Android and iOS are the two major smartphone operating systems right now. iOS has historically been more lucrative to application and game developers but it doesn’t have to be that way. I usually write tips for regular users of Android but today I want to talk to the Android developers and show you how to promote your app.
Websites targeted Android users such as Android Explained and Play Store Sales are great places to promote your application or game. Simply use the contact form here or here in order to get in touch with me about advertising your work to thousands of unique visitors every single day.
When people look at the two competing mobile application stores they generally look at them differently. The average user may not know of any differences but developers know it can be much more difficult to get approved in Apple’s App Store than it can be to get in Google’s Play Store.
Not only is it more difficult, but it also takes much longer too. The reason behind both of these points is due to how Apple and Google handle their respective application stores. Google will just put your application through a series of tests before it gets published while Apple manually approves each app.
I could easily go into more detail here and there are always exceptions to the rule, but this is a major difference between the two platforms.
Openness is the Double-Edged Sword for Developers
See, because the Google Play Store (and Android devices) are so open, it has been able to attract more developers. Some will say triple A developers gravitate toward iOS (and even prioritize it) but that doesn’t make Android a lost cause. Sure, piracy rates can be high but the platform offers more opportunities.
If you live in the United States then you may believe that Apple is dominating the smartphone market.
That isn’t the case at all. In fact, Android and iOS are pretty neck and neck when it comes to the United States. The U.S. is also one of Apple’s highest performing region too (when it comes to market share). As we take a look at the whole picture, Android has over 80% of the global smartphone market share.
Think about that for a minute. Out of the billions of smartphones that people are using every single day. . .80% of them are using an Android smartphone. So, now that you get why it is important to stand out from the crowded Android app market, let’s dive into how you can promote your new application or game.
There are dozens of ways to promote your Android app and I can’t sit here writing forever. So I will hit the most effective app promotion methods here and I will be starting with the easiest.
Pay to Promote Your Android Application
Advertising is a massive business which allows companies (and people) to market their product to the masses. Any platform that has the attention of a considerable amount of people could be worth advertising on. As an Android application developer, you are unlikely going to get good returns on TV commercials but there are other platforms to consider.
Google Ads / Admob
Google is the largest search engine and they operate one of the largest online advertising firms. It’s easy to immediately start up a campaign with them. So, if you have an application that targets a specific genre then you may get some great results in paying for an ad spot on search terms that are relevant to your app.
Admob is a mobile-specific ad network that will let you advertise your product (typically another app or game) within someone else’s application or mobile game. You probably see these often in apps as they’ll sit docked somewhere in the app. Game developers will sometimes use these as in-game rewards for people who view them.
Another avenue for people who want to pay to advertise their application or game is to contact the various websites that are dedicated to Android. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of them out there and Android Explained is one of them. Each has a specific focus but all of them have one thing in common. . .
. . .they either use an Android device or they are curious about the platform in general.
Either way, the people who read these websites are your target audience. Now, you could use the first suggest and use a regular ad network to target Android related search terms and websites, but it’s going to cost you much more than paying the website directly.
Some websites have a predetermined price for ad spots (and even ad formats) so you’ll want to contact the ones you are interested in. Really think about which websites you choose to spend your money with though. A generic Android news website is going to give fewer returns than something more specific.
Large Android news websites such as Android Central and Android Police are going to charge a lot more than the smaller websites (such as Android Explained). Of course, I would love for you to advertise here (contact me if you are interested), but you may be better-suited advertising on a more niche website.
Go Where People Are Looking for Apps and Games to Buy
I also run Play Store Sales along with this website and this is what I mean when I tell you that a niche website can bring in a higher ROI. Readers of the big news sites have people going there for one thing, the latest news about a new phone, a new OS update, and some business related details about the industry.
However, people going to sites like Play Store Sales, the Google Play Deals subreddit, etc. are looking for one thing, a good deal. Whether it’s their favorite application going on sale, or a popular game that is priced so low it’s too difficult to pass up. People going to these websites are actively looking to spend money.
A few types of sites that I can recommend are. . .
- Play Store Sales (and similar sites)
- App and/or Game Review Sites
- Niche Sites (soccer games/apps advertising on soccer sites)
- Social Media Groups (Facebook Groups or Subreddits that are related)
- Generic Android News Sites
Promote Your Android App for Free
Now, I know that everyone cannot afford to advertise their Android apps and games. Developers are generally people working a regular 9-5 job and code their stuff during any free time they have. Their regular paychecks go toward paying the bills they have been paying for years.
Some people are finding it difficult to even pay for the current bills they owe. These people only have free time and putting those resources toward developing a game in hopes of extra income is what they are after. So they create an Android application or a game and then publish it in the Google Play Store.
They sit there, wait, and hope it takes off on its own.
In some situations (Flappy Birds is a good example), a game or an application just goes viral and becomes a huge success. This can happen with little to no additional effort from the developer but it all boils down to luck. No one is that lucky and some people are clawing their way out of debt this very moment.
You knew this suggestion was coming so I wanted to get it out of the way. I touched on it in the previous segment because you can pay to advertise on these social media websites. Again, this costs money so many people will attempt a grassroots type effort in order to get their application or game seen.
Do not go and spam social media networks.
This is very important but will often depend on the community you are interacting with. For example, many subreddits are against blatant spam but you may be able to find a subreddit hungry for your app or game. Again, I take a tip from the previous segment and say letting soccer subreddit know about your soccer app or game can be great.
Personally, I suggest you go out and find all of the Facebook groups and subreddits you may want to promote your Android app in. Watch the community, see how they react to other people promoting products. Some will be very hostile while others will be very open to it.
Many of these groups will even publish rules about ‘self promotion’, so be sure to read up on them before you start posting.
There are also other ways of using social media to spread the word of your app or game. Instead of making dedicated posts about it, you can reply to people who are looking for something your app or game can offer. I find these opportunities quite often as people are always asking for ways to fix a bug that I have written about here.
Going back to another area of interest in our first segment, dedicated Android sites can be leveraged in a number of ways. If you can’t afford to pay for an advertising spot on their website then you may be able to write up a guest post for them. This is a better solution for developers with apps that solve a problem.
That way you can write out a troubleshooting/solution post and present it to the website as a piece of content that will help its readers. Sure, the guest post will mention and/or link back to your application, but it could also be helpful to the website’s community.
It’s more difficult to do this if you’re an Android game developer but there’s a different way you could go.
App or Game Review Sites
If you don’t have an application or game that solves a problem (making it worthy of a guest post), then you may want to submit what you made to an app or game review website. These sites are always looking for good content so a quality application or game is perfect in this situation.
There are dozens of websites out there that do nothing but review applications and games for mobile devices. The mobile game review sites tend to be more popular but there’s something for everyone out there. They usually have contact forms to get in touch with them, like Droid Gamers has, so it’s easy to show them your work.
I do want to warn you about paying to have your Android application or game reviewed.
That’s generally frowned upon but it can get your work bumped to the top of their scheduled list of apps and games to review. The choice is up to you but you can see how easy it is for this type of practice to become unethical. It’s not always a bad thing but it is something you should be wary of.
It Takes Time to Promote an Android App
You should never expect an application or a game to become an instant hit the moment it gets published in the Google Play Store. In that same vein, you should not expect immediate results when it comes to putting in the effort to promote your app or your game.
It can take dozens of rejections before the first site will write about your work.
Never give up (just like you didn’t give up when coding the app or game) and continue working to promote your work and you will eventually see a result. It may not be as big as you expected at first. . .or it may launch your Android game to the next level. The goal is to keep at it until you are happy with the results.