As marketing projects go, promoting mobile apps is low risk and high reward. The cost per loyal customer for mobile apps is incredibly low, ranging from $3.50 in richer nations like Canada and the United States to as low as $0.50 in the developing world. These costs are often lower than the price of one good game app.
App promotion uses five primary channels:
- App-Store Optimization. An app store functions just like a search engine: it promotes different results based on an algorithm. Your game can be optimized for this algorithm following certain best practices. These practices include: researching keywords to pick ones with high volume and relevancy but low difficulty, targeting different search terms in the title and description, managing ratings, building links where applicable (i.e., the Google Play Store), and more. App store optimization is a rapidly changing field, so keep learning!
- Social media. This is the cheapest and most effective way to market a game app. Social media is great because it allows you to amplify all your other ad content, positive press, and word of mouth. Keep company Facebook and Twitter sites, and build followers with game-related content, contests, calls-to-action, and discussions. You can use a social media management tool like Hootsuite to see how well different types of content perform on your accounts.
- Public Relations. Managing public relations is a challenging skill to develop. Start by building a relationship with games reviewers, bloggers, vloggers, and other community members. Get your game out there, played, and discussed. Provide free copies to reviewers on a regular basis. Who doesn’t like a free game?
- Direct advertising. Keep your company’s website active and updated. Describe your past, present, and future apps in their own web pages. Include an opt-in email list and use it to provide regular updates to your most loyal customers.
- Paid Internet advertising. This is a wide, complicated, and very necessary channel for getting your game out there. Although it is difficult and can be expensive, this can help your game reach a critical mass of reviews and word of mouth that will carry it to success. There are three main types of ads, with different levels of risk. Cost per impression ads can be very useful, as it exposes your game to as many people per dollar as possible, but can also be risky. Cost per click is much more effective, but needs to be supported by strong landing pages to prevent a high bounce rate among users. Cross-promotion, by swapping ads with other companies, is the least risky, but also typically the least rewarding.
Promoting your game can sound like a hassle, especially if you are a creative type who just wants to get a game out to the world. These days, though, it is as essential as art and sound to finding success in the app market. Fortunately, many colleges are coming around to this idea, and are including classes in marketing as part of many mobile app development programs.
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