Shopify Mobile App Marketing Strategies: A Comprehensive Guide


What are the classical summands of hitting it big in sales? Astute entrepreneurs know that they must identify their niche and target audience, fathom demand (or create it, if what they offer is a unique novelty), hire a team of seasoned professionals to produce a high-quality product, hold consistent advertising campaigns, foster customer loyalty, optimize expenditures, and do dozens of other things to outsell their competitors and carve their place in the sun.

In the digitalized world of the early second millennium, there is one more sine qua non for merchants dreaming of financial bonanza – launching an app. In the times, when smartphones are virtually ubiquitous and mobile app installs globally number millions, this channel of rapport with customers has developed into the most effective means of building a successful sales business, and not just precariously surviving in the shadow of blue-chip ventures. Among various software platforms employed to build mobile apps, Shopify enjoys wide renown and high repute not for naught.

Choosing a Platform: Why Shopify?

Having been introduced ten years ago, Shopify has developed into an exceedingly popular platform leveraged by over half a million merchants in close on 180 countries to propel their e-business. The secret of its fame is twofold. First of all, the online stores built with it are free. Second of all, there is no limitation either to the size of the venture or to the kind of goods you can sell at such stores.

It is perfect both for a B2B and B2C company. Your inventory may consist of physical products (print on demand items, jewelry, pins, or foodstuffs) as well as virtual ones (e-books, email templates, design patterns, etc.). You may offer services (those of a coach or a designer) and consultations (as a lawyer or a notary), classes and courses, memberships and tickets, or even rent out wedding dresses. Moreover, you can create not only websites but affiliate mobile apps as well, which will eventually increase the traffic of your Shopify e-store.

Naturally, such prospects will make any budding entrepreneur’s mouth water, but don’t imagine that having created a Shopify app you will start harvesting money hand over fist. Shopify app marketing is a tricky thing to master, and before shaping your plans to make it profitable and then increase sales you should be aware of potential pitfalls you may face.

Why Your E-Commerce Project Needs an App

Shopify App Marketing: Challenges to Beware of 

Conventionally, launching a mobile app for your e-business has three purposes in view:

  • winning and retaining clients;
  • keeping users engaged;
  • introducing new items.

However, once you have it (or better long beforehand), you should take thought of the ways to promote Shopify app. How come? The answer is very simple: you are not the only smart guy out there who dreams big time. App Store registers over a thousand app submissions per day. The Shopify App Store’s shelves aren’t that crowded, yet it features over 3,200 apps for users to choose from. To get app downloads in the Shopify app store, you must make sure it stands out from the rest of them.

Even if you succeed in launching such an app, your tribulations aren’t over. Statistics show that 85% of shopping carts in mobile apps tend to be abandoned and 80% of smartphone owners abandon the app itself after using it just for a few days! And if we remember that, on the average, people use paltry 3 apps daily, it becomes only too clear that Shopify apps promotion has to be a top priority for business owners aspiring to boost sales and increase conversions.

Shopify App Marketing: Exploring Every Avenue

Promoting a mobile app is a no-nonsense task and no wonder that more than two-thirds of companies that have an app develop a full-fledged long-run marketing scenario. Shopify app marketing strategies are manifold, yet all of them are essential steps to making your app popular with the public.

Know Thy Niche 

Preliminary research is a foundation of any marketing strategy and Shopify app marketing is no exception. It is what any app promotion should start with, and it doesn’t matter if you already envisage the app you want to build or you are still tapping the market in search of a promising niche.

The algorithm of sounding out the situation is a simple two-step procedure. First, you should find out what is available at the Shopify the App Store in the realm of your interest. Second, you should identify “merchant pain points”, i.e. a constant hitch that afflicts merchants (who are the customers of your app) and isn’t yet solved. As app development experts claim, investing in the product that isn't going to address a real problem is nothing short of increasing your bouncing rate and ultimately wasting your investment. What are the reliable sources of information on the merchant pain points?

The first venue for reconnaissance to visit is Shopify Community forums (notably, Ecommerce Marketing Section) where you should look for common frustrations merchants are subject to. Shopify Apps board is to become a focus of special attention since you can not only get a piece of merchants’ mind there but promote your app as well (when you do have it). Another “cooler” where merchants gather to share their grudges is their online communities and discussion boards (the Shopify subreddit and Quora’s Shopify topic).

Moreover, you can supplement your listening with a proactive approach and initialize user interviews, surveys, and contextual inquiries to pinpoint problem zones. Answers to multiple-choice and open-ended questions that such tools must contain will help you to gather feedback from all parties involved and hear them voice their concerns.

While collecting information from all possible quarters, you should mark repeated grievances and check whether there are solutions that claim to address them available in the app store. If the app store shelf, on which the corresponding product should rest, is empty, don’t start rejoicing yet. The absence of it may be the sign that the demand for it is puny so trying to fill the breach would turn out a failure.

Typically, the preliminary research should leave you with a short-list of viable Shopify app ideas worth implementation.

Study Your Target Audience

This is another direction your preliminary research should move along. While trying to picture your audience, think narrow. Aspiring to cater to the needs of all and sundry is a fallacious strategy. Attempting to please everyone is sure to end in pleasing no one. Zooming in on a definite group of people, you can discern problems, desires, and challenges that they face, and tailor both your app and your Shopify app marketing tactics correspondingly.

Market research is the most efficient way of target audience sounding. Make sure it involves feedback from different categories of people – from decision-makers and developers to the end users.

Fathom the Competition

After you know where and for who you will apply your skills, it is time you learn how much competition you are likely to meet. While identifying rivals, it is important to distinguish direct and indirect competitors. The former are the apps that do what yours does. The latter are those that solve the same problem but use an approach different to yours. What you should target is direct competitors, and when you figure out what they are, you must perform a competitive analysis.

The best way to do it is to download the rival app and explore its capabilities. By running it, you will find out its price, the way it works, what it has to offer to consumers, the number of languages it features, how the owner exercises customer support if they are easy to reach, and dozens of other important details that boil down to the number of strengths and weaknesses the app has in comparison to what you are going to launch.

This hands-on analysis would be in no way exhaustive if it isn’t supplemented by digging deep into related spheres like sales channels the competitors leverage, their marketing strategy (usage of blogs and social media), SEO rating, positive and (especially) negative reviews, number of downloads, etc.

Approaching the issue from these two vantage points, you will be able to obtain a complete picture of what you will have to face and determine what should be done to make your product stand out from the rest in the niche.

Spin Hype Beforehand

If you start thinking how to market Shopify app that you have just launched you are already late. Promotion should begin long before it as soon as you have a clear-cut concept of the app to come. Such an approach is grounded on human psychology. People will be aware that a useful app is about to appear and will anticipate its release, so once it happens they will start buying it right away without any delay. However, do be careful with terms and avoid indicating exact release dates in your promotion campaign. Why?

Even if you are dead certain that your app is going to be ready by Christmas, stating it officially is a bad call. There is no guarantee that the development of your app will proceed in a smooth linear way and it will be accomplished as you have planned. There are many things that can happen along the way, so the final version of the product may be late in coming. And there is nothing worse for your business reputation than breaking promises to clients (even if they are prospective clients so far). To be on the safe side, mention no deadlines, good old “coming soon” will suffice.

Indicating the release date may have another bad consequence if something goes wrong and you see the deadline can’t be met. Not wishing to let your future customers down, you may start spurring the development team in order to get the product ready as it was scheduled. Such a hurry may cause issues with the apps’ performance, which is even worse than missing a deadline. 

Get to Grips with Shopify AppStore Listing

Shopify App Store is the main venue where your product is made available to the audience. After the store admin approves your app, it is subject to listing. Once the latter is done, the Store’s search engine can be utilized to find it. How can you improve your app’s listing?

  • All the fields of the listing form should be filled out (optional ones as well);
  • Add key words and phrases to the listing, making them fit naturally into the content. However, don’t overdo it with keys as it may impact discoverability negatively;
  • Check the content for spelling and grammatical errors and eliminate them;
  • In case there are several accepted spellings (like loud speaker and loudspeaker), use both;
  • Never mind singular or plural in the keywords – the search engine will do it for you;
  • Keep symbols (hyphens, apostrophes, and the like) to the minimum.

Besides, you should pay serious attention to Key benefits and Detailed description sections of the listing page explaining your app’s value to viewers in a succinct but clear way.

To see whether you have hit bull’s eye with your listing, you can track the listing traffic leveraging Google Analytics or Facebook pixel. If no improvement of search results is in evidence, more optimization is imminent. 

Leverage SEO and ASO Best Practices 

While Shopify App Store listing optimization will render your app discoverable by those who visit this very store, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and App Store Optimization (ASO) are aimed at enhancing your app discoverability by any internet user or Apple App Store and the Google Play Store shopper.

Since over 90% of all hunts for apps or websites start with a search engine, SEO is of paramount importance for the app you want to sell. Google uses several factors while rating websites, including its usability, domain age, page speed, publishing frequency, and detected mistakes in spelling and grammar. By prioritizing these aspects you can improve the discoverability of your app tremendously, which is sure to tell upon the number of downloads.

ASO is also pivotal and having gone through the ordeal with Shopify App Store listing, you will probably find improving ASO a familiar activity. However, the first step that virtually doubles your app discoverability is making it available both for Android and iOS. Once you have done it, remember that the stores for both platforms rate apps according to their indexation, quality, and content relevance. By focusing on these characteristics, you will see your app move up in the ranking and feel your pockets grow heavy with the inflow of revenues.

Do Spielberg

Videos have long stopped being an optional element in app marketing. In fact, the app store means the app to have a promotional video and saves space for it in and under the header on the app listing page. If you want to leverage this opportunity in Shopify app marketing, mind the following dos and donts.

  • Video length must never exceed three minutes, whereas feature demos should be kept under a quarter of the total timing;
  • Make it promotional and not instructional, taking care to explain in it how your app will benefit the merchants;
  • Avoid third-party logos (even if the app integrates with respective companies) to keep within the limits of the copyright law.
  • Make the video memorable and unique.

Creating videos takes some skills so consider hiring an experienced outsourcer unless you have talent in-house to do that. UpWork or Fiverr are universally recognized venues to look for respective expertise.

Frequent Shopify Forum

Shopify forum isn’t only an excellent place to sound merchants’ pains and preferences, but to promote your app as well. People frequent it to get urgent advice and find an immediate solution to their problem. Actively participating in helping users who seek assistance is a surefire recipe for building trust with other forumers. Once your repute is solid, you can offer your app to merchants explaining that it is a part of getting out of their predicament. The Shopify Apps Board is an especially suitable venue where you can even link to your website. Besides, communicating with merchants, you may get ideas on improving your app, so becoming a constant forum visitor is worth it from all perspectives.

Home in on Facebook and Reddit Ads

Being a part of the digital civilization of today, almost every person leads two lives – one is the physical one in the real world, and the other is the virtual one in social media. That is why ignoring the latter in your Shopify app marketing campaign is an inexcusable error. 

Facebook is especially app-friendly allowing users to set up more than a dozen App Events enabling them to reach out to various categories of consumers. This is a precision tool for narrow targeting where you can focus on people of a certain age, occupation, background, sex, location, etc. Moreover, you can track downloads and even the sources employed for it, which may come in handy for fine-tuning or even overhauling your marketing strategy.

Reddit can be leveraged similarly, although its audience is much smaller. Yet, the Shopify subreddit is a specialized venue for merchants seeking advice, so building rapport with its visitors is a shortcut to finding a grateful audience that is on the same page with you. Sharing content and offering insights will win you followers and redound to brand recognition and then loyalty.

These ads aren’t free, so you will have to fork out some pennies, but think of the audience you will be able to reach out to and all miserly doubts will leave you.

Don’t Miss a Chance to Distribute your App Free 

Alongside furnishing place for paid ads there, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook offer excellent venues to market your app without paying a penny for it. If you have a social media profile, just intensify your presence there. However, you have to know your target audience perfectly to focus on the right platform. For instance, if your app is meant for younger customers, Snapchat and Tik Tok should be considered instead of Facebook.

Think Locally with Google Ads

Integrated geofencing opportunities of Google PPC enable searching for markets in the immediate vicinity of your central storefront in case you have one. But even if you don’t, it is still a very useful tool, since it can help you direct your bathing suit sales efforts to users hailing from Miami or Mallorca and advertising your ski equipment to people living in the Alps or around Aspen. 

Don’t Neglect Good Old Email

Despite seeming obsolete in the age dominated by Viber and Skype, email retains its efficiency yielding ROI of $44 for every $1 spent. So building an extensive email address repository will provide a beeline communication channel with prospective customers. Start with automated emails (aka cold emailing) whenever new content or updates are released and move on to email segmentation and personalization. Just remember that some countries forbid emails not opted into by users, so before embarking on this strategy, research the question. 

Play It Long with Content Marketing

Although being slow in giving palpable results, this approach is a foundation of any long-term Shopify app marketing strategy. Ultimately, you will never succeed in promoting your app, unless you try every format to tell users of its value. Such formats are manifold – blogs, how-to videos and guides, reports, infographics, webinars, ebooks, to mention a few. By filling them with informative content, you will first attract visitors to your website, and their number will steadily grow and eventually translate into leads for your Shopify app. Moreover, your brand awareness will grow too. Just make sure you implement SEO for each content piece.

Make Your App Free (As If)

Freemium is a viable tool in the marketing strategy for any software product (Shopify app including). You can offer a free version with the most basic functions, while customers must pay if they want to add more advanced features. As soon as you feel the customer to be hooked, consider turning your app into a paid one.

The guise of a “free app” can as well fit other products like a free trial version of an app. The trial should last as long as it takes to get a taste of the product – starting with two weeks and finishing with what your common sense tells you. In both cases, users have a chance to appreciate the value your app provides and try out all the functions of it. Once they realize its boons, paying money to continue enjoying them will seem a natural development.

Invite Guests and Influencers

Contributions of third-party agents give credibility and weight to the information about your app, exposing your product to a completely new audience. You can offer people to write for you on condition that the article won’t be too promotional and include a natural download link to your app.

Influencer marketing is essentially similar to guest writing, but you will have to pay for the latter since consumers trust them. Being aware of such attitude, companies allocate ever-growing budgets to enlist influencers who don’t have to be celebrities or top athletes. Conventionally, enterprises work with micro-influencers well known in their niche who charge less for services of this kind. Some of them don’t demand money and can agree to a free copy of your product in exchange for a blog post about it. 

Consider Means to Motivate Customers 

No matter how much value for the customers your Shopify app might promise, given the severe competition, it is the perks that you extend with it that can ultimately tip the balance of choosing throes in favor of your product. What are possible ways to intrigue and pamper clients keeping them loyal to your brand?

  • A contest or giveaway. You can offer those who download your app different prizes for answering questions of some quiz or just for sharing with people the joy of getting your Shopify app. We will never tell them, but, in fact, such social media posts amount to free marketing of your product. Your creativity can prompt you the number of winners and the nature of prizes, but be sure to set a deadline for promotional events. It urges people not to tarry and enter the contest immediately.
  • In-app referral scheme. Applying this plan, you let users do your work for you. The program encourages customers to get their friends, colleagues, or family to download the app. After that, the former receive a certain credit sum on their account for each referral (which later may be used to buy other products from you) and the latter are granted the first-purchase discount. This system works well since people tend to trust their immediate environment more than any official agent, no matter how artful they may be at promoting their merchandise.
  • Customer loyalty program. By introducing rewards for customers who buy from you on a permanent basis, you will encourage them to stay with you longer and get more benefits in months and even years to come.
  • Next-download monetary incentives. This is a variation of the previous tactics. Offering people a discount on each next download or a cashback on a previous purchase in case they make another one is a solid way to motivate people to buy more from you.

Encourage Reviews and Ratings

These are important in two respects. 

First, they let you have insights into the way your app performs and consequently improve it. To do that, they should never come from friends or family who may flatter you. However, involving independent opinions be ready to admit that your baby may be ugly. But it is the bad feedback that urges you to correct mistakes and add new features that customers would like to have in your app.

Second, they influence ASO and attract new buyers motivating them to download it. To hit this target, you should furnish a fair number of those coming from different quarters. The main obstacle to that is the reluctance of users who tend to submit reviews or compose ratings only if they liked or hated something very much about your app. Since most of the users are far from both extremities, it is pretty hard to elicit any feedback.

So, you should make every effort to wheedle reviews out of unenthusiastic users. How can that be done? Pop-ups and other incentives can remind users to do that, but ultimately, it is your work with customers aimed at nurturing relations with them that will persuade people to find a couple of minutes and express their thoughts as to your product.

TOP 10 Ways to Promote Your Shopify Store


While choosing the means to reach out to your customer, it is natural to include as many methods into your Shopify app marketing plan as possible. Yet, whatever strategies you might employ, they will do no good unless you have a top-quality app. The experts of Multi-Programming Solutions can build such an app for you that will be highly appreciated by your audience and serve a reliable source of revenue for your company.

September 25, 2020
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