13 Free & Easy Ways to Promote Your App & Get More Downloads Now
Promoting your app is one of the most important things you should be focusing on once your app hits the store. When we say promoting, we don't mean using Apple Search Ads or some other form of paid advertising. We're talking about ways in which you can get your app in front of people who are interested in what it has to offer. Best of all, these are all free and pretty easy.
In this guide:
- Post Your App to ProductHunt
- Answer Questions on Quora
- Get Your App Listed in Roundup Lists
- Write Guides & Tutorials
- Optimize Your Keywords
- Get Influencers to Use Your App
- Talk to Journalists
- Get Active in Forums, Subreddits, and FB Groups
- Create a Referral Program
- Get Your App Featured by Apple & Google
- Make it Easy to Share Content from Your App
- Submit Your App for an Award
- Speak at Events Related to Your App
Post Your App to ProductHunt
ProductHunt is a place where thousands of people discover new apps every day, and a great way to get new users to try your app. The way it works is you post your app and the community gets to upvote it. The more upvotes your app has the more visible it’ll be, and if your app is in the top 10 for the day it’ll also be included in the following day’s mailing list, which counts hundreds of thousands of potential users.
Posting to ProductHunt is open to everyone, but if you’re not already a user and don’t have many followers on the platform it’s better to have someone who does post it, or as ProductHunt calls it "hunt" it, for you.
If you’re looking for a hunter, check out this list of the top hunters and reach out to them about your app.
When posting to ProductHunt you’ll have a few ways to describe the app. You’ll be competing with many other apps that are trying to gain downloads this way, so it’s important to take your time and use each of these to its full potential to grab attention.
- Name - The name of your app. Don’t sell here.
- Tagline - Sell here. Describe what your app offers in under 60 characters. The best tag lines are focused and concise.
- Topics - Select 2-3 most appropriate categories for your app to be in.
- Thumbnail - Use your app’s icon to maintain strong branding or try to animate it to increase engagement.
- Gallery - Show off the most important features of your app in actions. You can use the same screenshots as you would on the App Store of Google Play.
- Video - If you have a video or an App Preview use it here.
- Description - You can use you store description here if it’s short and to the point.
- First comment - This is a way for you to automatically comment on your post, and is best used to get PH users excited about your app. Who are you? Why did you build it? etc.
Tips for posting to ProductHunt:
- If reaching out to a hunter be polite and don’t be annoying. One or two emails max. It's fully okay to post on your own, even if you're new to the site.
- Schedule your post.
- Post your app on a weekday when there's more traffic, and as early in the day as possible (easy when scheduling).
- Proofread all of your text, both in text fields as well as in the gallery.
- Be ready to answer questions and respond to comments.
- Let everyone know you’re on ProductHunt but don’t beg for an upvote.
- Consider offering a discount to PH members to increase conversion.
Check out ProductHunt's official guide for more on posting: How to Launch on Product Hunt
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Answer Questions on Quora
Quora is a very popular question and answer website that gets a lot of traffic every day from people looking for solutions.
Some of those questions are related to something your app does, and you can get some of those people to your app’s page by answering questions and also mentioning your app.
Important: The goal is to provide value while also mentioning your app, so only answer questions you actually know enough about, and not in a way that's just a promotion for your app.
Tips for answering questions on Quora:
- Look for 10-15 relevant questions first and only then start replying.
- Always answer the question. This isn’t a place to advertise directly.
- Mention your app where it makes sense. When you do, make it clear you’re associated with it.
- Answer a few new questions every week to stack the odds of getting traffic in your favor. You can discover new questions by subscribing to topics.
- Your competitors may answer the same questions you do. There's not much you can do about it other than making sure your answers are always better.
Get Your App Listed in Roundup Lists
Roundup lists are extremely common these days and tend to show up very highly in search results. If your app is included in such lists, you’ll enjoy traffic coming from the post, for technically free. Getting your app included requires finding appropriate lists and then asking the authors to consider your app.
Start by finding 10-15 roundup lists that your app fits into. An easy way to do that is to use your favorite search engine to search for a fairly generic term like top apps for X”, where the X is the topic of your app, then find a way to contact the author.
Here's an example of a roundup list: The Best Apps for Cyclists
When you have your list of authors ready, write a short and simple pitch email introducing yourself and describing what you’d like and why your app fits + makes the list better for readers.
Here’s a simple template you can use:
Hi (Author's name), I came across your post (Post title) and think it captures the market for (what your app does) quite well and wanted to tell you about my app, (app name), . (App name) is a (short description of the app), and it's unique because: * (Big feature 1) * (Big feature 2) * (Big feature 3) (Link to app) I'd love it if you could check out my app, and if you like it add it to your list. I'm sure your readers would love another option for (what the app does). If you have any questions or want to know more about the app don't hesitate to reach out. Thanks! (Name)
Tips for writing a better pitch email:
- Address the author by name.
- Be concise and get to the point quickly.
- Highlight what your app does, preferably as bullet points, and why readers would benefit from knowing about it
- Proofread your email before sending it. Grammar and spelling errors, even in a very short email, can make the difference between having your app included or your email deleted unread.
It may not happen after a single email, so try again once or twice, but not more than three times. If the author isn’t interested spamming them isn’t going to help. Just move to the next list.
Write Guides & Tutorials
Another great way to get your app exposure with the right audience is to share knowledge you have that’s related to what the app does through guides and tutorials.
You probably already know what your typical users is trying to do or is trying to learn about, so write a guide or tutorial that explains that.
For example, if your app is a guitar tuner you can create a step by step guide for how to tune a guitar, or a guide about alternate tuning used in popular songs. Describe how to use the app in the process and show screenshots.
Important - Promoting your content is as important as creating it, so budget some time for that as well. Here are a few ways you can promote your content:
- Write in an already existing community such as Medium
- Pitch your guide to industry newsletters
- Post your guide to social media and relevant forums
- Share it with your existing users so they can share it on
- Use a content sharing service such as Quuu Promote
- Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to get your guide to rank in search engines
A secret of content marketing is to keep your content evergreen which means it can be used at any time and doesn’t age quickly, which allows for promoting it again and again.
Optimize Your Keywords
Millions of people visit the App Store and Google Play every day in search of apps and games. Keyword optimization puts your app in front of more of those people and increases your chances of getting downloads very quickly.
The optimization process involves identifying what your ideal users are searching for the most, and then using those keywords where most applicable to “tell” Apple and Google to list your app when those keywords are searched.
Apple’s search algorithm is tuned to index apps by their: name, subtitle, and keyword list. Google's algorithm looks at the: name, short description, and long description. That's where you'll use the keywords.
Continue learning about App Store Optimization with these guides:
- 8 Simple Ways to Find Hundreds of Keywords to Rank For
- Optimizing Your App’s Name to Get More Downloads
- How to Optimize Your Keywords List in App Store Connect
Get Influencers to Use Your App
Every market has its influencers, the people who tell others about trends and new things that are available.
Influencers, much like journalists, are always on the lookout for new things they can share with their followers. What you should do is find the most relevant influencers, reach out to them like you would to a blogger or journalist, and ask them to try out your app. If they like it, they’ll share it with their followers.
You probably know who the influencers in your market are, but if you don’t, search social media channels including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, podcasts, and YouTube.
How to reach out
There are many types of influencers, some good, some great, and some who are just pretending. To find the right influencers spend time getting to know them and their content, don’t just go by the number of followers or views they boast. Those can be gamed easily.
Once you’ve found your influencers, reach out to them. Here are a few tips to help when reaching out:
- Make the email personal and casual
- Open by showing you know the influencer’s work
- Introduce yourself briefly
- Describe what your app offers
- Make the ask
- Give them access to the app’s full functionality for free
Here's a template you can use to contact an influencer
Hi (Influencer name), I recently came across your article/video (name of video) and found it really useful. You were able to simplify (topic) yet still provide enough detail. My name is (your name), the developer behind (app name). I built (app name) to solve (problem). (App name) is unique because it (reasons). (Link to app) I’d love it if you could check out my app and if you like it review it — don’t hold back. Best, (Name)
Talk to Journalists
Being mentioned in a popular blog, magazine, or newspaper is a great way to get in front of big audiences, and there are two ways you can achieve that for your app.
The first, and what most developers think of when they hear "press" is to pitch your app to journalists so they can cover it. Journalists are mainly interested in covering new things, so this is a great thing to do when you launch your app or when you release a major update.
Pitching a journalist is very similar to pitching a blogger or influencer: introduce yourself, describe the value your app offers, explain why they should care about your app, and then make your ask.
Here’s how you do it:
- Find articles that cover topics related to your app
- Create a list of authors that have the articles you liked the most
- Read other articles by these authors and zoom in on ones that are most relevant for you
- Look for their contact information and send an email
- Follow up if you don't hear back
Here's a template you can use when pitching to a journalist:
Hi (Journalist name), I came across your article on (topic) and really liked your take on (subject). My name is (name) and I’m the developer behind (app name). I built (app name) to solve (problem). (App name) is unique because it (reasons). (Link to app) Do you think that’d be interesting to your readers? If so, I’d be happy to give you a full behind the scene look and answer any question you may have. Best, (Name)
The other way, and this one you can use all the time, is to help journalists with their articles. Journalists are always on the lookout for experts to help improve their articles, and they will mention you by name as well as link to your app when you help them.
An easy way to get started is by signing up with Help a Reporter, a website the connects between journalists and experts. It’s free to sign up and you’ll get an email with questions every day. If you find a question you can answer, do that, and remember to always provide the journalist information about yourself, your app, and link to get it.
Get Active in Forums, Subreddits, and FB Groups
Most other methods we talk about in this guide have you leverage someone else’s audience, but this one’s a bit different.
There are myriad of ways for people to gather around a topic online. Forums, subreddits, and Facebook groups give people the ability to talk about a shared interest and are a great place to find new tools and apps.
What you should do is find the most relevant communities, subscribe to them, and find threads you can contribute to. When you do, always make sure your app is linked in your signature or mentioned in your profile, and if your app is a solution to someone’s question let them know and also clearly state it’s yours.
What you shouldn’t do is create new threads that solely advertise your app. Most users and communities won't like that, and some will ban you.
Create a Referral Program
Word of mouth is a powerful way to promote your app and new users who hear about it from someone they know are much more likely to download the app.
You can make sure more of your users are telling their friends about your app by setting up a referral program.
A referral program works by offering users an incentive for getting their friends to download and use the app. It can be free service, swag, or even a discount to the friend. And can apply for specific actions such as subscribing to a certain tier or performing actions in the app.
The important part of having a referral program is to make sure your existing users know about it, preferably right in the app.
Get Your App Featured by Apple & Google
Millions visit the App Store and Google Play every day to find new apps and games. Being promoted in the store is one of the best ways to get your app or game in front of a large audience fast and get a surge of downloads.
While there’s no way to guarantee being featured there are things you can do to make your app more attractive to editors as well as reach out to let them know about it:
- How to Get Your iOS or Mac App Featured on the App Store
- How to Get Your Android App Featured on Google Play
Make it Easy to Share Content from Your App
If your app offers any type of information that can be shared make it super easy to do it and brand it. Users love sharing, and when they do, they’ll be spreading the word about your app and drawing more attention to your app.
It’s an insanely easy technique that’s well worth the investment.
We know this firsthand. Our App Store Analytics app shows download trends. Users who want to share their performance can do so with a single tap, and every share generates a handful of “what app is this?” Which lead to downloads.
Submit Your App for an Award
Award competitions tend to draw large crowds that are looking for the next best app and winning an award will put your app right in front of those leading directly to downloads.
Most award competitions take submissions, and many are either free or have a low submission fee, making it a very simple way to get more downloads.
Important - Awards are given to apps that are the best among all submission, so only submit yours if you objectively believe it deserves the award. Check previous winners first and see if your app can take them head-on. If not, take the time to improve it until it is and only then submit it.
Here are a few award contests for you to check out:
- MUX Awards
- Best Mobile App Awards
- The Webby Awards
- International Mobile Gaming Awards
- Media Excellence Awards
- Independent Game Festival Awards
- Global Mobile Awards
Speak at Events Related to Your App
This one’s not for everyone, so consider it a bonus, but if you’re okay with public speaking you can use that to your advantage by speaking at events that are related to your app. By speaking you’ll both put your app in front of new potential users and also establish yourself as an authority, which will make it even easier to get downloads in the long term.
There are lots of events you can speak at, from small meetups to conferences and even online webinars, so you can find the type that's most comfortable for you.
Start by searching for events that have to do with your app, and once you have a few, look for videos from past events to see the format and the type of talks that they’ve had. Then, think of a fitting topic and look for a way to submit it. Most conferences make it very easy to submit talks, and for meetups you can contact the organizer directly.
There you have it, a variety of ways you can get your app in front of more people and get more downloads. Between these being free and pretty straight forward you really shouldn’t think twice and give them a try.
We'd love to hear which of these you've tried, which worked best for you, and if there are any free and easy promotion techniques that we didn't mention. Tweet @appfigures and let us know!