How to market mobile apps?


I've been a developer at startups before, but I've never been involved in marketing. I'm now trying to sell a few of my own mobile apps, and I'm hitting a brick wall. Two months ago I released an app that detects when you're driving and switches incoming text messages to using voice control for Android phones. I'm charging a few bucks for it. I've barely had 10 sales. I now have a second app out, a 3rd that needs some finishing graphical touches, and more in production. I can crank out the good ideas, but I can't sell them.

I've tried buying ads. It failed miserably- a few hundred dollars for 0 conversions. I've tried social media, but I must be doing it wrong. I got some friends and family sales, but that's it. Heck I have more followers from my posts at Stack Overflow than I do anywhere else. I've mentioned it at local android meetups but that generated 0. I tried submitting it to reviewers, but they all seem to be pay to play. Which is fine, but I want to be sure that I'm paying for something worthwhile.

I don't expect to become a millionaire, or even to quit my day job for this. But it would be nice to cover the expenses of hiring graphical designers for the icons. At this rate I would be better off releasing them as open source and getting warm fuzzy feelings- the amount of money I've made is pointless.

Marketing Mobile

asked Mar 25 '13 at 16:56
Gabe Sechan
131 points
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4 Answers


Currently, the "app stores" facilitate purchasing for end users, but do not help at all with marketing. I would recommend creating a website to build up some buzz about your apps to get it in the hands of reviewers. If people don't know your app is out there, they will never be able to purchase it. Create a press release and send it to consumer safety groups concerned with texting and driving, and the same for your other apps (in the market they are intended for)

answered Mar 26 '13 at 00:28
31 points


You sound frustrated which seems normal for what you are going through. I didn't read about a partner or a team. It seems you are gifted with the programming aspect.

Building the product is very important, but getting the product out there is very important also. You can have a great app but if your business model is not right, you will sell 0 of your service. Which brings me to ask these questions:

  1. Do you have a business plan?
  2. Do you have a business model?
  3. Have you done market research? do you know your target market?
  4. Do you know your competitors?
  5. What least cost or differentiation advantage are you offering?

There are so many questions to ask. But for now, I will suggest forming a team or get a partner who is more skilled with branding, marketing, sales and strategic planning.

You need someone to help steer you in the right direction. I am a software programmer and a marketer. Even though I am good at these two, I do have a partner who is also into marketing and business with good communication skills.

Also, it seems your app offers a service directly to customers, which is different from apps like games. You will need to understand your space and probably also consider licensing and keeping not less than a 5% royalty whenever your technology is used in any form. I recommend you look into building the business first.

Lastly you said,

I don't expect to become a millionaire, or even to quit my day job for this

I cannot see any positivity here and I am not surprised you made zero sales. It's okay to be angry, but however you approach a business is what you get in return. If you are not ready to build the business, then do not expect to profit from it.

Try approaching it differently with a new and positive mind set and do consider my suggestions above. I'd like to know the outcome. All the best.

answered Mar 25 '13 at 23:36
65 points


First, make your app free. Buying ads from an ad network works, but you will have a hard time getting conversions for a paid app. Freemium is where it's at:

Freemium app revenue growth leaves premium in the dust How Free Apps Can Make More Money Than Paid Apps You can still make money from your app by integrating ads. With a network that gives you a variety of ad formats and the ability to customize, ads don't have to ruin the user experience. Plus, you can turn around and use that revenue directly to advertise on the network.

Also make sure your network gives you the transparency to see how your ads are performing in each individual publishing app so you can choose the best partners, and maybe even set up a direct deal with them.

5 reasons app developers optimize mobile ad campaigns with direct deals Finally, here's a good article about other important parts of marketing your app such as creating your press kit and rallying your existing users. And you can do it all for free.

4 mobile app marketing tips for a $0 budget

answered Oct 25 '13 at 11:37
Kaitlin M
30 points


You mentioned that you bought ads, but converted zero. Tell me about the ads--who made them for you? Can I see the copywriting for the ad?

answered Apr 11 '13 at 20:20
Jim Syyap
237 points

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