Meet the Panel:
We asked these 8 app pros for their best tips on how to promote an app

how to promote your free appDANIEL YOO
Creator of Timer+, which has over 3 million installs to date. Held position in Top 10 in iPad Utilities (free) in the US.

How to promote your entertainment appJAMES ABELER
Creator of Infuse for iPhone and iPad. During launch in May 2013, was #1 in Entertainment and #44 overall in US store.

How to promote a lot of appsSARAH CORNWELL
Co-founder of Appbackr. Helped Appzilla raise $25k to build Appzilla 3, which spent 5 days as #1 paid app in App Store (Aug 2012).

How aaron watkins promotes appsAARON WATKINS
Co-founder of Appency. Clients in top 10 of nearly every category in App Store, including World Cup Table Tennis (#1 overall, iPad) and ARC Squadron (#15 overall).

Robleh Jama on how to promote an appROBLEH JAMA
Creator of TinyHearts, makers of the #1 Education app Pocket Zoo and the beautiful iPhone alarm Wake.

How Onboardly PR promotes appsHEATHER ANNE CARSON
Co-founder of Onboardly. Helps clients like ZapTap increase visibility and acquire customers.

How to promote your app with Tope of App Design VaultTOPE ABAYOMI
Founder of App Design Vault, home to app design templates used in top apps like Pets+ and World Recipes.

The appspire way to promote your appsCARSON BARKER
Co-founder of Clients in top 10 in News, Sports, Travel, Social Networking and Education.

Got followers with apps? Show you get ’em by tweeting these tips to them

9 Proven Ways to Promote Your App

1. “For B2C apps, create a sense of exclusivity. (Good examples: Subtle, Quibb, Mailbox.) The longer you can’t have something, the more you want it.” – Heather

2. “Optimize the app title & keywords in iTunes Connect.” – Daniel

3. “Prompt the user to rate the app with a pop up – but only after it has been used 5 times or after 10 mins of play time.”  – Sarah

4. “Plan your marketing in bursts. One of the most important discoverability locations in the app stores are the Top Rank lists. Building momentum from burst marketing campaigns – concurrently doing PR, social, ads – can help you move up those lists and get more organic downloads and visibility.” – Aaron

5. “For B2B you have to really narrow down your target audience as much as possible, and turn that audience into loyal followers who will spread the word about your app to other businesses.” – Carson

6. “Developers have been seeing good results from Facebook Mobile Install Ads, where you can specify target audiences. This works well for paid apps and apps where the audience is defined.” – Tope

7. “Cross promote your own apps such that each progressive app you release does better than the one before it.” – Aaron

8. “Get featured by Apple and get 3-5 major blogs to review your  app at launch. That’s the formula that has been working for a lot of hit apps: Apple feature + PR.  The secret to getting featured is focusing on 1) the right idea, 2) the details and 3) nailing the basics.” – Robleh

9. “When launching a new app or a major update to an existing app, create a dynamic (yet consistent) marketing pitch and use this to showcase your app on as many channels as possible. We email our newsletter subscribers, pitch to bloggers and promote ourselves on Facebook and Twitter.” – James

7 Time-Sucks and Money-Pits to Avoid

1. “Don’t blanket the press with form letter emails in a “shotgun” like approach. Spewing info at the press does nothing but annoy them.” – Aaron

2. “You may be tempted to sign up for a ‘for pay’ review site, in other words a site that offers to review your app for a fee. DON’T DO IT! These types of sites usually get far less real traffic than they claim, and few people actually use them to make purchasing decisions. Save yourself the time (and a few bucks), and devote your efforts elsewhere.” – James

3. “Avoid outbound marketing (PPC, banner ads, etc) if it’s not your forte. You’ll get quantity, but you won’t get quality. It’s a huge waste of money for early-stage apps or beta apps.” – Heather

4. “Advertising.” – Robleh

5. “I wouldn’t waste my time trying to acquire users via paid channels like AdMob or Tapjoy (when the Long Term Value of a user is so low).” – Daniel

6. “Don’t throw good money after bad. If the app is not good, if it doesn’t play well, if it has bugs, if it has poor UI, any marketing money is going to be wasted. You are going to be paying for users to find your app and give it bad reviews.” – Sarah

7. “Don’t make the mistake of running a press release and hoping the media will rush in to ask to cover your app. Press releases have lost their effectiveness because there are 100s of new apps launched every day – it’s hard to cut through the noise.” – Tope

“The apps that give us the most lead time, that allow us an outside consultant to help guide some changes into the app to make it better, and understand that some investment is needed to enter a market that is as competitive as the app market is, fare the best.” – Aaron

7 Bonus Ways to Get Loads of App Installs
(Or Build a Large User Base)

1. “Paid apps that drop to free and use a drop-to-free promotional site can get a ton of new installs. Try FreeAppADay or AppGratis (yes, AppGratis is still around even after the snafu with Apple).” – Aaron

2. “Make a paid app free for a short period. I recommend getting featured on’s Apps Gone Free posts or experimenting with AppGratis and Appsfire. We ran a free promo with Wake Alarm last week: Wake was featured on Apps Gone Free and ended up climbing to #1 in the Utilities category and made it to the Top 20 Free overall chart. By the end of the two-day promo, Wake had close to 300k new users.” – Robleh

3. “Email marketing. App developers rarely think about reaching users outside the device – but email marketing is the most effective way to reach an audience. Start collecting emails now via your website so you can keep subscribers informed of updates, promos and new apps.” – Sarah What if your list is small?

4. “Optimize for App Store search to reach that audience organically.” – Daniel

5. “I’ve been testing Facebook pages to engage an audience of like-minded people. Spend a bit on ads to grow the user base and, with the right targeting and split-testing, you can grow an audience on Facebook cheaply.” – Tope

6. “Advertising is the best way to get massive installs. But it can be expensive and a waste of time if you don’t have a targeted strategy for it.” – Carson

7. “You may look at making your app free or deeply discounted for a few days. AppsFire has a great way to take advantage of a lower price point to get a hefty spike in user downloads, which may just be the ticket to get over that critical mass hump.” – James

Plus, have you optimized your App Store description?


Patrick Thompson of MegaReader fame – with 1500 reviews to date – gave me this recommendation, which I found interesting:

Debate Patrick of MegaReader“Aim for the masses. In general, price points are too low on the App Store for niche products. You have to sell a lot! Create something that millions of people might want.”

What do you think? Agree with him? Dare to disagree? Share it in the comments below!