20 Ways to Promote Your App for Free

Promoting your app is tough work, so we put together 20 ideas for how you can spread the word about your new app or service online for free.

Spreading the word about your brand spanking new app is a tough slog.  For those of us who don’t have the money or connections to get featured on TechCrunch, you got to roll up your sleeves, lather up the proverbial elbow grease and get to hustling to get your name out there.

So to help you Appsters out, here is a list of 20 quick and dirty ideas for promoting your app for free.   This list is by no means exhaustive, or complete, however it should give you some idea of all the different things you can be doing to help get your name out there.

The one rule to remember: don’t spam! There’s a fine line between spreading the word and spamming, nobody likes a spammer, so don’t be one!

  1. Create a web site for your app! Check out Templatic’s iPhone app theme for WordPress to help you get a web site up and running for your app in little time. Having a web site for your app is key, you can’t rely on your app store page to be your central marketing site.
  2. Guest blog on other people’s blogs about anything, it doesn’t even have to be about your app (but that helps). Guest blogging is all about getting inbound links to your app’s web site and increasing its visibility in Google search rankings (that’s called SEO my friends). Check out MyBlogGuest.com to find other blogs that would be willing to trade guest posts with you.
  3. Use Mailchimp to create and measure email marketing campaigns. On your app website you should be collecting email addresses of people interested in your app, use Mailchimp (which is free!) to create an email relationship with these people.
  4. Facebook – It goes without saying: create a Facebook page! After that, check out communities like Startup NYC, Startup SF and App Entrepreneurs where you can promote your app and get feedback.
  5. Twitter –  Tools like TweetAdder to automatically cultivate a Twitter following for your app. TweetAdder is by far my favorite Twitter tool, and for $50 you get a powerful automated tool which follows/unfollows/generates tweets/RTs all according to rules you define. Well worth the tiny $ investment, you better hurry before they switch to a subscription based pricing model!
  6. Twitter – Look to integrate Twitter Cards into content that is shared from your app to Twitter. Cards are a very effective way of engaging users with interesting content right in their Twitter feed. If you have good content coming out of your app, Twitter Cards gives you a powerful way to market it.
  7. Start a Kickstarter campaign. Even if you don’t need the money, a Kickstarter campaign is a very effective way to create awareness for your project in a down-to-earth, awww shucks look at what they are trying to do type of way. We started a Kickstarter for Bahndr, and even though we didn’t make our goal (which was never our plan), it was a great tool for us to spread the word about our app while in development.
  8. Promote your product at Meetups. If you are in NYC or SF, there is seemingly no end to the Meetup events that exist for people to mingle and chat about their startups and products. If you are in NYC, check out the Product Group, Tech in Motion and NY Tech Meetup and see if you can demo your app at one of their events.
  9. Share content from your app on Pinterest and Scoop.it.  Type in “apps” in either of these sites and you’ll be greeted by countless boards that you can participate in.
  10. Google+ – One of the best uses of Google+ is its concept of Communities. Like Facebook and LinkedIn Groups, Google+ communities like Mobile App Developers and Internet Startups give you an easy way to talk and demo your product to a waiting and ready audience.
  11. LinkedIn – LinkedIn has a treasure trove of skill-based and interest-based groups that people participate in. The beauty of LinkedIn is that by its professional nature, you can target very accurately people with certain skillsets, educational backgrounds and professional roles through its groups. Check out the Mobile Apps, MobileMonday and Mobile Start-ups
  12. Reddit – Oh that mysterious temptress Reddit. Reddit is the sexy mama that can bring all your crazy fantasies to life, but just as quickly turn on you and leave you alone and shamed. By that I mean sub-reddits like /r/startups, r/iosprogramming, r/androidapps, r/apphookup all have very active communities of users, who if they like your app can bring you lots of attention. However, don’t spam these boards and don’t try to game your post rankings, that’s when Reddit will turn on you! Use the Metareddit tool to help you search for other Reddit communities that might be interested in your app.
  13. Post to online forums like Business Week’s Business Exchange, American Express’ Open Forum or Startup Hub. If you are creating blog posts on your app web site, posting to these forums is a great way to get traffic to your site
  14. If your app is still in a beta phase, submit it to Beta List, a site devoted to spreading the word on new products and services that are still in the beta phase.
  15. Put a sticker on your business card. Yup, this is old school but it works. If you are going to be out and networking, get some Avery labels, put your app icon and QR code on it and stick em on the back of your business card.

    Never underestimate the power of a sticker on a business card.

  16. Pitch your app to any one of the countless app review sites out there. App reviews are a great way to get people to try out your app. Be warned though, these sites are generally flooded with requests for reviews, so you need to get creative with your pitches and be relentless in your pursuit!
  17. Host a booth at a tech expos like NY Tech Day. This event happened last week here in NYC, but every year there is a giant exhibition of tech startups and companies. This year there were a lot of app startups that had booths and were promoting their product.
  18. Comment on articles on larger online sites like Business Insider, Gizmodo and BGR. See an article that is tangentially relatable to your app? Comment on it! And maybe throw in a reference to your app web site at the end. These sites get a ton of traffic, and you’d be shocked how much traffic you can drive to your site with a well placed comment.
  19. HackerNews is a great site where “hackers” trade articles and knowledge, but be warned, the bar for submission here is higher than a straight marketing post, and you can get flamed if you don’t meet it.
  20. StumbleUpon – This is another social bookmarking service that can get your app’s web site a lot of attention if you share some interesting content and a few other people ‘like’ your submissions. So roll your grandmother out to the keyboard and get her to upvote your Stumbles!

Know of any other tips and tricks to help promote your app or other service? Let me know in the comments. Remember kids, sharing is caring.

About Bobby Gill

I am the creator of Bahndr, founder of New York based app development lab, Blue Label Labs and editor at Idea to Appster. I like crepes and I am fascinated by big data.