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How To Market Your Mobile App

Tips for acquiring, onboarding, engaging, and retaining mobile app users.

To successfully market your mobile app, you need to consistently attract high-potential users and keep them loyal.

“There are millions of apps on the Apple App Store and Google Play, so creating a cohesive marketing approach can help your business really stand out from the competition,” says Sasha Friedman, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Mailchimp. “It’s important to think about your mobile app users during all stages of their journey in order to create an experience that’s just right for them.”

Lifecycle marketing provides a framework for a good mobile app marketing strategy, because it covers acquisition, onboarding, engagement, and retention. Consistently generate interest and encourage downloads from the right audience with this plan in place.


The foundation of effective app marketing is creating awareness around your app and the value it provides to users. Doing this at a few key junctures can generate interest and drive new people to download.

Optimizing your app store presence is a key way to boost your app’s visibility.

  • Know keyword trends. Keep on top of search trends to know what people are looking for in the app store. Tools such as App Radar, Apptrace, and Apptentive can help you identify how your app is being discovered and research keyword data to find out what keywords you should be targeting.
  • Regularly update your listing. At least once a quarter, refresh your search listing to highlight any changes or new features in your app. Make sure you’re using clear messaging that tells your story, and that it’s illustrated by screenshots that show off your best features. And regularly update your app title and subtitle—again, using relevant keywords.
  • Boost your app store profile. Reviews are important to your app store profile, so prompt users to provide in-app reviews to improve your app’s rating. Submit your app to be featured in special sections, too, such as Apple's “Today” screen. Releasing updates or features tied to holidays or times of year like back to school are a good way to get highlighted.
  • Advertise and seek reviews. Create app store ads to get your app in front of potential new users and reengage people who already have your app installed. Consider submitting your app to be reviewed on websites relevant to mobile apps and your particular industry—this will increase awareness and credibility.
  • Think globally. Localize and translate your app metadata—screenshots, title, subtitle, description—to ensure that people worldwide can quickly grasp the value of what you offer. This will increase your international search rankings and traffic, improving the likelihood that anyone, anywhere in the world discovers your app.

Fold app promotion into all your other acquisition activities, too. Consider building a dedicated landing page on your website to showcase your app’s features and drive traffic to your app store page. Include a download link in all email campaigns and on all your social channels. Facebook ads with a download link will also increase your reach, as will links in your Instagram or Twitter bios to your app store page.


Many downloaded apps are quickly forgotten by users: The average mobile user has 40 apps installed on their phone, but spends 89% of their time with only 18 of those apps. To encourage use of your app, establish an onboarding process that helps each and every user quickly see what’s powerful and important about what you offer.

There are many ways to improve the experience for new users.

  • A series of engaging screens—even before a user logs in—can showcase your top benefits and some of the great things users can do in the app.
  • Once someone has started using the app, a welcome email sent a day or 2 later can further introduce your brand, what you have to offer, and how your app can help them.
  • An in-app tutorial can also point new users in the right direction and get them started.

These early days are also a good time to gather data on how users engage with your app so that you can refine the onboarding experience. By seeing what they’re using or the feedback they’re sharing, you can make adjustments.

Segmenting your audience to understand what different people are most interested in and expecting from your app will strengthen the onboarding experience and encourage use.

“What you know about segments can make your onboarding powerful and effective,” Sasha says. “This can be something as simple as tailoring your marketing messages to users’ characteristics, interests, or preferences.”


Tracking your app’s usage helps you understand what your audience wants and how you can best serve their needs. If you know when certain types of users typically log in, for example, you can use that information to schedule messaging encouraging them to engage with different or new features. Or, a tool like Branch or Firebase can help you track what links are being clicked in your app and give you a better idea of where downloads are coming from, so you know what works best to entice new users.

Over time, knowing your users’ behaviors will help you continually evolve what you offer to engage them at the right time with the right message. Try these tactics to engage users in your app.

  • Use push notifications, in-app messaging, email, and SMS to highlight features and updates and to showcase ways your app can help your audience based on what you know they care about. What works best will depend on your offering and audience. Testing to see what different segments respond to will help you find the right mix.
  • Encourage in-app reviews. In addition to boosting your profile in the app store, reviews provide immediate feedback on what users enjoy about the app—and what they think can be improved.
  • Support upgrades and upsell. If you offer a product or service for sale, or a paid upgrade of the app itself, in-app payment options monetize your app and offer a convenient way for your users to make purchases. Use what you know about your users’ behaviors to understand the best ways and times to prompt them to try this out.
  • Promote in app. Messages and advertisements in your app let users know about updates, discounts, or special offers. “These can be a huge driver for retention and future usage,” says Sasha.


Every relationship needs to keep things fresh—and most people have dozens of apps on their devices that they haven’t opened in months. Retention works best when you know how people are using your app and when they’re straying.

Use these ideas to track how regularly users are involved with your app.

  • In-app tracking tools like Firebase keep you apprised of what users do where in your app. If there’s a huge drop-off in people starting an action and not returning, for example, you can improve a process or upgrade a feature. Then, you can send users who left the app an email encouraging them to come back and try your new and improved experience.
  • Even if you haven’t made any updates to your app, you can connect with users to suggest a new mode of using it. For example, if you have users of a desktop app, an in-app message can encourage them to try a cross-platform experience. This may spur them to come back, and it creates more overall stickiness for your product with the user.
  • Raising your app visibility can also help with retention. Try hosting ads on your website to remind users about your app. Test different formats, such as banners or pop-ups, to see what gets users’ attention. Social media posts or text messages can also help you get back on users’ radar, as can retargeting ads.

Create a lifecycle framework

Having a strong marketing strategy that takes your mobile app users through the journey from downloading to becoming dedicated regular users will help you grow your audience, keep them engaged with your brand, and deliver a great experience.

“It’s important to understand where your mobile app lives within the customer journey. This way, you can create a strong mobile marketing strategy that speaks to users at the right place and time,” says Sasha. “Once you’ve established your positioning and messaging, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of how to keep users engaged with your mobile app.”

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