Today’s shoppers live on their mobile devices, often conducting most of their buying on their pocket-size screens. Phones are powerful portals into an entire world full of the latest trends, influencers, and products. While retail brands are tapping into today’s buying behavior by successfully selling on social media, many have found a more effective way to get their customers obsessed with their brands and continuously come back for more.
Enter the branded mobile app. CommentSold learned that its retailers generate 66.5% of their revenue through their app alone. Consumers shopping via mobile apps are 220% more likely to make repeat purchases than non-app shoppers. The obvious reason for this is that apps are generally user-friendly, visually appealing, and easier to navigate on a mobile device than some traditional websites.
Retail apps also make it easy to buy items with a simple tap, and push notifications alert users about new products, sales, or reminders to browse if they haven’t used the app in a while. Social feeds are excellent places to discover upcoming trends and buy items on impulse. Still, a mobile app that reflects an individual shop’s overall look and feel helps anchor and differentiate its brand. Not to mention, there’s less distraction for the shopper.
Shops interested in launching their own mobile apps can do it easily with a total e-commerce solution like CommentSold. But how simple is it, really, to get their customers to go to the app store, make space on their home screens for a new app, download said app, and actually use it to shop? How can stores successfully announce their apps to the world and convince them to use them as a primary shopping channel?
The answer is with a few tried-and-true tricks that CommentSold shops have used to flawlessly promote, launch, and sell through their branded mobile apps.
Leverage Your Existing Social Following
Think of launching your app a little like debuting a new item in your inventory. Chances are, you’re already tapping into your existing network and customer base to show off new products. Reach this same audience by announcing your app across your existing selling and communication channels. Add visual appeal (and stand out in noisy newsfeeds) by creating graphics that contain the name of your app, when it will be released, and where to get it. Post about your app in your Facebook group, Facebook page, Instagram profile and stories, Webstore, and anywhere else you’re communicating with your following online.
Ask your customers, friends, and others in your social circle to download the app when it’s ready. These are people who trust you and want to hear what you have to say. When you tap into your existing network, you’ll not only get early adopters; you’ll also get loyal brand advocates on board who are likely to spread the word about your app to their connections.
Market Your App Like a Pro
Now it’s time to get down to business. Launching a mobile app requires planning from all parties involved, and coming up with a marketing strategy and calendar is key to staying organized and creating momentum for your big app debut. Utilize marketing automation tools to notify your audience about the app before it launches, the day it’s available, and continuously after to keep it top of mind.
In addition to social media posts and updates, use SMS texts and emails to inform your network. The more you can automate, the better. Get the right message sent to the right people at the right time, and save yourself some manual labor by scheduling posts, emails, and other communications ahead of time.
Build hype for your mobile app with teaser videos and mystery posts that boost engagement and keep people guessing. Create graphics with “Coming soon” text or simply a vague release date to create an air of intrigue. When you’re ready to share details about the app itself, generate pre-release buzz by teasing upcoming sales, deals, contests, discounts, or giveaways for anyone who joins in on the fun and downloads your app.
Utilize app store optimization (ASO), which is like SEO but specifically for mobile apps. Optimize your app listing in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store by using relevant keywords that raise visibility for your brand. The more optimized your app is, the higher it will rank in app store search results, driving more downloads.
Keep the keywords consistent with your messaging, offerings, and audience. Use these keywords in your app store descriptions and titles. If you’re unsure which terms to pick, think about what terms your shopper is searching. There’s no harm in taking a peek at your competitors’ keywords as well.
Change your Facebook group and page cover photos to announce your app when it’s ready to roll out. When people visit these social channels, the first thing they see is the top graphic—it’s prime real estate for a call-to-action (“download our app!”) and the app name itself. You can also add your app info in your Instagram bio and front and center in your e-commerce store.
During the week of your app’s launch, you can opt to set up paid advertising on your social channels as well. You have the option of linking ads directly to a download page for your app, or you can use these apps to boost visibility for your Facebook or Instagram page, which should then greet visitors immediately with a message to download it.
Incentivize Your Shoppers
It can be tough to pull people out of their comfort zones. Convincing customers to download a new app when they’re perfectly fine commenting “sold” on your social media posts or visiting your website to shop may pose a challenge for some. Communicating the advantages of your app and making users feel like they’re part of your special community is key. But, hey, who doesn’t love a good incentive too?
Offering daily deals exclusive to your app, free shipping for app users only, or coupons users can only redeem by shopping on your mobile app are a few incentives to get people to download. CommentSold users can visit their dashboard to add a coupon and select “only app” to offer an app-exclusive discount quickly. Cross-promote the coupon to other selling channels, clarifying that shoppers must purchase from your mobile app to redeem it.
You can also offer customers the chance to win store credit by requiring proof of download. When app users post a screenshot of your app as a comment in your post, you can count them in to get the offer. Another idea is to ask app users to tag a certain number of friends in your post announcing the app and offer store credit.
When you have your marketing and hype-building plan in place and you’ve recruited members of your network to download it, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll reach more users. Creating a sense of FOMO or concern that someone will miss out on a great experience can help draw in more people. Getting your early adopters to download the app and rate and review it in the app store or offer a testimonial about how much they enjoy it will help create social proof.
You can communicate that “everyone is on the app” through your live sales, pre-recorded video, and social posts to back up what your following is saying. You can even tease an app-exclusive product launch or special offer that folks without the app could miss.
Strike a balance between promoting your app as the “cool kids table” and meeting your customers where they like to shop. While mobile users spend 88% of their time in apps, you should stream live sales and offer your product selection across all available channels, so you aren’t alienating anyone. Your mobile app should feel exclusive and special—not like the only way to connect with you and buy your products.
Social proof and screenshots of your app help achieve this feeling of inclusion. There’s a good chance your online followers will be drawn in by the easy, intuitive, and visually appealing shopping experience on your app once they see how it looks and functions.
Highlight Key Features
Building hype and driving customers to your app is exciting, but it’s important to educate users on how it works and why it’s special. Show your audience where to find your app, how to enable notifications, use the app to shop, and ways to ensure they get the best experience possible. After all, they’re inviting you to live on their home screens. Because people trust you, try recording a quick demo video that walks through the key features of your app.
If you want to offer more instructions or details on navigating the mobile app, mention in your video that you’ll have a pinned post on your Facebook page or Facebook group, for example, that users can reference if needed. Shopping via your mobile app is easy, but highlighting features that differentiate it from your other shopping channels is a great way to inform your audience and build confidence in what you’re offering.
Make Launch Day Exciting
Now that you’ve put in the work to launch your mobile app, it’s time to make release day exciting! Treat the day your app becomes available like a “grand opening” event or a holiday. Host a virtual party in your VIP Facebook group, so your loyal buyers get “first dibs,” or invite all followers across your channels to join in on the fun by going live everywhere at the same time.
Launch day is the perfect time to offer special perks, like free shipping for app users, or tease new products and exclusive content shoppers can only find by downloading the app. Bring special guests into your live announcement, or host contests and games to entertain and engage viewers. Once the party is over, continue to promote your branded retail app as you market and sell your products.
Get Support and Resources
Launching a retail mobile app with CommentSold means you’ll have support at every step. All comments and orders coming in from your app will be available in your CommentSold Dashboard. Download our free guide today to learn how to get your own retail mobile app and use it as a primary selling platform.