App Marketing 101 Series: Contests & Promotions (Pillar 7)

Contests & PromotionsOne of the most effective short-term marketing tactics is the use of promotions or contests to spike activity for your product whether this be downloads, purchase or in-app usage. Attaching a sense of timeliness or urgency to any marketing campaign is a proven way to maximize your results.Whether the time of year provides you with an opportunity to promote your app or you choose to create a moment to put attention to your app through a contest – a valid reason to market your app. In this week’s app marketing 101 series article, we review the ins and outs of using promotions and contests to effectively market your application.

Leverage the Calendar Year

You only have to look as far as your calendar to find key marketing opportunities. Promoting your app around events that are relevant to your app niche or purpose is a great way to increase visibility in context to the right audience.

Some great event-based marketing opportunities are:

  • Holidays (Christmas, Valentines Day)
  • Seasonal Milestones (Back to School, Winter)
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Conferences
  • Industry Events
  • Company Anniversaries & Milestones

Promotions during this time can take many forms but all use the calendar event to form positioning for the market campaign. For mother’s day, as an example, you may run a paid media campaign focusing on why Mom’s use your app. Later on that year you might run a campaign focused on how this is a must-have app for students during Back to School.

Identify the event, find true relevance in it as it relates to your product and then run a promotion around it.

Some promotion ideas include:

  • Contests
  • Price changes and discounts
  • Giveaways
  • Advertising Campaigns
  • Press Release
  • Media & Blogger Outreach


Price Promotions

Discounting your price, or putting your app on “sale” is one of those ways to promote your app around an calendar event. But you don’t always need to tie it to a seasonal milestone.

Price promotions can take many forms. You can offer your audience a limited offer, free trials, discounts and markdowns or even a giveaway.

It is important that when entering a price promotion you have a plan with clear goals in mind and you have also analyzed the download and usage data and feedback from your users to see if this is the right thing for your app.

If your app is doing well with the pricing model you have established, it may not be the best time to alter the price. Pricing changes are best used when traffic is low and you are looking to increase new users.

Frequent price changes can signal a weakness or deficiency to your users and competition and can also start to train your audience to wait till there is a sale to purchase so be wary of how many times you go to make a pricing change.



There is a reason why contests are the first thing that comes to mind when you start thinking about putting together a promotion for your app. If done right, contests can create a flurry of traffic and downloads due to their time sensitive and often urgent nature.

When thinking about running a contest, make sure you have a specific goal in mind. Are you looking for downloads? Activity within the app? Viral sharing? Feedback?

Once you have your goal in mind, it’s time to be creative to come up with the contest model and prizing.

Keep these in mind when developing your contest:

  • Keep it simple
  • Get people engaged
  • Encourage sharing
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Make it fun and exciting
  • Keep it legal – know the rules and make sure your users do too

Ultimately a contest is only good if people know about it so make that part of the contest plan includes how to get the word out. Using a social network, like Facebook, to run a contest is effective in this way, as interactions with the contest will instantly become available in the participants wall featuring it to their friends.



Prizing is a key element in any contest. You will need to gain prizing that is both enticing enough to make people participate while still keeping the prize relevant to your app to ensure that you are attracting the right users.

If your app is premium, always give away the app for free as a lower tier prize in the contest.

Beyond what the prize is, make sure you understand the legalities around giving it away. Be familiar with contesting regulations in the regions you wish the contest to run in.

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