How many downloads are needed in order to stay in the top 50 in the Apple App Store or Google Play? 25.000 per day according to Vision Mobile‘s Mobile Megatrends 2012 report.   They make the point that apps need to move from product innovation to marketing innovation, and that apps are as mature as the fast moving consumer goods market now.

So how does a developer innovate in marketing? What exactly is marketing innovation, and how do you do this on a shoestring  budget? Which tools/services do you use? And there are many – just look at Vision Mobile’s atlas of services companies for developers:

So what is the most effective way to reach users? Well, obviously at CodeNgo we believe in maximizing your distribution reach – which means the max number of app stores, with localized versions for each market.  But beyond distribution you need to look at marketing, and the most effective way for apps is and will be word of mouth marketing.  So how do you take advantage of this?  Well, you have to start somewhere and we have found these key components need to be part of apps.

Let users do the discovery for you

This can take a variety of shapes. To begin with, see how your app fits with the user’s address book. Is there a way to integrate it somehow (in game play, invites, etc).  Your phone’s contact list was the first mobile social network, long before Facebook or AirG.

Enable social network publishing – without being annoying.  Nobody (well, most people) wants to know you just bought a new fish for your virtual aquarium. But they may want to know that you just went scuba diving or that you voted for an artist on The Voice, or is just thrilled Sweden won Eurovision, or… you get the picture. Relevancy is the key.

And if possible, create incentives for people to involve their friends or recommend your app/service.  Want to reach that next level? Get a friend to buy the game, and you get your long awaited super powers, etc.  Lots of game examples here, but you can easily build incentives into most apps.

Give users a reason to come back to your app

We are big fans of apps that transcend both the online and mobile world. While you may not be able to build a game online and on mobile, you can certainly integrate to online leader boards, user communities, etc.  Push notifications are great – as long as they are relevant – and give users a reason to come back to your app and not forget they downloaded it.

Location awareness is another huge win if you can build it in. Apple’s new Passbook uses location to bring forward the loyalty card you are most likely to use. For instance, if you are at the grocery store, well then Passbook will have that grocery store’s loyalty card ready for you. It may now always be right, but chances are it is. Sheer brilliance.

So while most developers would never work with creative ad agencies, it does not mean you cannot innovate. And it starts with your code.

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