s App Store differs in many ways from the Google Play store, but the core principles remain the same. You have to utilise keywords, ratings and reviews to get your app discovered and downloaded by as many people as possible.  It’s a complicated combination, involving many moving parts, so we won’t go into the nitty gritty here. But it is the No. 1 thing you can do to give your app a fighting chance. If it is buried on the marketplace, it has little chance of surviving regardless of what else you do, so sort this out before taking any other steps. Because of the huge size of the App market as well as the smartphone penetration, ASO is becoming a very lucrative industry.

SEO

It should be noted that, despite ASO’s prioritised importance, SEO is still important. Google and other search engines still index app store pages, meaning these pages are still subjected to their search algorithms. What it means is that although when people perform search through the App store the result is subject to the App store’s own algorithm but when they look for the app using Google or any other search engine, then the result is subject to the search engine’s algorithms.

So you still have to be aware of the factors that can dictate search engine ranking. These factors include:

On-page factors (optimise your app description)

Link popularity (earn links for your app page on iTunes )

Social Media

Promote your app Game of WarGame of War promote your appAs with most advertising these days, social media plays a big role. There are two ways to utilise social media – organically, and via paid advertising.

Organically you can  turn your “followers” into customers. Every major brand has a Facebook and Twitter account now, followed by hundreds of thousands of fans. The accounts job is to promote, inform and engage with this willing audience. Other than running cost, this is effectively free marketing, and it is going out to people who are pretty likely to take it in.

Paid advertising / paid discovery is another way to put you app in front of many eyeballs quickly. Most social media sites will offer advertising packages that rise incrementally in price and reach. The more you pay, the more people will see your advertisement. You can choose which markets to target, and then it is once again over to your ASO efforts to seal the deal. Below are screenshots showing the app game Game of War using such tactics on Twitter.

Traditional Advertising

While online products predominantly deal with online advertising, there is still value in more traditional avenues. While print outlets are closing left, right and centre, they offer a relatively cheap method of advertising, with focussed markets (a game app can go in a game magazine, etc.). TV is still going strong with top publishers spending big money on TV advertising.

Radio won’t suit a lot of apps, but some can still find benefits via the medium.

The best way to describe the worth of traditional advertising is the stature it gives your campaign. Films, video games and TV shows still use these outlets for advertising, and showcasing your app alongside them gives it a certain level of prestige. It may not be as effective for conversions, but it can do wonders for brand image to be seen in such a light.

Reviews

Finally, we have reviews. They are a factor you can’t afford to ignore, as they can make or break your game. They come in two forms – user reviews, and critic reviews. The latter are a game of chance. If you have made a good app (which should be your first and highest priority), then you just have to hope that the critics agree. If they do, make sure to push it out through social media to show the world how good your app is, and consider including snippets in your app description if the reviewer carries name value.

User reviews live on the store, and influence the average rating on your apps page. Again, make a bad product and you risk it being buried under 1 star reviews. Make a good product, and create a good community around it, and these good reviews can carry the app a long way on their own.

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Tom Black
Tom Black

Tom Black is a Head of Search at Bootcamp Media Limited in Birmingham. Boot Camp Media.