How to determine your app marketing budget

How To Determine Your App Marketing Budget?


Long gone are the days where an app could literally promote itself without significant budgets in tow. In order to “make it”, back then, the necessary components were just a massive time investment, along with a willingness to adjust and tweak things down the road. As it pertains to today, however, things have slightly taken a different turn. It is a fact, now, that mobile apps are slowly overshadowing an abundant chunk of today’s customer spendings, and that, for many insiders, comes with some consequences.

The most important of them is the rise in promotion costs, which is a direct result of the increased difficulty in reaching potential customers within the niche; this resulted in the necessity, for most companies, to play catch up and craft a real app marketing budget.

According to The Manifest, the vast majority of app developers set aside about 31% of their financial resources as a mobile app marketing budget.
What’s more? The total time spent on devices per day has widely surpassed the 3-hour quota (3 hours and 15 minutes, to be precise) and it is expected to grow further this year, while the average smartphone owner uses 30 apps each month.

Numbers don’t lie: the average app marketing budget keeps getting higher and higher. Investing in an app from a financial standpoint, whether you are a small freelancer trying to get some marketplace traction, or a well-known company looking to advertise its next groundbreaking software, has become necessary.

The question that we are going to ask ourselves in this article doesn’t refer, however, to the decision between either investing or not investing in app marketing, because that is a given. Instead, we are going to ask ourselves how to estimate the budget for mobile app marketing altogether, starting from the various cost components that every business, no matter which size, goal, or general circumstance, will have to sustain if it wants to succeed

In this article/

How To Estimate Your Budget For Mobile App Marketing? 

Regardless of your business’ size and objectives, both during your app creation and promotion and after the official launch, you will have to deal with all of these costs:

1. Market Research.

Average app marketing budget: $5000-$15,000

The absolute first stage of every mobile app creation process is market research, which gives birth to the pre-launch phase. Market research involves a number of different tasks but, most importantly, it revolves around verifying if there is actually a sufficient number of potential customers for the app you chose to create. It can be performed mainly through: 

  • Focus groups; 
  • Individual interviews & phone surveys;
  • Questionnaires, either hand-delivered or sent through e-mail.

The second step lies in understanding where the entire industry stands in relation to your app. 

  • Are there competitors?
  • If yes, what do they do differently? And what is their market share?
  • How could your app challenge (and hopefully, surpass) theirs?

If your app manages to go through both of these stages, then you could proceed towards step number 2, which is:

2. Prototype Testing

Average app marketing budget: $1000 – $5000+

In business, it is highly likely that you will not succeed the first time around. Without some kind of a prototype that your potential customers can actually test out and see in action, you’re going to end up just wasting your precious time (and theirs, as well). A MVP allows you to mitigate the risk of putting out your app if it’s not 100% ready for the marketplace. It gives you meaningful and authentic external feedback with a minimum effort on your part, along with the opportunity to change the app’s general features as you go along, but always before the official launch.

Furthermore, with MVP-testing you won’t have to feel sorry or excuse yourself should the app present major flaws or imperfections; within such settings, mistakes are recognized as natural byproducts of the implementation process, and prospective clients will understand that. All in all, beta versions prepare the app for a smoother market release; that’s why they shouldn’t be overlooked, nor labeled as avoidable costs.

3. Social Media Promotion

Source: Statistica

Average app marketing budget: $1,000 – $10,000+

Social media remains one of the major ways to enhance your app’s distribution and overall awareness. As the graph shows, just Facebook has 2.5 billion MAU, which makes it a great destination for literally any app you’d like to market. Its great targeting options, mixed with customizable metrics and reports, give it an edge over all the other platforms; however, Instagram (primarily through Influencers collaborations) might represent either a viable alternative or a great complementary piece to a well-thought-out Facebook targeting strategy.

Social media promotion costs are heavily influenced by the campaign’s length and, should you choose to collaborate with Instagram influencers, by his/her following size, costs, and partnership duration as well. 

4. ASO Strategies

Average app marketing budget: $0 – $2000+

ASO is probably the most subjective part of the ones we’ve come across so far. Its cost depends on your business’ size, short-term and long-term goals, and, of course, the budget at its disposal, but not only that.

As a matter of fact, you could choose to either rely on an ASO agency, which usually comes with a $600 – $2.000 (and more) price tag attached, or you could do it on your own, for free or, at most, a few hundred dollars (with results that might vary based on your personal ASO know-how).

Since the App Store Optimization process is so important to your app’s survival, however, it is a necessary cost to bear if you want to fully exploit the niche. Fundamentally, ASO represents the bridge between an app that has been launched and one that is capturing a greater (and significant) portion of market share. Its implementation allows you to:

  • Optimize your app’s copy and details (keywords, high-quality images/screenshots, description, and app icon);
  • Help you gather positive and organic reviews;
  • Understand if there are less-performing components of your download funnel, and solve potential issues as soon as possible (remember, mistakes are easily forgiven only within the pre-launch phase!); 
  • Running further and frequent A/B tests and improve the number of conversions;
  • Explore your ads’ results and see what could be improved.

Along with these suggestions, ASO will also give you endless streams of data, which could (and should) be translated into customer-focused actions.

What is the Ideal Mobile App Marketing Budget?

Knowing exactly how to estimate the budget for mobile app marketing is not easy, and will never be. Even though there is no fixed answer, what we know is that mobile businesses are heading bigger and bigger parts of their budget to app optimization and marketing, and this trend is only going to go upwards as time goes on.

In this article, we have outlined which ones are the marketing expenses that every app owner must face if he/she wants to have a chance at penetrating the overcrowded app marketplace. We also know (and have said) that the app world is plentiful, and for every pain that each user might encounter, there is a minimum of 20 apps that are, either consciously or unconsciously, fighting for his/her attention.

Shortsightedness is never awarded; hence, always play the long game, and do it by creating sustainable, healthy and, most of all, reciprocal relationships with your customers: this will guarantee your app’s survival more than any other component we’ve mentioned.


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