Mobile marketing on a shoestring budget: How to advertise your app for free
Global mobile marketing spend has grown rapidly in recent years and is expected to reach 240 billion dollars by 2022. Moreover, according to marketing firm WebStrategies Inc., the average B2B company spends between 8-9% of their revenue on marketing, compared to 5-12% for B2C. For smaller companies, this may mean they are working with a very tight budget to achieve their marketing goals. In this scenario, it’s essential to look at cost-effective mobile marketing strategies that are effective even with a shoestring budget – or, even better, are free. This guide explores how to advertise your app for free and the most cost-effective ways to develop your marketing strategy.
How to spend your resources: Market research
In-depth market research is critical for all mobile marketers, and this is even more pivotal when you need to find ways to reach your targets with a small budget. Comprehensive market research ensures that your time and energy is spent efficiently further down the line. You need to learn who your audience and target market is, developing user personas for the best results. You should also use research to understand the current market trends.
Your market research will help you identify the best partners for your target audience and budget. Look at case studies and success stories to find partners with a track record of helping businesses of your size and budget.
Knowing how your competitors are marketing to your target audiences enables you to see what your team can do better. Moreover, you can use this research to identify marketing channels with untapped potential.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
KPIs are metrics used to assess the performance of your campaigns. Your market research will help you identify which KPIs you should focus on, and which events to track to collect the data most useful to optimizing your KPIs. Examples of KPIs for mobile marketers include impressions, installs, sessions, events and retention rate. Remember, market research is not a one-shot deal and should be ongoing, but you can consider these mobile marketing strategies once you have confidence in your findings.
Six low-budget marketing strategies for mobile marketers
There are several ways to generate an online presence cost-effectively. Here are six critical marketing strategies you should use to reach your goals without a large budget.
1. Launch a website for your mobile app
An official landing page is commonplace for all mobile apps, presenting opportunities to reach users cost-effectively. First and foremost, this enables you to rank on search engines and invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to rank higher than your competitors. This is important because 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, yet only 25% of users scroll past the first page of search results. With this in mind, effective SEO can lead to significant results, connecting you to users with a genuine interest in search terms related to your mobile app.
It is important for mobile app landing pages to show an app’s value, make a strong visual impression that lets a user know what to expect after install, and provide a link to your various app store pages.
2. Create a blog on your website
Once you have set up a landing page for your mobile app, you can create a blog to increase your reach and generate more opportunities to optimize content for search engines. Your blog’s contents will depend on the nature of your app: a mobile game’s blog may want to share tips and tricks to help players, while a fitness app can share guides to nutrition.
Your landing page and blog should both generate leads and build mailing lists for email marketing campaigns. Regularly posting on your blog will also help your social media marketing efforts and create a community for your company.
3. Utilize social media marketing
The average user opens nine apps and spends three hours and 15 minutes on them each day, so it is vital to leverage this usage to achieve your marketing goals. Social media marketing is essential to almost all mobile marketing strategies – and it is particularly useful for smaller companies without a big budget to spend on advertising. Social media managers who understand their target audience and how to engage with them across different channels can be effective with little to no budget. In fact, with a little know-how social media marketing can be a cost-effective way to increase engagement, drive traffic to your blog, generate leads and increase revenue. However, the core of social media marketing lies in building a loyal fanbase and dedicated community – especially for marketers without a budget. You should also consider the following:
- Focus on the most useful social media channels: It’s important to note that you don’t need to be on every social media channel. It is better to focus on the most critical networks – the ones most likely to help you achieve your targets – and execute your strategy effectively.
- Develop a marketing strategy for each social media platform: Once you have decided which platforms you need to be on, develop a bespoke plan for each network — Facebook is very different to Tik Tok, after all. A unique strategy for each platform will ensure you make marketing decisions based on user behavior and social media trends.
- Social media integration: Integrating social media into your app is a great way to encourage users to share their in-app content on social media. For example, if you have a mobile game you can give users the option to share their high-scores on social media. This is a smart way to generate organic installs and build a stronger community across social media.
4. User-generated content (UGC)
UGC is just what it sounds like — content created by users, usually in your community, either in-app or on social media. For example, this could be something as simple as a tweet related to your app or fan art for your mobile game. This type of content is a valuable asset for mobile marketers working with a small budget because it costs nothing. You can share UGC across social media to build your community and make users feel validated for helping spread the word that people love your app.
5. App Store Optimization
ASO is the practice of boosting your app store ranking in the App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android. Like SEO, ASO increases conversions and drives organic installs – the most valuable user for mobile apps. Boost your ASO ranking by using the right keywords in your name and description, including useful and visually engaging images, and localizing your entry for different regions. You should also consider details such as your app’s icons and the names of your in-app purchases.
You can also perform ASO by considering behavioral patterns and cultural trends, such as updating your app for Christmas, Halloween and Valentine’s Day. You should also ensure that your changes match your ad creative. According to Mobile Growth and App Store Optimization specialist Storemaven, high engagement resulting from themed creatives will rapidly decrease if your Product Page creatives are not updated. Jordan Bennett, Content Marketing Writer at Storemaven, explains that “although visitors are spending more time exploring your Product Page, they eventually drop once they see the contradiction and realize there’s no app or game update.” It is, therefore, essential to be consistent.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted the practice of updating your app store entry to drive installs . Alexandra De Clerck, Growth Marketing Manager at Apptweak, outlined how companies have used ASO to match search terms that are trending due to the pandemic. “App store optimization is one method that marketers can use to take advantage of an influx of organic downloads with the potential for long-lasting impact on their visibility in the App Stores.” For example, keywords such as “fitness coach,” “board games with friends” and “watch movies together” have become trending terms. Fitness app Peloton changed its metadata from “on-demand classes” to “fitness at home.” AppTweak estimates that the mobile app increased daily installs from organic search by an average of 3,000+ as a result of this kind of small change to ASO. In addition to increased growth and revenue, marketers can also use this traffic to get more reviews and ratings in the app store – making it even more likely for your mobile app to rank high within the app store.
6. Influencer marketing
Business Insider estimates that influencer marketing — collaborating with social media stars to promote your brand or product — is on course to be worth as much as $15 billion by 2022 – increasing from $8 billion in 2019. Your market research will inform which influencers you may want to work with depending on your target audience, the size of their following and whether you have compatible brand identities. Influencer marketing can be used to drive installs or for branding campaigns that build your online following by association with a particular influencer.
Research shows 17% of companies plan to spend more than half of their budgets on influencer marketing. But it doesn’t have to be costly — there are also cost-effective influencer marketing strategies that small businesses can utilize:
Free products: Sending free products to influencers in the hopes they will give your brand exposure is cheap and easy. For e-commerce, this means sending them a product available via your app. For mobile games, you can gift them in-app purchases. Moreover, any mobile app with a subscription service can offer influencers premium membership in exchange for exposure.
Reviews: In addition to gifting freebies to influencers, you can make a deal for a specific type of exposure. For example, you can send products in exchange for a review, outlining details such as their video’s minimum length. When arranging these details with influencers, remember that they are content specialists with a deep understanding of their audience. The more freedom you give influencers, the more authentic content they will generate for their audience.
Discount codes: Mobile marketers can offer social media influencers a discount code to share with their audience. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement. The influencer can give his or her audience a free reward while also generating installs and revenue for your app.
If you found this useful, you may be interested in best practices and global e-commerce trends for 2021. We also have more detailed resources for influencer marketing and social media marketing.