I love the fact that there’s an app for everything these days. Apps have become an integral part of smartphone life, leaving developers to innovate applications at a staggering pace.
However, once you’ve finished this super cool, super useful app, how do you let people know about it without breaking the bank?
If you are trying to figure out how to promote an app for free, don’t worry! This article delves into several answers. We’ll walk you through 26 free, effective ways to market your app, giving you the edge you need for global (app) domination.
I found it fascinating to watch app marketing change over the years. More than half of all web traffic is now mobile – and the mobile device market share is set to continue increasing as we head into 2023.
As such, app marketing has become a big business. It has evolved into a highly professional industry, both in terms of marketing apps themselves and in-app advertising for products, services and, of course, other apps. In-app advertising is projected to reach a market size of $226.4 billion USD by 2025, highlighting the enormity of this area of work. So if you’re worried about how to market your app, don’t fret – there are so many choices available to you.
However, that’s not to say that people should disregard more traditional marketing tactics altogether. These methods can provide a strong foundation for understanding the principles and strategies that have been effective in the past. This knowledge can help you create effective campaigns and make informed decisions about where to allocate resources.
At the same time, being on the lookout for new marketing trends can help you to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to changing consumer behaviors and preferences. This combination of old school knowledge and new waves of techniques and technologies can help identify new opportunities to reach your target audience and create innovative campaigns that make you unique from the competition. As a result, this can lead to greater success in reaching and engaging target audiences and, ultimately, achieving your marketing objectives.
If you want to know the best ways to promote an app, read on. Our 26 effective ideas can be built into a detailed and far-reaching app marketing strategy that should serve you well over the course of 2023 and beyond.
How Much Does it Cost to Market an App? Understanding Your Brand and Opportunities
Before we dive into the “hows” of app marketing, one of the most crucial pieces of information to know is how many bills you’d need to pull out of your wallet for this venture. Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer. The cost can vary widely depending on what you need or aim to accomplish. For example, if you're simply looking to increase downloads and user engagement, the costs might be relatively low. But if you're aiming to build brand recognition, increase customer loyalty, or drive sales, your costs could be much higher.
So before you approach an investor or your personal savings, do your (market) research and build a strong brand identity. Market research can help you understand the needs and preferences of your target audience, which can inform your marketing strategy, while your brand identity can help you establish a concrete foothold in the app market and create a connection with users.
Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience and brand, you can begin to explore the various marketing opportunities available to you. Each of these tactics comes with its own costs and benefits, and it's important to evaluate each one carefully to determine which ones are the best fit for your app and marketing goals.
One of the best ways to market an app is through app store optimization. With over five million apps available through just the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, you need to do all you can to stand out from the competition.
App store optimization allows you to improve your mobile app’s visibility within the app stores you’ve chosen to use. This, in turn, can increase your app conversion rates.
I really can’t emphasize how important this form of app advertising is. Make sure you give it the time and attention it deserves.
Whether you plan to include your mobile application in the Google Play Store, Apple App Store, Huawei App Store, Amazon App Store, or anywhere else, it’s essential that the description:
Includes relevant keywords
Meets the user’s search intent
Delivers usage and quality metrics
Your messaging needs to be clear, concise, and beautifully optimized to give your app marketing efforts the best chance of success.
App stores are the largest marketing channel for mobile apps. 47% of Apple app users discover new apps through the Apple App Store; 53% through the Google Play Store. Given that users normally consider only around the first five or so apps resulting from their search, it’s essential that you rank highly.
This is where A/B testing comes in. I’m a big fan of A/B testing. It allows you to test multiple key identifiers when you’re marketing an app, from logos and marketing messages to your description optimization.
I can’t advocate an organized approach strongly enough here – A/B testing is only as valuable as your monitoring of it. Take a data-driven approach to how effective the differences in your versions are and keep tweaking based on the results.
There’s nothing like a free ‘lite’ version of your app to tempt users to fork out for a more advanced paid version. This is a frequently used app marketing strategy, with the free app market leading to increasingly creative ways to tempt new users. You can build up a strong user base with the free version, while advertising the paid version frequently within it.
However, this freemium model requires careful thought as to which features to include in each version of the app and how to market app features that will convince users to part with their cash. Always take a strategic approach, whether you’re targeting the free Android apps market or any other.
Once you’ve optimized your app store description and done all you can to provide your app with maximum visibility within your chosen store(s), I recommend switching your attention to website marketing. If you’re unfamiliar with the basics of website promotion, click the link below before proceeding with these steps.
Read more: How to Promote Your Website in 2021
A website can be a powerful app marketing tool. You can use it to advertise your app, waxing lyrical about its benefits and why people simply can’t do without it. It’s also a chance for you to go into more detail than app store descriptions allow and you can fill the site with glossy screenshots and other tantalizing glimpses of in-app action.
Of course, if you’re creating a website for your app, then you’ll also need to factor search engine optimization (SEO) into your app promoting strategy. Just as you optimized your app store description to help users find your app rather than your competitors’ offerings, you’ll need to do some keyword research and optimize your website.
There are plenty of free tools out there to help you with SEO, as well as professional agencies who can support your optimization work, should you need help with it.
There are a few blog-related ways that you can use to market your app in 2023. Firstly, you can create a blog on your website that is dedicated to updates about your app.
Each new version will fix bugs, roll out new features and generally enhance your users’ experience of the app. Use your blog to explore different elements of each update to help users get the most out of your app. Doing so will also show potential users that you’re serious about giving them maximum value. It’s also a great way to promote all those cool new features that you’ve worked so hard on.
You can also create a blog that focuses on the bigger picture. Apps are designed to meet a need and many of them address particular pain points. Use your blog to show which problems your app solves, and how, and you’ll be well positioned to acquire new users in the process.
My favorite aspect of social media app marketing is how creative you can be. This is (to my mind) one of the most fun forms of marketing. Different social media platforms require a different approach, from image-led sites like Pinterest and Instagram to industry stalwarts like Facebook and Twitter.
If you’re wondering how to crack social media marketing for your mobile app promotion, influencers are a great place to start. After all, why spend days and weeks building up your own following when the right pitch to the right influencer could put your app in front of millions?
Think carefully about which influencers’ followers are most suited to your app. Getting your product in front of ten smaller but highly relevant influencers’ audiences could prove more valuable than a partnership with a single mega-influencer whose audience is less suited to your app.
Remember that many influencers have their own blogs, as well as social media accounts, so factor guest blogging into your influencer marketing strategy too. A well-timed, enthusiastic post about your app can do much to boost your user base.
Social media channels vary hugely. That means you need a unique approach for each platform that you use. But how do you decide which channels are best?
A bit of research can do wonders here. Did you know, for example, that 75% of US women use Facebook, but just 63% of men? Or that 72% of 13-17-year-olds use Instagram, compared to just 47% of 30-49-year-olds?
Define who it is that you most want to target and then review social media channel demographics with this in mind. Doing so means you can target the right potential users while avoiding wasting your energy on the channels that are less likely to lead to conversions.
With your social media platforms chosen, you can set about targeting the groups that are most relevant to your app. Be sure to respect group rules – many have set expectations around product promotion, which you will need to build into your marketing approach.
A good tactic is to take an active role within the groups. Don’t simply post an advert for your app – contribute to discussions and add value to the group to build up your credibility.
This area of your app-promotion strategy can very quickly become the most costly. Set a budget and stick to it to avoid your costs spiraling out of control. There are also ways to get free ad credits from major platforms, you just have to be patient and keep a close eye when these promotions do become available.
People perform 2.3 million searches per second on Google. Mind-boggling, isn’t it? Most searches throw up multiple ads before the organic search results. However, if you want to be one of them, you’ll need to cough up dough for the service.
According to Wordstream, the average cost per click for Google search ads in the US, when considered across all industries, is $2.32. Would you be willing to pay that? The average cost varies from country to country, but if you want your app to appear at the top of Google, it’ll be worth something.
If you want your ads to appear on Facebook, you’ll need to pay for those too. This can be an effective app promotion approach, as you can be very specific about which audience(s) your advert is aimed at. You can set a daily budget to help control costs and set up your campaign to pay for only the actions you want, whether that’s impressions or conversions.
Social media retargeting is an interesting concept. It centers on bringing back those who’ve already visited your site and then browsed elsewhere. You can target them with a promotion designed to lure them back to your site and make a purchase.
This cookie-driven approach is easy to implement on platforms like Facebook and Instagram and is well worth considering as part of your overall app marketing strategy.
Localization is the process of focusing your app specifically on a particular target audience. Doing so can improve the user experience for that audience.
Conduct thorough market research to identify which areas you will market your app in and then to understand the particular considerations for each locale. The more data you can gather at this point, the better.
Localization involves changing various elements of your app to suit the culture of the target audience. App localization services aren’t just about language translation, but can incorporate changing color schemes, redesigning the app to allow text to flow in a different direction, changing currency symbols and much more.
There are two approaches to app localization:
If you’ve already coded the entire app yourself, you might relish the challenge of taking a Do It Yourself (DIY) approach to localizing the software. The only cost to doing so is your time – although this can be a considerable commitment.
I would emphasize the need for incredibly thorough market research if you’re taking the DIY approach to app localization. You will need to reflect cultural nuances in each version of your program in order to resonate with each audience.
Partner with a Localization Company
A professional localization company can take the pain out of the process. If you’re on a tighter budget, using Android and Iphone app translation services are also a possible avenue worth looking into.
These companies have networks of localization professionals who have in-depth knowledge of your target audiences. They can swiftly apply this knowledge to your app, helping you to get the most out of the localization process, with obvious rewards in terms of your marketing success.
Email marketing is another excellent form of app promotion. Again, there are a couple of options open to you:
If you place a download link in your emails, your recipients will be able to download your app quickly and easily. This is ideal for targeted email marketing campaigns where the entire point is to get recipients to buy your app.
It’s also worth including a link to your website landing page in your email signature. This can serve to raise the profile of your app and subtly push your brand, as it will be included in every email you send.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, don’t knock the more traditional ways of app marketing. There are still plenty of methods that are still highly effective.
I know, but we can’t discount the power of word of mouth. This is so simple and so effective. Dish out a free version of your app to your friends and then let the power of word of mouth do its thing. People buy from people, so the more advocates of your app that are out there, the better.
You all remember Apple, right? The company is a master of networking, but you don’t need Apple’s budget to imitate its approach. Tech conferences of all sizes can help you to market your app to relevant, highly focused audiences.
With so many conferences, webinars and other tech events being held online at present, it’s easier than ever to court global audiences remotely. And all you need to do to get involved is pitch to the right person in the right way.
Your market research will come in handy here. Use the data you gathered to cold email potential users as part of your app marketing strategy, localizing your emails to suit users from different cultures and demographics. You can use professional translation services to target audiences in multiple countries – just be sure to respect each country’s laws on unsolicited email approaches.
Yes, be that person if you want your app to be successful. You can advertise on traditional television stations, on television-on-demand services and through YouTube to get your app into the spotlight.
Advertising is a huge area of work and can cost a small fortune, so do your homework in order to get maximum return on your investment. Research how your target users consume their television shows, and when, and focus your advertising accordingly.
An ad agency might seem like a costly expense, but such expertise can do much to ensure your television marketing campaign hits the mark.
Forums are back. As people turn to more human-like interactions and first hand experiences, platforms that encourage organic discussions are regaining their popularity. By conducting AMAs and asking real users what they think about your app, not only are you gaining important feedback that can make your application better but you’re also giving your app visibility while you’re engaging with your audience.
With its massive and diverse user base, Reddit can be an effective platform to promote an app and drive downloads. By finding relevant subreddits and engaging with users, you can establish credibility and build a following. Running a targeted ad campaign on Reddit can also help you reach your ideal audience. With options like subreddit targeting and interest-based targeting, you can ensure that your ads are seen by users who are most likely to be interested in your app. Additionally, Reddit offers opportunities for organic promotion through user-generated content like AMAs (Ask Me Anything) and subreddit takeovers. By participating in these activities and showcasing your app's unique value proposition, you can generate buzz and drive downloads.
The popular question-and-answer website can be a valuable platform to promote your app. By answering relevant questions and sharing helpful information, you can establish yourself as a thought leader in your app's industry and build credibility. You can also use Quora's advertising platform to target users who are most likely to be interested in your app. Quora's targeting options include keyword targeting, interest targeting, and behavioral targeting, allowing you to reach your ideal audience. Additionally, Quora offers opportunities for organic promotion through user-generated content like writing answers that showcase your app's unique value proposition.
Niche forums can be a valuable platform to promote your app and reach your target audience. By finding forums related to your app's industry, you can engage with users who are already interested in the type of product you offer. Additionally, many niche forums allow for advertising opportunities, such as sponsored posts or banner ads. Overall, niche forums offer a targeted and engaged audience that can be a valuable part of any comprehensive app marketing strategy.
The app marketing landscape has evolved dramatically, with the emergence of new communication platforms that eventually revolutionized promotional strategies. You should also consider harnessing the power of these emerging media's influence to expand reach and drive app downloads.
Podcasts have exploded in popularity in recent years. People like to talk about different things, and people are equally interested in what others have to say. This type of content should not be underestimated, and many app marketers are now exploring the potential of this style to reach their target audience.
According to Forbes, there are more than 5 million podcasts with over 70 million episodes available by the end of 2022. This is a huge potential audience, with the added bonus of podcast listeners tending to be highly engaged and loyal, making them an attractive target that apps can tap into.
You can sponsor podcasts that are relevant to your app’s services. Heck, you can even create your own branded podcast to promote your app. Similar to blogs, you can raise issues, updates and topics related to your app, building awareness and credibility within your target audience. It also generates valuable content in a format that can be more easily digestible by listeners.
Yes, we’re going there. Short-form video content is now all the rage online. TikTok is a social media platform that has exploded in popularity in recent years, particularly among younger audiences. It’s gotten to the point that other online platforms have created their own versions in order to get a slice of the pie. YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels, anyone?
Apart from short-form video content, TikTok has creative tools that have users engaging in a fun and interactive way. Create branded content to show off your app's unique features and benefits. Post short videos that highlight how to use your app, publicize great user testimonials, or do a #appchallenge to encourage people to engage with your app. Partner with popular TikTok influencers to get in touch with their audience and build credibility within the platform's community.
Note that this is a rapidly evolving area of marketing. Flex your creative juices and think of chances for product/app mentions at the start and end of each formation. Again, think about the audiences of those you’re targeting and ensure your efforts are focused on the podcasts or TikToks that reach your most relevant demographics.
I know it can be overwhelming to choose the best strategy for your app marketing. Don’t restrict to one just way or all— the beauty of these methods is that you can draw, pick, and discard the best and worst options to fit your app’s purpose.
All the same, it’s always sensible to create a marketing strategy to keep you focused and on track. Don’t be afraid to fail and try another way if you’re seeing that one particular method isn't performing as great as the others. Trial-and-error is the way of the world, so if you find a trick that works for you, it can only lead to future success and longevity of your app in the market.
You can leave a comment below to let us know which of these you found most effective. I would also love to hear your thoughts on other free and effective app marketing techniques for 2023.