Mobile application usage grew by 115% year over year in 2013. That growth not only means that apps continue to be a growing part of our digital experience, but also that app strategies and user habits alike aren’t quite mature – brands are still learning to leverage apps as part of their overall strategy and users are still figuring out where apps fit in their lives. That’s where email comes in.

Messaging growth

It’s clear that if you’re going to make a splash in the growing app market, you need to get your app onto your customers’ and potential customers’ mobile device. But that’s easier said than done, right? How do you increase penetration for this increasingly valuable piece of digital real estate? Why not start by showing those users with whom you already have a relationship (your email subscribe list) the benefits of deepening their commitment by downloading your app?

Increasing app downloads with email is pretty straightforward. To help you out, I’ve compiled a quick, down-and-dirty list to get you started:


  1. Keep the message simple – Consumers’ attention span is short, their inbox is overflowing, and if the message is complicated it may be implied that the app will also be complicated. Nobody needs that. If your user gets scared, she won’t click through.
  2. Make it educational – Show the value your app adds to your consumer. All it takes is three or four bullet points or a couple of screen grabs of the app itself.
  3. Include a clear, relevant call to action (CTA) – Think of your message as a sales discussion. During every sales cycle, you have to make “the ask.” The CTA is your ask – “Here’s what we have to offer, and here’s what I want you to do.” If the expected action isn’t clear or isn’t relevant to the user, you’ve failed at one point or another.


Movable Ink

Of those three elements, the third is possibly the most important. It goes to the relevancy and context of your messaging. The secret to good marketing is getting the recipient to envision what you’re selling in the context of their lives. If they’ve chose an Android device and you’re showing them iPhone images, you’re not supporting that vision. And if they’ve decided to give your app a try and you’re serving them a link to the Apple App store, you’re really hurting yourself.

That’s where device detection can make a world of difference. Movable Ink is the industry leader, allowing you to easily tailor creative to context. We’ve talked about matching CTAs to the device on which your email is opened, but you can go even further, aligning images and content based on location or even the time of day at opening.

And it works, as shown in this case study from Movable Ink that shows how American Eagle had a 231% lift in clicks to download its mobile app compared to previous versions of its welcome message that were not device targeted.


The Head of the Class

The following do a great job of promoting their mobile and iPad apps, making use of all of the tips above:

AXS mobile


AXS keeps it simple by focusing on just their mobile app. There is a clear call to action to download now and four bullets point proving out added value to the consumer. In this example, AXS used both Movable Ink’s device detection (if a consumer opened the email on their Android phone, the image that loaded would have been a ‘Droid, not an iPhone) and an animated gif to show the different screens available within the app.




Gymboree focused on its iPad app and, like AXS example above it has a clear call to action. Here they use used screen grabs instead of using an animated gif to highlight the value each section will add to the consumer’s experience.



Even though this Cabela’s example is not dedicated to its mobile app, the message is simple, providing value to the consumer and has a clear call to action to download now.

With the increase in mobile app sessions, you don’t want yours left behind. When you are ready to start promoting your app via email (or any other media channels) just remember to keep the message and creative simple, make it educational, and include a clear call to action.

It’s as simple as that.

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