12 holiday app marketing tips for mobile growth pros

By John Koetsier November 14, 2021

It’s November and if you haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet, you’re totally screwed. Happy supply chain crisis, baby: that toy your friend’s kid wants is stuck in a shipping container on a boat off the coast of Los Angeles, and no-one’s unloading it until they get a raise to cover 2021’s massively accelerating cost of living.

Google Play gift card for the win?

Maybe …

But as you’re working through the mobile app holiday marketing strategy you built about 3 months ago, here’s a few tips on making this holiday season the best ever.

1. Take advantage of of the supply chain crisis
Out-of-stock notices are up 325% and prices of meatspace physical products are trending northward too. Let people know that your game is NEVER OUT OF STOCK of in-app purchases or power-ups or skins or whatever you offer.

Look, as someone who has at least one game that I play obsessively, getting a significant boost in that game’s virtual economy would be a pretty big deal that would make me pretty happy. Much bigger than a tie, socks, or box of chocolates.

I don’t think I’m alone here.

2. Coordinate messaging
You have worked hard over the past year to connect with your users and customers in multiple first-party ways, right? Coordinate your messaging over push notifications, in-app notifications, email, social, web, and maybe even some advertising if you can target well enough (Android-only, probably) to let people know what you’ve got available for holiday fun (if you publish a game) or holiday gifts (if you’re in retail) or holiday treats (if you do on-demand food) or …

(You get the idea.)

3. Give to get
We’ve just had Diwali, the festival of lights, and we’re in the season of giving.

Why not surprise your users with a special holiday gift? Why not make it variable by person, so you can reward long-term players or users or customers for loyalty: the longer-term, the better the surprise?

Sure, this could be gems or power-ups, or maybe a discount or BOGO in retail (keep reading for that tip) but why not do something that they could never actually buy? Something that is never available: a special skin, a unique character icon, a special weapon, or an exclusive level?

Be creative. Give them something high-value that costs you very little.

4. Introduce yourselves
There are billions of app users who have zero personal connection to the people who make their mobile experiences come alive. Do a holiday celebration, use video, and connect the people who make it all possible with the people who make it all worthwhile.

Not only would it be a cool event that will boost retention, you’re guaranteed to learn something new from people who use your app that will be useful in development of new features in 2022.

5. Be the gift your users give
Offer an in-app option for people to give friends, family, competitors, or colleagues the gift of your app, services, or an in-app experience. Reward them with something cool themselves.

Multiple benefits: new users, happier existing users, longer retention, and maybe even social engagement in-app via your services.

6. Offer help-a-random-friend in your gaming app
Just for a short period of time, allow people to help someone pass a level or fight a boss. Struggling gamers can ask for help. Top-notch players can parachute in and play for them. Extra connection, extra meaning, extra engagement, and extra retention … plus everyone feels good about themselves, and it’s all centered around your game.

7. Start now, but finish late
If you’re like me, you want to get your Christmas shopping done EARLY. So start promoting special deals and offers now.

But if you’re like me, you never actually get all your Christmas shopping done early. So you’re running around on December 24th, when you’re finally taking a break from indentured servitude errr, work, looking for a gift for your mother-in-law. (This is a completely hypothetical case, by the way.)

So have special deals right up the big holidays.

And, after, because sometimes we buy a gift for a special someone, and that special someone turns out to be us.

8. Solidify existing relationships
The holiday season is a big time for getting new devices and trying new apps. Everyone has more time, and half of us are looking for something to stick our noses into to get away from Uncle Frank’s very definite and loudly expressed political views.

So we’re all looking for new apps and new games.

That’s great for new user acquisition (yeah, have a plan here) but it’s also a problem for user retention. Make existing users feel great about themselves by kicking off a holiday special that provides extra in-app gems or gold or power-ups every day of the holiday period?

Even better: let them know if they collect every single day, there’s an even bigger reward waiting for them on January 1.

9. Make something old new again
Maybe no-one does this better than Subway Surfers.

3 billion downloads plus can’t be wrong, right? Launching a game in 2021 and having it still be going strong in 2021 is impressive, and one of the ways Kiloo Games keeps it fresh is by moving players all over the world. The core gameplay is pretty much the same, but the decoration and design is always fresh.

(Yeah, you should have started this one about three months ago. Maybe keep it for whatever holiday season is coming up next.)

10. Run some App Store and Google Play ads?
I know you have all the app users you want but …

If you might just want a few more and you also want to boost engagement and reduce churn of those you have, consider a few App Store and Google Play ads that are aligned with your best guess/scientific approximation of what people do when they lose the habit of opening your app.

Ads can help you play defense as well as offense. It’s worth a shot.

11. Influence this …
You may or may not use influencer marketing. Buuuuuuuttttt … now is a good time to pair a holiday launch event with an influencer who matches your values, interests, and demographic. One-off influencer campaigns are a bit ho-hum … but 5 to 10 well-targeted influencers who engage in a tournament, participate in an event, or become part of a promotion over time could just keep the excitement high for existing users as well as attracting a flow of new people.

12. Design an easter egg for viral kicks
Everyone loves easter eggs: unexpected surprises in games or apps or environments.

Design a holiday-themed set of easter eggs that provide significant benefits in your app or game, and then kick off social media promotion. Have tons of low-cost, high-value rewards to keep people hunting for the easter egg (move it or them around to make it more challenging), but have at least one massive knock-it-outta-the-park reward like a trip to Hawaii or a visit from Ogden Morrow (just joking, insert your own idea here) that will stimulate serious searching and buzz.

Oh and … get a good way to measure all your marketing wins

It’s great to kill it during special marketing events. It’s even better to know exactly how hard and how well you are killing it.

Singular offers the insight you need on ad performance, creative optimization, and channels that work.

Chat with one of our experts about what you’re doing and, maybe, how to get even better data and better results.

Stay up to date on the latest happenings in digital marketing

Simply send us your email and you’re in! We promise not to spam you.