Contrary to what you might assume, app stores are busy during holidays. In fact, people are actively exploring, downloading, and purchasing apps across a host of niches during this time of the year. We delved into this in detail in our previous post on holiday marketing for mobile apps. Check it out. But to reiterate: Holidays are a great time to go all out and acquire new app users, boost in-app purchases, and re-engage ex-subscribers. So, how exactly can you use holidays to grow your app? Here are ten actionable mobile app marketing tactics you could try this holiday season.
Create a completely different “holidays” listing/product page
If you want to go all out with holiday marketing, tap into the app store’s app listing A/B testing feature and set up a wholly new and seasonal listing. Route 50% of your listing traffic to your actual listing (the “control”) and send the remaining 50% percent to your seasonal listing (also called the “treatment”). This way, you can see if users who land on your personalized, seasonal listing convert better than those who land on your general app listing around this time. Did you know checking if seasonal content works better is one primary use case that app store A/B testing facilitates?
Now, there are a few caveats to this. For example, typically, you want to run your test for a specific period to see statistically significant results or until some set volume of traffic sees each version. But in this particular case, you’re looking for some quick wins. And since both app stores let you “peek” at your test results, you can return to your test every day, see how the different versions are doing, and adjust the traffic allocation as needed.
Setting up app listing experiments involves review by the app stores, so you must factor this in when planning this tactic.
Make your app listing/product page all “Christmas-y”
When people land on your app’s listing around Christmas, surprise them with all things Christmas-y. Think about how you can personalize your app’s metadata, like your app’s graphics, description, and offer, to reflect the year-end mood of your app users.
Personalizing your app’s metadata, especially your app icon can also make your app stand out in search results. Notice how the photo app with the “festive” icon pops for this search:
So when’s the best time to customize your app’s metadata for the holiday season? Today might be a good day. There are about two weeks until the holidays kick off, and typically, around this time, you get to see the apps getting all Christmas-y to match the year-end mood. Check out your competing apps – they probably have their year-end stuff up already.
Add year-end in-app events
If you don’t want to change your general app listing significantly and don’t want to try experimentation either, consider adding holiday specials or year-end-themed in-app events to your app listing. Both the App Store and Google Play let you enrich your app product page with data about any in-app events that you’re currently running or plan to run inside your app.
In-app events’ data or promotional content (previously “Live Ops” on Google Play) is a great way to promote your holiday offers or campaigns. When you add an in-app event, it’s displayed prominently on your app listing and can work just as well at getting your app users’ attention. Internal analysis at Google shows that developers who use the promotional content feature generate 4% higher revenue than those who don’t.
So the idea here is to throw in an exciting festive-themed event or story (more on this in just a bit), club it with a sweet upgrade or in-app purchase offer or reward, and you’re set. Here’s a beautiful example from the Lose Weight at Home in 30 Days weight loss app. You can see how the event truly captures the Christmas spirit and is also timed just right:
Here’s another example from the CallApp app. CallApp, too, doesn’t change its default app listing to reflect the holidays but it offers a “Holiday gift” on its listing inside its events section:
Craft exciting holiday offers
We keep stressing this on our blog: Getting a good offer is one of the top reasons that users upgrade from free or freemium apps to the paid versions. And holidays are a natural reason to offer discounts – users actually even expect them around this time. You might have even seen numerous articles this season featuring “the current top [X] apps on sale in the app store.”
But to make the most of offers, you need to come up with the right ones. This is tricky as holiday offers can take many forms. For example, you might launch flat discounts on all your premium plans or the one you want to push. If you want to balance your user distribution and need to sell more annual plans to do so, offer a discount only on your yearly subscription. Alternatively, you could offer premium features as rewards for free (just like the app CallApp is doing). Content, too, can be a festive special. You could even launch a lifetime subscription offer if that works for you. Even a lifetime subscription plan subscriber can add revenue to your app – we’re talking about the paymium model. Free and very long trials, too, are common offers around this time of the year.
Let’s look at a few examples.
Below, you have Moonly App offering its users a free reward. Dancefitme is extending a flat discount, while Daily Yoga is offering a generous trial offer:
As you can tell, there’s no one right answer to what might work for your users. In fact, your different user segments might also respond differently to the different offers you try. The best way is to experiment.
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Use offer paywalls
So far we mostly saw holiday marketing tips that work in the app store that can get you more downloads. Let’s now talk about how you can convert more of your existing users on your free or freemium plans.
In this case, too, offers remain central to your campaign. However, your app paywall needs to do the heavy lifting here. The best way to get more in-app purchases from existing users is to add a completely new and exclusive “offer” paywall. Offer paywalls are potent tools to instill a sense of urgency in users, enticing them to purchase exclusive offers available only for a limited time. This approach can trigger their fear of missing out (FOMO) and prompt them to take immediate action.
So place offer paywalls inside your app. You can even get your offer paywalls to launch as popups if you don’t want your users to miss them. Just make sure that you design your paywall to match the holiday mood and make it clear that the offer is only for a limited time.
You can even set up different offer paywalls for your different user segments. Consider setting up a custom offer for your active freemium members and a completely different one for your subscribers who canceled their subscriptions. Both segments may respond to different kinds of deals. Apple notes in its resource on holiday marketing that holidays are also an excellent time for reacquisitions.
Go all out with promotions (and keep everything consistent)
Tap all channels. If you can send your users emails, SMSes, or push notifications, use all to reach out to your users. They expect to find all kinds of offers around this time – and your app is no exception.
When you do so, ensure that your messaging is consistent with your holiday campaign. So, if your email asks a subscriber to grab your exclusive holiday upgrade offer, don’t bring them to your generic paywall with the slashed pricing. This can cause a disconnect. Bring them to a personalized paywall that matches the mood of the email they received, inspiring the same urge to act immediately. Likewise, your push notifications and SMSes need some personalizing.
A quick tip: Making your users land on your default paywall, which we saw many apps do when we were researching for this article, can kill the thrill of the offer! Here’s Calm’s “festive” offer with a not-so-festive paywall:
Add search optimization to the mix
Depending on your app’s niche, you might have observed how search patterns change with seasonal keywords during this time. For example, 2024 is almost upon us, and some users are searching for 2024-ish apps already. Take the astrology niche, for instance. If you search for “astrology” on Google Play, you see different search results from those for the keyword “astrology 2024.”
If you check out the apps ranking for the “2024 astrology” keyword, you’ll see how their app listings – description, app icon, and all – are optimized to capitalize keywords using the new year for searching.
Optimizing your app store listing for higher organic visibility with seasonal keywords can earn you some high-quality search leads.
Try ad campaigns to expand reach
Ads are an effective channel to generate app downloads and redownloads during this time as searches across a host of app niches increase during the holidays. So, if you run ads, more users will discover your app.
All you need to do is make a great offer, and you can get more downloads.
Using holiday themes in your ad creatives can help you stand out and get more clicks. Apple even recommends using seasonal creatives to custmoize ad campaigns for delivering better ad experiences. App makers also share that customizing ad creatives and copy improves tap-through rates.
Run a “story of the year” campaign
Stories are another excellent tactic for converting existing users on free or freemium plans. Stories are basically a user’s journey with an app. You can launch a “story of the year” to show your users how they engaged with your app throughout the year and what they accomplished. Also, you can offer a sweet upgrade deal at the end. Stories work great as retention tools, too.
You’ll need an app stories solution like Storyly to create and add such stories to your app.
The best part is that you can feature your stories inside your app listings’ events tab on both the app stores. That way, users who land on your listing, who may not even have your app, can see what kind of engagement they can expect once they get your app. Existing and returning users, of course, find it engaging too. Here’s the gratitude app Gratitude offering a sneak preview into what it has planned for its users for the year’s end: a reflective journey through their journal entries through the year. This can definitely pique the interest of potential new users as well:
Add gifting to your app holiday marketing mix
This is also one time of the year when almost everyone is looking for things to gift to their loved ones. You might have noticed how most publications are flooded with the “top gifts” roundups around this time.
You, too, can tap into “gifting” to boost app sales at the end of the year, as app subscriptions make great gifts. Actually, if you think about it, this strategy works well to get more subscribers from your existing subscribers. For example, if you have a segment of users who are loyal and engaged and generate good revenue for your app, this might be a good time to ask them to gift a subscription to their favorite people. The language app Duolingo does this really well. Duolingo asks its users to “Give the gift of learning” to their favorite people. The app even personalizes its app copy and graphics to reflect the holiday spirit:
This tactic works well in the app stores for upselling sales, too. Here’s the mental health app Evolve running a slick “Buy one, Gift one” offer:
If you collect your users’ emails or phone numbers and have the necessary consent, reach out with a “gift a subscription” campaign. Also, offer a generous discount to sweeten the deal.
Wrapping it up…
If you haven’t tried holiday marketing for your app, this might be the best time to start. If you did try it, this is an excellent time to see how the users you acquired during the holidays last year engage with your app. Look at their in-app purchases to get an idea.
If you have previously tried holiday marketing, use this year to test different offers, in-app events, and even products.
Also, consider adding a solution like Adapty to your holiday app marketing mix. With Adapty, you can personalize your app’s paywall on the fly. You can also use Adapty to add multiple offer paywalls to your app and test the different versions to find the one that converts the best. Adapty also comes with out-of-the-box reporting that tells you how the customers you acquire through your different holiday campaigns behave in the long term. Check out Adapty.