The strategy for attracting the first thousand users is usually very different from the one that will attract the next ten. And if any company that decided to develop an application usually clearly represents its target audience, the key question becomes: how to find it? In the article, we will tell you what methods helped famous applications to attract the very first thousand of users.

Go to educational institutions. Tinder and DoorDash

Tinder founders Whitney Wolfe and Justin Mateen encouraged UC students to use their app. It became clear that many people are very interested in finding out what others think of them and getting to know someone free.

The earliest version of DoorDash’s delivery service was, a PDF of local restaurants in Palo Alto, California. The service team printed a packet of food delivery flyers for $ 6 and distributed them throughout Stanford University. So it turned out that the demand for delivery is high and it is a good plan to develop this direction.

Take advantage of crowds in subways, shopping malls and train stations. Snapchat and Uber

Evan Spiegel, co-founder of the Snapchat app, tried everything to attract users. For example, he went to shopping malls and distributed flyers with advertisements, personally showed Snapchat to people, gave lessons, explained why it was fun, and even downloaded an app for them.

And Uber actively used referral codes, distributing them at train stations and in different parts of California. Rumor has it that aggregator founder Travis Kalanick personally went to Twitter headquarters and handed out coupons.

Pay attention to electronics stores. Pinterest

Service founder Ben Silbermann walked home by Apple stores and changed screensavers on his computers to Pinterest. When someone approached the screen, he said, “Wow, this is Pinterest, it really went to the TOP.” Sly!

Submit to news outlets. Dropbox

Service co-founder Drew Houston created a simple product demo video and posted it in April 2007 on Hacker News under the headline “My YC App: Dropbox – Throw Your USB Drive Out.” This is how the first target users got to know the newly launched Dropbox.

Use the app market. TikTok

One of the secrets of TikTok is the description in the app store. The App Store search engine attaches more importance to the name of the application than to keywords. The team specifically added a long title: “Create awesome music videos with all kinds of effects for Instagram, Facebook and Messenger.” After that, they actively received traffic from the search engine.

Connect in online communities of interest. Netflix

The Netflix team immediately realized that the only way to find their audience was to penetrate all the communities and forums where moviegoers communicate. The Netflix manager began talking to them, but did not introduce himself as an employee of the company. Posing as a home theater lover, he participated in film discussions, made friends with active community members, and gradually told them that a new and convenient Netflix site had appeared on the network.

Invite your friends. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest

When Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskowitz launched, he told a few friends about it. One of them suggested inserting the news about the site into the mailing list of the local hostel. After sending the letters, several dozen more people joined them and began to tell other people about Facebook. Within the first 24 hours, the number of users reached 1,500.

The founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, specifically distributed the product to successful friends and acquaintances, because he knew that success would come only if we developed an ambitious brand for those who hired high-level professionals.

After launching the app, the Pinterest team also sent out invitations to friends. Many of them did not immediately grasp the idea, but later began to actively use Pinterest.

Create a loss of profit syndrome. Instagram, Pinterest, Spotify

The team at the social networking site Instagram created a prototype and invited influencers in the design and photography communities to test it. They, in turn, shared their impressions on Twitter and created a sense of anxious expectation among subscribers. Because of this technique, on the very first day of launch, users logged into the application themselves.

The Pinterest app was originally an invite-only community. The creator of the site, Ben Silbermann, invited famous designer bloggers there and advised them to admit only people with unique creative ideas. This community was exclusive until 2012 – later the site canceled the restrictions.

The Spotify music service appeared in 2008 and then allowed to launch the application by invitation only: each user had 5 invitations that he could share with friends. This fact created a buzz around the platform and helped create a viral way to promote.

Work with influencers. Twitter, Instagram

The team of the social network Twitter attracted the first users with the help of opinion leaders – due to their high authority and trust of subscribers, 600 people came to the new platform on the day of launch. It’s an effective way to connect with your target audience and create buzz around you.

The founders of Instagram carefully selected their early adopters by connecting with people who could create quality visual content. Early adopters, mostly designers, helped set the right artistic tone by creating good content. In fact, it was the first ever Instagram ad campaign.

Publish to the media. Airbnb, Instagram

The turning point for Airbnb was the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver, Colorado. The founding couple saw an opportunity to capitalize on a massive event during which there was an acute shortage of rental housing. Finding hosts who would offer rooms in their homes was easy. It turned out to be more difficult to convince people to rent them.

At first, the service was specifically promoted only among small local publications – according to the creators, this should have prompted the major media to use the story about the site for rental housing. As a result, major national newspapers did interview the founders of a small startup while covering a large-scale event.

The founders of Instagram did not hesitate to reach out to major US publications and invited them to join the launch of the app. As a result, there were even representatives of The New York Times at the meeting, and the servers suffered from the load.

Look for your target audience offline and online, publish information about your application on news portals and connect the press. Build a community of app users and make it clear that it’s not easy to get into. Most companies have attracted visitors using one strategy, and some have succeeded using several at once. Why don’t you be inspired by their experience?

The strategy for promoting a mobile application should work even at the stage of its creation and fulfill strategic tasks: increase user awareness of the product, increase the number of downloads, retain the audience and encourage the invitation of new users. The more downloads and the more regular user interactions with the application, the higher the possibility of its monetization.

In this article, we have collected six ways to increase these indicators.


It’s a good idea to use a pre-launch mobile app promotion strategy. Invite users to take a survey to find out what feature they especially want in the app. Or start a contest, the winners of which will be able to use the application for free for a month, or may be able to get access to its additional functionality. That way, you can educate your audience about the product, increase brand credibility, add features that users were interested in, and fix bugs even before the app is released. And potential users will wait for the release, get acquainted with the application in advance and take part in its creation and testing.


ASO (App Store Optimization) is a number of ways to promote a mobile application that help improve its ranking in search in the AppStore and Google Play.

They include working with an icon, application name, subtitle, field with keys, description, keywords, screenshots and videos. In order for your app to rank high in search, pay attention to these points.

Make an attractive icon that looks good on devices with any screen resolution and reflects the essence of the application. In the title, immediately indicate the functionality of the program, and in the description tell us how to use your application and all its advantages. If there is a lot of text, break it into paragraphs. Also, don’t forget to use keywords – with them, users will be able to find your application faster.

Right: An example of a keyword search. Left: an example of an application description for paying for per-minute workouts in gyms – Gymmy Fit

Behavioral factors

Behavioral factors affect the algorithm for promoting mobile apps in stores. Most often, store users install applications that are in the top and on the first screens. Where your application will be displayed is affected by: the total number of installations, user ratings, the number of comments, launches and uninstallations of the application over time.

Another method promoting mobile applications using behavioral factors – to build in the application the ability to rate it and leave a comment. For example, after a completed task, a chain of actions, or before the user exits the application. Motivate users to launch the app more often with points or assignments that only open after several days of use in a row.

Content marketing

Of great interest are companies that do not just advertise the application, but share their experience, show expertise and make it clear that the application will definitely solve some kind of user problem. Or maybe more than one.

Content marketing is effective as a way to promote mobile applications, because it provides the audience with useful information and you the opportunity to increase your site’s search engine rankings. An additional way to promote mobile applications is to publish articles and news on third-party platforms of related topics, in addition to articles on your website’s blog. This way you will get additional traffic, interest of potential users and new installs. Often, specialized publications write about interesting applications and new products for free.

An example of useful articles from blog BeeO is an application that will help you choose the right products for your health.

Social networks

In this article, we wrote that social networks as a method of promoting a mobile application are getting tight and we have proposed three alternatives. But if you have a loyal audience or you know where to find it, then there is no reason at least not to try posting on social media. Tell existing and potential customers about the stages of development, share screenshots, engage in discussions and give away access to the beta version.

Another way to promote a mobile application on social networks is to integrate with them in the finished application. People like to share their achievements with friends and receive bonuses for small actions like reposting a profile in an application on social networks.

Push notifications

Use push notifications as a method of promoting mobile apps. This tool will be able to motivate users to launch it and use it more often. And in this way you can also talk about new events, promotions, discounts, the latest updates and additions.

Pinterest notifies that 9 people have saved the user’s pins, and Yandex.Music invites you to go into the app and listen to the new episode of the podcast.

Analysis of the effectiveness of the application

While engaging in a strategy for promoting mobile applications and looking for new channels and ways to get additional traffic, it is important not to forget about analytics and efficiency.

Sources, total number of installs, number of launches, session duration, advertising costs, user acquisition cost – these are the metrics that need to be analyzed and changed based on the data. For example, stop using channels that are not producing results and test new ones.

Most often, Yandex.AppMetrica, Google Analytics for Apps, AppsFlyer and AppAnnie are used for analysis. But there are also a number of services that will help you keep your finger on the pulse, assess the interests of users and choose new directions for development.

It may be helpful: on our blog you can read an article about the main metrics of mobile app quality control.

To promote a mobile app, advertise it in the channels that are right for you prior to release. For example, through mobile app ads, search ads, or social media ads. Promote it with ASO, user activity, newsletters, and social media posts. And, of course, constantly analyze the results, listen to the opinions of users and improve the methods of promoting the mobile application and the application itself.