Dystonia Europe: A Strategy for its App

Dystonia Europe – a group with a clear marketing strategy for its app

Dystonia Europe was formed in 1993 as the European Dystonia Federation — the European umbrella organisation for national dystonia groups.

They have a joined-up approach for marketing their disease diary app, ‘MyDystonia’:

  • Firstly, tight Search Engine Optimisation – a search for ‘dystonia app’ puts it second from top of a Google page full of references to the app
  • Secondly, Google ad strategy – placing the app near the top of the search screen
  • Thirdly, highly creative videos to engage potential patients, and help them use the app
  • And lastly, engagement with local patient groups, including recruiting volunteer ‘app champions’.

MyDystonia app logo

Making a patient group app stand out

As the health apps market has grown, it has been encouraging to see more and more patient groups gain the capability to create their own apps.  However, like most developers it is then a challenge for the groups to market their apps, and make them stand out from hundreds of thousands across the app stores.

So, it is refreshing to start to see example like Dystonia Europe’s MyDystonia app where the organisation has a joined-up marketing strategy to promote its app to people with dystonia.

Step 1: Search Engine Optimisation strategy

If you type in two words `dystonia app’ and your app comes up near the top with multiple references, chances are you are doing well with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

You can then invest in a Google ad to keep you near the top of the list you are building on this strong foundation.

Following on, you can then engage local patient dystonia organisations to feature your app, you could have a front Google page full of your results.

By contrast, if you work in diabetes, where the search for ‘diabetes app’ will bring up more than 40 million results, clearly an SEO strategy plays an even more crucial role.

Step 2: Engaging website ‘home’ for the app

Dystonia Europe puts the app centre stage on its home page. If you already use the app, it brings up your login page.  If you are finding out about the app, clicking on the app logo takes you to the app’s own site.  Also, wherever you on the organisation’s own site, there are many banners and reminders about the app, to tempt you to click.

When you do click and go to the home page for the app, this is where the creativity comes in.

Interested patients can:

  • Click on a ‘more information’ link to bring up a screen outlining the benefits of the app
  • View a fun, engaging, cartoon video which opens with a direct challenge:

“Do you remember what you had for dinner seven days ago?…If you can’t remember your meal last week, how will you remember the symptoms you had the last three months?”

  • Use a very clear, ‘how to’ guide to get a sense of how the app works, and how to get the most from it.

The key point of difference for the app is made clear through its tagline: “By patients. For patients.”

Step 3: Joining it all up

It is still quite unusual for patient groups, even with very good apps, to have a marketing strategy that does their app justice.

For example, how many marketing strategies can match these three achievements by Dystonia Europe:

  • They can sum up their app in six words: ‘A disease diary for dystonia patients’
  • They can show why people can trust it in four words: ‘By patients. For patients.’
  • People can bring up multiple search results for the app in just two words: ‘dystonia app’.

The patient group is very transparent on its website that it had support from Merz Pharmaceuticals in creating the app, but this does not take anything away from their marketing strategy. Quite simply, it is not always about money or resources – it is often about having a very clear view of how your app is different.

With today’s software, none of the marketing deliverables like the home page, the videos, and the written overview of the app, need be beyond a patient group’s reach.  Without a marketing strategy, apps can languish on app stores, relying on sometimes vague descriptions and random screenshots to get their message across.

The format and restrictions of app store pages can make it challenging to be noticed and get your message across – but patient groups have a lot more scope with their own sites. They have a key advantage in already being known and visited by patients. When they create an app, they already can already target their audience, but it takes smart thinking to create an engaging marketing plan to get people using the app.

Finally, if this sounds too technical, Dystonia Europe reached out to the local patient groups to recruit volunteer ‘App champions’ to help raise awareness of the app, and help others to use it.


Read a review of the MyDystonia app over on myhealthapps.net…

Click here

Visit the patient group’s ‘shop window’ including the videos for the app…

Click here

Download the app. It’s available in Dutch and US stores…

Click here


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