Fundamentals of Planning a Successful Pre Launch App Campaign

February 13, 2017

Creating a pre launch campaign or marketing strategy to deploy before your mobile app launches, is one of the smartest approaches to eventually owning a popular and profitable app.

A successful pre launch campaign will be the start of all of your marketing efforts, helping you gain traction and validation even before you have finished development. Marketing your app months before its launch is critical – not optional. You’ll be competing with over 2 million apps, so you shouldn’t wait for downloads to come in after you launch.

Set Aside a Budget

The first thing you need to do is figure out how much money you want to set aside for this endeavor. The amount of money you allocate for your pre launch campaign will ultimately determine which marketing tactics you choose and the level at which you scale them.

Here are some tools you can use to accomplish this:

How to Manage Your Entire Marketing Budget
Marketing Budget Calculator
The Advertising ROI Calculator
Excel Marketing Budget Templates

Define Your Target Audience

Who exactly will you be targeting? To successfully promote your app, you need to understand and define user personas so you can effectively engage with your audience with the right message. If you don’t know where to start, follow the Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) framework:

source: Zbigniew Gecis

  • Main jobs to be done: The main objective the customer/user wants to accomplish with your app.
  • Related jobs to be done: Less important things the customer/user wants to do with your app.
  • Functional job aspects: The actual functional task the customer/user wants to achieve by using your app.
  • Emotional job aspects: What the customer/user wants to experience when using your app.
    • Personal Dimension: How the customer/user wants to feel while using your app.
    • Social Dimension: How the customer/user wants to be perceived while using your app.

Click here for a more step by step guide on how to use this framework.

This framework gives you insight into not just who your customers are, but what they want you to do for them. Demographics alone can help you figure out where and when you should be targeting your customers, but JTBD shows you what to do and how to do it. You should design your graphics, write your messaging, and position your brand all according to your answers to the above questions.

Set Your Objectives

Don’t make the mistake of just aimlessly posting updates on Facebook! There are thousands of app marketing tactics and strategies to choose from, but only deploy the strategies that will work best for your specific app.

What is Your Pre-Launch Goal?

In order to choose the marketing tactics to focus on, you need to determine what your end goal is. Once you’re set on a goal, you can work backwards to figure out what actual campaigns you should be running. Here are the most common goals for pre-launch campaigns:

Brand Awareness: Is your only goal to get your app’s name out as much as possible? Creating brand awareness is crucial because it’s much easier to get someone to download or pay for your app if they have already heard about it.

Best For: Apps that require a large user base (ie. Instagram)

Brand Consideration: If you have a lot of competition, you might need to focus on brand consideration. How can you position your app so it is different enough to seem useful, but similar enough for people to know how it works. Key Tip: Use an X for Y Analogy (YouTube = Flickr for videos)

Best For: Apps similar to other market leaders (ie. Bumble and Tinder)

Lead Generation: Do you want to build your email list? Are you looking to build relationships with interested users? Start creating landing pages and brainstorm different ways to lead capture.

Best For: Apps that have high price tags (ie. Evernote)

Pre Launch Marketing Tactics

You should go into pre launch marketing with the mindset of providing as much value as you can to your target audience. If you’ve used the JTBD framework effectively you should be ready to start brainstorming how you want to go about this.

Here are ten pre launch marketing tactics to get you started:

Create a Plan

Now that you have a solid foundation you can map out your official marketing plan. What social media platforms will you be using? How many website visitors do you need? When will your Google ads start running and when will they end?


Consider the RACE Planning system to use your marketing budget, efforts and time efficiently and effectively. The RACE mnemonic summarises the key online marketing activities that need to be managed as part of digital marketing. RACE covers the full customer lifecycle or marketing funnel from Planning, Reaching, Acting, Converting and Engaging.

There’s a popular saying among marketers that says “50% of my ad budget is wasted, I just don’t know which 50%”. When you’re a startup with limited resources this can be a big problem, you can’t waste 10% of your ad budget, let alone 50%. The RACE framework helps you make sure that each of the tactics you will be using is for a reason, working towards a bigger goal. You can read more about this framework here.

In attempts to waste the least amount of resources as possible, make sure you can answer all of these questions for each campaign that you are running.

  • Goals: What exactly do you want to accomplish from running this campaign?
  • Audience Segment: What group of people will you be targeting?
  • Budget: How much is your total budget? How much are you allocating to each marketing tactic?
  • Timeline: When are the start and end dates?
  • Channels: Which channels will you focus on? Why?
  • Marketing TacticsWhat activities will you focus on that will best help you achieve my goals?


Keep Testing: It’s impossible to know for certain what’s going to work and what isn’t. Try out different ideas and strategies on a small scale, measure the outcomes, and invest more time and resources into the more effective tactics.

Measure what Matters: It is very important that you build in systems that allow you measure the effectiveness of your different marketing activities. However, you need to make sure you are only looking at what’s important. It’s great if 10,000 people watch your promo video, but if your goal is lead generation and you didn’t capture any emails then it doesn’t matter.

Start Early: Marketing works over long periods of time. The more someone hears or learns about your app the greater the chance they will download it. Also, don’t worry about other people stealing your idea, it just validates the fact that you’re on the right track. If you can build up a large fanbase eager to use your app, you will have a huge advantage over any potential competitor.

Check out our latest app marketing article: 35 Actionable App Marketing Tactics for Explosive Growth