When smartphone apps were in their infancy, it seemed like an app’s mere existence would cause it to sell. Users went absolutely bananas for barcode scanners, flashlights, and anything that would let them make funny photo edits. It is both a blessing and a curse that the app market has matured and progressed past this initial frenzy. A blessing, because now features like flashlights and photo editing come standard on smartphones, and a curse, because anyone trying to market a new app is up against some fierce competition.
When you have a great product, it will sell – so long as you know how to reach your target audience. With the odd exception, smartphone apps aren’t typically advertised on TV, or in print. Instead, app marketing happens right where the apps live: online. This is great news for the startup that has little to no budget for ads. You can definitely market your apps for free, or at least on the cheap, assuming you know where to find your customers.
With that in mind, here’s a list of 100 ways to market your apps without breaking the bank.

  1. ASO – App Store Optimization. Learn it, and live it! Check to make sure users can find your app easily.
  2. Got a Cool App? Get a Cool Title! – Often overlooked, the title of your app is a powerful marketing tool. The catchier, the better!
  3. Get a Cool Description too! – Hook users right away, and make sure they’re excited to download your app.
  4. Get Your Icon on Point – This is the internet, and the “Don’t judge a book by its cover” rule does not apply. Invest some time and thought into the look of your app’s icon. It’s the first thing people will see on the app store.
  5. Now Put That Icon Everywhere – Need a background image for your social media sites? Boom. Need user icons? Done. Keep your branding as visible as possible.
  6. Make Use of the App Store Platform – Did you know you have up to 5 slots for screenshots on the Apple App store? Make sure you’re using all of them.
  7. Let The Pros Handle The Screenshots – Snapping quick pics and posting them in the App Store isn’t your best bet. Let a professional select, clean up and edit your feature screenshots.
  8. Fiverr –There are a ton of gigs on Fiverr to help you promote your app.
  9. Quicktime – Need that super cool preview video for the App Store? Quicktime will help you make it for free.
  10. Learn From Negative Reviews – What are people complaining about in their negative App Store or Google Play Store reviews? Better fix it! Mention these fixes in your newest updates.
  11. Facebook – Yes, having an account for you, and for the app are great ideas, but also check out some communities that might be interested in your app, and join the dicussion.
  12. Create a Facebook Community for the App – This should be a place where fans of the app can come together to discuss the app or ask questions.
  13. Twitter – Short and to the point. People respond very well to tweets – maybe even better than marketing emails!
  14. Tweet at People or Companies with Large Followings – This could get you retweeted, or it could get you noticed by some of their followers.
  15. Follow Others In Your Industry – Follow other app creators, or people relevant to your app’s subject matter. Tweet at them when appropriate, of course.
  16. Tumblr – This blog platform has a loyal following. Host a Tumblr about your app, and users can reblog or like your content.
  17. Imgur – This image hosting site can host still images, animated gifs, comic strips or even photo essays. Easy to share, this platform is a great way to get screenshots or animated clips out there.
  18. Hashtags – Witty hashtags have a way of taking off. Create hashtags for your app, and you can easily track how they’re trending.
  19.  Hootsuite – Having trouble keeping up with all this social media marketing? This tool schedules your posts for you.
  20.  Reddit – Go hit up a subreddit that’s geared toward your app (or create one specifically for your app!). You’ll get great exposure, and also some great feedback.
  21. Instagram – If you’re looking to target a younger audience, Instagram is the place to do it. Lots of younger people left Facebook after their grandmothers joined. Images can get messages across as well as text can, for the right demographic.
  22. YouTube – If pictures work well, then videos work REALLY well. Punchy, tightly edited videos go a long way in getting your ads out there.
  23. Engage With Youtube Commenters – Youtube videos get a lot of comments. You can easily draw in, and maintain your viewers this way.
  24. Vine – 6 second videos might not seem like much, but if they are attention grabbing, you can count on them being shared. A popular hashtag on Vine is always #howto, so app tutorials will do great!
  25. Integrate Social Media into the App – Allow your app users to post updates, pictures or achievements right to their social media accounts from your app. Each time they post, they’re advertising for you.
  26. Quora – This question and answer site is great way to present a kind of “living” FAQ about your app.
  27. Yahoo Answers – This site allows you to search for people who have been asking about your app, and you can answer them.
  28. ProductHunt – The entire purpose of this site is for users to find and discover new products. Get some users talking about your app.
  29. Pinterest – This virtual pin board site tends to target creative and imaginative users. Create inspiring boards for your app, to encourage re-pins, likes, and followers.
  30. Localize – Translate your app into as many different languages as possible.
  31. Gather Emails – Your landing page should encourage visitors to sign up for email alerts about your app.
  32. Launchrock.com – Not a webdesigner? No budget? This website allows startups to create a free landing page! Take advantage.
  33. Infographics – Infographics can be a part of your landing page, part of your email campaign, or even part of your social media posts. The bottom line is, they work. Make sure you have lots of cool examples on hand.
  34. Create a Website – This one might seem obvious, but don’t forget to go beyond just a landing page. Offer your readers a more immersive experience.
  35. Create Viral Content – Easier said than done? The main trait of viral content is that it generates strong emotions in readers. They either agree or disagree… passionately. That drives a lot of shares.
  36. Create a Press Kit – As part of your landing page, make sure you offer an easily accessible press kit.
  37. Create a Polished Press Release – When you are ready to begin creating buzz for your launch, write a polished press release to send out to media outlets.
  38. Press Outreach – This should begin a few weeks before you are ready to launch your app. Be sure to target websites relevant to your app.
  39. Host a Blog – Blog content should offer readers helpful or valuable information, while also directing readers back to your paid content (in this case, your app.)
  40. Do a Blog Tour – Don’t have time to host a blog of your own? Consider going on a blog tour. Reach out to other bloggers to see if they’d like to post a written interview about you.
  41. Keywords, Keywords, Keywords! – No matter how you choose to get your online content across, make sure you are making appropriate use of keywords to drive more readers to your site.
  42. Send Marketing Emails – Once your mailing list is established, send emails encouraging readers to download your app.
  43. Send Email Reminders – For readers who signed up before the launch of your app, remind them to download it when it goes live. Also let them know about any updates or new features.
  44. Optimize Your Email Signature – Mention your app, your blog, your website, your social media accounts, etc.
  45. Be Available – Make sure that if prospective users want to contact you (or your company), that they can. Give them every possible avenue to do so.
  46. Host a Podcast – Provide entertaining audio content that relates to your app.
  47. Do Guest Spots on Podcasts – If you can’t host your own podcast, consider appearing as a guest on other, relevant podcasts. This gets you some great exposure to established listener bases.
  48. Dubbler.com – Don’t have time for a full podcast? Try Dubbler. Create 60 second audio content which can be easily shared.
  49. Bumper Stickers – Advertise your app on your own car with a bumper sticker.
  50. Start Forum Threads – Go to pertinent forum sites, and post about your app there. You can also post more general conversation, but mention the app in your signature block.
  51. Respond to Forum Comments – Don’t just post and disappear! Make sure you engage the commenters.
  52. Get Your App Reviewed – Send emails to app reviewers and ask them to post a review on their site.
  53. Partner With Other Developers – When your app launches, this is a great opportunity for cross promotion with other developers. Swap ads on your apps to reach wider audiences.
  54. Tapdaq – This is a site which allows you to arrange for a cross promotion.
  55. Pretio – This is a service which allows you to exchange installs. For every ad you feature in your app, you earn “credit”. These credits allow your app to be featured elsewhere.
  56. Medium.com – You can submit content to this site, and potentially have a piece about your app featured as an editorial.
  57. Mashable – A great tech blog site. Reach out to this site as part of your press strategy.
  58. Gizmodo – Part of Gawker media, Gizmodo has a great following. Reach out for press, or engage readers in the (very active) comments sections.
  59. LifeHacker – Another Gawker site, this one features stories about products, services and apps that make life easier.
  60. Write (or Get Listed in) Listicles – Short for “list articles”, these bite-sized articles get info across to readers in a fun (and highly shareable) way.
  61. Become a Presence in Website Comment Sections – Go to relevant sites, and use the comments sections to talk about your app. Engage people in conversations, as opposed to just posting a link and leaving.
  62. Google Hangouts – These are video chats that can host multiple users. This could be a great way to host a Q&A, or to do a live demo.
  63. Business Cards – Many businesses offer a free initial order of business cards. You can have cards printed up featuring your app’s promo codes.
  64. Share Interesting Content – Don’t just sell to your social media followers. Offer them helpful links and content.
  65. Offer Up Related Links – If your followers are interested in your app, they’re interested in your app’s subject matter too. Keep them engaged by sharing related links and additional content.
  66. User Polls – These are a great, informal way to keep your followers engaged with you, while also getting valuable feedback.
  67. Tip of the Day – Does your app have features that users may not know about? Share some cool tips with your followers.
  68. Engage Followers – Never use social media to talk “at” your followers. Conversations are always better. Followers feel more valued when they get responses.
  69. Retweet – If you see cool, funny or interesting tweets that pertain to your app, retweet them to your followers.
  70. Periscope – Another way to host live app demos. This platform is gaining popularity.
  71. Katch.me – This service archives your livestreams so followers can go back to watch them later.
  72. Memes – Create catchy, funny memes to share. This will bring more attention to your social media accounts.
  73. Share Testimonials – As positive reviews for your app come in, share them with your followers.
  74. Know Any Celebs? Get Endorsements – This may be a long shot, but it certainly helps!
  75. Pound the Pavement – Is there a convention or other event in town that might attract your target demo? Get over there and begin handing out advertising materials in person.
  76. Giveaways – These don’t have to be huge or expensive. People will appreciate everything from a pencil, to a magnet, to a tote bag. Get your company or app name out there by putting it on some cool merchandise.
  77. Promotional Materials – Is your app about cooking?  Maybe offer branded spatulas. Gardening apps might offer printed planting guides. Make it something useful and pertinent.
  78. Contests – Host contests over social media. Offer up free download codes to the winners.
  79. Promotional Pricing – Offer discounted app prices to your early followers.
  80. Offer Free Trials – Trial versions are great, especially for those on the fence about purchasing. They can upgrade to the full version once they’ve tried it out.
  81. Create a Barcode – Let users download your app quickly by creating scannable barcodes.
  82. LinkedIn – Share your accomplishments. Post about upcoming launch dates, and even blog about the design experience.
  83. Help Other App Creators – You can host online app creation clinics, post how-to guides. If they liked the materials, ask them to talk about your app on social media.
  84. Newsletters and Email Blasts – Keep users and perspective users up to date on the latest upgrades and changes. Maybe remind those free users to buy the full version.
  85. Snapchat – Maybe a little quirky for older users, but hugely popular with younger users. Send pictures of brief videos out to your followers.
  86. Launch Party – Host a fun get together when the app launches.
  87. SlideShare – Use this site to share PowerPoint slides with other users.
  88. Team Bios – People like to see behind the scenes stuff. Just a few sentences about everyone on the team can make users feel more connected.
  89. Easter Eggs – Let your users know that there are a few cool secrets hidden in your app. Offer congrats to those who find them.
  90. Skype – Video chat with followers, or fellow app creators.
  91. Banner Ads – These cost money, but not too much. Good old advertising still works!
  92. Friends and Family – Word of mouth is still the best advertising there is. Might as well start with those closest to you.
  93. IGN.com – This site is especially important if your app is a game. Even if you can’t necessarily get your app featured, you can still engage with potential users in the comments section.
  94. Trade Shows – Go to these events to exchange ideas with other app creators, while also reaching more potential users.
  95. Spotify – Create cool playlists based on the theme of your app. A little unorthodox, but especially helpful if your app is music based.
  96. Host App Design Classes – You could do this in person at local schools, in your community, or even online. It also becomes a great opportunity to advertise the app you created.
  97. Keep Content Fresh – It is a lot of work getting all of your web content up and running, but don’t let it stagnate. Keep everything updated and current.
  98. “Please Like and Share!” – asking your users to like and share the content you create is a great way to spread your content to a wider audience.
  99. Ask for Ratings – asking your users to write to the app in the iTunes or Google play store is one of the most efficient ways of getting your app on the top charts.

Making apps and marketing apps are two entirely different skillsets. It might have been a snap for you to program the next big app, but it can only take off if people begin downloading it. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities like the ones listed above, which you to market your apps without putting out more money. Good luck!