If you’re serious about your app, the question is not really whether or not to have a dedicated app website (or app site) to support your app marketing efforts but rather when you should start putting your website live.
Here’s my answer : before your first line of code!
That’s of course assuming that you’ve done your research and that you are committed to making it to the store.
You’ll need a website for online support and branding anyway (and much more), so why not benefit from its promotional power before your app release?
Here are a few benefits of having a website as soon as you got some of your great designs ready (because you do need great design for your app):
Collecting email addresses of potential users
What are people going to do on your app’s website if there is no app yet? Give them a taste of what your app will do with a few screenshots (or screenshot designs, since you haven’t coded anything yet – I guess you could even try wireframes), a great pitch (use your headline) and have them subscribe to your mailing-list !
This will give you an indication of how much people are interested in your upcoming app and above all will allow you to have a customer base even before launching your app.
You need to keep them updated about your progress. Not daily or anything like that, but what you want to make sure of is that they know who you are and what your app is.
It’s incredible the number of release email I receive for app releases I signed up for but don’t recall.
It can also be an opportunity to learn about your potential customers and improve your app. Take a look at how Kissmetrics got potential users’ emails, some info about what they want and their needs:
On release day (or when your beta is ready), send a nice email to everyone who signed up (as well as every relative that might be interested) telling them your app is live. And remind them what your app is and why they should give it a try.
For our email newsletter we use MailChimp, and there are other good services out there (none with a cute monkey, though).
Starting your SEO efforts
Even if you don’t have much content on your appsite in the beginning, it’s way better than nothing and never too early to have search engines stop by. Make sure to have a SEO-friendly website, with basic stuff like great headings and optimized titles for your pages.
If you want to start engaging potential users in your project (see next benefit), having a blog is also a great way to start building content about what your app does and its features…And telling search engines that your website is relevant.
Getting feedback from potential users and engaging them
Having a blog is not only for SEO, it allows you to engage users or even get early feedback on your app: its design, its features.
Talk about how the development is coming along, topics around your market and start building a community.
Since you also have an email list (see above), you can use it to share your post and keep people updated.
Redirecting your friends to a specific place
It might not seem like much but that’s a way to have people start talking about your apps.
I’m not telling you to harass everyone you know, but having a website gives your app credibility and a place to refer your friends and family to when they ask you about it (or when you tell them).
You website can (and should) evolve
As long as you’ve made up your mind on your app name, don’t be afraid to put a website live because it might change later! You can (and should) make it evolve : new screenshots, better pitch and new features explanations.
In its App Savvy book, Ken Yarmosh talks about an interesting approach to have for your website evolution and breaks it into four stages :
1. Splash / Landing page
2. Splash / Landing page plus blog
3. Pre-launch website
4. Post-launch website
Granted, the book is from 2010, but the approach remains a good one. Your app website should constantly be evolving (even within those stages): test a new headline, a new pitch, etc.
Having a website for your app is definitely a key element of your app marketing efforts, don’t pass on the opportunity.
What about you? When do you start putting together your app’s website? Have you found any other benefits from having it live early? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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