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Easily Implementable In-App Marketing & Engagement Strategies

| April 19, 2013

Now that we’ve nailed down some of the fundamentals of marketing research in my last post, it’s time to start shifting to the tactical side of promoting your app. While apps are kind of like snowflakes, in that each one is unique, there are some proven foundational in-app marketing strategies that work for all kinds of apps–from utility apps to games–that have stood the test of time.

Let’s explore some of these more tactical, yet easily implementable app marketing strategies that you can integrate into the promotion of your own app.

As I’ve already discussed, no matter how amazing your app is, with no customer loyalty, it won’t put many frog pelts in your pocket. So while creating and maintaining an app that can hold a person’s attention and keep them interested long past the day they downloaded is important, there’s a balancing act between the development and the marketing and customer engagement side of things.

A quick way to begin engaging your customer and building upon their trust in you is to simply send them a quick automated “thank you” for downloading and trying out the app. These two little words let’s your user know that you care and appreciate the fact that they downloaded the app. Simple, but powerful.

Sending notifications of upcoming features can be another way to keep your users engaged and anticipating something new from your app–new levels, functions or features.

For game apps, one of the most powerful in-app engagement strategies is to introduce unlockable content. This gives the user the urge to continue playing until they unlock and can access everything. This is a tactic that you encounter every single day, and may not even realize it. It’s called “the loop”. And once a loop is open, we as human beings are hard-wired to want to know how it ends. Whether it’s your local news anchor giving us a snippet of their night’s juiciest story, that won’t air until the end of the segment, or the QVC picture-in-picture showing us what’s up next, or your favorite sitcom’s “to be continued” cliff-hanger, we HAVE to know how it ends. And the same principle applies to apps.

Setting up milestone achievements is yet another way to keep your users engaged. This is one of the principles of gaming theory, and plays off of the competitive nature of humans. And while this is easy to understand when it comes to any game app–clear a level, earn points or rewards, it can also be applied to anything. Think about adding a referral system of some sort in which, upon referring a friend, you gain additional access, functions or features. Think of the Dropbox model – when you refer someone else, you get more free space. Beats the alternative of paying for it (I know, I know, I’m cheap).

Another way to engage your community is to invite them to spread the word. You can integrate a “Tell-A-Friend” viral feature right into your app, which will encourage them to share it with their family and friends who they think might also enjoy it. But keep in mind, whenever you’re asking someone to do something for you, the path of least resistance is to do 90% of the work for them. Make it as easy as possible by creating the pre-populated email in which all they have to do is click “send”.  Then, their friends get an email from them with a message and a link to check out your app, and presto, a new (free!) lead.

One last in-app marketing engagement strategy to continue nurturing your user’s loyalty, and that is to survey for feedback and ask them to rate your app (this helps with social proof too). Find out what your users love about your app so you can craft your marketing message around these points, and find out what they hate so you can create an update that betters the user experience, thus increasing future retention rates. A great feedback tool for this that integrates right into your app is called When you take this feedback and incorporate it into your new version, you’ll be rewarded since new versions move back to the top of what’s new in your category. And since your app is new and improved, coupled with maintaining visibility, this can increase or at least maintain a steady flow of new users. If you’re always working hard to make your app better, you’ll consistently be rewarded with increase exposure, just because you’re listening to your community and giving them what they want.

I hope you enjoyed this small collection of in-app marketing and engagement strategies. If you have any comments, questions or compliments 😉 please feel free to leave them below. And if you have any other ideas that might be valuable for everyone else to know about, I invite you to share those below as well.

Until next time…

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