Five Free Ways to Market Your App

Our guest post this week is written by Karen Robertson, creator of the storybook app “Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island”. She also blogs at on topics relevant to interactive digital books and app marketing. In this post she shares tips on generating buzz for your app, on a budget. 

Anyone who has a family friendly app in the App Store will know that marketing the app is as hard, if not harder than making the app. We’ve sold our storybook app, “Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island,” every single day for the past 10 months (except one) and have ranked as high as #5 in the US App Store, despite NOT getting any major publicity for our app. We have achieved this through a continued marketing effort.

In this post, I share with you some of our favourite FREE marketing techniques we use. These techniques cost time, but not money. First though, the most important factor to successful app marketing is that the app has to be terrific! Without a quality app, you won’t get the reviews you will need to help your app succeed and you won’t have people talking about your app.

Following are five free ways you can market your app and a few brief thoughts on each.

1. App Store Tools

If you’re working on an app, make sure you use the tools the App Store gives you. If you’re already in the App Store, you might want to re-visit some of these. After researching this topic, I went back and re-wrote our description and we’re redesigning our icon.

App name –If possible, use key words in your title.
App icon – Would your icon pop out if it were on the Top 200 page?
App description –The first lines are critical. Highlight awards, key sound bites from reviewers and what makes your app unique.
Keywords – Use key words you think people would use to find your app.
Screen shots –Showcase what makes your app unique and your quality artwork.
Ratings and Reviews – Continually invite people to rate your app and provide reviews.
Promo codes – Apple gives you 50. Use them! And if you run out, release an update and get 50 more.
Updates – When you release an update, don’t just write “minor bug fixes” in the description. Describe how the how the update enhances the user experience.

2. Price Sales

Consider occasionally dropping your price to drive downloads.  There are sites that track and report when apps go on sale.

3. Review Sites

Request reviews from review sites. These sites get a lot of reviews so follow their submission guidelines and if you have a demo video, let them know. You can submit to children’s app review sites, general app review sites, mommy blog sites, book review sites (if you have a book app), gaming sites. Think outside the box.

4. Social Media

Just about everyone has heard of social media and is involved in some way. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, blogs or forums, social media delivers a new way to connect with your target audience.

The golden rule is that when it comes to using social media, it’s all about building relationships and sharing information or your expertise. Yes you can use social media to promote your app as well, but don’t think of social media only as a promotional tool.

5. Free Public Relations (PR) Options

PR is unpaid publicity about you or your app. What I love about PR is the credibility that comes behind a good story. The downside of PR is that you have no control over whether or not a story is published and little control over when it’s published, where it’s published or what is said.

The most important thing to know about doing PR for an app is that it’s NOT about your app! A  journalist is interested in either what your book can DO for their reader or they are interested in your personal story.

You can pitch your story directly to journalists. You can send a press release out via free press release distribution services ( or are two options). Or, you can contribute to an article. Sign up for Help a Report Out (HARO – or Sourcebottle ( and get daily listings of stories that journalists are looking for contributors on. Submit where relevant.

Interested in learning more? Check out for Karen’s app marketing reports and eBooks.

16 Replies to “Five Free Ways to Market Your App”

  1. This is a great starter guide for new app developers, thanks for sharing your expertise. Your advice about pitching your personal story and not your APP resonated with me in particular, and I think I will try harder with this approach.

  2. @Ole, good suggestion!
    @Julie, log into itunes connect, you can request promo codes from there. I forget exactly the location, but it was through iTunes Connect.

  3. Great idea Ole, I’m happy to write 5 Paid Ways to Market Your Book App and maybe I should write 5 Ways to Waste Your Money too!

    If anyone has any marketing case studies you want to tell me about for possible inclusion in my blog/book, feel free to contact me via my contact form…

    Julie, the way to get your promo codes is via iTunes Connect.

    What you do is:

    – Log in to itunes connect
    – Choose “Manage your Applications”
    – Click on the icon for the app you want the promo codes for
    – It will open up a screen for that app. On the lower left you will see your icon under “current version” click on the button that says View Details
    – It will bring up a screen that has a button that says “Promo Codes” on the upper right
    – Enter the number of promo codes you want and hit continue (at the bottom right)
    – It will then present you with the promo codes contract. Tick the box on the lower left and hit continue
    -Then you’ll be presented with a blue download button so you can download your code.

    Your code will be good for 30 days.

    If your app sits within another developer’s app (like Interactive Touch Books), I would think you would need to ask that developer for your codes as they would manage that app.

    Good luck!


  4. Very helpful and practical tips. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out what to do!

  5. Thank you for these well organized and strategic ways to help market your apps for FREE! Your continued marketing efforts, sales, and ranking are commendable! I appreciate the tip on the most important thing to know about PR.

  6. Very useful tips, thanks for those Karen. I’m off to sign up for those reporter source websites. You never know what they might be looking for.

  7. And then….?
    After you have ticked all those boxes and your app is still doing between 5-15 downloads a day?
    A couple of points:
    1. Ratings and reviewers are resistant. You have to be a bit pushy….without pushing too hard. Haven’t found the balance yet.
    2. It can take a while to get a review from a site. Or you can pay to expedite. Anyone got some numbers on bang for buck?
    3. Lots of waiting….your post leaves out a timeline. Weeks, months? It takes time.
    4. Shamelessly plug your app whenever you post anything.
    5. Ella Speller on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Appstore for KindleFire (see #4)

  8. Thank you for sharing this useful information. I want to ask if I want to promote my app more but within a budget do you have an idea how much does it cost?

  9. Great article and good advice for app developers. One thing I would also add is the creation of press releases.

    I work as the Reviews Editor at Tapscape and we get 100’s of press releases a day. A well structured press release really does set the great apps apart from the good apps.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this.


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