Planning and budgeting for your promotional campaign at the very start of your mobile project is critical to success.

It doesn’t matter how brilliant your mobile website or app is if no one knows about it or uses it.

The Catch 22 is that people visit websites/apps found at the top of web search results and they download native apps that appear in app store top 10 category lists. But to achieve these rankings your site or app has to be among the most popular.

This is what makes the go-to-market strategy crucial to the success of your project. Planning and budgeting for promotion in advance is not only essential for determining project ROI, as discussed in previous column but it should also influence the development process.

The go-to-market plan should consider the following six types of marketing, and weigh up the pro/cons and relative costs of each:

  1. Paid advertising – display, search, native.
  2. Public relations – to earn press, blog coverage.
  3. Owned media: digital – CRM, email, SMS, social media.
  4. Owned media: physical – brochures, packaging.
  5. Shared media – social media, email, SMS.
  6. Search engine optimization/App store optimization.

Companies tend to underestimate the costs of marketing mobile projects – particularly mobile apps.

Agencies contacted by ClickZ recommend a marketing spend that is at least equal to the amount spent on development.

All agencies report that promoting native apps require more effort and cost to promote than a mobile-friendly site or web app (a browser-based application) due to the closed nature of the app environment and the intense competition between apps for downloads.

Mick Rigby, CEO of Yodel Mobile, London:

There are more steps to go through to get a mobile app user than a visitor to your mobile site or web app. The potential user has to click on the banner/video, they then visit the app store listing, they then have to download the app and they then have to open it to use it. With a mobile site you click on an ad and then visit the site.

This does not mean businesses should be complacent or overlook the requirement to plan marketing their mobile sites or web apps.

This column will cover the first two marketing types: paid media and public relations.

The other four – digital owned media, physical owned media, shared media (social media, email, SMS), search engine and app store optimization – will be dealt with in the next column.

Distribution-driven development

Per Holmkvist, chief digital officer, Zmarta Group, a Sweden-based consumer finance company says:

A common mistake in mobile projects – whether that is websites, web apps or native apps – is to focus too much on the service itself, and think too little and too late about how users will actually discover and become interested in your mobile service.

The promotional strategy and budget should be established at the very beginning of the project, because a) it is a critical consideration when determining if the project will be a success and b) it should be a major influence over the service concept and the development process of your website or app.

Holmkvist prescribes distribution-driven concept development. It’s a methodology that was developed at Mobiento, but is central to every project he oversees at Zmarta.

This methodology puts the formulation of the go-to-market strategy ahead of development.

So for example if the budget for paid media is tight, the mobile site/app design will have to more creative about how it grabs attention, encourage and facilitate sharing, and maximize the chance of being found via a web or app store.

Per Holmkvist:

A pointier concept breaks through the clutter more easily, can get some earned media (articles, word to mouth, social media shares etc.) and can lower the need of purchased media. Also a concept that embraces peer-to-peer functionality (challenges, co-creation etc.) may survive and thrive on a lower bought media budget.

The same goes for a service which is very integrated with one or more social media platform (not just adding like share buttons at the end of the project) or web services that are created with SEO driving considerations at the core.

Lifecycle marketing

The marketing strategy isn’t just about the launch campaign. One-time visits to the site/web app or downloads of the app are no use to anyone if there is no repeat use or knock-on traffic through media and social media buzz.

A useful methodology for looking at the customer life cycle (there are plenty of others in the marketing world) is Dave McClure’s AARRR methodology which splits the marketing strategy into five goals:

  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Referral
  • Revenue

The following diagram illustrates what role marketing plays on the path to conversion for a website. This is nine years old and a little busy, but it’s as applicable to mobile web/apps as anything else around.


Paid advertising

Mobile sites/apps can be – and are – promoted through virtually all types of media (it doesn’t have to be mobile):

  • Mobile – mobile websites and in-app.
  • Desktop web
  • Print
  • Out-of-home – i.e. billboards
  • Radio
  • TV


Take the launch campaign for Supercell’s mobile game Clash of Clans, which has used TV advertising and billboards (pictured above), as spotted on the London underground by mobile marketing agency Somo.

Chris Sheldon, senior account manager, Somo:

One interesting point about the Supercell print ads is the distinct lack of mentions that the product being advertised is an app. There isn’t the traditional ‘download on the App Store logo’. This suggests that they believe their audience is now fully capable of recognizing an ad for an app and how to action it without explicit instructions.

In fact, mobile integration helps make TV, print and out-of-home advertising more measurable and actionable.

If a user interacts with static ad by scanning a unique QR code to hyperlink to a mobile site for more information or texts a unique short code to enter a competition or uses Shazam to identify a song in an ad, the impact of the ad can be measured.

See this case study to see how Somo used Shazam to target customers based on the soundtracks of Very (its client) and competitors’ TV advertisements to drive mobile traffic to, helping to boost m-commerce sales by 45% over the Christmas period.

These examples aside, mobile media – in-app and web – is the obvious choice for advertising mobile sites and apps.

Agencies will often target users of sites or apps within the same category e.g. games, health. This surge in ads for mobile apps particularly is helping to drive the rapid growth of mobile ads over the last 10 years.

Social media has been a big recipient of mobile advertising. Campaigns that drive traffic to both mobile web and mobile app installs dominate social media marketing.

A study of the top advertisers on Pinterest by SensorTower found that driving traffic to their mobile websites is still a priority over generating app installs.



Expenditure on mobile ads is now the second largest in US, topped only by expenditure on TV, according to eMarketer.

It is expected to account for 21.6% of dollars spent by US advertisers in 2016.



Martin Utreras, senior forecasting analyst, eMarketer:

We believe a good portion of money is spend on app install ads [10.4% of mobile ad spend in 2015]. In addition, a good portion of mobile ad dollars is coming from marketers driving up engagement to those same apps.

Spiraling cost

Inevitably, this demand is pushing up the cost of mobile ads while consumer tolerance of ads falls, with an increasing number reverting to ad blockers.

According to Fisku, as of December 2015, it now costs $3.34 in advertising for each person that downloads an Android app and $1.46 for Apple.

While winning a loyal user (one that uses the app three times or more) costs $4.23 – up 101% year on year.

With sobering numbers like these, you can see it is important to plan and budget for your go-to-market strategy in advance.



The spiraling cost of advertising makes it essential to consider other forms of marketing, including public relations (below), owned media (digital and physical), shared media and search engine optimization/App store optimization (next column).

Public relations

PR campaigns aim to generate coverage of your mobile offering in the mainstream, trade publications, blogs and social media etc. where it is hoped it will catch the eye of the target audience.

Agencies may refer to this as creating buzz, influencer outreach, but it all amounts to the same thing: using the influence of others to convince mobile users that visiting your site or downloading your app is a good idea.

There is more to PR than press releases. Agencies will help business refine their marketing message (more about this in the next column).

Using this message, agencies will often spoon feed stories to the media, even write the story themselves or prepare video content – this is called content marketing.

Increasingly agencies will write articles then pay to place it alongside editorial content on host sites – including many of the mainstream publishers – often indistinguishable to readers. This is dubbed native advertising.

Evgene Dychko, Content Manager, at Chicago based app marketing specialist, Comboapp:

PR outreach is more time-consuming part of the promotion strategy than user acquisition [paid ads], but it is proven to be an efficient support for paid marketing efforts. App reviews in media and thematic blogs help to attract and retain target audience.

All kinds of PR implies content marketing, since we send out pitches, write blogs and articles, create message around the product.

One campaign that really got the media talking was the launch of Good2Go, a controversial sexual consent app aimed at US students in 2014.

The campaign run by Comboapp targeted 400 media outlets, generating 210 articles in publications with a collective audience of 4 billion.

The campaign resulted in more than 20,000 downloads in the first week, pushing the app to the top of the App Store lifestyle category.

Despite previous approving the app, Apple pulled the plug on Good2Go just nine days after launch – showing how vulnerable native apps are in Apple’s world.



Whatever the final outcome, Good2Go is a good illustration of the magnitude of PR campaign required to push a mobile app to the top of its category. 

Next steps

The next stage in the formation of your go-to-market plan is the evaluation of owned media (digital and physical), shared media (social media, email, SMS), search engine and app store optimization.

These will be dealt with in the next column.

This is the eighth part of the ClickZ ‘DNA of mobile-friendly web’ series.

Here are the others:

  1. Six mobile strategy questions 
  2. How to identify your mobile audience 
  3. Why prioritize mobile-friendly web 
  4. Web apps: advantages of native apps in a web browser
  5. How to test the viability of your mobile project
  6. Assessing the technical and operational feasibility of your mobile project 
  7. Show me the money: proving your mobile site or app will deliver ROI 

Andy Favell is ClickZ columnist on mobile. He is a London-based freelance mobile/digital consultant, journalist and web editor.

Contact him via Linkedin or Twitter at Andy_Favell.

This article was originally published on our sister siteClickZ, but it’s so helpful we thought we’d share it here too.

via Search Engine Watch

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This