Build a Website to Market Your App

Sakina Groth

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Uphill battleApp developers know that becoming a breakthrough success is an uphill battle, particularly for new developers. Apple and Google’s app stores receive over 10,000 new app submissions a month, making discovery so challenging, Businessweek recently reported on a new marketplace specifically dedicated to failed apps. The good news is, developers can take proactive steps to bolster their chances of success far ahead of becoming a failure – even before an app is actually developed.

Studies have found that most developers, particularly new ones, do not plan for marketing. This is unfortunate, because research has found a clear correlation between app marketing and traits of successful developers. So get ahead of the game and start building a marketing plan now. A great place to start? Just a simple website. If you’re an HTML5 app developer, your app making skills may also be your best app marketing skills.

But What About “Think Mobile First”?

Yes, websites are primarily for desktop users. But you’re already adopting the “mobile first” strategy by creating an app in the first place – a website is just a way to draw more attention to it. You need a place to give all-important bloggers, journalists, and other online influencers a place to find you. An app can’t go viral by itself, but a web URL can – it is sharable through blogs, social media, and anywhere else on the web. This also gives users another way to find and communicate with you. Finally, as you add more channels to your marketing mix – a website allows you to have a simple, one-click call to action. This is a much likelier conversion than say, tweeting about your app, hope people immediately pick up their phone, enter the app marketplace, find for your app and (finally!) download it. Ultimately, the user will have to take these steps to download the app either way, but which would you consider more compelling: a tweet with a 140 character limit, or an entire website that intrigues and excites the user about specific benefits of an app?

Building Your Site: Tips & Tricks

Ready to build that website? Follow these key best practices to make market your app effectively:

Keep it Simple

The goal of your website is to convince people to download your app (or follow through on another specified call to action) in as little time as possible. People have short attention spans. You have to capture their interest quickly. The page should never be text-heavy – whenever possible, limit text to bullet points and replace words with graphics. Most importantly: let visitors know where your app is available! Most app stores have badges available for this. You can also create a general icon for an unpackaged, browser-based app, such as this one from Rioleo.org.

Some of the most effective elements for your website include: Badges

  • Brief bullets explaining what your app does and the benefits of using it
  • Screenshots of your app – show, don’t tell!
  • Badges indicating where your app is available. Firefox Marketplace badges are available here.
  • Awards, accolades or any other form of social proof. This may include features or reviews on other sites or media, testimonials, or ratings and reviews. Be creative!
  • Promotional video – a great way to demo your app.
  • Contact info – make sure users (and press!) can get in touch with you.
Make it Slick
Line is doing a great job marketing their app with a website

Line is doing a great job marketing their app with a website

Simple doesn’t mean boring. To captivate your visitor, your site needs to should be visually appealing and create a sense of excitement. Keep it clean and easy to scan, but use bold colors, images, and fonts. Ensure a modern look and feel –no one wants to use technology that feels outdated.  For a great example, check out Line’s website – great design, captivating imagery, easy on the text, clear messaging.

Optimize

Of course, there’s no point to having a website if no one visits it. This is where search engine optimization comes in. If you’re new to this, do a little research before you start building your site. Google has a great starter guide for this. . Try to use keywords that will draw the most targeted audience for your app. And make sure your site is optimized for mobile browsers!

Have a Call to Action

CTA’s measure the success of your website marketing. Incorporate at least one but no more than three. A link to download your app (if it’s ready) is the most obvious CTA. If you have them,  include links to your blog, social sites, and/or newsletter. Integrating comments will help make your site interactive, and can help you get valuable feedback. If your app isn’t ready yet, use this valuable time to gauge interest and capture feedback about the app you intend to build. Invite users to subscribe to status updates on its development. When it’s ready, you’ll have a targeted distribution list for an announcement. Nurture long-term relationships by communicating as you add new features to your app, or start building a new one.

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