The Business Guide to Mobile App Marketing

Mobile app marketing on a phone

With mobile app marketing, companies can connect with customers at every stage of the marketing funnel. 

Did you know that a whopping 143.6 billion apps were downloaded in 2021? 

How often do you use your phone or tablet throughout the day? Chances are, you’ve already used it to access at least one mobile app today. You might have been checking your coffee shop reward points, getting directions, or playing the latest version of Candy Crush Saga.

Our phones are never too far away from us. According to a survey conducted in the US, nearly half of the respondents stated that they spend five to six hours on their phones daily

Companies have realized that a mobile app creates more opportunities to reach customers where they are. Another survey conducted by Statista found that 42% of small businesses already had a mobile app. 

However, developing your own mobile app can be costly. In the same Statista survey, 28% of businesses did not have a mobile app and didn’t intend on offering one. 

Should you have a mobile app for your business? In this guide, we’ll cover how to determine if you should invest in a mobile app, and if so, how to implement mobile app marketing strategies that work. 

Table of contents

What Is Mobile App Marketing? 

Mobile app marketing is a subset of digital marketing that focuses specifically on mobile apps. However, we’re focusing on businesses that use a mobile app, not developers.

Mobile apps have changed the way we do business. They allow us to connect and engage with customers at every stage of their lifecycle — from acquisition to retention and loyalty. 

It’s about understanding how users interact with your company and app, where they come from, how often they use it, what they like, and more. 

Mobile App Marketing Funnel 

To understand how it works, let’s look at the mobile app marketing funnel. A simplified funnel includes acquisition, activation, and retention. Here’s what each stage of the funnel means for your company. 

1. Acquisition

The first step in the funnel, acquisition, is how your audience will discover and download your mobile app. Will you have a banner on your website and print ads in-store? Will you run digital ads to promote mobile app downloads? 

There are several ways that you can promote your mobile app offline and online. Some ideas include: 

  • Create a landing page for your app and add it to your website
  • Use QR codes in-store that direct customers to your mobile app

2. Activation

Once people have downloaded your app, you need them to activate it, which means they may have to create an account, subscribe, or purchase. In this stage, you may want to add a welcome or onboarding flow that guides them through the setup process. 

Keep in mind that you want it to be quick and easy. The more screens and steps you have for activation, the more likely they are to abandon your app. Also, activation can vary for each app. You decide what actions are considered an activation, and use that to measure your success. 

3. Retention

Retention is one of the most important parts of the mobile app marketing funnel. This is where you get customers to come back, and ideally, use your app regularly. 

To turn those who’ve downloaded your app into regular users, you can use a variety of tactics including push notifications, in-app messages, and loyalty programs. We’ll talk more about this below.

There may some variation in your funnel stages. However, the idea is the same—get customers to download your app, engage with your business, and stay engaged over time.

10 Mobile App Marketing Tips for Businesses

Mobile apps can help you get new customers, increase customer loyalty, and drive in-store and offline sales. If you’re thinking about building a mobile app for your business, you need to have a plan for mobile app marketing.

Foremost, you need to determine whether or not you need an app for your business. Before building a mobile app for your business, ask these questions: 

  • Does your app offer functions beyond those already on your website? 
  • Is it useful for a wide range of users? 
  • Does your app simplify your users’ lives? 
  • Will the sales I generate from my mobile app be greater than the cost to develop it? 

If you have affirmative answers to these questions, creating an app may be suitable for your business. 

Developing and maintaining a mobile app is expensive, and your business may not need one. This is especially true for small businesses that don’t have more than one or two physical stores and generate less than six figures annually.

Before investing in a dedicated app, explore other alternatives. Could you get similar results with digital advertising?

Remember that an excellent digital advertising plan may help you supplement your offline promotions, boost ecommerce, and establish brand loyalty more effectively than an app. 

If you decide that an app is right for you after these considerations, here are some mobile app marketing tips and tactics you can use. 

1. Digital Ads for Mobile Apps 

Both Google Play and Apple’s App Store provide in-store advertising that app developers may use to increase downloads. Adverts display when users search for certain app keywords. For example, when a user searches “running”, they see ads for apps like Nike and Adidas—two retailers that sell running shoes and apparel. 

Search advertising can also be paid through platforms such as Google Ads. Someone looking for “houses for sale in Houston” on Google from their phone, could see an ad for a real estate app. The link will then direct them to an app landing page. 

2. Use the Proper Metrics to Measure App Engagement  

Measuring ad clicks doesn’t necessarily mean an install happened. Clicks only signal that someone viewed the app page. It doesn’t measure installs or engagement.

To customize for real app openings or in-app actions, such as verified login, acquisition, or another event, we recommend implementing SDKs (software development kits).

3. Seamlessly Integrate Mobile Apps With Your Business 

A mobile app should be seamlessly integrated with every other aspect of your business. Your mobile app marketing should drive people to your storefront or website as much as possible to increase sales and revenue. 

First, make sure that your mobile app is integrated with your business’s website. For example, if you have a restaurant, customers should be able to browse the menu on your website and then complete an order directly from their smartphone. Integrate social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter into your app so users can share content directly from within it. 

Another way to integrate your mobile app is to use QR codes and location data inside physical store locations. If someone walks into one of your restaurants, they can pull up the menu on their phone instead of waiting for someone to take their order. 

That being said, here are some other tactics to engage customers through your mobile app: 

4. Welcome Message and Onboarding 

Many companies make the mistake of letting new users land on a blank screen that doesn’t provide any information about what they can do with the app or why they should care about downloading it in the first place. 

A welcome message or onboarding flow connects you to users and lets them know why using your app is worth their time. Show them key features, why the app is useful, and how common tasks are done within the app.

5. In-app Purchases

In-app purchases are a great way to increase customer engagement because they build on a free download and allow you to sell additional products and services. 

Make sure these in-app purchases are limited edition offers, bonus features, upgrades, or exclusive content, so they’re not readily available anywhere else. 

6. Push Notifications

One of the best ways to engage customers is through push notifications. These help you reach out to customers even when they aren’t using your application. 

Push notifications are perfect for engagement and retention. You can send coupons or alerts about new products and updates. You can also combine push notifications with location data to reach customers at the right time. However, try to keep them to a minimum so that you’re not overloading customers with messages.

7. Exclusive Content

Exclusive content can be used as an incentive for users to come back to your application more frequently than they would otherwise. Many wellness and fitness apps use exclusive content like workout routines and recipes to promote app engagement. You can also offer early product drops for app users, so they can buy products earlier than those without your mobile app. 

8. More Personalization

In a Google report, over 89% of companies reported that when they increased website and mobile app personalization, it increased revenue. For years, personalization has been integral to successful digital marketing. With a mobile app, you have a ton of opportunities to personalize your customer experience. 

For example, you can make it easy for customers to “heart” or save favorite items to shopping lists. When they are ready to purchase, they can easily refer to their lists and add them to a cart. In addition, you can personalize your product recommendations and marketing based on customers’ past purchases and favorite items. If an item they love is on sale or almost out of stock, you can send an in-app message or push notification that alerts them and creates a sense of urgency that moves them closer to making a purchase. 

9. Discounts and Offers

One of the main reasons why people download mobile apps is to receive discounts and deals. Over 88% of consumers regularly use coupons when shopping. In most cases, they are using their mobile devices to find them. 

It’s a no-brainer to offer coupons and discounts inside your app. By making sure that the offer can only be redeemed or found via your mobile app, you can entice new users and retain existing customers. 

10. Location Data

Location data is a powerful way to reach customers when they are physically near your store. Mobile apps use location data, but users have to allow your app to access it. If it is on, they can find nearby stores, place orders, and more.

You could also send push notifications when those that have downloaded your app are close by and in-market to make a purchase. If someone is near a sandwich shop during lunch, you can increase the likelihood that they will visit by sending a push notification with a 20% off discount code.  

Mobile App Marketing Examples 

To help inspire your mobile app marketing efforts, here are a few examples of companies that have driven millions of downloads and sales.  

1. Starbucks 

With the Starbucks app, your phone will receive a push notification with a coupon code when you’re nearby a Starbucks location (even if you don’t have the app open). The app uses GPS technology to build personalized coffee orders based on a customer’s location. 

When it’s time for a refill or to put more money in your account, Starbucks will send a push notification.

2. Burger King 

Burger King is another company that drives engagement and sales through its mobile app. 

Using its mobile app, Burger King created an experience called “Burn That Ad”. Users weren’t actually setting fire to ads. Instead, they could burn ads posted around the city in real-time using augmented reality (AR) in the app.  

When users in the area “burned” them, they would see a video response from the company making fun of itself or asking customers to come in and try new products. 

Users were reading ads and getting rewarded for it. It ultimately created a stronger relationship with the brand and increased long-term engagement with the app. 

With mobile apps, customers can engage with brands in many ways, whether it’s reading exclusive content, making reservations, or purchasing tickets to an event.

As app stores become increasingly crowded, it’s more important than ever for marketers to cut through the noise and win consumer attention. Understand the full life cycle of your app users, from how they found you to installation to how often they log in. Building the right mobile app marketing strategy to keep them coming back starts here.

In general, with any app you launch, you need to recognize and capitalize on how your customers can use it as an extension of your brand. If you need any assistance with your mobile marketing strategy or overall digital marketing, contact Goodway today.