Developing a mobile application (app) is a great way to build brand exposure and links at the same time. The key is marketing, and getting people to link to the app page on your site.
Let's explore this in more depth.
Making people aware of your app is key to getting those links. Many great apps never get any attention or become top downloads. Why? They weren't marketed enough.
Most of the successful app companies do a lot of marketing. It's no different than link building for SEO. You need to make people aware, and offer something they will want to share with others.
There are ways to make it easier to get noticed. Since this is for “links” instead of revenue it can be offered for “free” with “no ads”. That's a huge advantage since free apps are downloaded at a much higher rate, and many pay for apps that are “ad free”. By offering it for free with no ads there is a greater chance it could go viral in your market.
Another way to make this easier is go for small niche markets instead of mass appeal. Let's say mothers are your customer base. Create an app on baby names. That way you can target sites, bloggers, forums, newsletters, and writers covering the topic.
If you're struggling to come up with an idea review the categories in DMOZ for your industry. That should provide some starting points for the idea.
Also, look in the iTunes apps store to find out what is already working in your niche. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Just improve it!
Take advantage of the holiday traffic on your site. Let your customers know you're launching a new app in the New Year. Encourage them to sign-up for a notification when it's released.
How can you entice them to sign-up to be notified? Offer a prizes such as an iPad, and app gift certificates.
An ecommerce site could offer prizes and a discount coupon for future orders. That will reduce your cost.
Also, let people know you're looking for beta-testers. That's a good way to have a group of people ready to promote your app since they were part of its development.
If you can get some bloggers, or social media people, with a good audience as beta-testers even better! They're more likely to promote things they helped develop.
The key here is to have a section on your site devoted to this app for people to link to instead of them linking to places like iTunes.
This can be accomplished by creating a section on your site devoted to your app filled with detailed information. Items to include are easy to read benefits of the app, several screenshots, reviews, media mentions, FAQ, help section, and anything else that would provide value.
Mobile apps are one more way you can develop links, and build brand exposure at the same time. Once you've found success with this create more apps. You already have all the systems in place.