To say mobile apps are popular is an understatement. A mammoth 89 percent of media time is spent by men and women on mobile apps. If you already have a mobile app strategy in place, you can congratulate yourself for making a good decision. A pat on the back is permissible, but don’t pop the champagne just yet. A reality check is in order. There aren’t a lot of apps making money. In fact, the failure rate for apps is very high.

While there are lots of reasons why even good apps fail to deliver ROI, one big reason is ineffective marketing. Yes, in the hyper competitive world of mobile apps, you must bake a mobile app marketing strategy into your mobile app development process.

If you think your app has "success" written all over it, courtesy of its usefulness, but you ignore marketing, you’re in for a rude shock. Your app won’t succeed without good marketing to back it up.

The keyword here is "good". So, here are three pre-requisites of an effective marketing strategy:

1. Plan ahead.

An app marketing plan needs to be developed before you actually start building the app. This is important because you need to leverage the potential of your existing assets (web presence, social media profiles) to market your app. If you don’t have these assets, you need to start creating and using them.

For example, your website landing page should be used to promote your app. Once you start building your app, you can give information about its impending release to target customers who’re already in the habit of checking out your website’s landing page.

You can also use your Twitter account to give regular updates about app development, so that target users know it’s on the way.

Another idea is to publish press releases on a regular basis talking about the app you are developing, its benefits, the tentative release date and so on. These activities need to continue after the launch. As can be imagined, you need to plan them well in advance and must follow a clear plan of action to meet your marketing objectives.

If you think your existing web assets must be fine-tuned to suit your app’s marketing activities, do it. If you think you should start creating a presence on specific digital advertising channels, start creating one. If you think developing specific expertise to market your app will help your app succeed, initiate a process of learning and development that will make you a better app marketer.

2. Make your app easily discovered.

Optimizing your app details for App Store and Google Play is a crucial component of your app’s marketing strategy, but so is using innovative means to make it easy for the target audience to know it exists.

Getting feedback before actual release on the app store is a critical process that will also build an audience before launch. Invest a part of your budget in user-review and PR services such as PreApps, which can produce a demo video for your app, submit it to scores of app review sites, and get you opt-in downloads before you go live. This may turn out to be the difference between your app’s success and failure.

You will be surprised how often app developers, fearing a bad review, choose not to submit their apps to the really reputable sites. The purpose of these submissions is to get your app noticed by audiences who use these sites to search for apps.

Make it a point to reach out to influencers in the app industry. Use a tool like Buzzsumo or Followerwonk for this purpose. The idea is to identify niche influencers based on their social authority and number of followers, then build relationships with them.

This is another thing you need to plan in advance. You need to start interacting with them well before your app is actually released on the market. This helps build trust so that when your app finally makes an appearance, you can ask them to mention it on their website, blog, Twitter feed, or even review it for you.

3. Think continuous, long-term marketing.

Don’t think of mobile app marketing as a short-term process that ends after app release. It is a continuous process, if you want the app to deliver sustainable long term results. Your app marketing campaign ideally needs to be divided into three primary stages, Pre-Launch, Launch and Post Launch.

Your campaign must start much before app release and continue long after its launch. The fact that your app will compete with more apps each passing day means your marketing efforts shouldn’t stop and cannot have an off day. If your app is to succeed, it must keep standing out from the crowd, and should be the first choice of its target audience, every single time.

Take care of these three pre-requisites and you’ll have a successful mobile app marketing strategy on your hands and your app will deliver the returns you are looking for.