How to Promote an App for Free?
A lot of people want to save money and promote the app with a minimum budget. Or even better for free. If this sounds like you, you’ll like this article. Let’s discuss the basic tools: content marketing, SEO, ASO, getting featured, PR, and more.
Naturally, completely free app promotion is a myth. In fact, you’re paying with your time. Time is money. This is why many of the suggested ways to promote apps are free but require your time. Let’s have a look at the most common tools.
Content marketing can work like magic, but you won’t see results right away. At least in six months — so be patient. Even before the release, you should have a website with a news section, links to social media, and a press kit (about this later). After the release, all you have to do is attach the app store links to your site.
What to write about? At the start — share your development process. Don’t be afraid to show “behind the scenes.” Share not only your progress but also your mistakes. Coping with difficulties is more engaging from a storytelling point of view, it attracts more interest from the audience. If you don’t have the opportunity to create a lot of content, repackage it for different platforms. Even popular apps do this.
When you start to grow and develop your community, you will have UGC (User Generated Content). For example, Flo periodically makes reposts with tags from its users, the iNaturalist app tweets observations of the day made by users, and the mobile game Braindom engages users via contests.
Tip. Monitor not only your competitors but also other apps and cool products. What formats can you borrow?
Indie mobile games most often require promotion. Usually they’re developed by small teams with no resources for promotion. One of the most famous examples of a nonchalant attitude toward app promotion is Among Us. Everyone knows it now. But if it were not for the occasional stream of a famous blogger, the game would have remained unknown. The moral of the story is simple — it’s better not to rely on luck and to plan for your success.
Having a community is important for all kinds of apps, but for mobile games, it’s a must. Minecraft is a perfect example. The developers have always encouraged fans to collaborate, communicate, and even suggest their own ideas for game development. And this is the right approach because 84% of people make a choice about buying something following personal advice from friends, family, and like-minded people. Minecraft immediately realized that every user is a potential media resource. They tried in every way not just to motivate users to create content, but to teach them to do it and provide them with the right tools. For example, in 2013, they announced a partnership with Twitch, so that minecrafters could easily record and publish their gaming.
Be open, share your news, come up with mechanics to create UGC, and repost the fan art. Study case studies of successful mobile games. How did they get popular? Introduce ideas that resonate with you. Don’t forget about TikTok. You can initiate some kind of a challenge, support a trend, or post a soundtrack of your game. For example, Among Us has one. The fans posted it. Why not be proactive?
Content without SEO at the beginning of the promotion is unacceptable. You need to let the algorithms know about you ASAP. Here is a necessary minimum for the internal optimization of the site:
- Remove automatically created duplicate pages.
- Properly arrange the meta tags, title tags, and alt descriptions for the images.
- Create a sitemap.
- Explore the microdata formats.
- Make sure that the website is fast.
After internal SEO, focus on external — get as many links as possible to your site from other pages. Of course, it’s better that they were from the quality and trustworthy sites. It’s about PR — about that later.
It’s also essential to SEO-optimize the content. Select important keywords and phrases that you will be searched for by users. Make content targeted at these queries. That doesn’t mean the content has to be keyword spam. On the contrary, it should be high-quality, expert, and well-structured. Preferably the content should consist not only of texts but also of various types of media (images, charts, tables, videos).
Organic traffic in the app store can be attracted through several channels. If users find your app using a keyword, this is the Search channel. If they download the app through app store recommendations, top charts, and editorial selections, it’s the Browse channel (in the App Store) or the Explore channel in Google Play.
How to boost your search traffic?
By improving app visibility, ASO helps boost the amount of organic traffic from Search. Algorithms scan your page and show it for the detected keywords. This is how indexing works. In the image below you can see that different app stores scan different text elements of the app page. Also, they have different effects on indexing. For example, title and subtitle/short description impact most of all.
ASO is the most budget-friendly way to promote. It’s like SEO in the world of app stores. In a word, it’s a must! ASO allows users to find your app among millions of others. The competition in the app stores is fierce. You need optimization to become more visible and to convert views into installs. Pay special attention to the textual and visual elements.
Start by doing a quick and free ASO audit with Checkaso. You’ll find out how well your app product page is optimized. Plus, the virtual assistant Appy will give you effective tips on how to improve your app visibility. A free 7-day trial is available to you, during which you can gain a lot of insights on app promotion. Sign up here.
How to boost your Explore Traffic?
Mobile games get more organic traffic not via Search because they have fewer topic-related keywords than other apps. Most likely you will be looking for a game by genre, theme, or specific brand. The number of such queries is limited. The main traffic is attracted via recommendations. This is the Browse/Explore channel the main “source” of organic traffic for mobile games especially.
First, to drive more Explore traffic increase the Similar Apps Visibility (when your app is suggested as a similar one). Use the GNL API on Google Play to determine which category the app store classifies your app by its text description. Rewrite your full description If the algorithms don’t put your app in the relevant category. This highly affects Explore traffic. The “Similar Apps” section can bring in a lot of downloads.
Second, grow your positions in the top charts. To do this, you need to work with ratings and reviews, adapt your graphics for category trends, do seasonal ASO (adapting the app page with some holiday or news-worthy event), follow the app store guidelines, and work through a long description in GNL).
Raiting and reviews
Ask your users to leave a review on Google Play or App Store. The main thing is to set up the trigger message correctly. Ask for feedback when the user has taken some action (like ordered and received delivery) or logged into the app for the third time in some short period (especially engaged). Positive reviews improve your average rating and drive purchase decisions. Moreover, they impact the app’s visibility. The higher your rating the better your position in search results.
Read more about how to work with ratings and reviews in this article.
Getting featured will bring you a lot of new users. Getting into the editorial selection is not as difficult as it seems. Here are the key recommendations:
- Update your app on a regular basis.
- The app should be stable. This is important because app stores have a vested interest in offering users the best content and user experience. An increase in crashes can lead to a dramatic drop of a mobile game for all keywords and pessimization of displays in selections. The app is reviewed for up to 6 weeks, so you need to hold out that time without technical errors at all costs.
- The app is rated above 4.5. When problems occur, send users to support to minimize negative ratings and feedback.
- Work on graphic ASO. At the very least, your icon and screenshots must be of high resolution, readable, and meet the requirements of the app stores.
- Try to fill out the application with enthusiasm. Remember that your texts will be read not by search engine algorithms, but by real people.
We wrote about how to get featured in detail in this post.
Low-budget ad promotion tips
If you still have a minimum budget, we’ll tell you how not to waste money for nothing and produce results.
1. Start with Facebook and Instagram. With Ads Manager you can set up a simple ad campaign for testing in half a day.
2. Invest a small budget to test all channels ($100-$150 per channel). See which one brings the most conversions during a week. That’s the channel that you can focus on afterward.
3. Implement tracking and attribution tools in advance. For example, Appsflyer, Adjust, Kochava and Branch. So you’ll see which channel brings the most or least conversions.
Collect a comprehensive press kit on your site. It’s like a CV for your app. Briefly describe the functionality and key features. Lay out logos, icons, and screenshots to download, and provide links to social media, promo videos, and main contacts.
Rami Ismail, an indie developer from the Netherlands, has developed a simple tool that you can use to quickly create a press kit. As Chroniric did, for example.
This is a particularly good endeavor in conjunction with generating newsworthy content. Publish news about your product. Share your numbers. Comment on the events of your industry. Even seasonal ASO (adapting the product and the app product page to major holidays) can be newsworthy info. We wrote about seasonal ASO in more detail here.
Any project needs word of mouth aka publications and links. Here you can read about how to get a review of your app — we have collected more than forty media outlets and YouTube channels to get a review. Don’t limit yourself to media outlets about the mobile industry — look for media for your target audience. Have you developed a nice fitness app? Then you obviously need to get into a sports magazine selection or a review from a blogger in that niche.
Also, don’t forget about podcasts — research shows that podcast ads are becoming more and more effective. If you don’t have a budget for promotion at all, you can be a podcast speaker. You need stories and expertise. At the same time, many small but promising channels pop up every day. At first, their ads will be low-cost. At the same time, such podcasts are a long-term source of traffic. New listeners will go back to the previous episodes and click on the links (the main thing is to agree on the link in the description).
- Create a website and start maintaining accounts on social media as soon as possible.
- Do SEO. Do it at least at a basic level.
- Don’t forget to create the press kit. Try to get a review of your app.
- Engage in content marketing, try different channels, build a community, and encourage users to create UGC.
- Look for partnerships and collaborations. What projects do you have a similar audience with? To whom might you be mutually helpful?
- Do ASO. Drive both Search and Explore Traffic.
- Prepare your app for featuring (rating, stability, quality ASO) and submit for it.
- Test the ad platforms with the minimum budget and leave the channels with the highest conversion rate.
We’re always happy to help you promote your app. How can we do it?
- CheckMyAso is a free tool for analyzing the quality of your app’s ASO.
- A free 7-day trial on the Checkaso platform will provide accurate analytics and plenty of insights for app promotion.
- Checkaso consulting service: if low-cost promotion is not for you and you need quick and reliable results. We will promote your app on the App Store, Google Play, and AppGallery.