Software marketing in 2014 isn’t the same as it was five or ten years ago. Gone are the days when you can create a quick-and-dirty app for quick-and-easy profits. In most cases, a single app needs to form part of an ongoing, long-term business and marketing plan.

With that in mind, it’s best to build a product that adds lasting value to customers, so they stay engaged for the long term. Loyal users make more money, aid your reputation, and fuel your business growth.

Here are five tips for developing a long-term, successful software marketing plan in 2014.

1. Target Your Advertising

Advertising is becoming a complex science. To be successful, you need to know who your audience is, where they spend their time, and how to target them.

Who – Most analytics, advertising networks, and marketing platforms offer sophisticated targeting. Depending on the advertising platform, you’ll be able to target gender, geographic locale, age groups, education level, interests, relationship status, and so forth. This information is extremely powerful and has a big impact on conversion rates. Use user testing and analytics to gather as much of this information as possible.

Where – Though you want to know where they are in the real world, you’ll also want to know where your users spend their time online. Knowing the “who” will help you find out if they spend more time on certain social networks, on certain websites, on certain apps, and on which devices and operating systems.

How – So now that you know all about your audience, how do you target them? Choose the right advertising platforms. If your audience spends time on Facebook, then Facebook is clearly a good option for advertising. If a niche audience spends a lot of time on a set of niche websites, make sure that your advertising networks or marketing platforms can advertise on those websites.

Targeting the right users is half the battle.

2. Automate the Right Parts of Your Marketing

Marketing automation is an essential asset for online marketers. When used correctly, automation can give you a competitive edge; when it is misused, it can sound artificial. Here a few things you should automate:

Data Gathering – Keep track of what’s going on in your industry through tools such as Google Alerts, RSS Feeds, Digg, and similar aggregators.

Auto-Responding and Auto-Posting – Automatic responses to inquiries, social media follows, blog comments, and emails are fine. Some automatic social media posting is fine, but too much can seem artificial. Some marketing firms have found that automatic social media posts lowers the number of followers, likes, and so on.

Custom Triggers – Easy-to-use tools like IFTTT (if this then that) allow you to set up triggers between online channels that automatically perform another action. For example, each time someone follows you on a social media channel, you can automatically send them a thank you message. Programmers will probably be able to create custom scripts that perform certain actions under certain circumstances.

In general, when automating your marketing, auto-responses are fine. But avoid automating your online socializing, such as commenting, Facebook posts, Tweets, and so forth. People can tell.

3. Use Marketing Platforms

Marketing platforms, such as Grow Mobile and CodeFuel’s monetization products give developers an array of marketing tools.

Grow Mobile, for example, gives you access to multiple ad networks in one handy interface. Instead of tracking and engaging multiple campaigns on multiple networks, you can follow all your campaigns under one roof. Tracking analytics, ROI, and customer value becomes much easier.

In a way, this could be considered a form of automation. Elsewhere on this blog, we discuss monetization platforms and marketing platforms in depth, and their future role in online marketing.

As with other marketing automation tools, these platforms are particularly useful – and practically necessary – for any developer who wishes to remain competitive.

4. Use a Pay-Per-Install Program and In-App Ads

Pay-per-install software works by presenting advertisements during the download process. You can tweak and customize the installation process the same as you can with any other conversion funnel. Split-testing and analytics allow you to boost conversion rates and your revenue.

Once your download is completed, you want to keep making money. That’s what in-app ads are for. Using the information you gather about your audience, choose an appropriate ad network that targets the right users.

Keep your ads streamlined, unobtrusive, and as relevant and integrated as possible. Some highly relevant ad formats, such as recommendation engines, actually work with a program to add value, which increases conversions that much more.

5. Get Listed

Get your app listed wherever you can as lists are amongst the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. Here are some others to consider:

Software Directories – Find a software directory that allows you to use a pay-per-install program, and use the directory to get in front of thousands upon thousands of users.

App Stores – App stores aren’t just for smartphones any more – Windows 8 and Mac have their own app stores. Store listings is a must for any developer.

Top Ten Lists – Bloggers love top ten lists, so find your nearest niche blogger and let them know about your app. If the app is good enough, it may be included in their next top ten list.

Affiliate Networks – If you charge for your product, get listed on an affiliate network. With the right commission, your software will get picked up by affiliates, who will end up marketing your software for you.

Pay-Per-Download Networks – Another way to earn money and get the attention of marketers is on pay-per-download networks, which often have affiliate programs of their own.

These are just a few tips to help you improve your software marketing. For more, check out our blog.

Marketing Software Marketing in 2014: 5 Tips for Getting the Word Out