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How to get 50,000 app downloads with no budget

I’m sitting here at a coffee shop and just checked the stats on my iPhone app and saw that it has crossed 50,000 downloads (update: now over 117,000 downloads).  Woot!  I know some apps get that in a day but I’m pretty excited I was able to hit that number at all.

After I had the app built and pushed it live, I wasn’t really sure what to do next. I was thinking well, I’ve got this thing now, but how do I get people to use it?

It is a little side project for me so I didn’t want to spend a ton of time on marketing and definitely didn’t want to spend much money on it.

There are 100+ things you can do for app marketing but the vast majority will be a total waste of time (app review blogs) while a few key things will bring in most of your results.

I wanted to share with you the marketing strategies I’ve used to get it to 50,000 downloads..

1. Forums:  I had the app built because I noticed a lot of people on forums were looking for a way to see the date and time their iPhone photos were taken.  Here’s what I mean.

So once I launched the app I went back to most of those forums and left a note in the thread about the solution.  I usually let them know that I had created it.  If you are nice and helpful with your post most people won’t complain that you are promoting something of your own.

2. YouTube video:  In less than 20 minutes I created a video walk through of the app and uploaded it to YouTube.  I just propped my DSLR on a table, held my phone in front of it and gave a quick walk-through of the product.   I strategically titled the video “How to see the date and time of your iPhone photos” because I knew people were searching for similar phrases and that Google would rank a YouTube video that fit that phrase.  I’ve done nothing to push this video and it has gotten 11,000+ views.

I included a link to the app in the description and just recently added annotations within the video to link to the app.

3. Reddit:  I posted a direct link to the app in r/iPhone which got 300+ upvotes and drove around 700 downloads.

I also wrote up a post on my blog on how I created the app and submitted it to r/entrepreneur - this has driven 10,000+ views to the article.

reddit traffic

Huge traffic spike from Reddit

4. App store keywords and description: For keywords I saw that one competing app was called Exif Wizard.  So a few months after I launched my app I put “exif” in my keywords and app description.  It’s hard to track exactly what drives downloads with apps but I did notice a consistent uptick in downloads after this.

For the app description, I noticed in reviews that people would write what they were using the app for, some examples were:

  • - for scrapbooking
  • - for baby pictures
  • - for tracking weight loss progress
  • - for contesting parking tickets
  • - for using in disputes with their landlord

Never would have expected the last two.  Anyways so what I did is I put in the app description how it was being used by others to help with search results in the app store.

App store description based on what people said they were using the app for

App store description based on what people said they were using the app for

(Thinking about it now, I probably should have then gone into those communities like scrapbooking, fitness, new parents and post in forums there and find blogs to contribute articles to about how the app can help them.)

Aaanndd that’s basically it.  Notice how you don’t have to spend a ton of money on advertising or marketing if you build something that solves a pain (even if its small) and people are actively looking for a solution to that problem.

If you have a question on app marketing, just leave it below..

1 comment… add one

  • Meredith

    This is genius. Nothing better than easy marketing tools that cost absolutely NOTHING!! Do you have an app course that takes you through the whole process step by step?

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