You’ve put in the hours of work to create something wonderful. First of all, congratulations! It wasn’t easy, no doubt. Now all you need is an audience, right? Therein lies the problem, though. That coveted audience can be hard to find. Very hard, in fact. Your app can easily be buried in the slush pile that is the self-published markets, dismissed as not being worth the time, or worst of all: not seen at all! If you’re certain your only problem is that you lack an audience-that your product is perfect-then this guide to free marketing will, no doubt, be of some help.
If you’ve ever taken more than a peek at the mobile game marketplaces (Google Play, App Store, Windows Store) then you’ve seen the clones that occupy it. Each title is a synonym for Clash, Legend, Runner, or has a bird or an animal of some kind in it; the icons are usually a screaming person, a close up of food, or a rehashed classic in neon colors. While it would be wise to avoid these clichés, the takeaway here is that it’ll be difficult to stand out. So, to begin with your marketing campaign, start local. Build a base there; then expand.
Of course, tell your family and friends. Then-
Print out flyers with rip tabs at the bottom. Each tab should have the URL of your app printed on them. Interested consumers can pull off these tabs to help remind them to download it later. You can find free bulletin boards to post your flyers at most Laundromats and a lot of grocery stores. University campuses also typically have quite a few bulletin boards. Word of mouth is a good start, so think of each tab pulled as a new speaker, who’ll then tell friends around the world, who might in turn spread the word even further. Plus, consumers will often be kinder and more likely to write a positive review if they believe it’ll be helping someone in their circle-even if that circle happens to be the entire town. Loyalty works for sports teams; it can work for your app.
Create business cards to hand out whenever your app ever comes up in conversation. A custom bumper sticker or car magnets are a good way to make every drive you take an advertisement excursion. Avoid placing flyers under windshield wipers as this is more likely to annoy than cultivate interest. A custom made T-shirt with your app name, imagery, and where to download it is another good way to passively advertise while walking around large local events (balloon races, rib cook-offs, farmer’s markets).
After you’ve marketed locally, move on to the internet. Here you’ll obviously find a much larger potential audience. To start, make blog posts on your personal website(s) about your app or game. Also, create a YouTube game play video and video trailer to showcase your work. Also, as you’ll be sending out some emails, create an automatic signature with your name and links to your app or game.
Forums are a good place to find an audience. SlideDB, ModDB, IndieDB, and Penny Arcade allow you to submit a post about your game, as well as updates. Reddit is a hugely popular website with subreddits (smaller groups of particular interest) that welcome posts about indie games. /r/IndieGaming and/r/freegames are two such subreddits with a lot of followers, but a simple search can lead you to many more. The development software used to create the game also has related company forums, in which you may share your game. Beyond this, utilize social media. Post to Twitter, being sure to use hashtags such as #indiedev #gamedev and those more specific to your app or game, in order to get views beyond your followers. Tweet at indie game reviewers with your app information. Post to Facebook to connect with family and friends and keep them updated; and Instagram as well as Pinterest, again using tags to reach new markets. You can create a press release and submit it to press release websites in hopes of journalists picking it up to write a story, or submit the press release directly to local newspapers or magazines.
Consider publishing to platforms outside the mainstream ones such as GooglePlay. Other such publishing platforms include: SlideME, GameJolt, and NewGrounds. Video Reviewers are also a good idea to help create buzz. ArcadeGo is one such promoter, but countless others can be found by searching for ‘gameplay videos’ and following the game reviewers back to their account pages where you may find and contact them by email requesting a review.
Free App Reviews websites are another way to get seen. Submit your app to all the app reviewers you can find and a good number of them should accept your game or app if it’s of high quality. App reviewers include: The Great Apps, Indie Game Dev, AppsZoom, AppBrain, AppZoom, Indie Game Hunt, and Super Game Droid.
If all this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. Finishing your app or game is only half the battle. The other half is finding an interested audience. Putting in the work and reaching out to these reviewers, forums, and your local community; however, will help ensure you get more attention than doing nothing.