Businesses topping the income charts like Proctor and Gamble and Chase spend over a billion dollars on advertising each year. For companies like these, dropping a few million to promote their app is comparable to answering daily emails—it has to be done. And, they have the means and the staff to make it happen.
If you are like most app entrepreneurs, your budget is grossly different than Proctor and Gamble’s, and a shoe string budget vs. billions is what you are looking at. Luckily, there are some really effective and affordable ways to get the word out about your app.
Creating an auxiliary site or a “microsite” is a great promotional tool. These “evergreen” sites are so beneficial to marketing because they have the capacity to highlight your app as a stand alone entity—not as one small product of your business. Often times in a larger website, your app gets lost among your business’s content and demographics. When you launch a microsite—separate from your business page, but still branded by your business—you are removing distractions from your potential clients.
It’s all about who you know. Get your app in the hands of the right people, and have them endorse you—the bigger the name, the bigger the impact. Obviously, a celebrity endorsement is the cream of the crop here. You may not have the Rolodex to achieve that though. Look for people that are well known in your product category or other major tech names. Elon Musk may not take your call, but even smaller experts in your field can really help get the word out. For example, if your app helps reduce traffic accidents, getting endorsements from police services and emergency responders can help!
Feature App in an Official Blog
An official blog that features your app can go a long way in endorsing your app’s capabilities. Publish screen shots as well as customer testimonials to entice potential clients to read about the problems your app solves. Publish a video tutorial or a promotional video about your app. Get creative, and make your official app blog something that potential clients will remember.
Contests are easily one of the most powerful ways to get the word out. Most likely the contest will involve your app, or app category, in some way. This ensures you reach a highly targeted audience. For example, if your app locates dog parks, a contest giving away free dog treats would ensure you’re targeting dog owners. You can also give away copies of your app—but if people don’t know what it is yet, you can piggyback off the popularity of an established brand (dog treats) to generate interest.
Guest Speaking Opportunities
Ok, this one won’t be for everyone. If you’re serious about getting the word out, it’ll be for you. Building and launching an app is an exciting process—one many people would like to hear about. You may also work in a category or field that is of interest to people. This creates a great opportunity to offer your speaking services at luncheons, conferences, presentations and more. Simply getting up and talking about things related to your app can generate a buzz around it.
3rd Party Integrations
If you know your client base, you know what big brand apps they are likely to use. You can try to partner up with some of them to become a third party integration. For example, if your app is meant to help manage business, maybe a company like Evernote will join forces with you.
Everyone loves a sale! It’s a tried and true marketing method for moving a product. Not only does a promo price lower the cost for the customer, theoretically attracting more end users, but many sites and app platforms will also feature your product simply for having special pricing. It’s a great way to generate buzz and let people feel good about getting a deal on your product. Chances are they’ll tell others to take advantage of the deal while they still can.
Similar to a movie trailer or the hype surrounding an album or series release, teaser websites are meant to buildup up your app’s release. You can easily set up a WordPress or Joomla teaser page a few months before you release your app. Keep in mind, your teaser page is meant to introduce your idea, so it must be memorable. The goal is to get potential customers to a sign up for updates about your release. Link to your social media page, and you have begun the process of developing a digital presence.
Reach out to Niche Bloggers
There are many bloggers and websites that cover mobile apps—or even the field or category that your app is about. Reach out to them and let them know what you’re up to. Your app could be a perfect fit for their audience, and they may want to tell them about it. For example, if your app is about trail hiking, you can reach out to bloggers and sites that cover the outdoors and hiking activities. This will put your app in the hands of an audience that’s highly likely to use it.
Move Past the Stores—Get Featured
Featured apps occupy a prime piece of online real estate, and getting a spot is as much an art as a science. If you want to get featured status you must get the basics right: have a high quality app with no bugs, and offer a great UI and UX. Industry experts also believe it helps if your app makes use of new features or products, such as the Apple pencil or Android Pay.
Email campaigns still rank high in terms of converting potential customers to buyers. Follow a few simple steps at least a month in advance of your app launch date in order to capitalize on the benefits of a mail campaign. Choose an email provider and create a subscription list. Next, set up a pre-launch page with an email signup form. Using social media or direct contact, encourage people to visit the pre-launch page and sign up for emails.
Social Media Groups
Find the places your potential customers hang out on social media, and strike up a conversation. Set up a Facebook group for your app and find complimentary groups to link up with; identify the hashtags your audience uses on Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget there are also specialist social networks that may give you access to your audience.
Use the Press
Never underestimate the advertising power of a good and timely press release. There are resources online that will take you through the steps of utilizing a press release to advertise your mobile app. The structure and timeliness of your press release is paramount to it being accepted and published, so be sure to research each media outlet’s submission guidelines.
Make a Demo Video
A demo video is a powerful tool for selling your app. Distill what your app does into its simplest form, and create a quality video which demonstrates that. Remember to invest time in promoting it to gain the full benefit of its marketing potential.
There is More Than One App Store
Getting any attention on the largest app stores is difficult. But they are not the only players in town. There are a number of niche stores that have millions of users. It is far easier to get the attention your app deserves on these smaller sites, and, by broadening your distribution channels; you’re increasing your sales opportunity.
Influencer sharing can be a game changer. An influencer is someone who has the proven ability to share your app with a very large, qualified audience. Find them by researching on Kred, Littlebird, Klout and many other research engines. Make authentic connections by commenting on their posts and sharing their content. Make them notice you and you will stand a better chance of getting them to share your content.
Web app directories are great places to promote your app, and they can help you access a large market. Many directories target specific verticals, like business apps or games, so take care to use directories which are most relevant to your app or the increased traffic won’t convert into sales.
Research bloggers who write about the concept of your mobile app. Bloggers appreciate comments, and that is one way to introduce your app via link. You could also reach out directly and ask them to use and review your app or offer to write a free guest blog. The goal is to end up with blog content that is both relatable to their established community and relative to the content of your app.
Power of the Icon
Your icon is the first impression a potential customer will have of your app. Make sure yours creates the right impression. Colors and shapes are bright and simple, and words are rarely, if ever, used. Make sure your icon conveys what your app does and consider how it will look next to your competitors’.
Why go it alone, if you can share the load? Forming partnerships can help widen the scope of your marketing efforts. Partners with complimentary apps can promote each other’s products without fear of cannibalizing sales. Both parties benefit from access to each other’s network.
A good review is great promotion for your app. 148apps is a review site specifically for iOS apps, and there is a sister site for android called Android Rundown. Before you request a review, make sure your app is ready for the exposure. A buggy app with poor UX won’t get a favorable review, and the extra exposure won’t translate into sales.
Why stop at one review site? There’s no benefit to monogamy when selling. AppStoreApps is another popular review site for iOS apps, and there are many more. Find as many review sites as you can (check they review apps like yours) and submit review requests to them all.
Join the Local Chamber of Commerce
Promotion opportunities aren’t always digital. Local, grass roots promotion can pay dividends if you approach it right. Network with local businesses through the local chamber of commerce. There are many businesses that could be helpful when promoting apps, such as the local press or other organizations selling digital products.
Power of Email
Use your existing email newsletter database to talk about your new app. These are the people that are most likely interested in learning about any of your new offerings, and they are most likely to give you feedback. It’s a very powerful way to reach a highly targeted audience. If you don’t have an email list, it’s time to build one. Having a list of people highly interested in your company will ensure low cost remarketing efforts for years to come. Make sure the information you are sharing is highly targeted and relevant to your clients’ needs; otherwise, you’re just spam and people don’t like spam.
ProductHunt is one of the top places to get discovered. In fact, that’s the whole reason they exist –to help people “geek out” and discuss the newest technology on the market. Ultimately, you want to see to it that your app becomes a part of users’ “collections” so that it is discussed and shared by those who are prime candidates for its use. If your app is talked about enough, it will earn upvotes. Upvotes are what will get your app featured on ProductHunt’s home pages. So, there will be some legwork you need to do after you submit your app, but in the end, you will have the attention of the tech scene.
Company Announcement Blog
Similar to your email list, this is a great place to let current people that care about what you’re doing know about cool new things—like your app. It’s also where anyone searching for info on your app will likely look first. It seems obvious, but it really is important to toot your own horn. You never know how much traction it will get.
I know, SEO is a buzzword these days. There’s a reason for that—it’s important. Whatever problem your app is solving, or however it makes life easier, you want people to be able to find it. SEO helps immensely in directing highly targeted individuals to your site. Remember to work with bloggers and news sites that are talking about your app to link back to your site for the most powerful SEO effects.
AppAdvice is one of the largest sites for information and reviews on Apple iOS apps. Hit the contact tab, and let them know about your app. They get a lot of submissions, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re putting together a good elevator pitch for them. If they buy into what you’re doing, those that read the articles they write likely will too.
Awards Speak Volumes
Submit, submit, and then submit again. Enter every single mobile app contest you find in Google, and you just might be surprised with what happens. No matter how big or small these award sites are, there’s always a bump in traffic and support for apps that place near the top. Sure it’s great to win one big award, but don’t discount the power of winning several smaller awards.
It’s a directory of cool –and you need to be in it. Startupli.st provides info on startup companies just like yours that are doing cool things and making the world a better place. This site provides a venue for you to promote what you’re doing while collecting signups for those interested in being a part of it. It’s a great way to get the word out and build an audience.
Promote Your App in Your Brick and Mortar Store
If you run a retail shop, tell your customers about your app. Put a sign in your window that advertises how your app solves a problem or simplifies your customers’ lives. Since they’ve made it all the way to the store, you can safely assume they’re already interested in your product. Just pointing them towards the app during checkout or while browsing particular products can help increase adoption rates quickly.
Use Your Website
You might think, “Isn’t this what the blog is for?” Yes. However, the blog is just one page. Surely you have more than one page on your site. Look at all your other pages, and see if there’s a place to promote the app with a banner or relevant text link. Simply encouraging people to install your mobile app will allow higher conversion rates than just relying on the blog.
Whether you are sending direct sales communications or interacting with existing clients, including a link to your email signature is a powerful and often overlooked technique. Every individual involved with the launch of your mobile app should have it linked to their email signature in order to make effective use of already existing communications and relationships.
Rate My Startup
Listing your app on RateMyStartup is the ultimate test of your app. You’ll find out if people actually like it. They can rate it—which means they’ve installed and used it. Not only is it a direct look at your clients’ reactions to what you’ve developed, it’s also a great way to see what you need to change in future releases. It’s a great way to get publicity, and the results can snowball.
Podcasting is a great way to reach your targeted audience, especially if you are advertising a new app. Not all audiences are the same. There are a lot of people who would prefer not to read, so using a podcast to reach those who prefer to listen is a great way to share information about your app. The options for using podcasts are endless. Giving examples of what your app does or explaining how to people have solved problems using your app are great ways to get recognized by potential users.
Use Local Marketing
It’s no secret that people like to buy products that are made near their homes. Take advantage of this with local marketing. This type of advertising focusses on using your community’s resources in order to advertise your app. This means using local newspapers, local media, flyers, bulletin boards, public access channels, or even just word of mouth to get the word out about your app. Local marketing is perfect for small business, local retail, and restaurants that need more publicity. It’s also relatively cheaper than other methods of advertising.
Launching next is a truly a fabulous resource for promoting new businesses and apps. It’s tagline says it all, “World’s most promising start ups.” If you can get your app featured on Launching Next, it is sure to get the exposure it needs to become a useful tool. Launching Next also offers tips and advice as well as a showcase new startup companies all the time. This is a site you should visit, especially if you are just starting out.
Clickbank is an affiliate marketplace. Basically, it’s a link between vendors and marketers, and it has the capability to showcase your app to approximately 200 million people. Its main focus is to help you find a marketer to assist in the promotion of your business and your app. Clickbank also has resources to help you create and market your products. The services understand how to advertise effectively to help your business grow.
The right screenshots to capture the essence of your app are crucial to its success. Your UI is what attracts users. If it looks cool, they will come. So, make sure you show off how great it looks. Post screen shots of your app in the app store, but also post them on your website and any other place where you advertise your app. Remember, looks are appealing—take advantage of people’s tendency to judge a book by its cover.
AppStorm is literally raining with app reviews. The website features new apps for any platform, windows, iOS, Android, etc. The site will categorize your app, and then it will review it. It’s a great place for potential users to go and see new apps in an organized fashion. Submitting your app to AppStorm will help it gain exposure in many different realms. AppStorm has over 48,000 Twitter followers and close to 17,000 Facebook followers. That is not to mention that 63,000 people who are subscribed to its RSS feed.
Everyone shares ideas on social media; so finding unique ways to stand out can make all the difference. With Dubbler, you’re essentially posting an update to Facebook, Instagram, etc.—with your voice! Look at it like a 60 second podcast update that people can listen to. The key here is to make it interesting, entertaining, and valuable to the listener. If you’re just going to spam them with a commercial, most will unfollow. However, with insightful tips, updates, and entertaining info, it’s a fantastic way to create fun status updates and get the word out.
App Store Optimization
This works much like search engine optimization, except it is for apps. App store optimization (ASO) helps rank your app to make it more visible to others. ASO will channel more people to your app, and there are a few tricks you can use to help assure your app gets the exposure you need it to get. Taking the time to index your app, to give it a creative name, and to design a great icon are all ways of assuring that it will show up in potential users’ searches.
Landing pages for any type of app have been compared to a business card. Some landing pages of an app can be heart-wrenching where others are pleasing to the eyes. They must be professional and not too busy. Landing pages, most of all ,are important because it’s where the prospective user will land first, so your they should say a lot, but keeping it simply elegant will work wonders for the user.
You earned it, so brag about it. There is no modesty in advertising. Feature those testimonials that have earned your accolades. When potential users hear how much others have benefited by what your app is capable of, it will carry over to their desire to try your product. Let them see for themselves that your product is the best on the market.
Who better to promote your app than you? Create a promotional video that showcases what your app can do. Focus in on the what makes your product unique and how it solves a particular problem better than its competitors. Be sure to take some time to make your video creative. You want it to leave a lasting impression on those who see it ,so they remember your app and how it can make their lives easier.
As one of the leading online resources for discovering innovative and original ideas, Springwise sifts through submissions daily to find the top three they will feature. Submitting is free, and the process only takes a few minutes. A featured position means being exposed to a wide audience that loves to purchase and share cutting edge technology.
Use platforms (like LinkedIn Pulse) that focus on innovation. Then leverage the popularity of videos on social media by creating a YouTube video. Your app will be on the world’s second largest search engine, and you can multiply that visibility by sharing the video on LinkedIn Pulse, Tumblr, Facebook, and more.
The StartUp Pitch
This is a site that highlights startups. Before submitting a pitch, make sure to consider that they don’t allow SEO from non-startup companies, and they don’t accept adult content or coupon affiliated apps. The pitch format allows you to describe what your app does, why it is needed, who the target audience is, and what differentiates it from other apps. Once your app is reviewed and posted, you’ll reach a forward thinking audience that often includes entrepreneurs and investors.
For those who want their app to be seen across a vast mobile app network and also on the Fire tablet wakescreens, the “Advertise Your App with Amazon” program is the clear choice. You must be an Amazon mobile app developer to use this self-managed advertising solution. Creating a campaign takes only ninety seconds, and there is a fee to advertise.
Netted by the Webbys is a website with an audience of “engaged digital enthusiasts and influencers”. They also have accumulated an expansive mailing list, and they utilize it to send out a newsletter highlighting the best apps, products, and sites. To advertise with Netted your app must be consumer focused. Prepare a monthly budget and contact them to customize your advertising plan.
There are endless ways to advertise your mobile app and sometimes it only takes a few avenues to see your app usage skyrocket!