How to Promote an App and Advertise the Smart Way

We have a lot of advertisers come to us and ask “we’ve just created a new mobile app for our brand, how should we launch? How to promote an app?” In other words, how do you effectively allocate advertising dollars to rapidly increase our user base and see a positive ROI?

This, in itself, is a difficult question to answer. It depends on multiple factors including, but not limited to, size of brand, size of audience, scope of application, target geographies, etc. That being said, there is a general framework that we like to follow when planning and executing strategies for new app launches.

Stage 1: Don't Spend Any Money

That’s right, you read above correctly. This the first step to how to promote an app effectively, and that is not by wasting your advertising dollars! For any sized business when releasing a new application you should really completely on your own sources to drive installs to your application. This can include email lists, social media channels (organic only, no paid promotions!), word of mouth, etc. There are two primary reasons for this approach:


  1. We rarely see a new application launched without the presence of bugs or some other sort of hiccup. Releasing the application to your current customers means they are much more likely to forgive you if things don’t go as smoothly as planned. Once the product is 100% polished, it’s time to start paying for users to drive revenues and growth.
  2. Why pay for users that are going to download your application organically anyways? This is especially true when an application first launches. Plenty of customers you already engage with will download without the need to engage with any sort of paid advertisement.

Stage 2: Introduce "High Yield" Paid Media Sources

Once you have completed Stage 1 and you are seeing a drop in organic traffic coming through your owned sources it’s time to introduce “high yield” paid media sources. What we mean by “high yield” media app promotion sources, is that these are the sources that are going to drive the highest ROI for the lowest amount of money and should be utilized first in any sort of paid media strategy. These include:

  • Paid Social Media Sources (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter)
  • Appstore/Playstore Search Ads

Both of these types of sources offer great targeting and a chance to target engaged, relevant users at a good price. Based on the quality of traffic coming through these sources we can start to benchmark the value of a paid users for paid media sources that we will utilize in later stages.

Trying to think of a different way to say this. High Yield, High Value, Direct, Close to Advertiser.

Stage 2 Bonus: Awareness

Depending on your brand and audience size Stage 2 would also be a good time to start awareness campaigns for your new application. This can include branded video (mobile and desktop), television, direct mail, and other forms of out of home advertising. Typically we only recommend this type of effort for more established brands.

Stage 3: Performance Media Supplementation

In this stage of the launch we will introduce additional paid media source outside social and search to capitalize on other opportunities in the market that we can’t access via these channels. Also, by this point we should have a clear understanding of how the app is monetizing and what our KPIs should be for the campaigns that we run. There are hundreds of different paid media sources that we can work into the mix at this stage and it really depends on each advertiser on who we might recommend.

Also, at this point you should implement performance based video that highlights your application with a primary KPI of driving downloads.  Read more about mobile video here.

Finally if you opted to run any sort of awareness activity it should become smaller or even turned off at this stage of launch.

Once we have a performance video blog we can link to that from here.

Stage 4: Balance Media and Re-Engagement

The final stage of a new app launch is continuing with the above (balanced and optimized based on performance of course!) and adding in re-engagement (or re-targeting) campaigns into the mix. As most people know, it’s easier to keep a customer than to buy a new one. That’s the purpose of re-engagement campaigns, get the users you already have back in the app so you can monetize from them. The strategy here can really differ depending on each advertiser an app. Are you trying to get people back in the app to purchase a large subscription packager? Or are you getting them back in to level up and hopefully make that small in-app purchase? Or maybe you just want them engaging in the app for another KPI.


The strategy for different re-engagement KPIs varies significantly, the important point is by this point you have grown a significant user base and you are using a portion of your ad spend to minimize churn rates and get users back in the app.

Wrapping Up

We hope that answers your question on “How to Promote An App”. Creating and executing app launch plans isn’t easy and we hope this framework helps. If you have any question then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Remember, don’t spend money right away and focus on your owned media sources. Start with “high value” paid sources before bringing in other sources for a more balanced long-term approach. And once your user base has grown  don’t forget about the users you already have!

Our mission is to drive client growth through holistic and innovative digital strategies.


Mexico City

Comments are closed.