How To Market An App From Scratch

Startup Mobile
Your new app is great, but can you market it?

There seem to be more apps than ever today.

Right now, messaging apps seem to be growing the fastest.

A new study finds that 36% of smartphone owners use at least one messaging app.

Facebook remains one of the most popular apps. Instagram and Pinterest have seen incredible growth the last couple years.

Other apps are doing well too including apps that are forums, news aggregators and other information apps.

If you’re in the business of creating apps, for mass use or for a niche market use, it’s great to have the opportunity to win over an audience. The demand is there, but there is also tough competition.

People only have so much time and even if your app isn’t like Facebook you’re still competing with Facebook and other popular apps. It’s like if you own a restaurant. You might be the only Tex-Mex restaurant in town and that’s good, but you still have to get people to choose your restaurant over other restaurants or eating at home or eating at friend’s cookouts or whatever.

If you have a new app then doing I’m going to share the process you can take to market your app so that people are aware of it, see the need they have for it and know how to get it.

Let’s get into it.

1. Friend Encouragement

It seems like many apps that get a good sized audience are the ones that encourage use with a community or friends and family.

The biggest example is Facebook, which is one of the biggest apps out there. The whole concept of Facebook is connecting with people you know and staying in touch with messaging, updates, etc.

We also saw above that messaging apps are some of the fastest growing apps. That’s at least partly because the nature of the app encourages use with other people. When one person finds out about it they start using it and they have to encourage the people they know to use it as well.

If your app is already developed is there something built-in that encourages people to use it with others?

You have to determine if that messaging or collaboration or whatever it is, is something that really needs to happen.

It’s not easy to do. It can be, but it’s not easy. If you don’t have this built-in to your app you can still be successful, but when you hear about word of mouth marketing it’s really about people needing to do something with others.

2. Piggybacking

Alright, now let’s move on to marketing an app whether people need to use it together or not.

Piggybacking is something that has worked for businesses for a long time, but it can work especially well today with apps. There are a number of apps that are built solely to enhance another app.

Instagram is a good example. It wasn’t built to enhance Facebook, but Instagram used Facebook login information for new users to signup. Facebook users were comfortable using Facebook so there was little barrier for them to signup for Instagram. There was a tie-in there or a piggybacking situation and it partly helped Instagram to grow until Facebook ended up buying the app.

Look for apps out there that your app can help. Make it irresistible for another app to not get excited about working with you. Find one that is popular or on the rise and piggyback on their success to grow your app.

3. Public Relations

Next up is public relations and it’s all about providing your story in a way that is interesting to a news publication’s audience.

You have to go into public relations thinking about what the publications want and that is something their audience will find interesting, useful, entertaining, etc.

PR can be about local publications. That can be a good place to start. Typically the local news is interested in local startups. You can also get involved and sponsor local events or charity events and get involved that way.

You can also do this on a wider level or niche level online with blogs and industry websites. One thing publications need is good content. They need stories. There is pressure to make that happen.

You can help out by fulfilling their need by making yourself a good story.

What I like to do for all these situations is look at the stories the publications are putting out whether it’s video, text or whatever. See what they’re doing. That keys you into what they’re interested in doing in the future.

Then frame your story around that format and you’ll make yourself appealing to the publications.

4. Guesting

Guesting has been something that’s been successful for me with Ghost Blog Writers, but it works with just about any business. The idea is to build on the PR strategy we discussed above, but it’s about doing the guest writing yourself in the form of guest posting and about being a guest on videos and podcasts.

Think of how it works with movie stars or musicians. The first thing they do when they have a movie coming out is they do interviews on late-night shows and in magazines. They’re trying to build buzz for the movie.

90% of the time in those interviews they’re talking about regular things that people want to know and the other 10% of the time they’re talking about what they’re selling.

The trick is figuring out what your audience wants to know and then providing that content. Then leaving a little bit of room to discuss what you’re selling.

In the online world a good way to do this is to find the questions your target audience is asking in relation to their interests, their jobs and things like that; whatever would help them with their lives.

Then provide answers with guest posts, guest podcast interviews, etc.

Use the same strategy to find the sites and see what the popular articles and podcasts have been about. Then find an angle on those same topics that haven’t been discussed yet and go for it. Publications will want that story and so will their audience.

5. Content Building

Finally we’re going to get into a long-term strategy for your app. You can do the stuff above and get some good traction right away and for the long-term, but in the meantime it’s a good idea to build some long-term assets for your app.

This would be building a website with content. That might be blog posts, guides, podcasts, videos, etc.

Again, the best strategy is to identify the questions your target audience has and to answer those questions with your content.

You don’t need to talk about your app. If you’re targeting the right audience with your questions and answers you’ll bring the right people to your site and they’ll be interested in your app. They just need to discover it and that’s where the content comes in.

It can take time to build the traffic coming to the content especially with organic search, but that’s why this is a long-term strategy. And if you take the time to invest (which others aren’t willing to do) you can build a really strong stream of new users that will last a long time.


Getting an app completed is an exciting thing!

But now the challenge is marketing that app. It would be great if the app was one of those launch it and watch the users flood in, but that’s less than 1% of apps.

The real work comes in the marketing where you’re building users one at a time until you reach some momentum. And the steps above are ones you can use to really grow your app. Follow those steps and be willing to put in the effort and you’ll be in good shape.

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