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The Most Successful App Marketing Campaigns[4 Case Studies to Look At]

Originally Posted By Catherine Ku  | August 7, 2014  | 6-min read
Jayraj on July 13, 2020  
The most seccessful app marketing campaigns - Appy Pie

According to various studies done in the last decade, we tend to spend nearly 3 hours every day on our smartphones. The number has consistently increased over time and smartphones will soon become the default mode of communication.

This makes apps extremely important for sales and marketing. Seeing this rise in dependency on mobile apps, businesses are scouring across the industry to get their own app. However, they face an uphill battle. Mobile users subconsciously curate a list of what apps they need.

What that means is that they only download the apps that they see value in. To make users see value in your app, you must market it well. We do have a free course on app marketing strategies that you can check out for yourself. However, helping you understand the various app marketing strategies is not the purpose of this blog. This blog is about studying at some successful app marketing campaigns from around the industry and understanding what made them successful.

Before we go, here are some statistics regarding marketing for apps.
A Complete Guide to App Marketing Campaigns - Appy Pie

Best Practices to Market your App

Before we discuss some of the most successful app marketing campaigns, it is time to take a look at the best practices to market your app. Here we go!

  1. Go for multiple traffic sources
  2. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. It is particularly important when you are planning your next app marketing campaign.

    • Leverage advertising networks like Adsense, inMobi, Mobfox
    • Create profiles for your app on social media and spread the word
    • Make an app landing page that explains the benefits of your app and encourage more and more people to download your app
    • Whenever customers visit your website with their smartphone, prompt them to install your app or a mobile-optimized version of your app.

  3. Gain loyal following
  4. Of course, you want to increase your app downloads, but make sure that you also make these customers feel valued. Your app marketing campaigns must also focus on acquiring customers and retaining them. You must remember that eventually, your app ratings and reviews will factor in your app’s success.

  5. Keep an eye on your app metrics
  6. Your app metrics like downloads categorized by device types, operating systems, and consumer demographics are important when you are designing your next app marketing campaigns. These inputs can also help you tweak your app marketing campaign so that it attracts the right audience.

One thing you should know about this list is that it is still incomplete. There are a lot of successful marketing campaigns for mobile in the market. Our plan with this list is to keep adding more and more case studies as we find out about them. Follow our Twitter for future updates on this topic.

However, for now, here are some of our case studies for various app marketing campaigns:

  1. The Starbucks App
  2. Starbucks’ App Marketing Strategy is the gold standard of a successful app marketing campaign. They are one of the best mobile marketing strategy examples you can find.
    Starbucks - Appy Pie

    • The Challenge
    • Starbucks was known for its reward system. It had helped when the brand had begun selling coffee. With their new app, Starbucks hoped to move its user base to mobile and use the mobile app for future marketing.

    • What they did and why it worked
    • Starbucks already had a popular rewards program called My Starbucks rewards card. They realised that shoppers were moving to mobile and would often forget coupons and their reward card. They killed two birds with one stone. With the app, Starbucks made it easier for shoppers to buy their drinks and get rewards. They also had publicity from various influencers who posted about Starbucks rewards on their Instagram. If you want to learn how to pitch your app to influencers, watch our mobile app marketing strategy video below:

      (Above video is a part of a more elaborate course on Academy by Appy Pie. To access the complete course, please Click Here, or continue reading below.)

      The rewards would eventually convert to stars which would let them buy free drinks on special offers. The app also allowed users to pay their bill online meaning that they could grab a drink even when they forget their wallets.

      Apart from that, Starbucks personalised user experience by offering users discounts, reward points, coupons etc, on their favorite food items. The program still continues and almost 20-30% of their customer base uses this reward card leading to billions of dollars of revenue.

    • Key Takeaways:
      • Starbucks created a loyal app user base
      • Starbucks officially markets new products through their app successfully
      • Rewards, coupons and gamification work

  3. Amazon Shopping
  4. Amazon Shopping - Appy Pie
    One would think that Amazon would not have trouble with a mobile app. However, when Amazon initially launched their e-commerce store on mobile, it wasn’t getting the traction that the Amazon website used to get. It was never on the top charts for shopping and even got removed from the playstore for violation of its policies.

    • The Challenge
    • Amazon knew that shopping through mobile apps is lucrative. They needed to relaunch and rebrand their app completely, reach a larger audience and climb the top charts.

    • What they did and why did it work
    • Amazon realized their folly. They had hoped that people would search for the ‘Amazon’ app but people looking for mobile e-commerce apps were searching under the ‘shopping’ keyword. Seeing this, Amazon renamed their mobile app to ‘Amazon Shopping’.

      Before this update, 2% of global traffic for the keyword ‘shopping’ went to Amazon. After the update it increased to nearly 9%. The success of this simple rebranding shows the importance of ASO (App Store Optimization) even for mobile apps. It worked simply because Amazon realised consumer search patterns and made relevant changes. To learn more about app store optimization, here’s a basics video from our App Marketing course:

      (Above video is a part of a more elaborate course on Academy by Appy Pie. To access the complete course, please Click Here, or continue reading below.)

    • Key Takeaways:
      • SEO is important even for mobile apps
      • Rebranding doesn’t need to be expensive
      • Rebranding is a simple marketing exercise that can be extremely effective

  5. IKEA Catalogue App
  6. IKEA Catalogue - Appy Pie
    IKEA has long been one of the most successful furniture brands in the world. It still dominates the industry. The one weakness IKEA has is that its product is obnoxiously vast. It sells something for everyone. To help with this IKEA launched a catalogue app.

    • The Challenge
    • Making a catalogue was simple enough. However, one key flaw with IKEA or furniture in general is that you cannot ‘test’ it. What this means is that to know if the furniture you want to buy fits your home decor, the only possible way is to purchase it and haul it home. IKEA did something revolutionary for the time.

    • What they did and why did it work
    • IKEA’s Catalogue app was one of the broader applications of AR in smartphone apps. Not only did the catalogue app allow users to browse through furniture listings but the augmented reality capability of the app drew the furniture onto the camera and let users ‘see’ how that piece of furniture would fit in their house. A truly wonderful application of AR.

      The app was a massive success and is now one of the staples of their mobile app. It worked because users could finally gauge how a product would look in their house before they actually bought it. Not only did it make it easier to buy furniture, it was also slightly gamifying to play around with. To understand how AR works, you can create your own AR app without coding with Appy Pie AppMakr.

    • Key Takeaways:
      • Experimenting with new technology might lead to something incredible
      • A market leader needs to keep innovating to survive
      • Convenience is a very important factor for potential buyers

  7. Pokemon GO
  8. Pokemon GO was the breakout mad trend of 2016. Loads of people running around, the massive following and social media madness is very well remembered. Infact, Pokemon GO is being played by nearly a 100 million people worldwide right now. You can’t call a success like that a ‘viral trend’.
    Pokemon Go - Appy Pie
    However, what made it so mad? Let us explore.

    • The Challenge:
    • Pokemon was losing its player base. Most of its loyal fans who were attached to it, including me, had far outgrown the demographics the franchise was targeting. Poor manga and anime seasons were pushing Pokemon to irrelevance. They needed something unexpected.

    • What they did and why did it work
    • Pokemon GO was an experiment with AR technology. So they created a game, where you could walk around and catch Pokemon in the ‘real world’. Essentially, based on your geographical location, certain Pokemon would ‘spawn’ onto your AR camera that you could catch. For example, if you were in an area with boulders and rocks, the game would spawn rock-type Pokemon.

      Pokemon GO was a breakout hit due to two reasons: the premise and word-of-mouth marketing. The entire premise of the Pokemon franchise from the games to the TV shows has always been about the protagonist traveling across a region catching Pokemon.

      Word-of-mouth spread about a real-world Pokemon game where the region you travel is the actual world. Once fans got wind of this, they went crazy discussing theories and what to expect from the game. The hype generated reached unprecedented levels. Timely Youtube marketing raised and maintained the hype and publicity until the release. Here’s a video crash course on YouTube SEO.

      (Above video is a part of a more elaborate course on Academy by Appy Pie. To access the complete course, please Click Here, or continue reading below.)

      Even though the released version of the game could have been better, the hype helped it surge past, shattering app store records worldwide. Despite it not being as good as it could have been, Pokemon GO still provided a solid experience and there were literal ‘hunting parties’ with hundreds of people gathering to catch time-specific Pokemon.

      Pokemon GO still remains a shining beacon of an excellent marketing strategy and the sheer capability of AR.

    • Key Takeaways:
      • Word-of-mouth is still one of the most effective marketing strategies
      • Timely YouTube Marketing is important for generating hype
      • AR is the future of smartphone apps


That was all for now. We will add more success case studies as time goes by. Meanwhile, we suggest you check out our free Academy course on mobile app marketing. It will help you create your own strategies for marketing your apps to the general public.

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Abhinav Girdhar

Founder and CEO of Appy Pie

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