Promoting Mobile Apps from Your Website

Mobile SEO: Promoting Mobile Apps from Your Website

Apps are definitely an important aspect of mobile marketing, but they are frequently not marketed effectively enough to hit critical mass or achieve the desired number of downloads, causing the project to fail, the app to loose internal support, and eventually, die on the vine (and in the AppStore).

Luckily, with a bit of planning, you can have a successful app launch, and drive a reasonable amount of traffic to your application with minimal time required for the app to gain momentum. The key is to start marketing your application to the people who will care about it most, which is usually your existing customer base. This means that any communication that you are sending to your existing customers should include information about the new application as well as a link to it in the app marketplace (if possible), so that it can be downloaded immediately.

One of the best ways to promote your mobile application is from your website, but a surprising number of companies overlook this opportunity. Most companies launching a mobile application will have both a mobile and traditional website. Your application should be promoted from BOTH.

Marketing a Mobile App on a Desktop Site

On your traditional website, it is always best to include something on the home page mentioning the application. You should be clear which operating system(s) the app is available in, and how it can be downloaded. If there is too much information to include it all on the home page, you can do what YellowBook has done and create an entire page dedicated to explaining all of your mobile offerings (and link to it with a nice graphic from the home page).

To the right you will see a logo that they have included on the home page. It encourages people to check the availability of their applications on their phone, and alludes to mobile specific features, using images of the iPad and the iPhone to draw the user’s eye in. It is included at the bottom of the home page, just above the footer, and while it would probably have more success if it was included higher on the page, it is still a nice example of the imagery and calls to action that can be used to promote a page on your traditional site that is all about your mobile content. If you have a limited amount to say, and decide you don’t need a full page on your website promoting the application, you can usually link a banner like this directly to the application marketplace, so that users can find more information and read reviews there.

Now, here is the page where that links will take visitors to – a page all about YellowBook’s mobile offerings. While there are still some missed opportunities, they are doing a lot of things really well on this page.

List All Mobile Platforms You Serve: You can see at the top that YellowBook has included images of their app on a lot of different types of mobile devices. In this case, you can see that YellowBook has developed apps for Android, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry and Palm. This step is especially important if you have developed applications for more than one mobile operating system (OS), because there are different methods of accessing and downloading the apps on the different systems. In this example, when you click on one of the images at the top, a description of the application features and the method for accessing it is shown below, next to the large phone image.

Send App to Phone Form: Downloading mobile applications is still new to a large portion of the population, so you want to make it as easy as possible. A person on their traditional computer, who is linked to an app store may try to download the app to their computer, and then be confused about how to get to their phone. YellowBook has included a form where users can enter their phone number to get a text message for the app. The text message simply includes a link to the application download page that they can click on from their phone. This simplifies the process to make it much more likely that the user will have a good experience downloading the app.

Sending text messages from your website is not as easy as it should be, but I expect it to get much easier in the coming years. At this point, what you will need to do is sign up for a short code and work with an SMS gateway. In most cases, the SMS gateway will take it from there.

Reviews & Rankings: Personal opinions and experiences are important for mobile users, because of the personal nature of the device. Your users will appreciate reviews that are specifically related to the app on the operating system that they are running. Star rankings are also powerful for creating a positive visual cue and reassuring potential users that they will have a good experience with your application. Reviews can be taken directly from the application stores where they are submitted, or if it is a new release, they can be from your beta testers. If your application has been reviewed by professional app reviewers or app review websites, then it is great to include quotes from those, and link to the full articles.

Marketplace Logo: Users will most likely just be scanning the page for information about the app so one of the fastest ways to give them information is with familiar logos related to their phone operating system or application marketplace. Here are the most common ones:


App Screen Shots: Previews of your application will help people understand how it works and what to expect, making it much more likely that they will be happy with the application once they download it. Many users will skip the description and go straight to the images, because they want to assess the content and quality of the application quickly. Always include a screenshot of each major aspect of your application as well as any other views that you think will help users understand the benefits of the application.

Marketing a Mobile App on a Mobile Site

If you have mobile-specific pages or content, there is an even more effective way to market your application when your users visit the mobile site. Rather than relying on users to know which of the applications they should download, or what mobile operating system their phone uses (many will not know) you can use JavaScript to detect the phone that they are on, and then if you have an app for that operating system, you can insert an add that is just for that application on that operating system.  Here is a great article about how to do it from Hand Interactive:

If you are already using user-agent detection and redirection from the traditional site to the mobile site, you can skip this step, and simply use that information to prompt or not prompt and add for the application, based on the user-agent detected by the server.  If you are not doing user-agent detection and redi3rection from your traditional site to your mobile site, the it is a good idea to use this JavaScript prompted ad on both your mobile site and your traditional site, incase people are viewing your traditional site from their mobile phone. Either way, once you detect the type of mobile phone that the user is browsing from, you will include an advertisement or promotion for the mobile application only if you have one for their particular phone.

You can see this done below on For the iPhone, they are serving an ad that shows the iPhone App icon, and link to the app in the AppStore. For a Samsung Galexy S, running Andorid, they have just a link at the top, pointing to the application in the Android Marketplace. In both cases, the experience is simply initiated by typing ‘ directly into the address bar, or clicking on the home page from search results.