Email marketing is still one of the the most effective marketing channels out there no matter what you are promoting, and mobile apps are no exception this rule.
In fact, email is much more effective than social media when it comes to acquiring new customers. Research from McKinsey & Company found that it was nearly 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined!
To further demonstrate the power of email, Campaign Monitor found that you are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a Tweet.
There are lots of benefits to having an email marketing strategy for your app.
First, you can find tons of engaged, highly interested beta testers.
It also gives you a massive boost when you launch. Imagine having a list of thousands of people that you can email directly and ask to download your brand new app when it goes live.
And it allows gives you a direct communication channel to some of your biggest fans after you launch.
So why aren’t you working hard to build an email list for your app already?
If it’s because you aren’t sure how to get started, or how to use an email list to effectively market a mobile app, you’re in the right place!
In this post I’ll go over the steps you can take to start building an email list and to leverage it to promote your mobile app.
Set Up Your Email List
Let’s start by looking at what it takes to start building an email list for your app. There are a few simple steps you need to get up and running with email collection.
Join an Email Service Provider
The first thing you need to do is sign up with an email service provider (ESP) and set up an email list. An ESP manages allows you to store & manage your email list, send automated email sequences, and send broadcast emails.
There are lots of different ESP’s out there with prices ranging from free up to several hundred dollars per month.
After using several different ESP’s, my personal favourite is ActiveCampaign. It’s not free (starts at $9/month) but it’s really powerful and allows you to easily create automated email sequences, tag & segment contacts, track contact activity and more.
Set Up a Website
The next thing you need is an online ‘hub’ where you can send traffic and collect email sign-ups.
A website isn’t the only option you have to do this, but it’s the one I recommend because it’s the only one that you really have full ownership and control over.
The easiest, most flexible way to get up and running with a website is with WordPress.
All you need to do is buy a domain name (try and get your app name, or a shortened version of it that’s easy to remember), get set up with a web host, and install one of the many WordPress themes out there.
If you’re not sure which WordPress theme to use, check out this great post by Aigars Silkalns that showcases 25 mobile app, software showcase and landing page WordPress themes.
Your new website will give you a place to post new content like blog posts, videos and news updates about your app. It will also give potential customers a way to learn about you and your app before you launch. And you also can put important resources like your press kit on there to make it easily accessible to journalists when the time comes.
Add an Email Collection Plugin
The last major item to cover is the tool you use to actually collect email addresses from people and send them to your ESP.
Again, there are lots of different options out there. What’s great about WordPress is the sheer number of plugins that are available to add functionality to the platform.
To keep things simple and cost-effective, you can use a free tool like SumoMe to collect email addresses on your website. All you need to do is install the plugin, set it up & link it to your ESP and you’re all set.
The easiest (but not the most effective) way to start getting people on your email list now is to promote your email newsletter. You’ve probably seen something similar before. A popup on a website asking you to join their weekly newsletter by entering your email address. That’s ok to start, but you need to think much bigger picture if you want to seriously grow your list.
Rapid List Growth
Unfortunately, building an email list takes more than just having a basic website with a way to collect emails.
You need 2 more things:
1. People actually visiting your website
2. A compelling reason for those website visitors to actually join your email list
Lets take a look at how you achieve this.
Create Great Content
“Content Is King” – Bill Gates
If you want people to visit your website, you need to create great content for them.
You app should be focused on a particular niche. There will be a core group of people with particular interests that will want your app. This is usually referred to as your ideal customer avatar.
Start creating great content that appeals directly to your ideal customer avatar.
For example, let’s say you’re building a recipe app for busy parents. It contains quick, healthy recipes that can feed a family and be prepared in 30 minutes or less.
In this case you should be creating content that appeals to busy parents who are short on time, value their family’s health, and don’t necessarily love cooking.
And you don’t have to limit your content to just recipes. It just needs to appeal to that ideal customer avatar.
You could create things like ’30 tips to get kids ready for school every morning in 40 minutes or less’, or ‘How to get even the fussiest eaters to eat Brussels sprouts’. Once you start thinking outside the box a little bit, you will realise that the possibilities are endless.
Always include a ‘content upgrade’
I learned about content upgrades from Bryan Harris of Videofruit.
Basically a content upgrade is a downloadable piece of content that is an ‘upgrade’ on what you’re talking about in your blog post. In order to get the free content upgrade, people need to subscribe to your email list.
They do take some extra work because you have to create the upgrade after working on your new blog post or video, but it’s worth it. Content upgrades can convert at up to 20%, which is insanely high
The key to content upgrades is offering something that is closely related to the topic of your blog post, and to make it irresistible to people reading that post.
Let’s use the example that I mentioned previously and assume you wrote a post about getting getting kids to eat Brussels sprouts. You might offer a content upgrade at the end of the post that contains 3 ways to prepare Brussels sprouts so kids will never know they are even eating them. So people read the post, love the techniques you teach them, and want to download your 3 recipes as well.
Give Them The VIP Treatment
One of the unique benefits of building a product like a mobile app is that you can offer your early fans VIP access. This can be a great incentive for people to join your email list.
Make sure you emphasise the benefits of becoming a VIP. Some benefits you might give people are: early access to the app, ability to influence the design, or maybe a discount on launch day if it’s a paid app or a subscription based app.
What Happens Once They’re On Your List?
Getting people to join your email list is only half the battle.
Once they’re on there you need to keep them engaged and interested. Your job is to build anticipation and excitement among your new fans until your app is ready to launch. If you do that well, you’ll have lots of raving fans ready to download your app, tell their friends about it and leave you great reviews.
Sounds like a pretty good launch day, doesn’t it?
How to Get Your Email Subscribers Excited About Your App
If people have joined your email list, it means they want to hear from you. Don’t be afraid to send emails on a regular basis. Personally I wouldn’t send less than 1 email per week to make sure you’re keeping them engaged and staying top of mind.
You can share things like:
- New content that you’re posting on the website
- Development updates and new feature additions
- Access to beta versions of the app and requests for feedback
- Surveys to get an idea of what’s most important to your fans and get some guidance on what to focus on in the development process
- Press coverage and mentions
What this does is it gets people invested in your product. If they have provided input into the features you developed and helped beta test your app, they are already invested in the app and will definitely be one of your first users when you launch. There’s a good chance these people will tell others about it as well.
Not only will you have fans who will download your app on launch day, you’ll also have an instant, loyal user base. That’s something that’s hard to put a price on.
Let’s talk more about launch day.
As the big day approaches, you’ll want to start to really ramp up your communication with your list and generate as much excitement as possible.
If you’ve been providing value all of this time through your great content and by getting your fans involved in the development process, now is the time to ask favours.
Don’t be afraid to ask people to share the app on social media on launch day and to leave you a review on iTunes. If they like the app, lots of them will be happy to do it.
And the best thing is you can reach them directly and personally via email. It’s a much better channel for this than just blasting things out on social media.
Over the course of developing your app and building your list, you’ll probably get some great quotes from fans as well. Don’t be afraid to use those in your marketing. You can even ask fans for testimonials that you can use as well. It all helps, and it’s much much more than most apps have behind them when they first launch.
It’s clear that email is a great tool for marketing an app. Email marketing is more work than just creating a Twitter account and sending out a Tweet once a week, but the rewards are much bigger as well.
It’s really not that hard to do. As you saw in the post, it’s simply a case of:
- Setting up a WordPress site
- Signing up with an email service provider
- Adding an email collection plugin
- Creating great content
- Building anticipation & involving your new fans in the development process
- Leveraging your list when you launch
The only thing left for you to do now is to go and take action. Start creating content around your niche, building an audience, and establishing a relationship with them through email. You’ll be thankful you did when the time comes to launch your next app.