Growth Marketing

How to Promote Your App: Unconventional Wisdom from People Who’ve Done It

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

[highlight]THINKING OF HIRING AN AGENCY TO PROMOTE YOUR APP?[/highlight] “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!

About the author

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe - Copywriter and author of "Copyhackers"

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  • Great thanks wonderful topics you had discussed above and am impresses. Promoting an app is one of the major factor for application success.

  • Millan Ta

    Really nice topics you had discussed above. I am much impressed. Thank you for providing this nice information here.

  • Great article. Promoting an app is one of the factor for app success and improves the app downloads.


  • Ethan Root

    Nice article Joanna, it will help for getting mobile app importance and its promotion. As mobile apps are heart of business. 80-90% of business gets from mobile apps its trends to use mobile apps. Find more importance of mobile app at

  • Promotion of mobile application is bit competitive now days because of recent trends for mobile app. so this blog is helpful for everyone who want to know about mobile app promotion. thankyou from

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  • Mobiman Jainu Technologies

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  • Russell Crawford

    Some really good advise. Thanks CopyHackers

    We’ve recently launched a free video based travel app called “Your Guide” which we believe is one of the best travel apps. Its difficult to build a user base with the tens of thousands of travel apps on the market place. Relying on the app stores to build your user base doesn’t work even if your average rating is 4.7 stars and above. Advertising worked, but it cost us about 20 cents per user. Gonna try Tope’s idea using Facebook marketing and to see how that goes.

    Happy to have an open discussion.

    Android Link:
    iOS app is coming soon.

  • Email marketing may be not good as optimizing your app for App Store. We have hired a reliable ASO agency to optimize our app and after a few days, we got a ranking boost.

  • Thanks…

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  • great. Thanks a lot for sharing…

  • Thanks for sharing this these are working fine. Keep doing

  • Some great ideas here in terms of promoting your app, there is just so much competition out there and the app industry is growing day by day. Platform-specific marketing tips can help ensure your app gets noticed and used. As of January 2017, there were over 2.2 million apps in the App Store and over 2.5 million in Google Play Store. The main marketplace for Android apps is Google’s own Play marketplace. However, multiple outlets sell or promote Android apps. Some of the most popular Google Play alternatives include Amazon Appstore for Android, GetJar and SlideME – submit to as many as possible! Also use social media and your website to your advantage.

    Check out some more tips here:

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  • Uttam Singh Jodha

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  • rose gilbert

    Every person have their own opinion and that is very impressive 🙂 Mobile app promotion in order to drive high-quality relevant links and traffic to your mobile app’s landing page or download link. App Store Optimization (ASO) it is one of the best techniques because it includes many things like app title, icon, description, keywords and many more.
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  • Gauri Choudhary

    Very effective ways really helpful thank you for this amazing article appreciated. App marketing & promotion help to get relevant users for your app. It engage your app with target users that helps to get profit for your business. Here i share one more relative article of Top 10 creative ways to promote your app. Learn Creative Ways :

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    Here you can get Android installs and ratings for free. The best deal right now

  • Konstantin_bay

    I really like how works.
    Just buy downloads, ratings and create some great reviews. It will push app rating and people start seeing my app in the search.
    I use because it target US and has lowest prices.

  • Amit Vijayvergiya

    I am totally agree with james on the point for free reviews sites. And I always recommend my clients for ASO and Social media promotions with free features. And believe me its working and we are getting to much mobile apps downloads.

  • Are there companies that will do all this advertising for you?
    I wish to benefit from their scale economies, rather that invest my time to learn all these. I want to promote my screen saver ( ) on the apple store ( )

  • Steven Duo

    Incredible article, I’ve been using a combination of this plus other technique to promote this music player. Arguably the best music player ever.

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  • PuppyBox

    Amazing story you should follow to become successful indie developer. Good work & keep it up.


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  • Andrey Gubin

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  • Mahesh Sheliya

    Thanks for sharing such article for make app successful.
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  • Alex Oczkowski

    Even though this is an older article, there are definitely some useful tips here! By following some of this advice, my latest app “YIiri – Add friends” has managed to steadily increase it’s organic install rate!

    Google Play link:

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  • Romil Mittal

    We tried a lot of the tips mentioned here, and they were very helpful.

    Magic Cleaner, our app which magically identifies junk photos on your phone, was installed by more than 100K users in just a span of 4 weeks.

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  • Pronicsvalli

    nice info .we created an app Viotalk which helps to send video text message and video email of any size without using our internal storage. please review our app viotalk

  • Govind RS

    Great advice and thanks for keeping it short.Do visit our great website for cricket players at all levels.

  • Daniel Kuster

    Nice article. It explains some things you might need to do. I recently released a 3rd person shooter for iOS and Android myself: Battle Storks. My strategy is to focus on Facebook as you can reach many people there:


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  • zionfyre

    Have read a LOT of advice blogs … BUT your was very informative … My Radio Station Listing Platform app at is just getting off of the ground and looking forward to putting your advice to work … THX

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  • Love this post so useful !!!!!!!!!!

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    Lots of great ideas! We launched last month and are hoping to build a user base of active eBay sellers. The app creates eBay listings based on photos submitted. It is available for free during 2015.

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  • Jessica Adams

    Hey Patrick, big thanks for sharing a great article. I feel all these tips like diamonds. We just launched our new app Tattoos For All and we are lacking in many app promotion tactics mentioned in above article. We want to focus aggressively on email marketing and cross promotions within other apps.

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    Have a look @ Sticky Pins. Using Sticky Pins you can easily create quick instant notes, reminders and tasks, and pin them to the notification drawer.

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    Check out my new app, worked at it for a few months.

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  • Silvia Moreno

    Very useful ideas. We just created a dating app for Open relationships (including Polyamory), Tinder style but more specific for ethical non-monogamy. We have a website, completely for free. We just wanted to give folks a space to connect freely. We wanted to track the amount of people logged, which it has been good.

    The app can be found here:

    Android –

    The app just made a few pounds in two days with no promotion. Peanuts 🙂 but we are quite excited. Articles like this one are fantastic to define the next strategy which in our situation is mainly Social media and the cheapest Marketing options. We just started with no much planning. Oh well!. Any ideas are welcomed.

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    I would like to add that translation to multiple languages, both of your app and your app promotion site is important. To build a simple web page in multiple languages, we build

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  • I think this is the hardest think for app developers to do! Especially for indie developers from “small” countries. I made a great game, my users love it (proven by their high scores and in app purchases). My app frequently features in the New Game section for Puzzle and Adventure games but only in the South African store. I live in South Africa, I also read about an Australian developer that experienced the same in the Australian store. The problem is that the South African market is very small and even with featuring I get about 2 or 3 downloads from South Africa. I get about the same from the US. If my app were to feature in the US store I’m sure my results would explode but I can’t find a feasible way to do this. I tried ppc campaigns to get my app to rank in the US, but this is quite expensive (not nearly as expensive as Pay per install marketing campaigns.) and I can’t seem to get enough downloads for my app to rank in the US. I’m not saying the ideas mentioned above is bad, but I can’t see how I would even create a mailing list for my game that would work. This is my game’s site I don’t have other apps I can use to cross promote my game (is there another way to do this?) My game is a free app with in app purchases, should I consider adding ads to my app and then make a paid version without ads (which I can then promote by the above mentioned methods). Also most review sites don’t even look at free games because they think their affiliate links won’t bring in any money. I’ve tried a a couple of new keywords for my version 2 release. I hope this makes an impact. But if you have ANY ideas for me please let me know. The game can be found at

    Any advice would be appreciated.

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  • Andrey Karpov

    Great! Thank you very much! Please check out my latest app. It helps to create new ideas.

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  • Janitha D. Gamage

    This is where I got my app promoted with a video. It worked pretty well and boosted my sales immensely:

    I can guarantee you that it will work definitely.

  • Maina Mania

    very useful!and Take a look at “Fifafy FIFA 2014 Ringtones”-

  • Rich K.

    Very helpful! App Store Optimization has been shown to increase downloads by as much as 10%. Just make sure your primary keyword is listed in your App Title and Description. Make sure not to change the name too often, otherwise word-of-mouth marketing because very difficult. If anyone is interested in a free app that shows restaurant deals and discounts happening at restaurants near your current location, check out the new app LiveDeal. It’s Free!



  • Vazgen Drake

    Excellent tips. Some of them might work actually. The only thing i see is that unless you have a huge budget your not going to easily get your app noticed. i have tried submitting my app to many websites for review and they all come back with ” pay us and we will ” when before same websites where happy to do it for you for free.

    Here is a link to my new released fun game try it out guys.

  • midnight purple games

    check out Bacon Dust on the iPhone app store

  • Wj Kim

    I’m just an individual developer, who doesn’t have much money for promotion.

    I recommend using Youtube videos.

    Don’t make a video introducing your app which users find boring or commercial.

    Instead, make a fun demo video! Use your creativity!

    The link below is a sample.

  • Luciana Abreu

    The user’s reviews help a lot to get to the top.

    Try the getappreviews . net

    It is an site that helps developers to reviews each others apps. I got lot of good insights with it…

    Best regards

  • I think the biggest thing missing from this list is consideration of your revenue model before you start building the app. Whether or not paid channels for customer acquisition is a viable choice when marketing your app will be entirely dependent on the lifetime value of your customer.

    So if you’re selling an app for 99c, how will you get customers? Not through paid channels. But if you’re building a free to play game that fleeces 8 year old kids for all their pocket money to feed a virtual horse then you can easily spare $50 – $60 per customer (especially if you chuck in some free virtual horse feed when they invite their fellow lambs into the slaughterhouse!!)

    Before you invest in the technology, stop to think: How will people find out about it? How may of them will buy? How often will they buy? How much will they spend when they do? (this is my life philosophy lifted from Juan Martitegui’s “business blueprint” course on PROSPECTS, CUSTOMERS, FREQUENCY, VOLUME).

    You won’t actually know the answers to those questions yet, but you can throw a few hypotheticals into a spreadsheet and start seeing how unrealistic your success actually is: if I spend $20k getting this thing built, and I have to pay $2 to acquire a new customer, and each person buys from me once at 99c and I keep 60c of that, and each person tells 5 friends and 3 of them sign up, how long til I make my money back? Will I be able to cover the cost of reaching that point? What will the operating costs be? etc.

    Then try plugging in numbers that are 10 times worse in each direction and see where it gets you!!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Wow, powerful words of encouragement from Mr. Iain Dooley. 😉 Admittedly, this post doesn’t talk about revenue models or complex formulas for validating your idea because it’s about how to promote your [already built] app, which is part 1 of your 4-part series of “how” questions above. But feel free to send me a guest post titled “Why you shouldn’t bother building that app” and I’ll post it promptly. (Following which I’ll post my own essay on the very real and often crippling tension between creating something you love and building something that’s made it to the other end of a formula.)

      • Hahaha how about “Why you shouldn’t even bother getting out of bed in the morning because you can’t win so you shouldn’t try”?

      • Joanna Wiebe

        Outstanding! You’ve outdone yourself, Dools. 😉

  • aaronwatkins

    I have to disagree with Robleh on a couple things. 1 – being featured by Apple is not a “strategy”. Its something you want to have for sure, but without the ability to control it you cannot put it into your plans. I also disagree that advertising is a waste of time and money. Bad advertising is a waste…. smart advertising can help you build a base of users and drive rank which leads to additional visibility and organic growth.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks, Aaron. Here’s Robleh’s full reply to my question about what the single biggest waste of time is when trying to promote apps:

      “I’d say advertising. I focus on ideas that don’t rely on paid advertising but rather apps that stand out from the crowd based on their unique value, design and feature-worthiness.”

      Carson noted that advertising is a great way to get installs, while Heather said that display ads – PPC and banner ads – can be a waste of time *if* you don’t know what you’re doing.

      In the mobile app world as in the web app world – as everywhere in marketing – “To Advertise or Not to Advertise” remains the question. 🙂

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