27 Ways to Promote Your App for Free

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User-friendly mobile apps give modern businesses a competitive advantaged. Therefore, more and more companies invest pots of money into building their applications. Unfortunately, not all apps are created equal. Some of them take the market by storm, while others are rarely downloaded. Why does it happen? The answer is poor promotion.

Start-ups and small businesses are often short of money, so they are trying to save on marketing and just hope that people will notice their apps and become loyal customers. If you are about to launch an app but your budget is restricted, this article will help you out!

Use the following tricks to promote your app and build brand awareness.

  1. Network!

Ideally, you should think about marketing well before a product launch. Nowadays, it is not enough to rely on your in-house specialists; you should reach out to influencers and network with entrepreneurs who have a reputation in your industry.

As soon as you manage to establish a fruitful relationship with such people, you have a chance to get their feedback (and even support!) regarding your app. If you are convincing enough, they may become your brand ambassadors in the future.

  1. Ask Your Customers

The success of any business relates on customers. Therefore, you should know exactly what they want from your product. The simplest way to find it out is to ask them. Do your research, conduct surveys, arrange focus group interviews in order to learn more about customer expectations and preferences.

According to the study published in Harvard Business School Journal, when increasing your customer retention by just 5%, you can increase your profitability by 75%. So, if you learn which benefits your customers are looking for in your product, you will be able to retain them and enjoy high revenues.

  1. Optimize a Mobile Website

In case you have a successful mobile website, use it for your app promotion. Since the number of smartphone owners is growing rapidly, the chance of reaching your target audience via mobile is high. Make sure that your mobile website grasps the attention of the audience and find a way for them to instantly spot your app.

  1. Write an Entry in Your Blog

Add a story about your app development and launch to your corporate blog. Talk about the benefits it provides and why it is important for your customers. Don’t forget to include a video tutorial and a link for download.

  1. Take Advantage of Emails

When managed properly, emails bring a lot of value in terms of brand promotion. A recent study shows that over 90% of internet users check their emails every day. So why not use this data for your advantage and include links for downloading your app into newsletters and updates? It’s a good idea to incorporate an app link into your email signature.

  1. Make a Catchy Demo Video

Delegate this task to the most inspired and creative employee in your company. Explain them that the video should speak about the purpose of the app and be as informative as possible. It may include an element of surprise to pique viewers’ curiosity and entertain them. Publish the final piece on your website and social networks. You can also use a YouTube channel (if you have one).

  1. Try Different App Stores

In addition to App Store and Google Play, there are alternative online app stores you can use. It is interesting to note that apps submitted via less popular app stores are 200% more likely to be downloaded rather than when submitted via major ones.

The list of possible online stores for your app include:

  • Amazon Appstore
  • AppBrain
  • AppsLib
  • Aptoide
  • GetJar
  • Opera Mobile Store
  • SlideMe
  1. Try to Get Awards

When applying for awards, you increase visibility of your app and hence attract more customers. Even if your chances of winning may not be high, you still benefit from additional press, reviews and downloads. Furthermore, if your idea and pitch are truly amazing, you may get the desired award.

The most popular app award websites are:

  • Apple Design Awards
  • AppCircus Competition
  • Appsters Awards
  • Appy Awards
  • Best App Ever Awards
  • Best Mobile App Awards
  • Ericsson Application Awards
  • OZApp
  1. Don’t Forget About SEO

Search Engine Optimization plays a key role in any kind of promotion. It helps your app URL to show up on the first page in Google ranking, hence generating more traffic for your website.

What you have to do is research targeted keywords and incorporate them into your promotional campaign. It is useful to analyze keywords you’re already ranking on and implement certain lead generation techniques to increase visibility. When doing SEO, you can start with Google Analytics or try SearchMan and MobileDevHQ.

  1. Extend Your Outreach

App Store should not be your only target. Search Google to get more opportunities for promotion.

Let’s assume that you’re planning to launch (or have already launched) a travel app. Google “The Best Travel Apps” and carefully check the results. Among the top posts, you will see reputable blogs that have high rating on the market. Contact them, tell about your app and kill several birds in one stone. You will get more traffic, enhance exposure, build more links, generate more reviews and enjoy better rating.

  1. Join Groups on Social Media

You can boost your brand visibility by leveraging your social media strategy. Join groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ in order to connect to entrepreneurs and app developers.

You can catch their attention by offering promo codes or other incentives to try your app. If they are willing to do it, you can discuss your app performance and ask them about possible bugs and areas for improvement. By building a partnership with entrepreneurs and developers, you get an opportunity to cross promote each other’s products in the future without spending a penny.

  1. Your App Icon Matters

There are about 1.5 million apps in the App store (and 1.6+ million in Google Play), which means that the competition is severe and it’s hard to make your audience notice your app. The solution is simple. Visuals can instantly grab the attention of your potential customers, so make sure that your app icon stands out.

What makes an icon enticing?

  • A unique shape
  • Creativity
  • Limited usage of colors (even two may be enough!)
  • Zero or no text at all (anyway it’s impossible to read)

Test your icon on several wallpapers to see whether it stands out. Don’t hesitate to leverage your logo over the text, use colors and play with design (but make sure to keep it simple)

Some examples of outstanding app icons are:

  • Squarewallet
  • Lifecraze
  • One Password
  • Vimeo
  • Colorfull
  • Flipboard
  • Pinterest
  • Vine
  • Snapguide
  1. Turn Screenshots into a Winning Scenario

A common mistake of many app developers is taking a boring screenshot and dropping it to the app store. It won’t do your app any good, as potential customers simply will not notice it. Your screenshot should incorporate many visual elements and captions. Potential users should understand what features and benefits your app provides by simply looking at screenshots. If you manage to do it, your app downloads will boost.

  1. App Store Optimization

To get the most out of Google Play and App Store, try ASO or app store optimization. Just like SEO, ASO is all about search relevance, keyword performance and the attractiveness of your app description.

To do your ASO right, start from researching your competitors. Use app analytical tools, like App Annie. You can enter a relevant phrase to check the list of performing apps and compare their rankings.

  1. Create an Excellent App Landing Page

Regardless of the business you are in, having a great landing page is a must. A successful landing page incorporates all the elements for user acquisition, engagement and information. Much attention should be paid to your call to action, which should make users download your app.

It’s important to add share buttons as well as Google Play and App Store buttons. In such a way, users will be able to easily download your app and spread a word about your website.

  1. Facilitate Your App Download

Even if your app landing page is outstanding, you may still miss some traffic that is going to your company’s website. Fortunately, this problem is easy to handle.

Non-Intrusive Website Banner

Create a simple banner that will pop up on the top of your website pages. It should be small and not too flashy. You banner should contain important information about your app and a link for the app landing page.

You can locate this banner to your official website and social media accounts, i.e. Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

  1. Get Some Press for Your App

App review websites are great tools for generating traffic. Therefore, try to get featured on popular resources, like The Next Web or AppAdvice. If you manage to do it, the number of unique visitors to your website and App Store page will boost literally overnight.

  1. Learn How to Deal with Press

The majority of journalists work under enormous pressure to meet tight deadlines. Therefore, they do not have time to follow up leads or research all the stories sent to them.

To get your story published, make sure that your PR kit incorporates all of the following elements:

A) Summary Guide

This element tells the audience what your app is about, how people can use it, which problems it is able to solve, etc. Your app summary guide should explain how your product is superior to the competition and which value it brings to the table.

B) Press Release

Publishing your press release is the main reason why you are contacting journalists. It should provide information about the functionalities of your app, list the problems it solves and give any other essential info regarding your product.

C) App and Lifestyle Screenshots

It’s essential to attach a lot of app screenshots to your PR kit. If you are sending one particular kit to several outlets, you should give them an opportunity to use images different from those that other outlets are using.

D) Design Collateral

You should provide news outlets with your design collateral, i.e. logo/banner/icon sizes in order to make sure that your branding elements are sharp and clean. The last thing you want is to have a blurry logo on a popular platform just because you sent only one image. Furthermore, it will be hard to change your logo as such tasks are given the lowest priority.

E) Promo Videos

Great intro/promo videos can work wonders for your business. They not only help people understand what your app does, but also appeal to their emotions. Your video may drive people’s curiosity and make them test your app.

F) Founder Quotes

Quotes from founders regarding their decision to create an app are very popular in press. They help send a message about a company brand and tell more about a personality behind an app.

  1. Use a Promo Video to Publicize Your App

A top quality promo video is essential for any mobile app. It’s a simple way for customers to understand how and why to use a mobile application. Your promo video should provide enough information to facilitate downloads.

Besides, you can benefit from video SEO. For instance, if users search for something like “best travel app” and the title of your video is the exact match, it will show up before other results.

An outstanding example of this is googling the word “hello”. Even though there are hundreds of millions results, the first link that pops up is Adele’s video called ‘Hello’.

  1. Use Your Social Network

Despite increasing social media usage, many businesses does not take it seriously. They send a message or two once a month and do nothing in terms of social media marketing.

According to Facebook analytics, a typical FB post can reach up to 16% of your audience. However, if you take this post and send it five times a week, theoretically, you can reach 80% of your fans.

  1. Make an Announcement via Social Media

Keeping your customers posted about your app launch is crucial. You can post an announcement on your blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to reach more people. It’s a good idea to cite this announcement in your newsletter to make users aware about your app.

  1. Use Your Email Signature to Link Your App

It may take several months for your current customers to find out about your app launch. But since you have their emails, you can share this amazing news in a subtle way.

Incorporate a link for downloading your app into your email signature. For instance, after your name and company logo, you can include a P.S stating something like “Have you already tried our mobile app? Check it here”

If there are 10 people in your company, make sure that all of them incorporate a mobile app link into their email signatures. In such a way, you will be able to reach more people faster.

  1. Don’t Forget about In-Store Promotion

If you are running a brick-and-mortar store, it’s time to leverage foot traffic. Place a Google Play sign and/or a QR code in your window in order to inform customers about your mobile app.

Alternatively, you can place this code on your business cards and give them out to your clients.

  1. Capitalize on LinkedIn & Facebook

Facebook and LinkedIn are perfect for reaching a wide audience. They have users from different industries and markets, so it’s very likely that your target customers are also there.

To make important connections, look for groups appealing for your ideal customers. Post on those groups telling people why your app is great and which benefits it provides.

When it comes to big groups, you can contact the admin and negotiate a partnership, which will help you promote an app.

  1. Go Local

Attend local events and conferences to find potential users of your app. Have brief conversations with them and give out your business cards. Tell people that their feedback is very valuable for you and offer them some incentives, i.e. free trial.

  1. Comment on Relevant Blogs

Do your homework and find blogs relevant to your app. For example, if you are in the travel industry, check blogs promoting trips and giving tips for travelers. Then identify the opportunity to add some value to blog entries by commenting on them. It’s essential to give a good insight and provide a link to your website or landing page.

  1. Leverage Influencers’ Power

By working with influencers, you can drive massive traffic to your mobile app page. To find influencers in your industry, go to Buzzsumo and check which content is hot and who has created it.

After you find the needed people, reach them and try to make them interested in your app so that they agree to promote it. You can either pay for promotion or ask them to share if your app is relevant to them.

You can also check copromote.com and contentmarketer.io to leverage your communication with influencers.

Do you have other winning strategies for promotion an app? Please share them in the comment section below.