Let’s talk a little bit about how to market your app on the Google Play Store. We’ve already discussed how to optimize your app page for your Android app, and here are a few other tips and advices that Google itself (in the person of Patrick Mork) gave at the Google I/O in San Francisco (June 27-29 2012). I like to believe they know what they’re talking about, and if you haven’t watched the video yet you should take a look at it. Or at least read this summary.
Just like for an iOS app, you don’t really have a choice to do app marketing or not if you want your app to succeed. The first part of the video is more about research and building a great app, which are definitely a prerequisite.
Research and build a great app
Something we don’t talk enough on this blog is that you have to understand your users before you write your first line of code. You have to know why they download apps and what they want, with both quantitative (surveys for example) and qualitative (sitting down with your beta users) research. This research has to guide your app development.
Users have lots of app, and don’t use each one for a very long time so you need to make it easy for them and you can’t expect them to wait long loading times nor go through complicated process. In short, you need great features, an intuitive UI and a fast app.
Build your app based on your research, and iterate to improve until it is finished.
Monetize your app
That’s something you need to think about early. For each app, you have to find what monetization works best: it might be ads but it might not be. Research on your target audience can help you with that, too.
If you choose to have a paid app, Google advises you to start with a higher price so you can later bring your price down and do discounts. What’s good for you can also be a hybrid model with different kinds of monetization (ads/in-app purchases for example).
Build an awesome marketing plan
First tip from Google is common sense, but important: “Don’t invest behind a weak product”.
In your message to users, on the Google Play Store (promotional image, description, etc) you have to explain what your app is all about and what differentiates it (why they should care) as well as give them a call to action (what they’re supposed to do and how). And just like for your app, you have to iterate on your marketing strategy and keep doing what works.
Here is how Google tells you to build your marketing plan:
For your media strategy, you need to have a multi-channel approach with cross-promotion, PR and you need to talk to game/tech writers and Android-specific bloggers.
For Patrick Mork, good PR is one of the most underused things in this industry: talk to the press, send them apks, have a blog, etc. Get them to write about your apps. An interesting tip that he gave is that getting people to write about your app improves your search rankings in the Play Store. So not only you get more people to your Google Play Store page, you also get ranked better!
You can even A/B Test your app creatives to know which ones work better. You also need to put the word out about your game or app before the launch.
Patrick insisted as well on building a free trial or a free version so users can try before they buy (some users just bought a SmartPhone for the first time and they don’t even know you).
Here is what you need to get right (check out our Google Play Optimization Tips)
Brand awareness is critical, and you should create assets like app icons, feature graphics, promotional graphics, videos and descriptive screenshots that allow users who have not downloaded the game yet what it’s like to actually play the game. Having a cool promotional video might not give you tons of downloads, but it will raise your brand awareness.
Finally, Patrick talked about your app distribution and insisted on the importance of device coverage: you have to know what are the most growing devices. You also need to consider other distribution channels than Google Play: as many commercial channels that make sense for you (i.e other app stores). He even said you need an iOS app!
Finally, make sure you check out App Annie’s Going Live on Google Play Checklist. Great resource.
Hope this little summary and advices were useful to you and if you have time, do watch the video!