Finding the right app marketing strategy might be an intimidating task for app owners on a small budget. The numerous possibilities for promoting apps, the technical hurdles, the costs, and the danger of fraud can be overwhelming. In this article, you will learn about 5 free ways to find new users for your app.
HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR MOBILE APP ON A SMALL BUDGET
These are the most promising mobile marketing strategies for your iOS or Android app:
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click these links and purchase a product or a service, I will receive monetary compensation. You will have no financial disadvantage though. Despite this fact, all recommendations reflect my honest opinion.
APP MARKETING STRATEGY #1: APP STORE OPTIMIZATION
App Store Optimization is a complex and time-consuming discipline as it includes many different tasks:
- You have to do keyword research to find the terms that will help your app to make it into search results.
- You must implement these terms into your app’s metadata: the app title, the subtitle on iOS or the short description on Google Play, the app description, and also into visuals like the screenshots or the app preview video.
- You need to design the app icon, screenshots, and preview videos to give users an impression of your app’s look.
- Depending on your target audience, you also might need to localize your product page.
Despite its complexity, App Store Optimization is by far the most important way to promote your app. Before you jump onto other marketing strategies, you should make sure to optimize your app store product pages. Here are the reasons:
- With ASO, you can push your app into the SERPs of the App Store where users see it that actively search for new apps. These people have a specific problem and if your app solves this problem, you will gain loyal and thankful users that will be very valuable to your business.
- Besides, ASO will positively affect conversion rates for all other traffic channels. If you optimize the app description, the screenshots, the app icon, and the videos, you will convince a bigger percentage of users who visit your product pages to download your app afterward – no matter if they find your app organically, by clicking an ad banner or by seeing it on social media.
- Unlike some other mobile marketing strategies, App Store Optimization brings sustainable long-term results. For instance, the effect of paid user acquisition campaigns will end as soon as you stop the campaigns. But organic traffic will keep coming in, even if you focus on other topics temporarily. So the earlier you do it, the longer will you benefit from its outcome.
- Finally -and this might be its best aspect- App Store Optimization is free. You don’t have to pay ad networks to deliver traffic, you don’t need agencies to design your app store assets, and you don’t need any consultants. You can use premium tools to reduce your workload, but in theory, you can do ASO without spending a penny. And you can learn how to do it on your own.
DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ASO?
Then you should check out the App Store Optimization Book.
On more than 300 pages, you will learn everything you know about ASO, including keyword research and implementation, writing app descriptions, designing screenshots and app icons, composing app preview videos, and localizing your product page.
The ASO book offers easy to understand step-by-step guides and more than 140 helpful figures and example graphics.
APP MARKETING STRATEGY #2: SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Social media is a great way to make users aware of your app and increase your audience. People use Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and other channels to see what their friends, family, and colleagues do, like, and enjoy. If you manage to make people talk about your app, their words will spread on social media and create new users for you.
You have several options to implement this app promotion strategy to grow your app business:
Post on Your Own Channels
The most obvious way to promote your app is to post content about it on your own channels. With visual material like screenshots or videos, you can introduce your app to potential users. Even better, you can also show them how to use your app and how current users benefit from it.
Of course, you need to invest time and work to create proper content, distribute it, and also to interact with users who react to your postings. To increase the chance that users do so, follow these tips:
- Surprise users. Nobody will talk about a picture if they have seen 100 similar pictures before. But if you show something that people do not expect, you will be able to grab their attention.
- Trigger emotions. If you manage to touch someone emotionally, chances are high that they want to communicate these feelings with their peers. Make people laugh and feel good. Or take the opposite way: make them cry, shock them, or trigger anger (preferably not at you and your brand though).
- Make sure people remember your brand. Connect your app to the content and the emotions you raise, so that people remember it.
Encourage Users to Create Content for You
If you want to reduce your workload, it might be a good idea to encourage your users to create content and distribute it via your channel. Most social media users are looking for attention and affirmation by others. By giving them a platform to share their content, you will contribute to giving them what they want, and at the same time, you fill your channels’ timeline with interesting content.
You can do so with competitions that you announce in your app and via social media. Ask people to send in their content and give prices to the best contributors. Alternatively, let your community vote to find the winners. Interactions like these are not only valuable to build a relationship with your users, the additional engagement will also help to boost your social media channels.
It is obvious that not every app has the potential to drive user-created content. For tools like calculators, battery savers, or translator apps, this approach will most likely not work. But with many other apps, users can create content that is great for contests:
- drawing and painting apps
- photography apps
- all kinds of design apps (fashion, makeup, room design)
- video editing apps
- music composing apps
- travel diary apps
Encourage Users to Share Results
Instead of running temporary contests, you can implement a permanent sharing functionality into your app and then encourage your audience to use this feature to share content with their social networks. This approach might not create a similar hype like a contest with prices, but it can lead to more long-term engagement.
Implementing sharing features makes sense for the app categories mentioned above, but also for the following types of content:
- high scores or achievements in games
- the outcome of using sports, fitness, and weight loss apps
- products that users bought (or want to buy) on shopping and marketplace apps, including houses and apartments on real estate apps as well as cars or motorbikes
- learning success in educational apps
- reviews that users gave to videos in streaming apps or books in reading apps
Before implementing a sharing function, educate yourself about your target audience and the social media platforms they use. Also, take the popularity of each platform into consideration.
Annonce the sharing feature upfront via your app store product page, your website, newsletters, and social media. Also, think about ways to encourage your users to share content by giving them rewards such as in-app items or in-app currency.
Encourage Users to Invite their Friends
Besides sharing the results of using your app, users can also invite their friends directly. Especially for games, it is very common to offer this feature. Users simply need to click a button in the app and select their friends on Facebook who they want to invite. These friends will see the invitation in their facebook timeline.
To encourage your audience to use this feature, you should offer them rewards for inviting friends. In games, users typically receive a bit of in-game currency or similar items that help them make progress.
APP MARKETING STRATEGY #3: CONTENT MARKETING
Many users who want to solve a specific problem rather search on Google than on the app stores. So they might miss your app although it is a perfect solution for them.
With content marketing, you can address these people. And by the way, sharing your content on social media will increase your reach and the number of your followers. So content marketing will support your social media efforts as well.
Here is what you need to do:
- Set up a website for your business to introduce your company, your services, and especially your app.
- Set up a blog.
- Create content that is relevant to your potential audience. Write helpful articles that address users’ problems in detail, and explain why and how your app is the solution to these problems.
- Don’t forget to add links or app store badges that forward users to your product pages on the App Store or Google Play Store.
Content Marketing is not an app marketing strategy that is easy to implement. You will compete with many other content creators, so it will be hard to conquer Google’s top search results. But when you take the right approach and focus on the proper content niches, you will succeed. Here are some tips that will help you create the best content for your audience.
Do keyword research (again). The keywords you have researched for App Store Optimization are a good start. But as Google works differently than the app store algorithms, you can’t simply use the same keywords. You need to start over again for your web content.
Here are some tools to help you:
Ubersuggest is a tool that shows you the estimated traffic, the general competition, and the websites that rank best for each keyword you enter. Especially the last aspect is great: You can check out the articles other content creators wrote on a specific topic and simply write a better piece. You can analyze all terms based on country and language to get the best data for your audience.
Ubersuggest is completely free.
Jaaxy is another keyword tool with some unique features. For every keyword or keyword phrase, Jaaxy gives you hundreds of related search terms, including the estimated traffic and the competition for each term. It is a great tool to narrow down broad topics to very specific search intents that you can address with your content.
Image: Example of Keyword Phrases and Questions from AnswerThePublic
The basic version of AnswerThePublic is free and allows you to research three keywords per day for English speaking users in Great Britain. To research more terms in 14 other languages (including French, Spanish, and German) or other regions, you can buy the premium version.
Writing helpful, good quality content is a time-consuming process. You need to collect information that helps solve users’ problems, write an easy-to-understand text including this knowledge, and format it in a way that supports Google’s algorithms.
To acquire these skills, I strongly recommend to check out IncomeSchool.com. They have developed a content creation strategy that is based on data from thousands of Google searches. You will learn how to research topics for your content, write great content, and rank it on Google SERPs. Start with IncomeSchool’s free video content on Youtube, and if you like it, check out their premium video course (and their awesome community).
To create a website including a blog, you need two things: a hosting partner and a content management system.
Website hosting is very affordable nowadays. For less than $5 per month, you can get your website live. My recommendation is Bluehost. They provide solid services and easy integrations for the most popular content management systems.
Content management systems (CMS) help you publish your content without the need of knowing programming languages. Even if you have never written a single line of code in your life, you can create a great website with a CMS.
The most popular CMS is WordPress. It is free and many website hosters, including Bluehost, provide simple one-click-integrations with it. Besides, you can find tons of tutorials for WordPress on Youtube and other websites.
If you want to make it even easier, consider using a visual builder additionally. These toolboxes are not free, but as they allow you to compose a website with simple drag-and-drop mechanics, they are definitely worth the money.
I recommend Divi which I used to build this website (and I have no web development skills at all). Divi comes with more than 100 pre-built layouts that you can use immediately on your website and with many modules that you can integrate to fulfill your needs.
APP MARKETING STRATEGY #4: CROSS PROMOTIONS
When building your website, make sure to add links to your app store product pages to make users aware of your app. But there are more measures you should take to cross-promote your app from the traffic channels you own:
- Implement links or app store badges into the footer of your company website.
- Add Smart App Banners to your (mobile) websites. These banners will show up when users enter your website and ask them to download your app. Both Apple and Google offer native Smart App Banners, but you can also use 3rd party solutions that are customizable and look better.
- Add links to your app to your email signatures and to your (private) social media profiles.
- Mention your app in your newsletters and add app store badges to the footer of your newsletter templates.
Example of a Newsletter-Footer with App Store Badges by Swiss Telecommunication Company Sunrise
No matter where you add links to your product pages, use attribution tracking so you can evaluate how many users click it and download your app afterward.
APP MARKETING STRATEGY #5: PRESS RELEASES
Many websites and blogs publish information about new apps on a regular basis, and they constantly look for new content. If you own a great and innovative app, chances are good that some of them are willing to publish a review about it.
To be considered for an article, follow these tips when reaching out to blog owners:
- Make it easy for bloggers and journalists to write articles based on the information you give them. Provide as many details about your app as possible. Introduce the features in detail, especially those that are unique. Name the target audience and the problems that your app solves. Include technical information, the available languages, and anything else that is relevant for readers. It makes sense to provide a short list of bullet points with the most important information so writers can get a first impression, and give more detailed information in running texts.
- If your app already is live, share social proof, including user reviews, media coverage, or awards that your app won.
- Give information about you, your bio, and your business. Talk about your story, your vision, about your company culture, etc.
- Add visual materials such as screenshots or videos (or links to them) that bloggers can include on their websites.
- Provide contact information (email addresses or phone numbers) so they can reach out and ask you additional questions about your app. Also include links to your product pages on the app stores, your website, and your social media profiles.
The guys of Buildfire have created a list of 113 app review websites that you should check out. Additionally, do some research yourself: Search for competitors’ apps on Google and check out which blogs and websites talk about them.
The four app promotion strategies that I presented in this article are a great start to build your user base. They are effective and require only little financial commitment. However, you will have to invest time and work to master them. I recommend not to jump into all of them at the same time. Start with the most promising strategy: ASO. Then set up your social media profiles, create a simple website, and start with content marketing.
In any case, be patient. No matter which strategy you focus on, the outcome will not be visible immediately. Expect to wait a couple of weeks or even months before seeing the first results.