While money can’t buy you advertising space on the two major app platforms, iOS and Android, there are a number of marketing opportunities available to travel brands.
Being ‘mobile first’ with operating system (OS) specific technology that Apple and Google have launched, and are trying to promote, will give travel brands a distinct advantage in getting these mobile giants to promote your brand, for free!
Take for example Singapore Airlines, they were ready for Apple Watch launch day and were therefore promoted by Apple on the Apple.com/SG homepage, above other major apps like Instagram.
Likewise easyJet have been well known for being mobile first in a number of innovations such as being the first UK airline to launch Passbook, the first airline in Europe to use Passport Scanning, and the first UK airline to launch Apple Pay. The latter got them a place in a WWDC keynote, the biggest Apple developer conference in the world, now that really is "money can’t buy promotion".
Aside from the utopia of free promotion on the app stores there are plenty of marketing opportunities that can used to amplify your brand across the two major app platforms - iOS and Android.
- App previews - these are the most effective marketing tool available; a 30 second video that previews your app. It’s the first screenshot available on mobile so it’s essential to get your key messages, features and functionality up front and centre.
- Smart banners - these are promotional banners that are placed on the root URL on a mobile site and are presented unobtrusively at the top of a webpage. If the user doesn’t have the app installed it will bring them to the apps area on the App Store, if they do it will open the app for them.
- 3D Touch Share - share action has been added to 3D touch functionality, where up to 5 actions are now permitted, making it a great acquisition tool for downloads.
- Search Ads - this new paid marketing tool puts your app at the top of relevant search results and connects customers directly to download in one tap. It works on a CPT (Cost per Tap) model but a CPA (Cost per Acquisition) model can be set. While these were only available in the US they more recently launched in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
- In app ratings - new to iOS 10.3 users can give an app rating without going to the App Store.
- Respond to reviews - also new to iOS 10.3 developers can now publically respond to reviews on the App Store. This can open up new opportunities for brands to clear up any confusion about a new feature, inform users about in incoming bug fix or share news on future version updates.
So what about Android? In May Google I/O 2017 reported that there are now 2 billion active users on Android so marketing opportunities on this operating system are extremely important to travel brands. However, there is a fragmentation issue with numerous different versions available, some with very little up take. Therefore, travel brands need to maximise their discoverability by using methods such as infographic screenshots and promotional videos.
Similar to the iOS platform there are a number of marketing opportunities available including:
Mobile App Install campaigns
These are campaigns devised specifically to get more app downloads. You can create custom ads that are run exclusively on phones and tablets and bring people directly to the app store to download your app. There are numerous bid models available for this including Cost per Click (CPC) and Cost per Install (CPI), however it’s important to focus on the generic terms (ie business travel) as opposed to brand terms.
Early access allows customers to download your app before it has been released or while it is still under development (with a disclaimer that the ‘app is still in development and may be unstable’). This is a fantastic opportunity to promote your app, giving it homepage placement before it has been officially launched.
There are so many avenues that marketers can explore to promote your app across the two major platforms, it's a matter of finding which one works best for your brand.
So that concludes our focus on opportunities available on iOS and Android platforms. If you want to know even more about mobile marketing for travel brands download the full ‘Ultimate Guide to Travel App Marketing’ eBook where we’ll help you boost your app ranking and supercharge your downloads and star ratings in just a few weeks.