How to Market Your App on a Shoestring Budget

by GameHouse

Most developers know that when it comes to app marketing, it’s not enough to simply say, “if you build it, they will come.” Every new app requires a strategic app marketing campaign to connect your app to your audience – but many smaller developers don’t have the resources for a huge CPC/CPI campaign to drive downloads.

So, what can smaller app developers do to even the playing field and maximize their chances of success in promoting apps, but without breaking the bank?

Here are some ideas for how to market your app on a tight budget:

  • Nail the basics: The best way to use your limited marketing time and resources is to create great assets to promote your app, such as your app’s name, your app description to appear on the app marketplaces, your visual screenshots, and your app icon. Before you spend a penny on advertising, make sure that you read our articles on how to create amazing assets that get your app noticed in a crowded market. Also, focus on getting your app’s name right. Just the simple choice of a name for your app – whether it’s a clever, visually compelling name for a game, or a clear, descriptive name for a solution-based app – can make a big difference in helping your app stand out from the competition.App Promotion
  • Build your own network: Most app developers won’t have the money to push their apps into the top ranks through CPI advertising alone. But, there is nothing to stop you from creating your own network of promotional opportunities with other developers. You can either use one of the cross promotional network like the GameHouse Promotion Network or do your own direct deals with other developers. Instead of paying for attention, share your own audience with other developers in exchange for help in broadening your pool of potential users.
  • Use social media effectively: Social media is one of the cheapest and (in the long-term) most effective ways to promote your app. You need to include social media in your overall app design, starting from Day 1. Make it easy for users to share your app and share their achievements from your app on social media. Use virtual currency or in-app badges to reward users for connecting with you on social media. Make a long-term commitment to your community of users on social media, and look for opportunities to “co-create” content with them – such as asking for suggestions for new levels or features, and taking surveys to see how people enjoyed the latest update to your app.
  • Leverage PR, contact app reviewers early and often: Instead of buying attention through advertising, you can “earn” attention by getting your app in front of key app reviewers and bloggers. You can start with your immediate network of users, friends and fans. Build relationships with bloggers and journalists who write about apps (or who write about the industry/activity/theme that relates to your app). Reaching out to nontraditional app reviewers might be more effective – since app reviewers are deluged with requests to review apps, you might break through if you can get a mention on Twitter from an influential expert in the field that your app is designed for, or if you can build up a network of testimonials from bloggers and influential people, even if they are not traditional tech journalists or app reviewers.
  • Cut your price (temporarily): Of course, this technique is much more effective when you can actually pay to make it work (i.e. with Free App a Day or Appgratis). But even if you can’t afford to place your app on one of these promotional sites, you can still get a significant boost in downloads by dropping the price of your app once in a while for a short period of time, or making it free for a day. Many developers use this technique to great effect. Just make sure that you don’t do it too often (a good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t drop your prices more than once every 3-6 months – that way, prospective users won’t get used to seeing it available for a cheaper price, and your existing users won’t resent having paid full price).

Mobile app marketing doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. If you have a strong app marketing strategy and you’re willing to do some legwork, there are a lot of opportunities to promote your app and put your app in front of a larger audience without having to spend on ads.

What’s your take on this? What are some of your favorite “low budget” app marketing techniques? If you could recommend one “paid” app marketing tactic, what would it be? 

By Ryan Morel

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