While the specific marketing tactics you’ll need before you launch will differ from those you should use after it’s available, what’s constant is maintaining a good strategy for marketing your offering and tracking to see how well your efforts worked. Here are some of the things we’ve learned in both the pre-launch and post-launch phases.

Decide Whether You Want to Create a Buzz or Convert Users

The tactics you’ll need to create hype pre-launch are not the same ones that will work to persuade people to download your app. Pre-launch, your goal should be to generate awareness and to trigger word-of-mouth. You want people to talk about your app and spread the word, and the best ways to do that are to create teaser videos that build excitement about what’s to come. Post these videos in places where they’re likely to be shared, like Facebook and YouTube. Influencers are another good channel for setting the stage. Choose the influencers with the most credibility and experience in your industry.

In contrast to the broad hype strategy that works pre-launch, the effort to convert users demands that you narrow your focus. Work to understand which factors stand in the way of downloading or using your app and which methods work. That means you’ll need to begin testing specific tactics and directing your marketing efforts to the target segments with the greatest potential for conversion.

Test Ads for Better Targeting and Cost-Savings

Your determination to get the word out about your app may make you hesitant to test your ads before you unleash them to your target customers. But don’t let eagerness and impatience stand in the way of good advertising strategy. 

A/B ad testing allows you to discover which ad creative is most effective at delivering the specific marketing result you’re trying to achieve. Say you want to find out which of two creative elements elicits more downloads. You’ll first decide which elements you wish to test – perhaps it’s a bright color scheme versus a more subdued one – and then show the different ads to each of two small target segments. If one ad helps to improve conversion better than the other, you’ll use the “winning” creative to reach your broader target audience.

You can use an A/B approach to test various metrics at different stages of the user’s journey, and the results of your testing will help you to spend your marketing dollars more wisely.

Don’t Become Dependent on One Ad Network

Relying on only one ad network – Google or Facebook, for example – could limit your targeting opportunities and your ability to purchase an efficient buy. Both of these ad networks are extremely popular, and competition can and will drive up the price. Both of the big players also restrict advertising for specific industries, so that’s another reason to look beyond the most-used networks.

The advantages of using more than one or two big ad networks go beyond price and targeting ability. Some networks offer greater flexibility when it comes to testing and customizing creative. Another alternative network has an opt-in policy, which means that people who view your ad may be more receptive to it. There’s an ad network that offers features that help you maximize conversions, and one unique network lets you customize your creative among multiple devices. In fact, there are so many different ad networks available that it’s worth your time to check them out to see if they could work for your specific needs.

App Store Optimization(ASO) 

Visibility is crucial for maximizing downloads and app usage. While you can impact your app’s ability to get noticed via paid channels, app store optimization is a non-paid method of helping users find your app while searching either the Apple or Google app stores. Since the vast majority of apps are discovered and downloaded after searching the app stores, you’ll want to take advantage of the opportunity to reach the over 70% of people who find apps this way.

Like SEO, app store optimization depends on determining which keywords your target is using to find apps similar to yours. Once you find those keywords, you can use them in your app’s title and description. Because ASO is a non-paid marketing strategy, it’s an ideal way to reduce acquisition costs. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to continuously monitor your downloads and those of your competitors because keyword usage can change over time.

Retarget Lapsed Users

It’s exciting when you hit your download target and begin to build consistent monthly usage. But you must be prepared to go after the people who are no longer engaging with your app. What can you do to get them back?

  • Deep or Deferred Links – A deep link will direct users to a specific in-app location if they already have the app installed, while a deferred link is sent to someone who hasn’t already downloaded it. Your ad or email will need to give a reason or motivation to click on the link, so think about what value you can bring or what would entice your target audience to act.
  • Personalization – Whether it’s referring to the user by name or making recommendations based on prior in-app activity, personalization can be an impressive tool. It shows users that the app can fulfill specific needs that are unique to them. For example, some of our users wanted more courses and information on how to pass their driving test the first time, and we made adjustments to our app to make their experience more personalized.
  • Incentives and Rewards – Offer a discount or bonus content to persuade former users to re-engage with your app or set up a loyalty program in-app whereby users can get a free item or service once they accumulate a specific level of points. What they need to do to earn points is up to you and is dependent on what function your app provides.

Integrate Frameworks for Better User Tracking and Targeting

There are a number of mobile app tools that will allow you to track how your customers are interacting with your app and provide marketing solutions based on that data. For example, you can use these tools to help with keyword optimization, to create the messaging content in your ads, to run A/B tests, or to keep tabs on your competitors. These frameworks offer valuable insights that you can use post-launch to re-engage users or target new ones. No matter what you’re aiming to accomplish with your app marketing, you can find the specific tools that will help you do it more efficiently.

Don’t Be Afraid to Scrap a Campaign

You learn something every time you fail to achieve your set objectives, so if a campaign isn’t working, don’t dwell on the valuable time and money you lost by scrapping it.  Instead, think of the lost opportunity costs you’ll incur if you keep an ineffective campaign running. Research what went wrong, and apply your energy toward figuring out how to make things right. Then, move forward with a campaign that will be better able to deliver results.


Tim Waldenback is the co-founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online drivers education to help teens get their license. Tim founded Zutobi to make world-class driver's education fun, affordable, and easily accessible for all.