There are a number of options for marketing your app for free, as well as advertising on a small budget.

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This story originally appeared on Bizness Apps

App owners who created an app to effectively communicate with their customers often struggle to promote their app and acquire loyal users. The goal is to provide customers with an exceptional experience, but if they don’t know about the app, they won’t be able to take advantage of its benefits.  However, more often than not, small businesses don’t have sufficient budget for elaborate app promotion. So is it possible to acquire and engage users, as well as gain new customers, without having to spend a lot? Let’s review the possibilities:

1. Use the existing channels to the fullest

The first step in the lean promotion strategy should be tapping into the channels you already own. Use the existing opportunities to provide users with information about where they can download your app and how they can benefit from it. One option is to drive mobile app traffic from your website. Research shows that there is a correlation between the number of downloads of an app and the Google ranking of the company website behind the app. More precisely, the more popular the website is, the more traffic goes to the app from organic search. The actionable advice here is to make the app, and its download link featured throughout the website. Not just in the footer or awkwardly placed somewhere on the page as an afterthought. Take time to ensure consistent app branding across your web channels.

Similarly, email newsletters are a powerful channel for notifying your customers and subscribers about new opportunities to stay in touch with your business. Users now prefer to read emails on mobile devices, rather than desktop, as reported by Email Monday. Notifying users about your app via email and inviting them to communicate with your brand on mobile provides them with an even more convenient communication channel.

Effective promotion strategies combine offline and online channels. Think about this: customers prefer to use brand apps while shopping in the brick-and-mortar store, according to a BI report, for additional information and reviews. So feature the call-to-action to download the app in your establishment and your advertising materials, including business cards, flyers and posters. This is an excellent opportunity to deliver a better experience for your customers.

2. Discover the power of ASO

App store optimization is essential for driving organic downloads for your application. And for small business owners, mastering the art of ASO can help acquire more customers without having to spend on advertising budgets. ASO has become a discipline of its own, with numerous tips, tricks and best practices to enhance the performance of the app among competitors and improve the ranking.

The optimization “rules” depend on the app store in question, so the strategies for Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store differ, not counting smaller app marketplaces such as Amazon, Samsung and Opera. Comparing strategiesfor different app stores, it is important to pay attention to the store algorithm, which changes the priority of elements in the app store page. For example, Google Play is more flexible with the keywords. It’s possible to feature the keywords in app title, description, URL and package name. The Apple App Store, on the other hand, is more strict, limiting the number of keywords and constraining them to a specific field. Apple also discourages repeating keywords in app title and description, contrary to Google.

With that in mind, app owners should make an extra effort to adapt their app pages to each of the stores and ensure that they get a high ranking. The basic rules, applicable to all app stores, are to make sure the app store page accurately represents your application, that the description is clear and concise and target audience can easily understand what you offer. A compelling description and visually appealing images should add allure to the application. By making your app visible in a chosen category, you can get new users and turn them into customers for your business.

3. Reach out to the right media

Users crave relevant content, especially when it provides real value to their daily life. Telling them how your app can help solve their problems and satisfy their needs both benefits the audience and drives new customers to your business. So the next step is to share that message with as many people as possible and press coverage can help you do just that. However, the mistake many small business owners make is going after big publications with worldwide reach, rather than starting with local and niche media outlets that allow access to specific segments of the audience and are more likely to be interested in your solution.  

How do you find the right media? It can be as easy as doing a Google search for keywords that describe your app or business niche and discovering media outlets that cover relevant topics. Searching topic ranking websites, such as Alltop, is also helpful. Keep an eye on competitors and follow their press coverage with tools like Mention or Google Alerts to keep a finger on the pulse of industry news and get ideas about your next PR outreach campaign. Compile a list of relevant media and start contacting them to pitch your story.

4. Advertise wherever you can

Finally, there is the option of running ad campaigns. Small budgets limit opportunities for testing and experimentation, so marketers should concentrate on researching their audience as meticulously as possible. Starting a lean advertising campaign is best done on Facebook or Instagram: the platform allows running highly targeted campaigns with minimal funds and discovering the audience segment that engages with the app.

After running several campaigns on these social media channels, start considering moving to other solutions in order to target a broader audience. Advertising platforms have experienced managers that can help with developing creatives for the campaign and running ads with maximum efficiency. Small budgets have their constraints, and therefore it’s important to choose a reliable partner who would supply quality traffic and engaged users. Keep in mind, you need to look past app downloads and app traffic too if the final goal is not only to boost the popularity of the app, but to reach out to new potential customers. Programmatic advertising might be the next step for mobile app owners when they are ready for advertising on scale. Meanwhile, small budget entrepreneurs can concentrate on self-serve platforms or managed advertising services.  


There are a number of options for marketing your app for free, as well as advertising on a small budget. The key takeaway for a smart mobile strategy is using a combination of channels to prolong the effect of the campaign. Other than that, knowing the audience and being able to create the “ideal customer persona” is a must for a lean marketing strategy.

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