Mobile app marketing: the ultimate introduction

Last checked and updated on 25 January 2023

App marketing strategy

The creativity and hard work involved in building an app can be incredibly time-consuming. There’s so much forethought and detail that goes into creating a successful app.

It’s therefore quite common for the marketing of such a massive project to take a back seat. This shouldn’t be the case.

Not having a marketing plan in place can cause serious problems down the line that may affect the success of an app.

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In many cases, some inexperienced individuals and mobile app businesses think marketing is a waste of time, and only necessary once the app has launched. This is far from the truth.

The successful launch of any product, particularly in the competitive market of mobile applications, works best with a strong marketing plan to support it.

After all, what’s the point in pouring your heart and soul (not to mention your money) into creating something that means so much to you, for no one to know about it?

There are various aspects to consider when creating a marketing plan to back up your app. Let’s delve further into these.

How to do app marketing

Creating a successful marketing plan doesn’t need to be time-consuming or even difficult. Ultimately, all it takes for a mobile app business to write an effective marketing plan is to answer a few simple questions, re-evaluating these questions throughout the build process to deal with any issues as they arise.

How often should you review your plan?
At the start of the process, anyone creating an app should write down answers to a set of questions and continue to update these answers on a weekly basis (if not weekly then fortnightly).

By revisiting these initial questions regularly, you will be ahead of the game and able to deal with any issues as they arise. Some of the best questions to ask yourself include:

  1. Who is my target audience?
  2. Who are my competitors?
  3. How can I promote my app?
  4. How will I monetise?
  5. How do I get people to know about my app?
  6. How will I build long-term relationships and retain customers?

1. Your target audience

If you’re wanting to create and launch a successful app, you will already have a good idea of who your app is aimed at. You’ll already know that not one size fits all when it comes to apps.

Every app is targeted to a different demographic, so it’s essential that you establish who yours is for from the get-go.

Your specific target audience is established by people that understand and engage with what you’re offering.

They’re people who come to you for a reason and who will keep coming back to you, potentially inviting new people to see what you have to offer.

In a nutshell, working to your target audience can increase long-term engagement and even profit.

2. Using competitors to your advantage

Your competitors will offer insight into many things. By researching your competitors, you will be able to establish things that you do and don’t want for your own app.

Seeing how they’ve succeeded and even failed means that you can use them for inspiration on how you want to do things.

3. Promoting your app

In this day and age, there are many ways to promote your app. You can use blogs, social media or even industry related websites.

The most important thing is that you budget accordingly and only spend what you can afford on advertising and promotion.

If you already have an existing audience, reach out to them and ask them to share.

Depending on your situation, here are some guidelines for different types of app marketing:

Type of appMarketing spendMarketing channels
Small home-business startup app2-5% of your overall startup cost
  • Social media
  • Friends and family
  • Word of mouth
  • Low-cost PR you can secure yourself
B2B or B2C app created by an established business5-15% of your project budget
  • Relevant websites and magazines
  • PPC search advertising
  • Paid social
  • PR outreach campaigns
  • Marketing to existing customers
Specialist sector-specific app for B2B customers5-15% of your project budget
  • Niche industry websites and magazines
  • Strategic channel partnerships
  • PPC search advertising
  • Paid social
  • Marketing to existing customers
App marketing strategies

4. Making money

From the beginning, you must establish what pricing structure you will set against your app. How much will you charge?

If you’re offering the app for free, have you got profitable, third-party advertising in place? The primary objective in all of the work you put into developing an app is to make money. So, think about this carefully before taking the plunge into the unknown.

See our guide to how much money apps make.

5. Getting the word out

There are a number of ways to spread the word of your app. Some mobile application marketing options include:

  • App reviews and PR blogs
  • App promotion networks
  • App store optimisation – this is like SEO but focuses on your app being discovered in the App Store and Google Play

Additionally, and as mentioned above, social media and blogs can be great (free) opportunities to spread the word about your amazing new app.

6. Retaining customers

The most important thing when it comes to launching an app is to not forget about it. So many mobile app businesses or creators of apps are guilty of releasing an app and then just leaving it there.

Instead, you must interact with your audience regularly and address any issues as they arise.

Clear communication with your biggest fans will inspire them to promote your app without even realising it.

This creates long-term relationships and helps you to retain customers. For more advice about forming stronger relationships with your customers, take a look at this recent article.

App marketing plan template

Writing a marketing plan for your app can take a lot of work, but it’s absolutely pivotal to the success of it that you write one, adapt it and stick with it throughout the entire process.

Once you’ve established the answers to the above questions, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty writing of the plan.

Many marketing plans take different forms, but below we’ve listed examples of suggested sections for you to take inspiration from when it comes to the development of your app:

How to write an app marketing plan

  1. Executive Summary

    Succinctly explain the overall marketing plan

  2. Mission, Vision and Culture

    Explain these broader aspects of your app business

  3. Company Objectives

    What are your overall business goals and how does the app sit within these?

  4. Industry Analysis

    Research what your competitors are doing, and the wider potential for monetising the sector

  5. Smartphone Market

    What kind of devices will your app be compatible with, and how are the sales performing for those hardware manufacturers?

  6. App Market

    Some relevant data about the overall app sales landscape, and also specifically for your sector and competitors.

  7. Economic and Sociocultural Factors

    Are there any factors in your market territories which need to be considered when planning your app marketing?

  8. Technological Factors

    How are mobile app technologies forecast to change in the coming years, and can you identify any disruptive technologies which might impact your marketing plan?

  9. Target Market

    Try and be as specific as possible in the data that you include

  10. Product Strategies

    Does your app sit as part of a suite of products? How are these types of product usually marketed?

  11. Pricing Strategies

    Define the app business model and identify how your pricing will effectively monetise your app.

  12. Promotion Strategy

    Which specific channels will you use for your app marketing? How will your campaigns be planned and built?

  13. Distribution Strategies

    The App Stores for iOS and Android will be obvious ones, but are there any other aspects of your distribution strategy?

  14. Bibliography and References

    List your source materials

These can be changed and adapted for your specific plan, but these headings should give you a good starting point.

With technology constantly developing and changing for the better, it’s now more affordable than ever to develop your app idea into a reality, which means that now is as good a time as any to start planning to build your app with a strong marketing plan.

Mobile app marketing plan PDF

Do you need an app marketing plan template in PDF format? Just send us an email to [email protected] and we’d be pleased to help you.


What is mobile app marketing?

App marketing is a form of digital marketing, focused on mobile app businesses. It is the process of educating your target audience about your mobile app and encouraging them to make some kind of buy-in – this might be a free app download, or a paid subscription.

How to do app marketing?

Follow our app marketing guide, and make use of the app marketing template provided to come up with a plan that meeds your needs. Alternatively, contact us for app marketing advice.

How much should I spend on app marketing?

This depends on your goals, the size of your business, and any other marketing activities you’re already doing. But many businesses spend around 5% or more of their turnover on marketing.

What types of app marketing are there?

This will depend on your business sector and your target demographic, but most app marketing campaigns will be mainly digital in nature. Channels include PPC ads, social media posts, content marketing, and more.

How to measure app marketing ROI?

This will depend on your business model (some apps are free to download but make money from in-app adverts, other apps use a one-time purchase or a subscription model). But a simple formula to calculate ROI is to work out your marketing spend as a percentage of the income generated by your app.

How to use an app for marketing?

A mobile app can offer excellent opportunities for marketing a business, because the app tile on a user’s phone screen is a constant reminder of the business that they see each time they use their phone. Even if the app itself isn’t monetised, it can be used as a stepping stone into the products and services which provide your real business revenue.

How much does app marketing cost?

This can be anything from £100 per month to more than £10,000 per month. The cost of app marketing really depends on your specific business, but the two main factors are the fees paid to a marketing company, and the actual marketing spend itself. It’s often best to hire an app marketing company, and they can help you create a plan which will advise a recommended spend per channel to market your app.

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Important – The information provided in our articles is intended to be for general purpose use only, and not advice for you or your business. We strive to publish accurate information, but encourage you to fact-check and seek expert guidance. You should always speak to a qualified professional to get tailored advice about how to operate your business under your specific requirements and circumstances.